February 8, 2013 (Paso Robles, CA) As social media is blowing up with the Ram’s farmer ad and memes, a lifelong central coast winegrape grower is humbly being recognized by his peers for his tireless dedication to sustainable farming. Dana Merrill was honored as the 2012 Paso Robles Wine Industry Person of the Year. The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance presented this award at the organization’s annual winter gathering held Friday evening (Feb. 8) at the Paso Robles Events Center.
Merrill, a seventh-generation Californian whose roots in the Central Coast date back to the days of the missions, has been an integral member of the Paso Robles wine community. Raised in the Santa Ynez Valley, he is a lifelong farmer, having graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in agribusiness. He began raising winegrapes in 1981 and eventually gained extensive experience managing vineyards for premium brands in Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Merrill founded Mesa Vineyard Management, based in Templeton, in 1989, which has allowed him to work side-by-side with many of the wine industry’s most important brands and most coveted vineyards.
“As a fellow farmer, I have unending respect for Dana and his contribution to the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area,” said Paul Hoover, chairman of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and owner/winemaker of Still Waters Vineyard. “He has been steadfast in his promotion of the region and affiliations to ensure that generations ahead will enjoy the same resources we do today.”
Dana Merrill’s commitment to sustainability and the health of the region’s vineyards is evident in his community involvement which includes: founding member of the Central Coast Vineyard Team, past chairman of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, California Pierce’s Disease Board, Paso Basin Groundwater Blue Ribbon Committee, Cal Poly Viticulture and Enology Board of Directors, and past board member of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.
In 2002, Merrill and his family purchased a vineyard and for six years labored to bring the 40-acre vineyard up to the standards of the Central Coast Vineyard Team’s “Sustainability in Practice” (SIP) program with the goal to create a winery. In 2008, the Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery tasting room opened its doors, followed by a production estate winery in 2011. The winery has since been awarded a grant by the USDA’s REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) to harvest solar energy for winery operations.
Board of Directors Installation
The evening also recognized outgoing Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance Board of Directors, thanking them for their years of service:
· Gary Eberle – Outgoing Board Member (2007 – 2012), Eberle Winery
· Jim Kroener – Outgoing Board Member (2010 - 2012), Silver Horse Vineyards & Winery
In addition, the 2013 Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance Board of Directors and Executive Team were also announced:
· Chairman: Paul Hoover, Still Waters Vineyard
· Vice Chairman: Austin Hope, Treana and Hope Family Wines
· Treasurer: Matt Dusi, Ranch 7
· Alex Villicana, Villicana Winery
· Mike Mooney, Chateau Margene
· John Crossland, Crossland Vineyard
· Jason Haas, Tablas Creek Vineyard
· Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins, Wittstrom Family Vineyard
· Joe Plummer, Plummer Vineyard
About Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance represents wineries, growers and businesses in Paso Robles Wine Country. Centrally located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, along California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles Wine Country is California’s third largest wine region. It encompasses more than 26,000 vineyard acres and 270 wineries. For more information, visit www.pasowine.com.