2021 Wine Awards – Summer
July 1, 2021
The Community Wine Awards recognize individuals and organizations that make Paso Robles Wine Country a better place to live and work. For the third year in a row, we called for nominations for our Wine Awards from the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance membership, and the awards are voted on by their peers. It is exciting to announce the recipients of the 2021 Good Neighbor, Master Marketer, and Unsung Heros awards.
Good Neighbor Award
A person that has gone above and beyond to build great relationships with the local community. This persons positively contributes to the fabric of life in the greater wine community of Paso Robles that makes it a better place to work and live.
Sarah Tomasetti, Wine Club Manager for J Dusi Wines and Guyomar Wine Cellars
Sarah has lived on the Central Coast for 20 years, the last 16 of them in Paso Robles. In 2009 she started Wine 4 Paws to become more involved with the local industry and give back to her community. The idea was to promote the wineries and in return, hopefully, raise money for Woods Humane Society. Since then, Wine 4 Paws has raised over half a million dollars for Woods. These funds have gone toward the opening of the North County location and its low-cost spay and neuter clinic as well as helping Woods care for thousands of homeless animals who await loving homes.
Sarah officially started working in the wine industry four years ago, joining the J Dusi Wines family as Wine Club Manager. She also currently manages the Wine Club for Guyomar Wine Cellars, serves on planning committees for Cancer Support Community events, and of course continues to manage Wine 4 Paws, held annually in April.
Master Marketer Award
An innovative person that constantly thinks outside the box to creatively market their business and uniquely promote Paso Wine. This includes a cool ad campaign, a new innovative product, or maybe a creative program that is too good to not recognize. We’re looking for the vanguard.
Chanda Brown, Chief of Marketing & Business Development for CASS Winery and Geneseo Inn
Chanda Brown oversees the brand and the development of the intertwined departments at CASS Winery. With a heart to create community and experiences around the CASS label and the 145 acres of vineyard playground, she deeply believes in collaboration and lifting up the treasure of Paso Robles as a collective of entrepreneurs and passionate business owners seeking to create the next “it” spot. Her dreaded phrase is “Paso is the best-kept secret!”
A native Los Angelean, Chanda studied both Math and English at UCLA before discovering her love of marketing. Honing her skills while running her own event and catering company on the Central Coast for eight years, Chanda joined CASS in 2019. Newer to the wine industry, she found a unique team whose care for product quality and innovation was as exciting as the energy of Paso Robles at large. At CASS, you will see Chanda scurrying around arranging flowers, adding finishing touches, tasting dishes, snapping pictures for social media, and working with her team to create magical moments on the vineyard. Behind the scenes, she is most often deep-diving into numbers and problems, always looking for ways to excel and support the team at CASS (some of her favorite people!) while growing public awareness of this magical place we call Paso Robles.
Unsung Hero Awards
As a good steward of Paso Wine, this person comes to work every day with a smile on their face and works hard to contribute to their team and their community, never asking to be recognized for their diligent efforts. This person quietly contributes and deserves a little spotlight. We are excited to announce we had two winners this year!
Jose Vargas, Foreman at Vineyard Professional Services
Jose Vargas started with Vineyard Professional Services in September 2001. Prior to that, he was a field worker and tractor driver for other Paso vineyards. For 20+ years Jose has been known for having the brightest smile around! As a field foreman, he has planted some of the most iconic vineyards in the area. Jose always helps out wherever he can. Even as a supervisor, he has been known to jump in the tractor and help with harvest when needed. Jose is not only invaluable to VPS, but to the wine community as a whole.
Jose has 30 years of experience in vineyard care and worked for VPS for nearly twenty years. Jose has two children, Rosa & Francisco Vargas. He has been happily married for 35 years to his wife Delia Ramirez. Jose enjoys spending time with his family, playing soccer, and going on evening walks with Delia.
Ricky Lugo, Director of Hospitality & Direct to Consumer Sales for Nenow Family Wines
Originally from Southern California, Ricky first visited Paso Robles in 2013 where he fell in love with the culture and hospitality aspects of the wine industry. With an established career in retail and sales management, Ricky’s ambition led him to chase what he calls his dream job by relocating to the region in 2017 where he has spent the last four and a half years in hospitality in the industry, now serving as the Director of Hospitality and Direct to Consumer Sales at Nenow Family Wines.
At Nenow Family Wines, Ricky wears many hats. In addition to creating an intimate and unique tasting experience for guests, he manages the wine club, helps oversee and facilitate shipping, works closely with the owners on marketing and ideation, and more. He finds what’s sometimes even more fascinating about Paso Robles than the wines, are the stories behind the families who make them. For him, it’s incredibly fulfilling to not only share a family’s wines with people but to also have the opportunity to share their story as well.
Outside of Nenow Family Wines, Ricky has served as the secretary of the Rhône Rangers C.C. and as a mentor at The North County Boys and Girls Club. He holds a certification with the Wine, Spirits, and Education Trust and has a deep and immense knowledge and passion for the industry as a whole.
If Ricky isn’t hosting a tasting, you can typically find him out wine tasting himself or enjoying dinner at one of Paso Robles’ amazing restaurants. He grew up with horses and a big part of his love of Paso is the prominent western riding community. Ricky lives in Templeton and spends his free time with his family and friends, enjoying a simple life on the beautiful Central Coast.