Harvest fair to honor Rochioli

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair will award Healdsburg farmer Joe Rochioli with its Methuselah Award on Oct. 1.

After leaving the U.S. Army in 1959, Rochioli joined his family’s farm that grew a variety of crops from hops to green beans to wine grapes.

As the wine grape industry grew, Rochioli became one of the first farmers in Sonoma County to plant different varietals and develop innovative trellis systems. Rochioli said in a statement that his vineyard method was “I learned by doing.”

Rochioli in 1976 started producing pinot noir and chardonnay on his property while it was named Fenton Acres. The name changed in 1982 to J. Rochioli Vineyard & Winery and five years later the Rochiolis released their first estate wine, the 1985 Rochioli Pinot Noir. The wine went on to top the Wine Spectator’s wine list and was named the best pinot noir in United States.

The Harvest Fair awards dinner will be held at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. For more information visit www.harvestfair.org or call 707-545-4200.

Scholarship fund established in honor of Dennis Martin

The American Society of Enology and Viticulture has established “The Dennis Martin Enology Scholarship Fund” to honor the former Fetzer Vineyards winemaker who died from prostate cancer Aug. 15.

The Healdsburg resident retired in 2015 after 30 years as a winemaker. Martin oversaw production of Fetzer’s best-selling Sundial Chardonnay and played an instrumental role creating Fetzer’s Bonterra organic wines and boutique labels such as Sanctuary Estates and Jekel Vineyards.

Martin also was a highly sought judge for wine panels and competitions across the country.

Donors can mail their nontax-deductible gifts in honor of Martin to: ASEV, P.O. Box 1855, Davis, CA 95617-1855. Please note “Dennis Martin Scholarship Fund” on your check. Those wishing to use a credit card should contact the ASEV office at 530-753-3142.

Don Sebastiani & Sons promotes five employees

Don Sebastiani & Sons, the Sonoma-based wine, spirits and food manufacturer, recently promoted five employees.

Andrew Meyer has been appointed as global vice president for wine and spirits sales. Meyer will oversee all domestic and export sales efforts and teams. He was most recently vice president of its division overseeing Western states.

Steve Pearce was promoted to regional wine and spirits sales manager for Western states. Pearce joined the company in 2011 and previously served as merchandising manager, district wine manager and regional state manager.

John Nicolette has been appointed as vice president for operations. Nicolette formerly served as director of operations and joined the company in 2005.

Marie Brown has been named distribution and export logistics manager, with oversight for distribution of both domestic and export wine and spirits orders, and local nonwine product orders. Brown joined the company in 2006 as distribution coordinator.

Greg Kitchens has been appointed as director of winemaking overseeing the company’s 12 core wine brands. Kitchens has been employed with Don Sebastiani & Sons since 2003.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.