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4 Sonoma County wine ‘icons’ to be honored at May barrel auction

Sonoma County Vintners announced it will honor four local “Icons and Innovators” during the Sonoma County Barrel Auction to be held at MacMurray Estate Vineyards on May 6.

“These individuals have forged a path for Sonoma County wines to be acclaimed globally and continue to improve winemaking and vineyard care techniques that are widely adopted. We are honored that they continue to care so deeply for their craft and share their expertise with our winemaking community,” said Michael Haney, executive of the trade group for more than 200 wineries, in the news release.

Audrey Sterling, co-founder of Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, is among those being recognized. The group describe Sterling as “the matriarch and standard-bearer of Iron Horse Vineyards,” which was founded with Barry Sterling in 1976.

“It is hard to remember how pioneering it was to put down roots in western Sonoma County in the mid-1970s. The Sterlings knew the value of a cool climate for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from their years in France and Audrey was familiar with the area from childhood summers on the Russian River,” the vintners group stated.

Also to be recognized will be Randy Ullom, winemaster and senior vice president, Kendall-Jackson.

“Randy is now entering his 29th year with the Jackson family, spearheading all winemaking operations for Kendall-Jackson and the signature Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, America’s #1 selling Chardonnay since 1992,” the group stated.

The “pioneer in the California Chardonnay movement” worked as vice president, winemaker at DeLoach Vineyards for more than 12 years “where he helped grow the brand from four thousand cases to about 80 thousand cases of chardonnay as well as pinot noir, zinfandel, sauvignon blanc and white zinfandel.”

Also earning the group’s innovator label is the family behind Benziger Family Winery. The group credits their winery with “using certified Biodynamic, organic and sustainable farming methods.”

“Created with the help of environmental experts, their certified-sustainable vineyard program is one of the most comprehensive in the country. The program, which emphasizes environmentally sound growing methods such as biodiversity, soil revitalization and Integrated Pest Management, shows growers how to cultivate grapes with more character, flavors and aromas with the goal of making better, genuinely distinctive wines,” the group stated.

Also to be honored, Ames Morison, who is the co-founder of Medlock Ames winery: “Preservation of the land is the driving ethos for Ames, as well as educating his customers and the public about organic farming.

The group noted Medlock Ames’ new Bell Mountain Immersive Sound Experience at its tasting room in Healdsburg, which “gives winery visitors another way to learn about sustainability and organic winemaking practices.”

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