Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore presented Len Thompson with the 2012 Grower of the Year award today at the Vineyard Vineyards Association's (VVA) Annual Technical Meeting and Trade Show at the Omni in Charlottesville.
"Len Thompson is one of the unheralded heroes behind the success of the Virginia Vineyards Association. For as long as I can remember he has donated freely of his time to support the association and the wine industry. He helps other growers and aspiring growers while producing grapes that have been utilized in wines that have won awards in international competitions," said J. Rock Stephens, chairman, Virginia Wine Board.
An independent grower, Thompson has been an extremely active member of the VVA for over a decade. He has served in many capacities at the VVA, including two terms as vice president, two terms as treasurer, one term as secretary and a term as communications chair. Retired from the VVA board, Thompson, who is also an employee of Rockbridge Vineyards, continues to serve the wine industry as a board member of the Virginia Wineries Association - he is currently serving as vice president.
Thompson and his wife Kay purchased land in Amherst County in 1999, planting six acres. The grapes grown there include Chardonnay and Chambourcin. Wines produced from grapes grown at Amherst Vineyards have garnered numerous medals, including the Best of Show for the 2002 Rockbridge Heritage from the Atlantic Seaboard Winegrowers Association.
"Len's contribution to the Virginia wine industry is unparalleled. As a grower he has not only excelled in his own right, but has not hesitated to pass that knowledge along to other growers. In addition, he has served in many leadership roles at the VVA, helping to advance the future of the Virginia wine industry for many years to come," said Sec. Todd Haymore.
Established in 1984, the Virginia Vineyards Association will hold a 30th anniversary celebration the evening of Feb.1, where Dr. Bruce Zoeklein will be honored with the VVA lifetime achievement award.
Since 2005 The Virginia Vineyards Association has been pleased to honor one of its peers with The Grower of The Year Award. The criteria are: the nominee must be an active member of the Virginia Vineyards Association with at least seven years experience managing or operating a commercial vineyard of at least 5 acres. The nominee must be an active participant in the Virginia viticulture community with a track record of service to our industry. And last but not least, the nominee must have the respect of his or her peers.
The Virginia Vineyards Association, incorporated in March 1983, originated in 1979/80 as a joint effort for information exchange and cooperation among viticulturists, wineries, and Virginia Tech. Our goal to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Virginia’s grapes and wines. For more information, visit www.virginiavineyardsassociation.com/.
The rapid growth of Virginia's vibrant wine industry has made it one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the state. In 1979, there were only six wineries in Virginia. Today, there are over 230 wineries in Virginia, and 380 vineyards that cultivate over 3,000 acres of grapes. The state’s wine industry’s growth is escalating as fast as the state's advancements in wine quality and reputation. For a complete list of winners and further information about events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at www.virginiawine.org/ or call 804-344-8200.