The Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers kicked off its annual meeting with a big announcement: a name change.
The organization representing wine grape growers in Washington is rebranding itself as Washington Winegrowers, part of a larger effort to become more mission-driven to help members and the broader industry.
Many members who once only grew grapes now have both vineyards and wineries, said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of Washington Winegrowers.
“People from all over the country are taking notice of Washington State and investment in infrastructure from both the supply-side and production-side has exponentially expanded,” she said in a statement. “Our new name and logo is reflective of the industry growth.”
The group also awarded honors to several industry leaders during a reception.
Winemaker Bob Betz, who worked for Chateau Ste. Michelle for 30 years before retiring to focus on his own winery launched in 1997, received the new Grand Vin award, recognizing a wine industry member who has made a significant impact on the industry.
Betz is internationally known for his knowledge of winemaking and grape growing and has long served as an ambassador for the Washington wine industry.
The group recognized Joy Andersen with the industry service award.
A longtime winemaker who’s taken a leadership role in drawing awareness to sustainable practices in Washington wineries, culminating with the launch of the winerywise.com website in 2012.
Andersen worked her way up the winemaking ladder at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, eventually stepping into the role of winemaker when Ste. Michelle acquired Snoqualmie Winery in 1991.
Norm McKibben received the lifetime achievement award for years of service to the industry, including serving as chair of the Washington State Wine Commission, co-founder of Vinea, Walla Walla’s sustainable farming program, a co-chair of the Auction of Washington Wines, among others.
McKibben has been a co-owner in several wine businesses and orchards, including Pepper Bridge Winery and Vineyard and Seven Hills Vineyard.
Finally, Marshall Edwards earned the 2016 Grower of the Year award.
Edwards is the vineyard operations manager for Quintessence and has played a significant role at some of Washington’s largest vineyards, notably Ste. Michelle, where he found success in the challenging terrain at Canoe Ridge Estate in the Horse Heaven Hills.
Among other wineries, vineyards and wine industry companies where Edwards has played a role: Shaw Vineyards, Red Mountain Partners, Northwest Vineyard Management and Henry Earl Winery.