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Wine Industry Awards Recognize Excellence at the Oregon Wine Symposium


Six key figures celebrated for contributions to the continuing global success of Oregon wine

PORTLAND, OR, February 18, 2020 — Six inspiring leaders of Oregon’s wine community stepped into the spotlight during the 2020 Oregon Wine Symposium’s annual awards ceremony. More than 1,700 wine professionals and guests attended the Symposium this year, and this celebration marked a perfect occasion to champion the advancement of Oregon’s $6 billion wine industry.

Sally Murdoch, spokesperson for the Oregon Wine Board remarked that this year’s crop of winners represented more geographic variety than in year’s past. “Our awards went to industry leaders spanning from the Willamette Valley down to the southern edge of Oregon and as far east as Milton-Freewater, Oregon,” she said. “Both established and emerging regions of Oregon’s nationally-recognized winemaking community were represented and this may be the most geographically diverse crowd of industry winners to date.”

Jack Hastings from Ardagh Group kicked off the ceremony, which continued the long-standing tradition of etched glass decanters presented to each of the winners. A packaging provider, Ardagh is a leading supplier of recycled wine glass bottles that was founded over a century ago in Seattle.

In a touching tribute to her father, winemaker Brooke Robertson presented the Outstanding Industry Leadership Award to Steve Robertson, founder of Delmas and SJR Vineyard. Steve then talked about establishing The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater, the first nested Oregon AVA within the Walla Walla Valley, which was approved by the TTB in 2015.

L to R: Dr. Greg Jones, Moises Sotelo, Nahum Bahena, Steve Robertson and Herb Quady. Photo by Carolyn Wells Kramer

Terry Brandborg, founder of Brandborg Vineyard and Winery in the Elkton Oregon AVA, presented the Industry Partner Award to Dr. Greg Jones, Director of the Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield College. Jones, globally-acclaimed climatologist and longtime friend to Oregon’s wine grape growers and winemakers, had earlier that day presented a rousing review of conditions for the 2019 vintage and the climatology forecast for 2020.

Donna Russell, owner of Caroline Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains, presented the first of two Vineyard Excellence awards to Nahum Bahena of Stirling Wine Grapes. Bahena, Russell said, “knows a lot about vineyard dynamics and vine physiology and cares a lot about people,” as she relayed a story on how he was the first responder to help when she had a recent accident involving her tractor.

Chad Vargas, founder of NewGen Vineyard Services, presented the second Vineyard Excellence Award to Moises Sotelo, whom Vargas described as a “perfect employee.” Vargas lauded Sotelo’s pride in his work and leadership skills.

Dundee-based winemaker Brianne Day of Day Wines presented the Founders Award to Herb Quady of Quady North and Applegate Vineyard Management in Jacksonville. Day said Quady was “instrumental to elevating the reputation of winemaking excellence in Southern Oregon.”

OWB Vice Chairman and founder of Koosah Farm, Kevin Chambers, wrapped up the awards ceremony by presenting the Board Service Award to John Pratt of Celestina Vineyard. A noted Southern Oregon grape grower and President of the Rogue Valley Winegrowers Association Board, Pratt praised the cooperation of Oregon winemakers. “Oregon has the reputation it has because we collaborated together. That’s our strength. That’s our identity. And I really think that’s the best part of us.”

John Pratt giving an acceptance speech for Board Service Award. Photo by Carolyn Wells Kramer

About the Oregon Wine Board:

The Oregon Wine Board is a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research, and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry. The Board works on behalf of all Oregon wineries and independent growers throughout the state’s diverse winegrowing regions. To learn more, visit industry.oregonwine.org.

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