New York Wine & GrapeNews



Unity Banquet Award Winners Announced at B.E.V. NY

Valerie Ross

Category: Industry

Dear Friends,

Today, we are excited to announce this year's recipients of the Unity Awards. The awards were presented today at the B.E.V. NY Unity Banquet held at the RIT Conference Center in Rochester.  The Unity Banquet was created nearly 30 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.
This year we created a new award in honor of our Founding President, Jim Trezise, who served as President for 32 years and helped generate worldwide recognition for New York Wines.  This culminated in New York State being honored with the title of  "Wine Region of the Year" by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2014.
This new award will be known as the Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement Award, which will recognize individuals who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the New York wine and grape industry and made impactful contributions that advanced the industry. We are proud to present the award today to Jim as the first recipient. The award is being sponsored by The New York State Wine  Grape Growers and Women for New York State Wine.
Phyllis Feder Unity Award
This award honors the owner of Clinton Vineyards in the Hudson Valley, who served as Chair of the Foundation Board for three years.  The award recognizes individuals who have volunteered their time, shown exceptional leadership, and achieved recognized results in building industry co-operation and unity. The 2018 recipient of the "Phyllis Feder Unity Award" is Trent Preszler, CEO of Bedell Cellars on Long Island. Over the past decade, Trent has served as Chairman of the NYWGF Board of Directors as well as the Chairman of WineAmerica, volunteering thousands of hours of time in order to serve the needs of our industry. His leadership with WineAmerica was directly responsible for the  current wine excise tax reduction which will save small wineries thousands of dollars of tax revenue going forward. Trent has consistently put forward the needs of the Long Island wine industry, and his support of the  Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing program has been considerable and unwavering.  He is a passionate and erudite supporter of New York's wine and grape industry.
Jim Finkle Industry Award 
Sponsored by Harris Beach, PLCC
This award is named after a gentle giant who for many years and in many ways contributed to the grape and wine industry on state, national and international levels.  The award recognizes outstanding achievements in aspects of the industry such as marketing, promotion, legislative, and organizational. The recipient of this year's Industry Award is Jay Hardenburg. As a 30-year employee of National Grape he worked with growers across New York and Ontario, Canada, to increase yields and profitability. Jay managed viticulture research for National Grape and worked directly with viticulture researchers at Geneva and Fredonia, and oversaw National Grape's and the NY Grape Production Research Fund's $75,000 research budget. He worked directly with researchers on disease, insect and cultural practices at MSU, Ohio State, U Arkansas, WSU and Davis. He continues to sit on the LERGP advisory board. His family was a founding member of the National Grape Coop (Jay continues to operate about 50 acres of grapes) and Jay served on the Northeast Council of Farmer Coops board for many years. Jay also worked with growers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as with researchers at Penn State.
Grower Award
This award recognizes an individual for dedication and contributions to the New York grape industry. The recipient of this year's Grower Award is Tina Hazlitt. Tina is a constant steward of our grape growing community. She is always on the lookout for anything that might negatively affect our industry and is the first to volunteer to fight it.  Her vineyard site in the Finger Lakes has inspired as many "single vineyard"-designated wines as Sawmill Creek.  Whether it be Red Newt, Damiani, Forge Cellars, or Hector Wine Company, many premium wineries have found that the fruit sourced from Sawmill Creek has superior quality and, as such, the vineyard deserves credit for its role in crafting fine wine (Source:  Villa Bellangelo)
Winery Award
Sponsored by Alex Arrigo, Representing  Farm Family Insurance Company
This award recognizes major contributions in advancing the image and reputation of the New York wine industry. The recipient of this year's Winery Award is Coyote Moon VineyardsThis past July, Phil Randazzo and the Randazzo Family's Coyote Moon Vineyards was named New York Winery of the Year at the New York International Wine Competition for the second year in a row.  And, Coyote Moon has recently been given a Terrior Award from the Dan Berger International Wine Competition, recognizing the winery for producing exceptional wine in a region considered more challenging for growing grapes. "Coyote Moon has been inventive, taking a leap of faith to create a style of wine appropriate for the region," says Dan Berger. "If one winery can reach world class status, then that speaks to the entire region." Growing these grapes has been ground breaking not only for the Thousand Islands region but the kinds of grapes grown by Coyote Moon has given depth to the growing industry in New York State.
The Restaurant of the Year Award
This award recognizes excellence in promoting New York wines in a fine dining experience. The Restaurant of the Year Award is being presented to Graft wine + cider bar. Graft showcases the beauty of New York wines when paired with delicious locally-sourced food. This upscale and intimate dining experience is both elegant and accessible. The wine flights encourage guests to try a variety of wines and I love that bottles are also available for purchase to take home. Graft received great national press (Food + Wine). It is refreshing that instead of NY wines being part of the show, at Graft they are the star of the show. Graft's concept elevates the whole area.

Retailer of the Year Award
This award recognizes wine stores which do an exceptional job in educating consumers about the quality and variety of New York wines. The Retailer of the Year Award is presented to Pedulla's Wine and Liquor. Pedulla's as been a long-time supporter of New York wines and they have invested in their New York section, increasing the number of options. Their weekly New York tastings keep New York wines fresh in the minds of consumers. They have one of the largest sections of New York wines and have been a huge supporter for over 30 years.
The Research Award
This award recognizes major contributions in the area of grape growing, processing, and wine research, and may be presented to scientists, industry members or others. This year's recipient of the Research Award is Marilyn Konopka. Through her position at Constellation Brand, Marilyn has developed a number of different wine products that have created a demand for New York Grapes.  Her research and product development has led to expanded use of New York grapes, And, her work with FIVS which has supported wineries internationally.
Ron Reals Distributor Award
This award is named after the person for whom the award was first created, based on his passion for and commitment to the New York wine industry. The award recognizes achievement in distributing and promoting New York wines. The recipient of this year's Distributor Award is John Iszard of Opici Family Distributors . John has spent decades promoting New York wines. He is a constant at liquor store tastings, festivals and industry events.  In 2001, he joined Fulkerson Winery as their Sales Director.  Her served in this role for 13 years until moving to the distributor side of the wine business when he joined Opici Family Distibutors.
Consumer Award
This award recognizes "enthusiastic" support of the New York wines industry and for exemplifying the use of wine as part of a happy, healthy lifestyle. The recipient of this year's Consumer Award is Tracy Schuhmacher, a Writer with the Democrat & Chronicle. Tracy has been enthusiastic and curious about New York wines since her tenure at Wickham Farms where she cultivated the first CSA/ NY wine tasting. When she moved to the Democrat & Chronicle she has spent considerable time in the Finger Lakes interviewing NY wineries including those that do not often get much attention. Her articles have been picked up by many other news outlets, increasing NY wine's visibility. Tracy truly has the wine bug and is taking her wine knowledge to the next level--she is currently enrolled in WSET Level 2 at the NYWCC. We are lucky to have this enthusiastic writer spread the word about FLX history, wines and people.

Again, we would like to thank all of our award winners for their tireless advocacy and support of the New York wine and grape community. You have our tremendous gratitude for all you do every day to raise the awareness of the world class products being made right here in New York. Thanks also goes to our sponsors this year, for their recognition and support of the important work being done by our community. 


Sam Filler, Executive Director