The Washington State Grape Society recognized the industry contributions of three members during its annual meeting held in November in Grandview, Washington.
Mike Means, who has served on countless grape industry committees for nearly three decades dealing with issues from clean plants to research to sustainable viticulture practices, received the 2014 Walter Clore Award for his service to industry.
A Midwest native, Means came to Washington State in 1982 to attend graduate school at Washington State University. He studied entomology under Dr. Wyatt Cone, but began work in 1987 in Washington’s wine grape industry before finishing his degree. He is currently director of vineyard operations for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the largest wine producer in the state.
Means is on his second stint as board member of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, serving the first time from 2000-2009. He chairs the Foundation Block Advisory Group, which advises the Clean Plant Center Northwest, and is a grower representative to the Wine Advisory Committee, a group that reviews and makes recommendations on research and the allocation of research funding.
Additionally, Means was appointed by the state agriculture director to serve on the Grapevine Advisory Committee, a group that advises how to distribute funds generated by assessments on grape planting stock.
Justin, left, Kari, and Jordan Pace
Means is a past member of the Washington Wine Industry Foundation, Clean Plant Committee of the Washington Wine Commission, and industry representative to the Northwest Center for Small Fruit Research, headquartered in Corvallis, Oregon.
The Jerry Pace family received the 2014 Lloyd H. Porter Grower of the Year Award. Pace grew up in agriculture, helping on his father’s asparagus ranch in Sunnyside. During college he held a full time job at Seneca Foods as traffic manager, scheduling trucks of fruit and vegetables and with a partner started his own company, Apple Valley Trucking.
Pace bought his first farm, which was planted in asparagus in 1988 in Sunnyside.
Within two years, he took out the asparagus and planted Concord grapes. He continued to add juice and wine grape vineyards to his farm and eventually bought his own harvester and began a custom harvesting business. Today, the farm comprises 140 acres of wine and juice grapes.
Pace, who had a passion for being in the dirt, freely shared his farming techniques with others. He died two years ago at the age of 58. His sons, Justin and Jordan, and wife, Kari, have continued the farm and custom harvest business.
Sunnyside New Holland received the Distinguished Exhibitor Award. The equipment company has been an exhibitor at the annual meeting since the inception of the outdoor trade show in the mid 1980s and a strong supporter of the association. Lester Schlepp, sales representative, received the award on behalf of Sunnyside New Holland.
Melissa Hansen is the research program director for the Washington Wine Commission. Hansen previously was an associate editor at Good Fruit Grower from 1996 through 2015.
Read her stories: Author Index