Local winemakers, grape growers to be honored at fair

newsroom@thetribunenews.comJuly 18, 2013 

The San Luis Obispo County Wine Industry Awards has named the late Keith Patterson, an influential Cal Poly wine and viticulture professor, its 2013 Wine Industry Person of the Year.

Also to be honored Friday at a California Mid-State Fair ceremony will be Winemaker of the Year Neil Collins of Tablas Creek Vineyard and Lone Madrone in Paso Robles; and Wine Grape Grower of the Year George Donati of Pacific Vineyard Co. in San Luis Obispo.

The “awards showcase leaders in our community who have worked to raise the profile and elevate the quality of the region,” said Jennifer Porter, executive director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, in a news release.

Patterson, whose career at Cal Poly spanned 16 years, is regarded as one of the “founding fathers” of the university’s wine and viticulture program and mentored students who later became leaders in the county’s wine industry. He died March 21 at age 66 as he battled cancer.

Collins began his winemaking career in the early 1990s at Adelaida Cellars and Wild Horse Winery and Vineyards, and he later became winemaker and vineyard manager at Tablas Creek. In 1996, he and sister Jackie Meisinger started Lone Madrone, where many of the vineyards are dry-farmed.

Donati, a fourth-generation agriculturalist on the Central Coast, is general manager of Pacific Vineyard Co., which manages 80 percent of the vineyards in Edna Valley. In 2012, the company received the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Green Award for its environmental stewardship.

The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, San Luis Obispo Vintners Association, the Independent Grape Growers Association, the Central Coast Vineyard Team and past award recipients work together for the Wine Industry Awards; the honorees are voted on by their peers.

Friday’s awards ceremony at the fair will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Mission Square Stage.

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