Monday, April 24, 2006

At Annual “Unity Banquet”. . .Wine & Grape Foundation Says: “Thank You!”

Many people were honored, including the late Willy Frank and Millbrook Vineyards.

April 6th 2006 — GENEVA, NY, April 6, 2006 – The New York Wine & Grape Foundation said a big “Thank You” to several individuals and businesses at its annual “Unity Banquet” on Wednesday, April 5th at Ventosa Vineyards in Geneva.

The Foundation is a statewide, not-for-profit trade association representing grape growers, grape juice manufacturers, wineries and others in the Lake Erie/Chautauqua, Niagara Escarpment, Finger Lakes, Hudson River, Long Island and other regions. Part of its mandate is to stimulate coordination and cooperation among all segments of the industry in all regions.

The Unity Banquet was created 19 years ago as a way to recognize, encourage, and celebrate cooperation among the diverse grape and wine community as a way to enhance industry unity. “Diversity is our strength, and unity is our power,” said Foundation President Jim Trezise. In addition to the “Unity Award”, several others have been added in different categories over the years.

The 2006 “Unity Award” was presented to Nathan Rudgers and Ruth Moore, the former Commissioner and First Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets. The Department has always been a vital partner for the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and the overall industry, with levels of cooperation and synergy reaching new heights during Nathan Rudgers’ tenure. While the Commissioner is by law an official member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Ruth Moore represented the Department on his behalf, serving as an active and engaged Board member for several years.

A special “Lifetime Achievement Award” was presented to the family of the late Willy Frank, who passed away in March at the age of 80. His wife Margrit and son Fred, who has served as President of Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars since 1993, accepted the award. For decades right up to the end, Willy was a tireless missionary for New York wines whose impact was felt internationally, as evidenced by an email which Jim Trezise received from Paris praising Willy’s passion for wine and life.

The “Industry Award”—presented to an individual who has made a major contribution in advancing the interests of the New York grape and wine industry—was presented to the late Barbara Adams, former Executive Director of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, who passed away unexpectedly last year. Barbara had been in the Finger Lakes wine industry for years, working at Knapp Vineyards and Glenora Wine Cellars; was largely responsible for organizing the first Finger Lakes Wine Festival; and helped propel the Seneca Lake Wine Trail to new prominence. Cal Adams, Barbara’s husband and Julie Adam’s, Barbara’s daughter, accepted the award in Barbara’s memory.

The “Grower Award” presented to Louis and Donna Gridley recognizes vineyardists who have made exceptional contributions to the New York grape and wine industry. The Gridley’s are long-time growers who have also been actively involved in different industry organizations like the New York State Wine Grape Growers, New York Farm Bureau, and Women for New York State Wines. Donna has served as President of WNYSW for several years, and travels the state promoting New York wines.

The “Winery Award”— which recognizes wineries that have advanced the widespread recognition and quality reputation of New York wines—was presented to Millbrook Vineyard & Winery in the Hudson River Region. Created over two decades ago by John Dyson, Millbrook has been a pioneer in many respects. Its all-vinifera vineyard on the east side of the Hudson River has yielded valuable information along award-winning wines. Mr. Dyson has also made major financial contributions to the New York Wine & Grape Foundation’s research program, and has long been a leader in the successful drive to allow direct interstate shipment of wine. Winemaker John Graziano and marketer Stacy Hudson accepted the award for Millbrook.

The “Research Award” for major contributions in research and education to benefit the New York grape and wine industry was presented to the Vineyard Laboratory at Fredonia, and accepted by Rick Dunst. The Lake Erie grape belt contains over two-thirds of all New York vineyard acreage, and the Vineyard Laboratory at Fredonia has been a vital source of research and information to the hundreds of grape growers in the area.

The “Restaurant Award”—for excellence in promoting New York wines as part of a fine dining experience—was presented to Ports Café in Geneva. While located in a modest building on Route 14 south of Geneva, Ports has an eclectic menu and a superb selection of New York wines among those of the world. The staff is also well-trained, helpful, and enthusiastic when it comes to recommending local wines to their customers.

The “Retailer Award” recognizes wine stores which do an exceptional job in educating consumers about the quality and variety of New York wines. The 2006 award was presented to Burton Notarius, President of Prime Wines Corporation. “This award is richly deserved and long overdue,” said Jim Trezise. Burt Notarius is one of the “superstar” wine retailers in the United States, has three large stores in the Buffalo area as well as an on-line service, and carries a huge selection of New York wines. The reason he didn’t receive this award until now is that for the past 15 years he served on the Board of Directors of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, which has a policy that neither active Board members or staff may receive these awards.

The “Distributor Award” recognizing extraordinary support of New York wines was presented to Sandy Waters of Eber Bros. Wine & Liquor Corp. Eber Bros. has the largest selection of New York wines of any wholesaler, and Sandy Waters is the New York Wine Manager responsible for marketing and sales. The wineries she represents at Eber have praised her energy, enthusiasm, and success in marketing their brands.

The “Consumer Award” recognizes individuals who enthusiastically support New York wines and enjoy wine in moderation as part of a healthy and happy lifestyle. The 2006 recipient was Phyllis Bauer, a former grape grower who has remained active in several organizations such as the New York State Wine Grape Growers, Women for New York State Wines, and New York Farm Bureau.

The New York Wine & Grape Foundation is a private, not-for-profit, statewide organization which conducts promotion and research programs in support of the state's grape growers, wineries, and grape juice producers. The Foundation was created by state legislation in 1985 during an economic crisis in the grape and wine industry, which is now the fastest growing industry in New York's two largest sectors of agriculture (#1) and tourism (#2). Based on a comprehensive strategic plan, the Foundation's overall goal is "To have the New York grape and wine industry recognized as a world leader in quality, productivity and social responsibility." The Foundation is headquartered in the Finger Lakes region, which includes about half of the state's wineries and accounts for about 90% of total production.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jim Trezise, President, NYWGF, 315-536-7442, ext. 11, fax 315-536-0719,,

Additional Contact for this subject: Kim Kelsey, Marketing Events Director, 315-536-7442, ext. 15, fax 315-536-0719,,

Released April 6, 2006