Home Industry News Economics New York Wine & Grape Foundation Unity Awards Announced

New York Wine & Grape Foundation Unity Awards Announced

The New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF) is pleased to announce the winners of the prestigious 2024 Unity Awards. The Unity Awards were created in 1990 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 Unity Awards Luncheon is a yearly highlight for me, a true celebration of our vibrant grape and wine community in New York. It’s a moment to recognize the outstanding leadership and achievements of our community members,” expressed Sam Filler, Executive Director of NYWGF. “This year’s winners truly embody the essence of the Unity Awards, reflecting the vision set by our founder Jim Trezise. In the spirit of giving back, we’re thrilled to extend the opportunity for each Unity Award winner to direct a donation to an industry-related program in their name.” 

The Unity Award Winners, along with the organizations receiving a donation from NYWGF on their behalf, were recognized during the B.E.V. NY Conference, March 5 & 6, 2024. Attendees heard from the top honorees during the event and learned more about their commitment to the community and how the spirit of unity has impacted their work.

2024 Unity Award Winners 

Cameron & Maren Hosmer, Owners, Hosmer Winery | The Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement Award  
This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the New York wine and grape industry and made impactful contributions that advanced the industry. 

Cesar BaezaPresident, Baeza Wine Connection | Phyllis Feder Unity Award
This award recognizes individuals who have volunteered their time, shown exceptional leadership, and achieved recognized results in building industry cooperation and unity. 

Douglas DeCroix, Executive Director, Western New York Heritage, & John Thomas Slater, Proprietor, Slater Associates | Jim Finkle Industry Award
This award is intentionally broad in scope in order to recognize outstanding achievements in aspects of the industry not directly covered by Unity and other awards. 

Macari Vineyards, Mattituck, NY | Winery Award
This award recognizes a winery that has made major contributions to advancing the image and reputation of the New York wine industry. 

Dawn and Bob Betts, Partners, Betts Farm LLC | John H. Brahm III Grower Award
This award recognizes an individual for dedication and contributions to the New York grape industry. 

Katie Gold, Assistant Professor of Grape Pathology, Cornell University | Research Award
This award recognizes major contributions in the area of grape growing processing, and wine research. 

Richard Olsen-Harbich, Director of Winemaking, Bedell Cellars | Sustainability Award
This award recognizes an organization or winery that has exemplified sustainable practices.  

Melissa Heath, Administrative Specialist, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets | Consumer Award
This award recognizes enthusiastic support of the New York wine industry and exemplifies the use of wine as part of a happy, healthy lifestyle.  

Contento, New York, NY | Restaurant Award
This award recognizes excellence in promoting New York wines in a fine dining experience. 

The Gilded GrapeBrooklyn, NY | Retailer Award
This award is presented to wine stores which do an exceptional job in educating consumers about the quality and variety of New York wines.

“When you love what you do, it becomes even more special when other people in the industry recognize the passion and hard work that you’ve put in year over year,” said Cameron Hosmer on receiving the Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement Award. “To receive the Lifetime Achievement Award is an honor, yet we can’t help but say that there’s more work to be done!” 

“It’s nice to have your career recognized, especially by your peers,” said Cesar Baeza.

“Winning a Unity award is not only a great honor, it is a tremendous validation of the work we do to preserve and celebrate the rich history of our region, and particularly the efforts we have made over the past 15 years to collect and preserve the incredible history of the Chautauqua-Erie Grape Belt and the resurgence of its wine industry.” Said Douglas DeCroix, Executive Director, Western New York Heritage. “Likewise, I feel it serves as a great recognition of the significance and importance of the Chautauqua-Erie Grape Belt, its growers, workers, and winemakers, past and present, and I am thrilled that the New York Wine & Grape Foundation has opted to recognize our efforts to share that significant story.” 

“As the author, this award represents a new level of validation outside the Grape Belt community of the 12 years of research by my study group and contributors that created the Lake Erie Grape Belt Archive which, in turn, served as the foundation for the book’s text and illustrations,” said John Thomas Slater, Retired Proprietor at Slater Associates. “It is my hope that a State-wide awareness of the evolution of the grape culture along the South Shore of Lake Erie will focus attention on the region’s many family-owned wineries and their fine-quality, award-winning wines instead of solely its reputation as the oldest and largest Concord grape-growing region in the world and a major producer of grape juice.”

“We are incredibly honored and grateful to receive the ‘Winery’ Unity Award from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. This prestigious recognition is a testament to the dedication and passion of our entire team at Macari Vineyards,” said Gabriella Macari of Macari Vineyards. “This award is not just a validation of our viticultural and winemaking efforts but also a celebration of the vibrant community that supports us. It reinforces our belief that unity in the wine industry is key to achieving excellence. We share this award with our loyal Wine Club Members, frequent visitors, our hardworking staff, and the North Fork community that has been our home for decades. Thank you for this incredible honor, which only motivates us to strive for even greater heights in the future.” 

“We are immensely grateful to learn that we have been selected as the recipient of the John Brahm III Growers Award and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to our peers who nominated us for this generous award,” said Dawn Betts, Partner at Betts Farm LLC. “As concord grape farmers with National Grape/Welch’s, we have focused our careers to move the local viticulture industry from the “old school” mindset into the next generation. We have historically collaborated with the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program and been hands-on stewards of our own land. Thank you so much for recognizing our hard work and the passion that we have for our farm.” 

“I am honored to be recognized by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation with the Unity Research Award,” said Katie Gold, Assistant Professor of Grape Pathology at Cornell University. “Being a grape pathologist at Cornell is truly my dream job and it has been such a pleasure to engage with and learn from NY grape growers over the past 4 years in this position. I love being a part of the NY wine and grape industry and am grateful for the acknowledgment of the value of the research the Gold Lab conducts.” 

“Winning this award is very special to me as it validates all the efforts of not just myself, but of dozens of dedicated winegrowers in New York striving to become more sustainable and steward our land into the future,” said Richard Olsen-Harbich, Director of Winemaking at Bedell Cellars.

“It is an honor to win a Unity Award,” said Melissa Heath, Administrative Specialist in the Division of Plant Industry at the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. “My husband and I have seen many of the wine families grow and expand. It is so wonderful to see the area grow and prosper. Winning the award is very special.”

“Winning the Unity Award allows us to strengthen our vision and mission to bring focus to the New York State wine regions,” said Mary Pino, Owner of The Gilded Grape. “Our goal is to be a premier NYS wine & spirit boutique for the consumers that love New York State and want to support local. This award validates all our hard work.”

NYWGF will be featuring the stories of the honorees and the programs they support throughout the year at www.newyorkwines.org.

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