The Madera Vintners Association honored three wine industry professionals Jan. 16 who have shaped the region's winemaking success at the association's annual "Evening of Accolades" awards dinner CRU Wine Company.
Ficklin Vineyards, who has been producing award winning traditional ports for more than 64 years, was named Winery of the Year. Ficklin Vineyards, founded in 1946 by Walter C. Ficklin, remains the oldest port winery in the United States. Walter Sr., along with his sons David and Walter Jr, established Ficklin Vineyards as a leader in the wine industry, and the winery has become known as America's premier port winery.
Today, the third generation carries on the family tradition. With David's son Peter Ficklin as senior winemaker, and Walter Junior's son Steve Ficklin as the vineyard manager, Ficklin Vineyards continues to receive accolades for their ports.
According to Wendy Eachus, executive administrator of the association, the company's prosperity is returned to the community in the form of donations, given to more than 100 charities each year, and by sharing their legacy of experience and knowledge with future wine makers.
The new year brings ground-breaking growth for Ficklin Vineyards with the opening of a new division of the company, Ficklin-Wilcox, a "new concept" wine tasting room/class room with a kitchen store in Sacramento.
Winemaker of the Year
Michael Blaylock was awarded the honor of Winemaker of the Year.
Blaylock joined Quady Winery in 1983. As winemaker, he continues to produce the now legendary Essensia Orange Muscat and the rose-perfumed Elysium Black Muscat dessert wines as well as the new Electra.
Blaylock is currently involved in the development and expansion of the estate Mission Arch and San Miguel Vineyards. The San Miguel Vineyard is devoted to the exclusive development of various Portuguese port varieties for the proprietary Quady Vintage Starboard and the Starboard - Batch 88 ports. He continues to be a leader in winemaking in the region and is an inspiration to many in the industry.
Steve Ficklin, born in 1944, the very year that his grandfather and father planted the first vineyard, was honored as Winegrower of the Year. He is the third generation vineyard manager for Ficklin Vineyards.
The original plantings are still in production today because of the standard of care he has continued to maintain. Steve is an advocate of sustainable farming, and is forever committed to the stewardship of the soil, water and air.
"Steve Ficklin has made this his life's work -- to maintain the heritage of these vines that produce the grapes for Ficklin Vineyards wines and ports," Eachus said.
The Madera Vintners Association also recognized the 2012 People's Choice Award winners. Overall People's Choice Award & Dessert Wine: San Joaquin Wine Company's Pomegranate Sangria. Best White Wine: CRU Wine Company's 2010 Vineyard Montage Chardonnay and Best Red Wine: Fasi Estate Winery's 2006 Fasi Crest Syrah.
"The association is proud to recognize these individuals who have helped bring success to the region's wine industry," Eachus said..
The Madera Wine Trail will be hosting "Wine & Chocolate Weekend" Feb. 9 and 10, where guests can visit 12 wineries and taste dozens of excellent wines produced in Madera County.
Details: (800) 613-0709, maderawinetrail.com.