GRAPEVINE, TEXAS (September 3, 2015) – On Saturday, September 12, the 29th Annual GrapeFest – A Wine Experience, presented by Bank of the West, 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 2015 recipient of the award is Llano Estacado Winery from Lubbock, TX.
“Llano Estacado Winery has won many prestigious awards in state, national and international competitions. That recognition, along with continuous awards and media coverage since, assured Llano Estacado’s leadership in the Texas wine and grape industry,” said Debbie Reynolds, executive director, Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association.
Established in 1976 by the late Dr. Clinton “Doc” McPherson, the late Robert Reed, Dr. Roy Mitchell and other passionate investors, including their chairman, well-known Lubbock attorney, Don Graf, Llano Estacado Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Texas and is considered by many to be one of the founding wineries of the modern day Texas Wine Industry. What started out as a research project in the basement of the Texas Tech University chemistry building has grown into the largest, best-selling premium winery in the state. However, it was in 1986 that Llano Estacado put Texas wine on the national wine scene when the winery earned the prestigious San Francisco Fair’s International Wine Competition’s “Double Gold” Medal for its 1984 Chardonnay, adding instant credibility to the growing industry in Texas. Graf, the current Chairman of the Board for Llano Estacado, will be on hand at the event to accept the Tall in Texas award, along with Llano Estacado president and chief executive officer, Mark Hyman.
As one of the founding wineries in the state, Llano Estacado Winery has a long standing tradition of mentoring others in the Texas Wine Industry, as well as sharing data and technology with educational institutions, such as Texas Tech University’s Viticulture and Enology program.
Several of the winery’s staff members have served on the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) Board of Directors. Mark Hyman, president and CEO of Llano Estacado, has served on the TWGGA Legislative Committee for many years and works during Texas legislative sessions to help pass bills favorable to the Texas wine and grape industry. Coincidentally, in 2016, Llano Estacado Winery and TWGGA will both celebrate 40-year anniversaries. Llano Estacado Winery, along with other Texas wine industry pioneers, are also responsible for creating the Texas Winemakers which eventually became the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA).
From Llano Estacado’s earliest beginnings, key staff have been instrumental in pioneering Texas wine around the state, parts of the country and world, and leading the charge that Texas wine is both real and viable. In fact, Llano Estacado has done business in 22 states, five European markets, Japan, Korea, Russia and even Mongolia. Llano Estacado’s key team has extensive industry knowledge including executive winemaker Greg Bruni, a passionate third generation winemaker from California.
Llano Estacado has also exhibited a commitment to the continuing education of future winemakers. The Red Raider line of wines was developed as a partnership between two icons of West Texas – Texas Tech University and Llano Estacado Winery. These wines were produced after careful selection of premium grapes and with the expertise of Llano Estacado’s winemakers, Greg Bruni and Jason Centanni. A portion of the sales proceeds help support both the Texas Tech Alumni Association and The Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute at Texas Tech University.
“It’s been exciting to watch how our modern day Texas wine industry has evolved and grown over the last 42 years,” said Mark Hyman, president and chief executive officer, Llano Estacado Winery. “We’re proud to have been instrumental in the development of the industry and its, continued, burgeoning success. Come taste selected wines from our new fine wine portfolio during the Texas Wine Tribute.”
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:
- 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;
- 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, 26thAnnual GrapeFest. Both of the Terpenings are members Grapevine Wine Pouring Society. Mark is a member of the Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors and Sonya 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 12 at the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Grand Hall, 636 S. Main St. Tickets are $125 per person. The 29th Annual GrapeFest – A Wine Experience, presented by Bank of the West, will take place September 17, 18, 19 and 20 in Historic Downtown Grapevine. Tickets are on sale now.
For tickets or more information about the Texas Wine Tribute or the 29th Annual GrapeFest, call the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-457-6338 or 817-410-3185 or visit www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com/GrapeFest.