Jim Trezise leads a hectic, complex professional life. The president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation is continually on the go, continually juggling sometimes-conflicting priorities, often for people with conflicting personal agendas.
I speak here of simultaneously gladhanding people on behalf of the NYW&GF, schmoozing politicians to obtain favorable legislation and their personal support for the industry, traveling from vineyard to vineyard, wine competition to wine competition, trade show to trade show, viticulture educational session to ... well, I'm not typing that again. But, you get the point.
Through it all, and in an industry that often swallows the souls of lesser mortals, Trezise has earned and sustained a reputation as an upstanding, legitimate guy. That view now has been formalized with his selection as winner of the Wine Industry Integrity Award for 2006 as decided by the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission in California.
The award, created in 1998, honors individuals who have conducted their careers with integrity while making significant contributions to the wine industry. The award will be presented at a dinner in honor of Trezise at the Wine and Roses Hotel in Lodi, CA, on Friday, Nov. 3.
According to selection panel member John Ledbetter, "Jim works tirelessly promoting and educating the American public, regulators and elected officials not only about New York wines, but American wines as well. He is an extremely dedicated and effective voice for our industry, and woven through it all is his great personal integrity."
The award was no secret to a band of several dozen judges -- including yours truly -- who labored at the New York Wine & Food Classic competition in Canandaigua, NY, last month. It was mentioned by Peter Marks of COPIA, a selection panelist, at the Governor's Cup luncheon that concluded the annual event. However, I thought it better to await the formal announcement.
Trezise has headed the NYW&GF since its inception in 1985. The foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization that sponsors research and promotion programs in support of New York grapes, juice and wine.
He also is director general of the International Federation of Wines and Spirits, based in Paris, is on the executive committee of the American Vintners Association, and is co-founder of the American Wine Alliance for Research and Education. He holds a master's degree in international communications from American University in Washington, DC, and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Allegheny College.
The integrity award panel of judges this year was chaired by the wine writer Gerald D. Boyd and besides Marks included Steve Burns of O'Donnell Lane LLC, Linda Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle, John Ledbetter of Vino Farms, Norm Roby of Decanter Magazine, Zelma Long of Zelphi Wines, and last year's honoree, Robert Steinhauer of Beringer Wine Estates.
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