Reporting from New York, Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, announced honorees of this year's Unity Banquet, created some 25 years ago as a way to recognize, encourage and celebrate cooperation among grape growers, wineries, grape juice producers and others to advance the entire industry. As Trezise pointed out at the event, held on February 6 at the Regency Hotel in Rochester:
"Diversity is our strength, and unity is our power."
The Unity Banquet was a highlight of Viticulture 2013, a three-day conference and trade show for members of the New York grape and wine industry organized by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and Cornell Cooperative Extension. In addition to New Yorkers, attendees came from 25 other states and four foreign countries. Below are the honorees.
Court of Honor
The 2013 "Unity Award" was presented to Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars and a leader in the Long Island wine industry for decades. Among many other accomplishments, he was responsible for securing the official recognition of Long Island's American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and more recently spearheaded the creation of the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing program.
The "Industry Award," given to an individual or organization which has made a major contribution in advancing the interests of the New York grape and wine industry, was presented to Cornell Cooperative Extension. For decades, "Extension", as it is commonly known, has played a vital role in communicating the results of research and other important information to grape growers, winemakers and others throughout New York State.
The "Grower Award," which recognizes vineyardists who have made exceptional contributions to the New York grape and wine industry, was presented to Richard Jerome of Jerome's U-Pick Farm near Naples. Rich has provided extraordinary service for decades as a Board member of New York Farm Bureau, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, and other organizations.
The "Winery Award," recognizing wineries which have advanced the widespread recognition and quality reputation of New York wines, was presented to Dr. Konstantin Frank Wines high above Keuka Lake in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. In 2012, the winery celebrated its 50th anniversary, won over 80 Double Gold and Gold medals in international competitions, and captured both the Governor's Cup and Winery of the Year at the New York Wine & Food Classic. Its broad distribution throughout the U.S. also helps spread the word about New York wines.
The "Research Award," for major contributions in research and education to benefit the New York grape and wine industry, was presented to Dr. Martin Goffinet. A world expert in the structure, anatomy and growth of the grapevine, Martin's research for over 30 years has provided important fundamental understanding of how grapes grow as well as the anatomical bases of many of practical problems.
The "Restaurant Award," for excellence in promoting New York wines as part of a fine dining experience, was presented to the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel and Blue Pointe Grille. Since its opening in 2006, the elegant Harbor Hotel at the south end of Seneca Lake has done an extraordinary job featuring local wines and hosting major wine industry events such as the New York Wine & Food Classic.
The "Retailer Award" recognizes wine stores and/or people who do an exceptional job educating consumers about the quality and variety of New York wines. The 2013 award was presented to Jay Roelof, recently retired from Suburban Wines & Spirits in Yorktown Heights and now continuing his work as a wine educator.
A "Distributor Award" recognizing extraordinary support of New York wines was presented to Phil Adams, a veteran wholesaler with the former Eber Bros. in Rochester before it was acquired by Southern Wine & Spirits. Mr. Adams has long been a strong proponent of New York wines and has been instrumental in getting placements in other states as well.
The "Consumer Award" recognizes individuals who enthusiastically support New York wines and enjoy wine in moderation as part of a healthy and happy lifestyle. This year's award went to Cheryl Gnade-McGrattan of Amsterdam (NY), who formerly promoted New York wines officially at the Department of Agriculture & Markets and has continued that missionary work on her own.
The Foundation is a statewide, not-for-profit trade association representing grape growers, grape juice manufacturers, wineries and others in the Lake Erie, Niagara Escarpment, Finger Lakes, Hudson River, Long Island and other regions. Part of its mandate is to stimulate coordination and cooperation among all segments of the industry in all regions. Its overall goal is "to have the New York grape and wine industry recognized as a world leader in quality, productivity, and social responsibility."