Superb Sipping

March 25, 2014 

Westbrook Wine Farm of O'Neals, owned and operated by Ray and Tammy Krause, has been named "Winery of the Year" and Idle Hour Winery's Anna Marie dos Remedios "Winemaker of the Year" by the Madera Vintners Association.

The honors were announced March 20 at the third annual "Evening of Accolades" awards dinner in Madera at San Joaquin Wine Company.

"The Madera Vintners Association proudly gives this award to a winery that pays special attention to the details in wine production, the betterment of the Madera wine region and that has shaped the local wine industry in many positive ways," said Denise England, president of the association.

Westbrook Wine Farm is celebrating its 16th vintage this year, a culmination of 51 years of winemaking experience. In 1987, Ray Krause, then owner of Fairview Farm Vineyard Winery in Templeton, purchased the 40-acre property which was originally "Paint Horse Ranch," along Fine Gold Creek in O'Neals. Shortly after, the first vines were planted for Fait Accompli, a co-fermented field blend of six Bordeaux varieties.

"Tammy and I are grateful for this recognition of our efforts to continually improve the quality of fruit and profits to the winegrowers of Madera County," Krause said.

Winemaker of the Year

Anna Marie dos Remedios began making wine as a home winemaker in 2003 as a hobby, while still working as owner/publisher of the Pinnacle, a weekly newspaper in Hollister. Eventually she left journalism and began learning minimalist winemaking while working at Calera Wine Company in Hollister.

She interned at Diageo Winery in 2006 and enrolled in the UC Davis Wine Making Certificate Program to further her studies.

She believes in native yeast fermentations and built a gravity flow winery, both techniques which allow the true expression of the variety and vineyard. She makes small lot, single vineyard designated wines, searching out organic and sustainably grown vineyards throughout Central California, producing Rhone varieties from Madera, Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Franc from Clarksburg.

"We feel so fortunate to receive this honor, and the support of our community, winemakers, and family run wineries of the Madera Vintners Association," dos Remedios said.

"Our Madera County wines are earning quite a good reputation," Debbie Payne, co-owner and assistant winemaker said. "Our Coarsegold grown Syrah just earned a 92 point score and our Pinot Noir earned a 91 point score by winereviewonline.com."

The Oakhurst winery also has a satellite tasting room in Carmel Valley in Monterey County.

Winegrower of the Year

Ralph Fasi, of Fasi Estate Winery, was honored as Winegrower of the Year. This award recognizes the major contribution a winegrower brings to the wine industry and economy, along with the quality of grapes distributed to each winery.

In 1999, Fasi set out to create a Syrah Vineyard in the San Joaquin Valley unlike any other in the region. The 42 acre "Vineyard 2000" is the culmination of this idea and is built around one very simple, yet unique concept: Create an organically certified vineyard that marries the long traditions of wine grape growing while being good stewards of the land.

In April 2012, Fasi Estate established a boutique winery and tasting room in Friant.

At the awards dinner, The Madera Vintners Association also recognized the 2013 People's Choice Award winners, which are voted for by guests at the California Wine Month Reception in September. Chosen in the red wine category was Birdstone Winery Autumn's Hart Malbec. In the white wine category were tied winners, San Joaquin Wine Company's 2012 Green Eyes Chardonnay and Birdstone Winery's Neyman Family Viognier. The favorite for dessert wine was Papagni Wines' 2011 Pinot Grigio.

"The Madera Vintners Association is proud to recognize these individuals who have helped bring success to the region's wine industry," said England.

The four-course award dinner was catered by The Painted Table. Alex Delgado, host of KSEE Channel 24's Central Valley Today show, served as master of ceremonies.

The Madera Wine Trail will host "Yosemite Grant Wine Celebration" May 3 and 4, where guests can visit participating wineries and taste dozens of wines. Details: (800) 613-0709, maderawinetrail.com.

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