The New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF) is pleased to announce the winners of the prestigious 2022 Unity Awards. The Unity Awards were created in 1990 as a way for the community to recognize, encourage, and celebrate cooperation among grape growers, wineries, researchers, retailers, and others to advance the entire industry. Honoring the longstanding and bold spirit of our community members and their numerous achievements, NYWGF is proud to continue the 30-year tradition of celebrating industry leaders and champions.
“The events of the last few years demonstrated just how much we rely on each other and, moreover, how successful we can be when we work together in the face of a challenge,” said Sam Filler, Executive Director of NYWGF. “This year’s winners exemplify the spirit of the Unity Awards as imagined by our founder Jim Trezise. To pay that forward, we are pleased to offer each Unity Award winner the opportunity to designate an industry related program to receive a donation in their name.”
The Unity Award Winners, along with the organizations receiving a donation from NYWGF on their behalf, will be recognized during the B.E.V. NY Virtual Conference held from March 29-31, 2022. Attendees will hear from the top honorees during the event and learn more about their commitment to the community and how the spirit of unity has impacted their work.
“I am truly honored to receive the Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement award,” said John Martini “Jim is and has been a great asset for the New York Grape industry and led the industry to where we are today.”
An award of $2,500 will be donated to the NY Wine and Grape Growers Monty Stamp Scholarship Fund on behalf of the winner.
Brittany Gibson is the Executive Director of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, a position she has held since 2018.
A life-long resident of the Finger Lakes, she credits her large, tight knit family and parents with instilling in her the value of hard work, initiative, and a willingness to help others. Growing up just over the hill from Glenora Wine Cellars and Fulkerson Winery, Brittany has been surrounded by the industry her entire life. That has been a great learning experience and is also the source of her deep respect and admiration for the winery owners and grape growers in the industry. The collaborative spirit and sense of community among the wineries of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail is what drew her to the position, but their creativity, willingness to try new things, and excitement about the future is what drives her.
Brittany adds, “I believe in building community, helping where I can, and leaving things better than I found them. This award truly belongs to the member wineries at the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do every day which truly is living my passion. I am so thankful to count them as members of our great organization, but more importantly, lucky to call them mentors and friends. It’s been an incredible ride so far and I am beyond excited for the future.”
An award of $2,000 will be donated to the Finger Lakes Community College Viticulture Program on behalf of the winner.
Robert Ketchin has over fifty years of experience in the beverage alcohol and foodservice industries. Robert created Ketchin Sales & Marketing (KSM) in 1991 with a view to providing beverage alcohol companies and associations’ sales and marketing strategies and programs in the key markets of Canada.
Services provided by KSM included market research, new product development, identity marketing, public relations programs, event marketing, agent searches, liquor board liaison, sales initiatives and distribution strategies with the objective to “increase sales”.
Prior to founding Ketchin Sales & Marketing, Robert held senior sales and marketing positions with Peller Estate Wines and Heineken/Amstel Breweries. gaining extensive experience across Canada working with government regulators, liquor board marketing and category managers, beverage alcohol associations, wine media and leading on-premise owners and sommeliers.
As Market Representative for New York Wine & Grape Foundation since 1991 in Ontario and across Canada, Robert along with his team, partnering with the New York Wine & Grape Foundation management(past and present) developed promotion programs and built relations with the key decision-makers at Liquor Boards, private wine shops, key influencers in wine education, wine media and on-premise trade. Hosting New York wine events, masterclasses, dinners pouring some of the finest wines New York had to offer. Less memorable were the grueling days pouring at the many trade and consumer shows!
Robert would like to take this opportunity to recognize all New York wineries that have been on the Canada program and thank them for their hard work, dedication, passion and most of all for their personal support. Also acknowledge the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, whose unrelenting support and commitment over the years helped us stay the course and lead us boldly forward.
“Although the sales results in Canada have been disappointing, we can be very proud of our efforts. I had the pleasure of working alongside some wonderful people, winery owners, winery personnel and some truly iconic pioneers!! It has indeed been a privilege representing you all, there are friendships and memories that I will always fondly remember and be proud of. Thank You!”
An award of $2,000 will be donated to the NY Wine and Grape Growers Monty Stamp Scholarship Fund on behalf of the winner.
Patrician Verona Vineyards is our 70 acre wine grape vineyard on the West side of Cayuga Lake, established in 1972. Our grapes supply our estate winery, Hosmer Winery, as well as several other wineries in NY and other states. Tim Hosmer is a key player in both Patrician Verona Vineyards and Hosmer Winery. Tim also operates his custom vineyard planting business called Benchmark Custom US, which has planted in over 11 different states in the last 20 years.
“To be recognized for this award is a huge honor. We are joining a list of friends, colleagues, and legends. We have established such solid relationships with other vineyards and wineries alike and after 50 years in this game, we could not be happier.” says, Cameron Hosmer.
An award of $1,000 will be donated to the NY Wine and Grape Growers Monty Stamp Scholarship Fund on behalf of the winner.
“The Monty Stamp Education Fund supports students pursuing education in the wine and grape growing industry. With a constantly evolving industry, the more young minds we can get engaged and educated, the better off we will be!” says, Hosmer.
At Three Brothers we offer three unique wineries, a microbrewery and café all on one estate. With our expansive selection of hand-crafted wines, beers, hard ciders, and craft sodas there’s bound to be something for everyone who visits. Since opening in 2007, our priority has been an exceptional customer service experience and creating a destination people want to visit again and again.
Erica Paolicelli of Three Brothers Wineries & Estates said “We are honored to be the recipient of the 2022 Winery Award. This year marks the 15th anniversary of our opening, and the recognition by our peers feels really exciting. If it weren’t for the collaborative nature of those that came before us, who worked so hard to elevate the perception and understanding of New York Wines, we would not have recognized the success that we see today. It is an honor for us to continue that legacy.”
An award of $1,000 will be donated to the New York Wine Policy Institute on behalf of the winner.
The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a collaborative effort between Cornell and Penn State Universities, 5 County Extension Associations, Juice and Wine Grape Processors and Grower Members. Since 1992, we’ve conducted extension education programming as well as applied research and demonstration projects throughout over 30,000 acres of grapes in our region. Our mission is to lead in the development and dissemination of innovative, research-based information providing the New York and Lake Erie Region Grape Industries with integrated tools to maximize efficiency, profitability, and opportunities for diversification.
“I am so honored to be chosen for this Unity Researcher Award and in awe of the caliper of honorees that I join. As researchers, our goal is to provide our industry with integrated tools to improve management strategies and much of my work builds off of the incredible contributions of those honored before me. I am proud to be a part of such an amazing group always moving forward to support our New York wine and grape industry.” says, Jennifer.
An award of $1,000 will be donated to the Nelson J. Shaulis Fund for the Advancement of Viticulture on behalf of the winner.
Nelson J. Shaulis Fund for the Advancement of Viticulture has fostered scientific inquiry into the task of growing grapevines. Guided by an industry committee, it directly supports both education of future viticulture researchers—through scholarships for undergraduate summer research at Cornell—and continuing education in viticulture for the grape industry.
The fund was initiated by the New York Grape Production Research Fund to honor Cornell professor of horticulture Nelson Shaulis’s contributions to the industry upon his retirement. The work of Shaulis, professor of viticulture at Cornell from 1944 to 1978, set the stage for yield increases from two to three tons per acre to six to eight. The fund was established with donations from members of the grape industry and the Shaulis estate.
The annual Nelson J. Shaulis summer scholarship provides a stipend to promising undergraduate students at Cornell to participate in independent research projects with Cornell researchers. Since Barbara Frank, granddaughter of Finger Lakes V. vinifera pioneer Konstantin Frank, received the first scholarship in 1979, many Shaulis Scholars have become leaders in the academia and industry, including viticulturist Tony Wolf (Virginia Tech), cold climate grape breeder Peter Hemstad (University of Minnesota ), professor of viticulture Glen Creasy (Lincoln University in New Zealand), and National Grape Cooperative grower relations representative Rob Smith.
Cornell University is the premier Eastern University offering a complete undergraduate program and graduate degrees in Viticulture and Enology and since its founding has supported the grape and wine industry through research, extension and teaching.
Tim Martinson has been working on Sustainable practices for vineyards since starting his extension career in 1997. One of his first tasks was to produce a series of Agricultural Environmental Management worksheets for vineyards, in cooperation with the Yates Co. Soil and Water Conservation District. A few years later they expanded the worksheets into the VineBalance NY Guide to Sustainable Vineyard Practices workbook.
“I’m deeply honored to receive this Unity Award in sustainability from the Foundation, as developing and promoting Sustainable viticultural practices has been a major part of my extension effort for the past 20-od years.” says, Martinson.
An award of $1,000 will be donated to the Finger Lakes Community College Viticulture Program on behalf of the winner.
“Over the past several years, the FLCC Viticulture and Wine Technology program has distinguished itself in training the staff that accomplishes much of the day to day work in the vineyard and cellar. It is affordable and focused on practical skills that equip its students for industry jobs. I would like my award to go toward providing scholarship support, particularly to students coming from an immigrant background.” says, Martinson.
The Stonecat Cafe is a restaurant on Lake Seneca serving fine regional cuisine in a comfortable and approachable environment. The Stonecat supports the regional farms by using local organic ingredients and partnering with Finger Lakes wine producers. Patrons enjoy fine dining with a heavy focus on smoked fare offerings as well as cult classics like the pulled pork, catfish sandwiches and fresh desserts made locally, all with occasional events from local musicians.
The creator and owner of the Stonecat, Scott Signori, passed away in December. Scott was a pioneer in the farm to table movement. Scott’s vision wasn’t just good food, it was establishing an environment of love and connecting with the land and people around him. Awarding the restaurant in his memory is an honor and we appreciate the recognition of this work. His family and close friends understand the importance of his vision which is why we are reopening the restaurant this spring in his re-envisioned format. Knowing that the community feels the same way reinforces our efforts and keeps his spirit alive.
An award of $500 will be donated to the New York Wine Policy Institute on behalf of the winner.
Scott sought to enhance the dining experience with food and wine pairings. He took a unique approach in that he did not start with the food and then choose the wine. Scott worked with local vintners to select the wine and then customized the food selection, preparation and recipe in order to lift the flavor profiles of both.
The three independently owned and operated stores of the Premier Group are among the largest and most critically-acclaimed wine and spirit retailers in the United States, with roots dating back more than 50 years in Western New York. Each store takes pride in its knowledgeable staff, unmatched selection, and discount pricing. While the Premier Group stores have each received national recognition — including numerous National Retailer of the Year awards from trade leaders like Beverage Dynamics and the Wine Spectator — they’ll never abandon their New York roots. As longtime champions of the local and regional wine industry, member stores are proud to support the many New York state wineries that continue to produce such impressive, critically-acclaimed wines. The Premier Group remains committed to the growth of the state’s wine industry by maintaining the largest selection of New York wine in the country.
“Being chosen for the New York Wine & Grape Foundation’s Unity Retailer Award is a distinct honor that holds a special connection to our past. The management team of each Premier Group member store has sought to continue the legacy of past award recipient and original Premier Liquor founder Burt Notarius. With the group’s continued commitment to New York state wine, this recognition is further evidence of the correct path Burt envisioned for the development of the state’s local and regional wine industry.” says, Bill Mahoney, Wine Manager.
An award of $500 will be donated to the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance on behalf of the winner.
“In addition to the Yeoman’s work they do promoting Finger Lakes wine, members of our staff have also been direct beneficiaries of their wine education programs, most notably FLX Riesling Camp. In the past, the Premier Group has partnered with the FLWA through various consumer tastings and other events offered at member stores. We are pleased to work with such a strong advocate of Finger Lakes wine who has expanded the consumer base both locally and nationally.” says, Mahoney.
Maiah Johnson Dunn tells heart-forward stories about New York wine. The writer, occasional speaker, accidental activist and big-time optimist has works featured in 585 Magazine, Edible Finger Lakes, CITY Newspaper, Finger Lakes Wine Country and the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. She also writes a column for regional newspapers The Observer and The Review & Express.
Maiah is the Beverage Education Manager at New York Kitchen in Canandaigua, New York. Making wine feel real and accessible to everyone is not a task she takes lightly. She is a proud member of the Black Wine Professionals and founded Chasing Grapeness, an Instagram account turned wine pairing dinner series focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry.
The Boston native is honored to be updating the New York entry (and adding a brand-new Finger Lakes one!) for the upcoming 5th edition of Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine (to be published in 2023).
“Oh man, I still don’t have the words. This feels like a very surreal moment as it wasn’t on my radar that I might get nominated, let alone win! It’s an absolute honor to have received both while also being in incredible company with some stunning storytellers of New York Wine. Thank you so much.” says, Maiah.
An award of $500 will be donated to New York Kitchen on behalf of the winner.
“I joined New York Kitchen as the Beverage Education Manager in January 2021 – my first full-time job in wine as writing was my pandemic pivot. It’s been such a joy to learn (a lot!) in real-time while outfitting our tasting room with craft beverages and snacks that offer a taste of New York State. With plans to improve upon the current beverage class curriculum, I would love to donate with that intention.” says, Maiah.