On Saturday, September 6, the 28th Annual GrapeFest – A Wine Experience will kick off festival week with the Texas Wine Tribute, a black-tie gala and one of the most prestigious annual Texas Wine Industry events. The Texas Wine Tribute features the presentation of the highly-anticipated annual “Tall in Texas” award, bestowed to a Texas winery in recognition of the winery’s leadership role in the dedication to, support of and promotion of the Texas Wine Industry. The 2014 recipient of the award is Becker Vineyards and Dr. Richard and Bunny Becker from Stonewall, TX.
For 20 years, the Becker’s approach to winemaking has been to produce premium wines and to share their winemaking knowledge with others within the industry. Known for taking a classically French approach to winemaking, Becker Vineyards ensures that during the winemaking process, all the necessary steps are taken to produce the highest-level premium product possible. Becker Vineyards is credited with being one of the earliest proponents of premium Texas wines.
From the winery’s earliest beginnings, Becker Vineyards has been a strong supporter of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, joining the organization just after the Beckers began producing wine. Dr. Becker served as the organization’s president in 1998 and has held consistent membership for 20 years. Dr. Becker has also been a leader in the research of Pierce’s Disease, working in conjunction with and financially supporting the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service for 19 years. Not only is Becker Vineyards one of the largest wineries in Texas, but they are also one of the largest contractors of Texas grapes and fruits. As tireless supporters of the Texas Wine Industry, Becker Vineyards is one of the leading advocates for Texas wines being produced from Texas-grown grapes.
“Throughout the industry, the Beckers are known as one of the strongest mentors for up and coming wineries,” said Katy Jane Seaton, high plains grape grower and former Executive Director of the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail. “For the past 20 years, they have continually hosted a variety of mentoring and training sessions on a variety of topics including Pierce’s Disease, winery marketing and other areas that are vital to the success of the industry. Their dedication to and strong tradition of working with wineries across the state has had a direct impact on the bottom line and premium varietals of the Texas Wine Industry.”
“The Beckers are always the first people to step up and to support our Hill Country Wine Trail initiatives, including often providing financial support,” said Seaton. “Their philosophy has always been that a high tide raises all ships. With that philosophy, they have taken the approach that by working together, everyone along the Hill Country Wine Trail and by extension, the Texas wine industry, benefits.”
As a leader in the mentorship of other winemakers throughout the state of Texas, Becker Vineyards has hosted a variety of events and training sessions focused on their production methods, helping to educate other winemakers and to raise the awareness of premium Texas wines. In February 2014, Becker Vineyards hosted the Texas A&M AgriLife Grower Field Day and Benefit Dinner. The event provided education for existing, new and future Texas grape growers and also featured a Large Format Bottle Auction. At the end of the evening, more than $38,000 had been raised for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and grape research.
Along with providing support and educational opportunities to other grape growers and Texas wineries, Becker Vineyards has also been a continuous supporter of education through many collegiate programs, including those at Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, as well as the Texas Center for Wine & Culinary Arts, which is slated to break ground in 2014.
“Dr. Becker is one of the founders of the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit and in 2011, Dr. Becker suggested that the Viticulture and Enology Program at Texas Tech be the beneficiary of their annual event,” said Dr. Ed Hellman, professor of viticulture, Texas Tech University. “Since that year, the non-profit has supported the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit Graduate Fellowship with $2,500 each year, which is dedicated to supporting a graduate student studying viticulture and enology in the Department of Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech. The Fellowship achieves two important goals: one, training tomorrow’s leaders of the grape and wine industry, and two, supporting research to enhance grape production in Texas.”
The “Tall in Texas” award was named as such to pay homage to those wineries that stand out as mentors and promoters in leading the education and growth of the Texas Wine Industry. An industry panel consisting of academics and Texas wine leaders selects the recipient of the “Tall in Texas” award. 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;
- Michael Zerbach, past president and former board member of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association. Mr. Zerbach is a retired vineyard owner, having started and owned Addison/James Vineyards in southwest Parker County for 22 years. He is also the recipient of the T.V. Munson award in 1998, as well as the John E. Crosby Award, the lifetime achievement award from the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association in 2009. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Lipe Foundation, an organization devoted to raising funds for the development of the Texas Grape Industry. Mr. Zerbach also served as the co-chair for Grapevine’s New Vintage Wine and Gallery Trail for the formative first years. He is a landscape architect by profession and has provided his design services for numerous wineries and vineyards in Texas;
- 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 and
- 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.
Proceeds from the Texas Wine Tribute benefit Metroport Meals On Wheels and the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association. The Texas Wine Tribute reception and auction begins at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 6 at the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Grand Hall, 636 S. Main St. Tickets are $125 per person. The 28th Annual GrapeFest will take place September 11, 12, 13 and 14 in Historic Downtown Grapevine. Tickets are on sale now.
For tickets or more information about the Texas Wine Tribute or the 28th Annual GrapeFest, call the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-457-6338 or 817-410-3185 or visit www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/GrapeFest.