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SLO County wine industry honors 3 top leaders

Vintner Jean-Pierre Wolff was named Wine Industry Person of the Year by the San Luis Obispo County wine industry.
Vintner Jean-Pierre Wolff was named Wine Industry Person of the Year by the San Luis Obispo County wine industry.

Wolff Vineyards vintner Jean-Pierre Wolff has been named Wine Industry Person of the Year by the San Luis Obispo County wine industry.

The group also named Steve Peck, red-wine maker at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, as Winemaker of the Year, and Bob Thomas, area manager for Mesa Vineyard Management, as Winegrape Grower of the Year.

“We are excited to honor these three men whose passion for San Luis Obispo County wine and quest for quality in the vineyard and winery is to be celebrated,” said Jennifer Porter, executive director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.

The alliance partners with the San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association, the Independent Grape Growers of the Paso Robles Area, The Vineyard Team and past award recipients each year to identify award nominees. The wine community at large voted for the winners, who will be honored at a public ceremony at the California Mid-State Fair at 5:30 p.m. July 22.

“Each year the wine community looks forward to the Mid-State Fair as a time we can join our fellow agriculturalists in recognizing our leaders, innovators and visionaries,” Porter said.

We are excited to honor these three men whose passion for San Luis Obispo County wine and quest for quality in the vineyard and winery is to be celebrated.

Jennifer Porter, executive director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance

Wolff is a leader in sustainability and ecologically friendly farming practices at his 125-acre family-owned vineyard and winery in Edna Valley. The vineyard hosts university and government research projects on sustainable farming practices and serves as a demonstration site for steelhead-trout habitat improvement and natural resource conservation projects.

Earning acclaim for his cool-climate petite sirah and syrah as well as chardonnay and pinot noir, Wolff also serves on a half dozen local sustainability-oriented boards and councils, including chairing the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. In addition, he has received several green business awards.

Peck joined J. Lohr in 2007 to oversee the national winery’s full portfolio of red wines, including its Cypress Vineyard and Crosspoint labels. The California native has made wines at home since his college days and worked with Central Coast vineyards through stints at Five Rivers Winery and Jekel Vineyards.

Thomas is one of the region’s foremost experts in organic and biodynamic vineyard management. He helped develop the positive point system that was a precursor to the Sustainability in Practice program widely used today. He began working with Mesa in 1991 and now primarily oversees vineyard operations at Castoro Cellars, managing conventional, organic and biodynamic acreage.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com or on Twitter @sallybuffalo.

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