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Hope Merletti Passes Away in New York

Former Co-owner and Co-Publisher of Vineyard and Winery Management Died August 21
by Linda Jones McKee
August 24, 2020

Hope Merletti, former co-owner and co-publisher of Vineyard and Winery Management with her husband, Bill Moffett, passed away in Canandaigua, New York on Friday, August 21 at the age of 82 after battling lung cancer. A native of Tanawanda, New York, Merletti became interested in writing while studying dietetics at the University of Buffalo. She began working for Moffett as a part-time secretary in November 1974, and in February 1975, Moffett published the first issue of Eastern Grape Grower, the predecessor to Vineyard and Winery Management.

As a start-up magazine, Eastern Grape Grower did not have a large staff. Merletti soon was operations manager for the magazine and in 1976 was the coordinator for the first Wineries Unlimited, a technical seminar and trade show for the emerging Eastern wine industry. She and Bill became business partners in 1977 and were married in 1981.

In 1977, Merletti and Moffett renamed the magazine Eastern Grape Grower and Winery News. The same year, they started the Eastern Wine Competition that was open to wineries in the East and included judges from the New York City wine press. The couple donated a portion of the proceeds from the first competition to fund the first American Society for Enology and Viticulture-Eastern Section (ASEV-ES) scholarship. They continued this support through the annual ASEV-ES Scholarship Auction at Wineries Unlimited.

Attendees at the first Wineries Unlimited had talked about forming an organization of wineries in the East. During the 1977 Wineries Unlimited, Moffett and Merletti distributed a proposal to organize an “Eastwine Producers’ Advisory Council.” This led to the forming of the Association of American Vintners (AAV) in late 1978, with its official location in the magazine’s office in Watkins Glen, New York. The couple remained active with AAV until 1985, when they resigned because of increased responsibilities in running their own company. AAV merged with the National Vintners Association to form the American Vintners Association and ultimately became WineAmerica, the national advocacy organization that represents wineries and grape growers in Washington, D.C.

In 1986, Merletti and Moffett again renamed the magazine to Vineyard and Winery Management, with the intent of turning it into a national wine trade publication. Merletti was especially involved in advertising sales and promotion and in the operations and management of their events and competitions.

The name of their wine competition also was changed that year to the International Eastern Wine Competition and wine entries from Canada were allowed for the first time. The Grand Harvest Awards competition, which judged wines based on terroir, was started in 1990.

Merletti’s son Rob joined the company in 1995 with the goal of setting up a California base in Santa Rosa. Merletti and Moffett retired from Vineyard and Winery Management in 2003.

Merletti is survived by her husband of 39 years, Bill Moffett, who has been in poor health since a car accident in Florida in late 2008 and is currently suffering from pneumonia. She is also survived by three children, Rob, Mark and Kathy; three stepchildren, Tim, Wendy and Allison; and three grandchildren. Her funeral service will be held on Thursday, August 27, at the St. Mary Catholic Church in Canandaigua, New York.

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