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June 12, 2013 | 10:04 AM

We received sad news this morning from the Monterey County wine industry:

The Monterey County wine industry, and the Santa Lucia Highlands in particular, lost one of its leading lights over the weekend. Vintner Steve Pessagno passed away. Steve, in addition to being owner and winemaker of his eponymous winery on River Road, was a founding member and sat on the Board of Directors of the Wine Artisans of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Since the group's inception in 2005, Steve Pessagno was instrumental in getting the young organization on a solid footing; he acted as the W.A.S.L.H. recording secretary and hosted the monthly Board meetings at Pessagno Winery.

W.A.S.L.H. Board President Dan Lee of Morgan Winery comments that "Steve was a dear friend. His leadership, support, and positive, can-do perspective will be very much missed. He tirelessly promoted our Santa Lucia Highlands appellation through his own excellent wines and by giving unselfishly of his time and expertise. Steve was respected and admired by everyone who knew him. This is a great loss to our region, both personally and professionally. Our thoughts and prayers are with his sons Anthony, Stephen Jr., Robert, John, and the Pessagno family at this very difficult time."

Details of plans to honor Steve Pessagno will be announced at a later date...

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