Second annual Toast to East County celebrates local back country wineries and businesses
In celebration of the continuously growing wine industry, the East County Chamber of Commerce sponsored its second annual Toast to East County at the Cottonwood Golf Club on Oct. 22. With more than 40 wineries east of Highway 15, many participated in this event along with local craft brewers, organic produce growers, honey, olive oil and candle makers.
This year, Maness Vineyards took a twist on its Trailblazer Awards, honoring three “dynamic duos” who have helped shape and grow the San Diego East County wineries.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Dianne Jacob raised a glass to East County’s breweries, wineries, restaurants and people who made this event possible.
“These are great examples of what all of you have done in our thriving wine industry, our growing brewery industry out here in East County,” she said. “It’s only the beginning. The Board of Supervisors has an entire agricultural program that is going through the process now, which is going to allow a lot more flexibility in doing a lot more things that are related to what you are doing here today.”
Linda McWilliams, co-founder of San Pasqual Winery and president of the San Diego County Vintners Association, said these were exciting times with the expansive growth of East County wineries. She said there are now more than 115 wineries in San Diego County and that it is something to celebrate.
The three “dynamic duos” Trailblazer Awards winners were honored for their dedication.
Sarah Babine and Grant Spotts are an integral part of the team and began the coordination of wine growers along Highway 94, making an excellent dynamic duo producing wines of distinction for Dulzura Vineyard and Winery and Granite Lion Cellars.
The second Trailblazer dynamic duo was honored for mentoring and heavily promoting the wine-making industry. Jane Moore and Drum Macomber have been working in promoting wineries since the early ’70s. Both have given endless hours of volunteering and mentoring, annually organizing bus tours, promoting new wine growers, wine tasting fundraisers, organizing the East County Vintners Group and much more. Toast to East County is another example of their involvement, not only with the wineries, but their selfless dedication to the East County community in whole. “May all your lows be merlots and all your pain be champagne,” toasted Macomber.
Also honored with the dynamic duo Trailblazer Award, Marilyn and Steve Kahle of Woof ’n’ Rose Winery who planted their dreams with vines more than 20 years ago in Ramona, inspiring a generation of wine growers to follow their dreams and become pioneers of East County wine growers. In 2001 they became the original foundation members for the Ramona Valley Vintners Association.
“During 2010, the county’s tiered winery ordinance was formulated and finalized in Ramona with their determined assistance by working side-by-side with county representatives. Boutique wineries were born here with time and the rest is pure history,” said P.J. Maness.
Greg Maness of Maness Vineyards said it is often said that “two minds are better than one and behind every great man stands an even greater woman.”
He said the couples honored have paved the way for new people to accomplish their own dreams. “They are leaders and motivational visionaries who have worked tirelessly for decades to make changes for wine growth across San Diego County with their guidance,” he said.