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Winners Announced for the Charles Woodson and O’Neill Family

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Four-Year College Wine Scholarships BIPOC Wine Industry Students Awarded at Two Top California Universities

LARKSPUR, Calif.,  October 25, 2021 – Jeff O’Neill, O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, and Charles Woodson, Intercept Wines, are pleased to announce and congratulate students Abigail Barnabas and Stella Tuffli, winners of the Charles Woodson & O’Neill Family Wine Scholarship, on their academic excellence and achievement. The scholarships were developed in partnership with Sonoma State University and through the California Community Foundation (CCF), in partnership with California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, to recruit and retain high-achieving Black, Indigenous, and People of Color interested in pursuing a career in the wine industry. 

“I’m excited to congratulate Abigail Barnabas and Stella Tuffli on their incredible accomplishments,” comments Jeff O’Neill, CEO of O’Neill Vintners & Distillers. “Our goal is to always support the wine community and nurture the next generation and specifically the BIPOC community. We hope these scholarships will facilitate their passions in the wine industry and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for these outstanding students.” 

Abigail Barnabas, eldest of three children, spent the first 16 years of her life in Ethiopia before moving with her family to California in 2018. She is an undergraduate earning a B.S. in electrical engineering from Sonoma State University. Barnabas says, “Winning this scholarship is an exciting opportunity that is going to take away worries of tuition and housing, but also expand my growth and vision and do things I’ve never done before.” 

On campus, Barnabas is inspired by mentors at Sonoma State, including Umoja Queens, a mentorship program for students who identify as Black womxn within the Pan African Diaspora to connect with faculty that also identify as Black womxn. Barnabas is working toward her post-graduate goal of strengthening her skills and utilizing electrical engineering to create a more diverse, sustainable, safe, and efficient wine industry. In her spare time, she is an avid reader who enjoys all genres, but especially science fiction.

Tuffli, a Bay Area-native from Concord, California and a wine and viticulture program first-year at Cal Poly, began her degree program this fall. Tuffli was initially drawn to the industry after realizing it could offer worldly experiences and provide an amazing opportunity for expanding her knowledge. Her main area of focus is wine business, and she is working toward a career in wine sales, marketing, and hopefully, starting her own winery. Tuffli is most excited about Cal Poly’s unique viticulture program and the classes in agricultural economics, because it will assist in her goals to learn about business in agricultural communities. “I am very proud of myself for getting this scholarship on my own. [It] really proves to myself that my hard work [has] really paid off, [and] this scholarship also will help my family financially and take the stress away from paying for college.” 

“I am honored to support the next generation of BIPOC wine professionals as we strive to create opportunities for diversity within the industry,” comments Charles Woodson, NFL Hall of Famer and owner of Charles Woodson’s Intercept Wines. “Congratulations to both Abigail and Stella as they begin their careers. I look forward to seeing their growth along this journey. Build Your Legend!”

This scholarship, in partnership with the two California universities, will cover 100% of the tuition, and room and board to support both winners over their entire undergraduate college career. The ongoing scholarships will fund one student at each university at a time. O’Neill Vintners & Distillers will provide internships, mentoring, and offer hands-on learning opportunities for scholarship recipients to enhance their college experience in the wine industry.

About O’Neill Vintners & Distillers

O’Neill Vintners & Distillers was founded in 2004 by industry veteran and entrepreneur Jeff O’Neill. The vertically integrated winery is one of the fastest-growing wineries in California with a reputation for producing premium-quality wines from the North Coast, Central Coast, and Central Valley. The company’s national brands portfolio includes Line 39, Robert Hall, Harken, Day Owl Rosé, Game Box, Rabble, Accomplice and Charles Woodson’s Intercept. For more information, please visit www.ONeillWine.com

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