Wine Lifetime Achievement Award

2019 Recipient – Joel Peterson

Joel Peterson began his wine making career in 1976 making small lots of intensely flavored Zinfandel from old vineyards a plows pass away from extinction. He had grown up sampling wines at his father’s knee, who ran the San Francisco Wine Sampling Club, and apprenticed with the legendary Joseph Swan of Sonoma. His vineyard designated wines transformed Zinfandel into a serious wine, and created a following for his “No Wimpy Wine” style.

As the Ravenswood brand soared he earned the moniker “The Godfather of Zin.”  Zin fans linked him in with pinnacle producers like Ridge and Rosenblum, who became known as the “3 R’s of Zinfandel.”  Peterson and his partners sold the winery to Constellation Brands in 2001, but Joel stayed on faithfully as Chief Winemaker until 2016. He has since returned to his roots with “Once and Future Wines” with his son Morgan Twain Peterson, making muscled wines in small batches.


2019 Recipient – Merry Edwards

Merry Edwards is an early pioneering female winemaker out of UC Davis in 1975. Under the tutelage of Dr. Maynard Amerine her Master’s thesis tested lead residues in wine, which resulted in the banning of lead capsules in the interest of public health. In the mid-70’s she focused on Pinot Noir clones to the extent one selection out of Davis is called the Merry Edwards clone.

In the early 1980’s she continued her clonal work on Chardonnay in Russian River Valley which lead to new vistas of opportunity for the variety and the region. All the while making these contributions to the industry, she was also making stellar wines for numerous producers, including Matanzas Creek, which rose to national acclaim. With the launch of her own Merry Edwards Winery in the Russian River Valley in 2006 she is not only famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but also for an elegant barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc.

After 20 years elevating her winery to global status she has recently entered into an acquisition agreement with Roederer, to which all parties, including the wine trade, see as a match made in heaven.


Year Recipient
2018 Greg Boeger
2018 The Bogle Family
2017 Paul Draper
2016 G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski
2015 Gary Eberle
2013 Carole Meredith
2012 Dr. Ralph Kunkee
2012 Dr. Maynard Amerine
2012 Ficklin Vineyards, Walter C. Ficklin
2011 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
2011 California State University, Fresno
2011 University of California, Davis
2010 Wente Family
2009 Vince Petrucci
2009 Peter Mondavi
2009 Zelma Long
2008 Warren Winiarski
2008 Mike Grgich
2008 Mary Ann Graf
2007 Bob Gallo
2007 Jerry Lohr
2007 Jim Concannon
2006 Darrell Corti
2006 Dick Peterson
2005 Richard Cuneo
2004 Robert Young
2003 John Parducci
2002 Harold Olmo
2001 Jess Jackson
2000 John DeLuca
1999 Gina Gallo
1998 Bob Trinchero
1997 Robert Mondavi