GRAPEVINE, TEXAS (July 25, 2013) – On Saturday, September 7, GrapeFest’s Texas Wine Tribute will unveil the brand new “Tall in Texas” award. One of the most exciting events held during GrapeFest, the largest wine festival in the Southwest, is the Texas Wine Tribute, a prestigious black-tie gala celebrating the growth and development of the Texas wine industry. In an effort to keep pace with the Texas Wine Industry’s changing landscape, the leadership of GrapeFest will now recognize each year a single Texas winery for its dedication to, support of and promotion of the Texas Wine Industry. The first recipient of the award is Messina Hof Winery from Bryan, Texas.
In the 1970s, Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo were part of a group of agricultural pioneers that believed quality wine grapes could grow in Texas. Founded in 1977 and bonded in 1983, Messina Hof Winery and the Bonarrigo family have played a crucial role in the development and immense growth of the Texas Wine Industry. Winery founder Paul V. Bonarrigo has served as the chairman of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and is a recipient of the John Crosby Lifetime Achievement Award, and Merrill Bonarrigo, Paul’s wife and co-founder, is a recipient of the Qualia Award for her contribution to the Texas Wine Industry. Messina Hof wines have won more than 1,500 awards, including 70 at GrapeFest’s People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic. And just this year, Messina Hof was honored by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition as Top All-Around Winery besting 947 wineries from 22 countries. Today, Messina Hof ‘s CEO is Paul M. Bonarrigo, a seventh generation winemaker who graduated from the United States Naval Academy as well as the University of California at Davis winemaking certificate program. Along with his wife Karen, a graduate of George Washington University, and their two children Sophia and Paul Anthony, the Bonarrigos are leading the Texas Wine Industry into the future.
When Messina Hof began in 1977, there were only four wineries in Texas. Today, there are nearly 300 wineries in Texas and the state is the fifth-largest wine producer in the United States. This is in no doubt due to the leadership and efforts of the earliest Texas wineries such as Messina Hof. With wineries now present in all regions of Texas, GrapeFest leadership felt that focusing on a single winery each year would allow for more effective promotion of the achievements of Texas wineries, both statewide and nationally. The Texas Wine Tribute has been one of the most effective platforms for the promotion and marketing of the Texas Wine Industry.
The “Tall in Texas” award was named as such to pay homage to those wineries who stand out as mentors and promoters in leading the education and growth of the Texas Wine Industry. A panel of industry professionals was established to select the award recipient. The panel members are
- Dr. Tim Dodd, Director of Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute, College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University. Dr. Dodd holds an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in Consumer Economics from Texas Tech University. He teaches graduate courses in the Department of Nutrition, Hospitality, and Retailing at TTU. Dr. Dodd is also the Associate Dean of Operations for the College of Human Sciences at Texas Tech University.
- Dr. Roy Renfro, Executive Director – T.V. Munson Memorial Vineyard, Grayson College. Dr Renfro is also the Director of the T.V. Munson Viticulture and Enology Center, Vice President for Resource and Community Development and Founder, Viticulture and Enology Degree Program, Grayson College.
- Debbie Reynolds, Executive Director, Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association. Reynolds is also a member of the Grapevine Wine Pouring Society.
- Mark and Sonya Terpening, GrapeFest Festival Co-chairs 26th Annual GrapeFest. Both of the Terpenings are members Grapevine Wine Pouring Society and Sonya Terpening is a nationally known artist and photographer.
- Paul W. McCallum, Executive Director, Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau. Mr. McCallum is also the Founder of the Texas Wine Tribute, past Director of Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association’s Marketing Committee, past Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association Board Member and a founding member of the Grapevine Wine Pouring Society.
The Texas Wine Tribute reception begins at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 7 at the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Grand Hall, 636 S. Main St. Tickets are $125 per person. The 27th Annual GrapeFest will take place September 12, 13, 14 and 15 in Historic Downtown Grapevine.
For tickets or more information about the Texas Wine Tribute or the 27th Annual GrapeFest, call the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-457-6338 or 817-410-3185 or visit www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/GrapeFest.