Nils Venge of Saddleback Cellars Named 2017 Honored Vintner; Wine Writer Dan Berger & Photographer George Rose Honored as Auction Chairs; Rebecca Johnson Named 2017 Artist of the Year
FORT BRAGG, CA – (April 26, 2017) – Tickets are now on sale for the 33rd Annual Winesong event — a spectacular weekend of award winning wine, fabulous food, fine art, music, merriment, and charitable giving. Produced by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation, the main event takes place at the gorgeous Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens on Saturday, September 9th, with A Pinot Noir Celebration at the nearby Little River Inn on Friday, September 8th. In addition, Winesong has just announced key honorees at this year’s event: Wine pioneer Nils Venge of famed Saddleback Cellars has been named Honored Vintner, Wine writer and aficionado Dan Berger and photographer and former wine industry executive George Rose have been named Auction Chairs, and local Anderson Valley Artist Rebecca Johnson has been named the 2017 Artist of the Year. The Hospital Foundation is thrilled to honor these individuals who have been incredibly supportive of Winesong and our goals to help with the equipment needs of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital.
Winesong allows attendees the opportunity to explore lauded wines from Mendocino County and around the world, all while sampling culinary delights from locally-based purveyors, as well as a selection of local brews and spirits. World-class artwork is also on display, all set against a backdrop of the stunning Botanical Gardens and the majestic Pacific Ocean. Winesong aims to create harmony between one of the most breathtaking vistas on earth and all of your other senses, all while raising money for our rural hospital.
This year’s Honored Vintner, Nils Venge, is universally regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of the Napa Valley wine industry. Born to Danish immigrants, Venge’s exposure to wine came at an early age, as his parents operated a wine and liquor import and distribution company in Southern California. Venge continued his pursuit of wine at the University of California in Davis where he earned a BS in Viticulture in 1967. Following a tour of duty in Vietnam as a Navy Reservist, Venge moved to the Napa Valley to pursue his interest in winemaking. In the subsequent years, Venge worked for the notable wineries Charles Krug, Sterling, Villa Mount Eden and Groth. During his tenure at Groth, Venge became the first American winemaker to receive a perfect 100 point rating from Wine Critic Robert Parker Jr. The 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon catapulted Venge to a venerated position in the California wine industry. Nils Venge continues to produce outstanding wines at his Oakville facility, Saddleback Cellars.
Auction Chair Dan Berger is a former Los Angeles Times Wine Columnist and a lifelong journalist who spent ten years as a general assignment reporter and editor for The Associated Press. He began writing about wine in 1976 and has been nationally syndicated since 1979. He and his wife, Juliann Savage, publish a private weekly wine newsletter, Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences, which began in February 1996. He has contributed articles to Wines & Vines, Decanter Magazine in London, Wine Press Northwest, Tasters’ Guild Journal, Sommelier Guild Journal, the privately published California Grapevine, trade journals Cheers and Beverage Dynamics, and numerous others. He has been a keynote speaker at wine marketing seminars and has been asked to judge several wine competitions over the years. Dan has also garnered many awards, including Wines and Vines magazine’s “Wine Writer of the Year.” In 2010, Mr. Berger was inducted into the Wine Media Guild Hall of Fame in New York. He is on the board of directors of the International Riesling Foundation. He is an aficionado of Napa and Sonoma wines.
More than 40 years ago, Auction Chair George Rose began his long career as a photographer. Throughout the years, he has traveled a long and winding road through the elite world of popular music, film, news, politics, and sports, eventually leading him to California’s Wine Country. During his prolific years as a Los Angeles-based photojournalist, Rose developed a remarkable and historic body of photographic work focused on popular culture. His independent assignments, focused primarily on the entertainment industry, have been published in USA Today, Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone. Over 40 vintage prints of his are in the permanent collection of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. In 1987, Rose won a World Press Photo Award for news, and was named California “Newspaper Photographer of the Year” in 1976 by the University of Missouri, School of Journalism. The Los Angeles Times twice nominated him (1979 and 1980) for a Pulitzer Prize. For the past 25 years, Rose was a wine industry executive communications director at four successful wine companies: Fetzer Vineyards, Allied Domecq Wines USA, Kendall-Jackson, and J Vineyards & Winery. During this time, he continued to pursue his passion of photography. In 2015, Rose moved to Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. Much of his time is devoted to documenting the natural environment of the county as well as top vineyard estates up and down the coast of California. He is also a contributing photographer with Getty Images.
2017 Artist of the Year Rebecca Johnson grew up in an art-centric family in rural Hopewell, New Jersey. Her parents were designers, artists and art educators. “Life is art” was the family credo. This philosophy enriched and continues to inform Rebecca’s art and career. As a young artist Rebecca embraced the path of the successful professional. She received her BFA from Tyler School of Art and her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She studied bronze casting at the Johnson Atelier in New Jersey and stone carving in quarries in Vermont. A fulcrum of change occurred when The British American Arts Council awarded her a three-month fellowship to work in Northwest Wales. In this land of stonewalls, craggy mountains, wild coast and rich folkloric history Rebecca’s ideas gestated. Time and solitude created space for her to thoroughly see and imbibe the light, color and form of the land. Her exterior and interior visions integrated and enhanced each other. Rebecca discovered a new degree of courage and conviction to follow her work to its true ultimate power, rural nature and a poetic vision. Rebecca now lives and works in Northern California, Mendocino County, a place of raw elemental forces. Her studio is located in the Anderson Valley, where inside a large renovated barn she creates paintings. The doors of the studio open to a hillside meadow filled with her stone sculpture. The calm beauty of this rural place resonates in her work.
Below is a quick overview of what you can expect at this year’s Winesong event. Tickets to each event are available for purchase at: http://winesong.org/events/purchase-tickets/.
A Pinot Noir Celebration: Meet the Winemakers
Friday, September 8, 2017 | 1 to 4 p.m.
The weekend kicks off with a prestigious Pinot Noir tasting, presented by Winesong and hosted by Little River Inn. Attendees will enjoy Pinot Noir from renowned Anderson Valley, along with wines from other award-winning pinot regions, alongside tastes of Little River Inn’s finest culinary offerings. General Admission Tickets for A Pinot Noir Celebration: Meet the Winemakers are $75 per person.
Wine & Food Grand Tasting in the Gardens
Saturday, September 9, 2017 | 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Stroll through the lush Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens while enjoying vintages poured by world-class wineries from Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and beyond. Sample beer, spirits, and food from 50 of Mendocino County’s finest purveyors. The tasting is accented by various musical groups performing a variety of styles including jazz, classical, blues, calypso and folk rock. General Admission Tickets with festival seating at auction and access to wine and food tasting are $125 per person for Early Responders; $150 per person after June 1st.
Silent & Live Charity Auctions
Saturday, September 9, 2017 | SILENT: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; LIVE: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The centerpiece of Winesong weekend is the Charity Auction, featuring both a silent and live auction. Nearly 200 lots will be on offer, featuring spectacular wines from the world’s most prestigious wine producers, rare vintages, large format bottles and special vertical and horizontal collections, as well as original art from acclaimed California artists and highly coveted international and domestic vacation packages. Auction Reserve Tickets with assigned seating under the auction tent (w/catered lunch) and access to wine and food tasting are $225 per person for Early Responders; $250 per person after June 1st.
For further information, please visit http://winesong.org/events/purchase-tickets or call (707) 961-4688.
About Winesong & the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation
Winesong is produced by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for the Mendocino Coast District Hospital. Its mission is to help the small rural Hospital provide the best possible medical care to residents as well as the many visitors to the Mendocino Coast. Winesong proceeds have enabled the Hospital to purchase chemotherapy equipment, portable ultrasound machines for the Emergency Room as well as a state-of-the-art Diagnostic Imaging Center, Cardiology Equipment, a Bedside Medicine Verification System and most recently, a Nurse Call System and a Patient Monitor Alert & Telemetry System.