WA Winegrape Conference Sets Attendance Record

WA Winegrape Conference Sets Attendance Record

Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers

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The final count is in and a record-breaking crowd of nearly 2,200 people attended the 2012 convention of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers (WAWGG). The annual meeting was held in Kennewick in early February and included 18 educational sessions plus a two-day, sold-out trade show with 170 booths.

Each year the grape and wine industry honors industry members and this year’s honors included Grower of the Year, Industry Service, Lifetime Achievement, Restaurant Appreciation, plus three categories of awards for the record-breaking poster session. Awards were:

 

Grower of the Year

Rob Andrews received the Erick Hanson Memorial Wine Grape Grower Award. Andrews is partner with family members in three vineyard entities and the McKinley Springs Winery and oversees grape production on more than 2,000 acres. McKinley Springs was launched in 2002; a tasting room was added in 2005. Today, Andrews spends all of his time on the viticulture side of the family farm dedicated to the vineyard. His hands-on approach results in a high-quality product, respected and known by many.

 

Industry Service

Don and Linda Mercer were recognized for their years of tireless support of the Washington wine industry. In 1972, Don and Linda, with encouragement from Dr. Walter Clore, planted the first Vitis vinifera on Horse Heaven Hills. Their volunteer service spans decades and includes organizations such as Grape Society, Wine Institute, Enological Society, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers (Don is a founding member and past chairman), Columbia Valley Winery Association, Wine Yakima Valley, and Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers. Today the couple is happily retired, but continues to participate in industry events.

 

Lifetime Achievement

The Lifetime Achievement award is reserved for those occasions when an individual’s service to and accomplishments span a lifetime and warrant special, and highly deserved recognition. This year, WAWGG posthumously honored Glenn Coogan for his significant impact and inspiration within the Washington wine and grape industry. Coogan passed away in 2011 unexpectedly. At the time, he was vice chairman of Northwest operations for Ascentia Wine Estates and prior to that served as vice president of operations for Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates. Among his contributions to the industry, his mentoring was highlighted.

 

Restaurant of the Year

Each year the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers selects a restaurant that does an exceptional job of showcasing and educating diners about premium Washington wines. Sun Mountain Lodge, which sits in the foothills near Twisp and Winthrop, started as a dream in 1965. Today it boasts one of the most extensive resort wine collections in the Pacific Northwest, featuring more than 5,000 bottles and 600 different labels, including more than 400 wines from Washington State. Under the direction of wine director Don Elsing, the lodge’s wine program has won numerous awards.

 Poster Session

This year’s poster session broke records with 44 entries that offered prizes in three categories: professional, graduate, and undergraduate. Professional awards went to:

– 1st Place: James Harbertson, Luis Federico Casassa, and Richard Larsen

School of Food Science, Washington State University, Prosser

Topic: Wine Phenolics

– 2nd Place: Naidu Rayapati

Department of Plant Pathology, Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center, Washington State University, Prosser

Topic: Grape Virology

– 3rd Place: Linga Gutha, Olufemi Alabi, and Naidu Rayapati

Department of Plant Pathology, Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center, Washington State University, Prosser

Topic: Grapevine Leafroll Disease