Sunday, February 11, 2007

Monty Stamp, Paumanok, Others Feted in Rochester

by Jim Trezise
New York Wine & Grape Foundation
Thursday, February 8, 2007
At Annual “Unity Banquet”. . .
Wine & Grape Foundation Says: “Thank You!”

ROCHESTER , NY , February 8, 2007 – The New York Wine & Grape Foundation said a big “Thank You” to several individuals and businesses at its annual “Unity Banquet” on Thursday, February 8 at the Clarion Hotel. The Unity Banquet was the highlight of a three-day conference and trade show, Viticulture 2007 and the Wine Industry Workshop, which attracted about 1,000 people from many states and several countries.

The Foundation is a statewide, not-for-profit trade association representing grape growers, grape juice manufacturers, wineries and others in the Lake Erie, 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. Its overall goal is “to have the New York grape and wine industry recognized as a world leader in quality, productivity, and social responsibility.”

The Unity Banquet was created 20 years ago as a way to recognize, encourage, and celebrate cooperation among grape growers, wineries, grape juice producers and others to advance the entire industry. “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.

This year, a special “Lifetime Achievement Award” went to “Monty Stamp & Family” for their combined contributions to the industry over decades and generations. Longtime grape grower and industry leader Monty Stamp passed away on January 1, but his family at Lakewood Vineyards near Watkins Glen carries on his tradition of involvement and commitment to the industry at many levels. His wife Beverly Stamp is deeply involved with winery operations and groups like Women for New York State Wines. Son Chris, the winemaker, has been involved with several industry organizations over the years, as has his wife Liz who works in the tasting room. David, the vineyardist, is on the Board of the New York State Wine Grape Growers. Teresa (Stamp) Knapp works at the winery as well as the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, and is involved with Women for New York State Wines. Son Mike insures the winery, and his wife Kaye works in the tasting room. Even Monty and Beverly ’s grandchildren have been involved in the family business.

“Monty set an example for all of us that his family has embraced for years,” said Trezise. “Lakewood Vineyards is the ultimate family farm winery, and the Stamp family is the ultimate example of commitment, involvement and achievement.”

The 2007 “Unity Award” was presented to Tom Davenport, Director of Viticulture for National Grape Cooperative Association and Chairman of the National Grape and Wine Initiative (NGWI). Tom has played a very active role in the industry for decades, serving for years as the volunteer director of the New York State Grape Production Research Fund, as a member of the Viticulture Consortium, and now as Chairman of NGWI, a national organization focused on research to benefit the grape and wine industry. In all these capacities, he has played a vital role in bringing people together and achieving a common purpose and vision.

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 New York State Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chairman of the Agriculture Committee. When he became Chairman several years ago, there were no grapes or wineries in his district, yet he immediately took an interest in the industry and has been a major supporter ever since; now there are several wineries in his central New York district. He has been the leader in the Assembly on grape and wine issues including direct interstate shipment and other vital legislative initiatives.

The “Grower Award”, which recognizes vineyardists who have made exceptional contributions to the New York grape and wine industry, was presented to the Tones Family of Clearview Farms near Branchport. The Tones family includes three generations of growers and three family farms, and has long been active in industry associations like the New York State Wine Grape Growers.

The “Winery Award”— which recognizes wineries that have advanced the widespread recognition and quality reputation of New York wines—was presented to Paumanok Vineyards of Long Island’s North Fork . Paumanok is largely recognized as one of Long Island’s top quality wine producers, having won the “Winery of the Year” award at the 2004 New York Wine & Food Classic and many other awards and forms of recognition since then, including the highest ratings of any New York winery in a 2006 edition of Robert Parker Jr.’s The Wine Advocate. Charles and Ursula Massoud were also active in the effort to secure direct shipment legislation, and their son Kareem was selected to serve on Governor Spitzer’s agriculture transition team.

The “Research Award” for major contributions in research and education to benefit the New York grape and wine industry was presented to Dr. Tim Martinson of Cornell Cooperative Extension. For several years, Tim served as the Finger Lakes Grape Specialist, providing communication and education for growers in that region; and recently was promoted to a statewide position coordinating all grape-related Extension activities. Tim organized the annual Finger Lakes Grape Growers Convention, and this year played a key role in developing the Viticulture 2007 agenda.

The “Restaurant Award”—for excellence in promoting New York wines as part of a fine dining experience—was presented to Chuck Hunt, Executive Vice President of the New York State Restaurant Association. Chuck operates out of New York City , is extraordinarily well-connected in the restaurant industry, and has played a major role in encouraging New York City restaurants to feature New York wines and participate in the Foundation’s “New York Wines & Dines” program.

The “Retailer Award” recognizes wine stores which do an exceptional job in educating consumers about the quality and variety of New York wines. The 2007 award was presented to Altamont Wines & Liquor in the Albany area, where owner Bill Turner features a broad selection of New York wines.

A “Distributor Award” recognizing extraordinary support of New York wines was presented to Bill Crandall, who recently retired from Eber Brothers after decades of service. Bill served on the Foundation Board in recent years, and brought unique experience, enthusiasm and ideas to the table including a “wholesaler intiative” that will be carried out later this year.

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 2007 award was presented to Women for New York State Wines, a group of volunteers who conduct wine tastings and educational programs throughout the state. Formed in 1981 as the promotional arm of the New York State Wine Grape Growers, WNYSW has provided valuable support to the industry for over 25 years. Current WNYSW President Donna Gridley and many volunteers—there to pour, as always—received the award.