The Washington Winegrowers Association honored four longtime industry leaders on Tuesday during a lunch banquet at the association’s annual convention in Kennewick, Washington.
Shane Collins, vice chair of the association, presented the Service Award to Walla Walla grower Tom Waliser and thanked him for “training so many men and women that are now leaders in this industry.”
Horse Heaven Hills grower Mike Andrews was recognized as the Grower of the Year.
Andrews, who started his career raising cattle, now tends 1,125 acres of wine grapes, including more than 20 varieties. He thanked his friends and neighbors for helping him get started growing grapes more than 20 years ago.
“I really want to say that this industry is something special because everybody works together to make it happen,” said Andrews, owner of Coyote Canyon Vineyard and Winery. “Now, with the winery, it’s given us an opportunity to see how what you do in the vineyard, you can taste the effects in the bottle.”
On the wine making side, the Grand Vin award was presented to Rick Small, owner of Woodward Canyon Winery in Walla Walla. Small thanked his family and others in the industry for the opportunity to work with top quality vineyards over decades.
“To work with old Cabernet, planted more than 30 years ago by Paul Champoux, to work with that same fruit for so many years, it gives you perspective,” Small said. “That’s what makes Washington wine special.”
Lastly, Todd Newhouse, association board president, presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to a true legend in Washington wine, “the unstoppable Frenchman himself,” Paul Champoux.
Champoux, who started growing wine grapes in 1979, was praised by his friends and family as someone who is still constantly learning and determined to seek quality above all.
“I’m honored. To be honored by your colleagues is special,” Champoux said, clearly surprised by the award. “It’s been great to be part of this industry from the beginning.”
– by Kate Prengaman