2022 SLO County Wine Industry Award Winners
July 27, 2022
The San Luis Obispo County wine industry annually comes together to honor members of the local wine community. These awards recognize dedication, stewardship, innovation, and leadership demonstrated in the San Luis Obispo County wine community. The 2022 San Luis Obispo County Wine Industry Awards go to – Wine Grape Grower of the Year, Hilary Graves, Booker Vineyard; Winemaker of the Year, Bob Lindquist, Verdad Wine Cellars & Lindquist Family Wines; and Wine Industry Person of the Year, Gretchen Roddick, Hope Family Wines.
The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Coast Wine Collective, the Independent Grape Growers of the Paso Robles Area, The Vineyard Team, and past award recipients worked together to identify the 2022 winners. The honorees are evaluated on their leadership and accomplishments in California’s third-largest wine region, San Luis Obispo County.
The San Luis Obispo County Wine Community celebrated this year’s award winners at a special event on Friday, July 22 at the California Mid-State Fair within the Mission Square.
Wine Industry Person of the Year
Gretchen Roddick, General Manager, Hope Family Wines
Gretchen Roddick moved from San Jose to the Central Coast in 1990 to attend California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo, she majored in Fruit Science with an Agriculture Business Minor. Not knowing much about the industry, Roddick quickly realized a career in agriculture is limitless. After graduating in 1996, Roddick studied abroad to fine-tune her Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico before joining the harvest team at Maison Deutz -as the Seasonal Harvest Cellar Assistant to then Winemaker ChristianRoguenant.In 1997, an opportunity with a small unknown family winery in Paso Robles sparked Roddick’s interest. This career move proved to become life-changing. Roddick worked side by side with Austin Hope to build one of Paso Robles’ most successful wine brands as well as help put Paso Robles on the world stage. During these first years, Roddick was involved with everything from wine production to hospitality, where she helped host events and pour wine for tasters. As the winery’s success grew, so did Roddick’s responsibilities. The General Manager & Sales Manager took her under their wing and began to engage her in all aspects of the wholesale business and winery management. Roddick loved people and traveling, the more she learned the more in love she became with the wine industry. Through focus and hard work, Roddick was promoted to General Manager of Hope Family Wines in 2005. During her tenure as General Manager, Roddick has helped build Hope Family Wines into the global wine brand it is today. She is involved in every aspect of the day-to-day operations and with her dynamic leadership style has developed a 1stclass team that is not only loyal but incredibly passionate about the success of Paso Robles Wine Country. Throughout her career, Roddick has been a passionate advocate for the Paso Robles & California Wine Industry serving on the Wine Institute Board as the Central Coast Director (2008 –Present) and serving on the board of the Paso Robles Cab Collective as Treasurer and Marketing Co-Chair (2018 -Present) Her goal is straightforward; to have Paso Robles recognized as a world-class wine region. Roddick has a deep sense of community and shares her expertise through mentorships, speaking engagements for the Cal Poly WineandViticultureDepartment, and a member of the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Committee also sits on the Cal Poly Horticulture and Crop Science Advisory Board since 1998. Roddick’senthusiasm and passion for Paso Robles is contagious. In her bright, friendly, energetic style, she truly reflects the very best of the Paso Robles Wine Industry. Roddick lives in Paso Robles and enjoys entertaining her family and friends. She loves to travel and explore the restaurant scene in the cities she visits. Her door is always open to family and friends that stop by for a family meal or to share a glass of wine.
Winegrape Grower of the Year
Hillary Graves, Vineyard & Grower Relations Manager, Booker Vineyards
Hilary Graves is a winegrower, winemaker and viticulture educator with more than 20 years of field experience on California’s Central Coast. Hilary graduated from high school in Hawaii and studied business at CSU Fresno. While her father hailed from a Central Valley farming family, she never planned to pursue agriculture—but, in time, her true calling came clear. After earning a master’s degree in Library and Information Science, she returned to CSU Fresno to serve as the academic librarian at the library in the university’s Viticulture and Enology Research Center. It was here that Hilary’s interest in viticulture was awakened, prompting her to pursue master’s studies in Crop Science and ultimately a career in wine and viticulture. After studying Crop Science at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Hilary taught viticulture at Cal Poly for four years under Dr. Keith Patterson. She also started her own business in 2002, planting a vineyard—called Ohana—and making wines under the Graves Family Winegrowers and Mighty Nimble brands. She later started a vineyard management company and grew fruit for, among others, Booker Vineyard’s Farmer-Winemaker Eric Jensen. Hilary and Eric formed a strong connection, and she ultimately joined Booker Vineyard as Vineyard & Grower Relations Manager in 2020. Hilary’s winegrowing philosophy allows the land to speak through the fruit: “I see my job as managing the vines instead of manipulating them, so that the grapes can express where they come from—I never want to change the outcome of what the place wants to show.”This transparent mindset also goes hand in hand with Hilary’s passion for sustainability. “I believe that farmers, more than any other occupation, have the ability to capture carbon and turn back the clock on climate change,” she says. “It’s something that I take to heart and factor into all of my farming decision.”
Winemaker of the Year
Bob Lindquist, Verdad Wine Cellars & Lindquist Family Wines
“I was born in the Midwest (Columbia, Missouri), and moved to Southern California in 1964 at age 11. This was a heady time in America, and it seemed like California was the place to be…The Beatles had just taken over, along with The Beach Boys, Byrds, Bob Dylan, Motown, and the British Invasion was a big deal, especially for what would become a touchstone band for me, The Kinks (more on that later!). I’ve also been a long-time baseball fan, and in 1965, the first baseball season after I moved to SoCal, the Los Angeles Dodgers won a World Championship. I became an instant and lifetime Dodger fan. In 1974, and already a young father, I dropped out of college at UC Irvine to support my family. My first job was with a small advertising agency based in Orange County and one of our clients was a fine wine shop, called The Wine Shoppe. I did some work for them, and afterward, the proprietor offered to pay me in wine…I took him up on his offer. I liked wine, wines like Lancers, Mateus, and Blue Nun, but this afforded me a chance to try wines out of my price range. That night, a bottle of Simi 1970 Cabernet Sauvignon became my “light bulb moment”, I couldn’t believe that wine could be that good! The following night, a bottle of Heitz 1968 Cabernet was just as revealing…and from that moment on, wine was what I wanted to do. One of the best wine shops in America happens to be in Orange County, Hi Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, and I became a regular. Hi Time had a very knowledgeable staff and I started picking their brains, buying wines and books on wine, and attending some of their tastings. And in 1975, at the age of 22, I decided to take the leap and find a job in the wine business. My uncle Bud Granger lived in Hollister, CA, in fact, he still does. I asked Uncle Bud if I could crash on his couch while I looked for a job and an apartment to rent. And in late September, during the 1975 Harvest, I landed a temporary Harvest job at Fortino Winery in the Hecker Pass region near Gilroy. I picked grapes, pumped over fermenters, shoveled out fermenters, and did all the basic jobs associated with a rustic approach to winemaking. After the Harvest, I landed a job with San Martin Winery in their Gilroy Tasting Room. San Martin was an established Santa Clara Valley winery that had a number of Tasting Rooms throughout California, and they made some pretty good wines. I quickly worked my way up to assistant manager and then was offered a manager position at a new Tasting Room in Camarillo, CA, (Ventura County) about 75 miles north of Los Angeles, and 40 miles south of Santa Barbara. In June 1976, I moved back to Southern California to start my next chapter. Santa Barbara County in 1976 was just getting started as a new wine-growing area that had already showed tremendous promise. I spent many of my days off, exploring this new region, and getting to know some of the owners and winemakers of Santa Barbara. I also got involved with a terrific wine and food group in Ventura County called Wine Investigation for Novices and Oenophiles, or W.I.N.O., honing my skills at blind tasting. The San Martin Tasting Room in Camarillo didn’t work out, but through friends that I had met there, I got involved in an upstart, small wine distribution company called Wine Works. I worked in sales in the Central Coast territory, which included Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties. During this time, I fell in love with the Santa Ynez Valley, and the potential of this Central Coast wine area. One of my accounts was a new wine shop in the town of Los Olivos (which was way ahead of its time) that was owned and run by John Ream, the son of the President and principal owner of Zaca Mesa Winery, Marshall Ream. John didn’t know a lot about wine, and was looking for a store manager…I jumped at the chance! And on January 1st, 1979, just short of my 26thbirthday, and now a single father, I moved to Santa Ynez with my young son Ethan to work for John Ream. As manager and buyer for Los Olivos Wine and Gifts, I got to know and become friends with the people who were making wine in Santa Barbara County and putting it on the map…Ken Brown, Jim Clendenen and Adam Tolmach at Zaca Mesa…Tony Austin and Alison Green at Firestone…Michael Benedict and Richard Sanford at Sanford & Benedict…Fred Brander and Bill Davidge at Santa Ynez Valley Winery and Fred’s own Brander Vineyard to name a few. My friendship with Jim Clendenen, the assistant winemaker at Zaca Mesa, became my most important alliance. Jim and I are the same age, and in fact, we’re born 13 days apart from each other in January 1953. This is where The Kinks come back into the picture… On Sunday, September 2nd, 1979, The Kinks were coming to the Santa Barbara Bowl. Jim and I planned to get tickets and go. Being in retail, I always had to work on the weekends, so a couple of months in advance I asked John for that Sunday off and we put it on the calendar. The Friday before that weekend, I reminded John that I needed Sunday off because John would need to cover the store that day. John replied that it was the opening of dove hunting season, and he was going dove hunting! Bob replied that he was going to the Kinks concert, to which John then replied, that if the store didn’t open, I would be fired! John went dove hunting, I went to The Kinks, and on Monday morning John fired me. Hearing about this, Jim interceded with Marshall Ream, John’s father. On Monday afternoon, Marshall called and offered me a job at Zaca Mesa as their first full-time tour guide…fired by the son in the morning, hired by the father in the afternoon! Zaca Mesa didn’t get many tourists back then, so most of my time was spent as a cellar rat, working directly for Jim in the Zaca Mesa cellar. Shortly after I was hired, the 1979 Harvest was underway and I got immersed in that while taking the occasional break to show tourists around the winery…besides the brief stint at Fortino four years earlier, this was my first real hands on Harvest and introduction to real winemaking. I was hooked. And in 1982, while still working for Zaca Mesa, and with a little financial help from friends and family, I bought some barrels and grapes and launched my own winery brand Qupé. I utilized the Zaca Mesa equipment and winery bond to make my first wines, Chardonnay, Syrah and a dry rosé from Pinot Noir. I made my first two vintages of Qupé at Zaca Mesa before going out on my own to grow the brand. In 1989, Jim Clendenen, who had started his own winery brand, Au Bon Climat, and I, entered into an agreement with the Miller family that own Bien Nacido Vineyard to build a winery facility at the vineyard. We still share this facility to make the wines today, sharing a highly trained winemaking team at the Clendenen Lindquist Vintners’ winery. From 1982 to 2018 I grew the Qupé Winery brand from 900 cases to 35,000 cases annual production, adding single vineyard Syrah’s, Grenache, Marsanne, Roussanne, a red GSM blend and a white blend based on Viognier and Chardonnay. In 2018, Qupé was sold and I walked away from the winery brand that I had created 36 years earlier. I used this opportunity to launch a new brand called Lindquist Family, which released our first wines in 2019. I still share the winery with Jim, and also my wife Louisa Sawyer Lindquist, who makes her own wine there as well under the Verdad Winery brand. Louisa and I are also making wine for a new exciting winery/distillery project in Albuquerque, New Mexico called VARA.”