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Media Contact: Sarah Pursley
Phone: (805) 239-0655
Fax: (805) 239-3050


Wine Industry Award winners were announced at the 1st Annual Premier Party on Tuesday, July 26. The awards recognized individuals for excellence in the wine industry and were presented by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, San Luis Obispo Vintners Association and Independent Grape Growers of Paso Robles. Award presentations were given by Stacie Jacob of Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Charlie Yates of the San Luis Obispo Vintners Association, Richard Sauret from Independent Grape Growers of Paso Robles Area, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Harry Ovitt and Debbie Arnold, representing Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee’s office.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Herman Schwartz, Continental Vineyards and Rancho Tierra Rejada. Schwartz has worked since the early 1970s to promote the wine grape region and has maintained a steady conviction that Paso Robles wine grapes can compete with the finest coastal regions in terms of quality and value. He is a real survivor in the industry, having weathered several grape price cycles, and has worked to support new growers with cultural practices advice as they moved into the region. Schwartz helped start the Paso Robles Wine Festival and has continued to actively work to put it on each year. He has proactively communicated with the general agricultural community, as well as the non-agricultural sector.

Wine Industry Person of the Year - Neil Roberts, Viticulture Management, Inc.
Roberts is the chairman of the PRWCA (formerly PRVGA) and was the organization’s grower chair for several years. He has devoted a significant portion of his time to the organization and to focusing its emphasis to reflect the desire of its members. He has also served as a Paso Robles Wine Festival chair for two years. Roberts has worked in vineyard management on the central coast since 1985. He is a past president of the CCWGA and has been involved with the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau and Class XXIII of the Ag Leadership Program.

Winemaker of the Year – Victor Roberts, Victor Hugo Winery
Roberts has been a winemaker in the Paso Robles area since 1982 and has owned his own winery since 1997. He was a founding board member of the Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association, serving three years as its first president and chairing the Paso Robles Wine Festival for eight years. He is a consulting winemaker and finds time to volunteer as a coach for the Templeton Recreation Department.

Wine Grape Grower of the Year – Dana Merrill, Mesa Vineyard Management
Merrill has managed wine grape vineyards on the central coast for 25 years and owns Mesa Vineyard Management, a wine grape management company. He currently serves as a board member and as grower chair for the PRWCA (formerly PRVGA), is a past chairman of the California Association of Wine Grape Growers and is a member of CCVT and the Pierces Disease Board.

For more information please contact Stacie Jacob, Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, at 805-239-8463. The California Mid-State Fair runs July 27 – August 7, 2005 with the theme "The Biggest Little Fair…Anywhere – Celebrating 60 Fairs!"

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