The Washington Winegrowers Association (Winegrowers) recognized three industry leaders in March for their achievements during their virtual annual meeting. Sadie Drury, North Slope Management/Seven Hills Vineyard, was honored as the Erick Hanson Memorial Grower of the Year; Tom Judkins, Inland Desert, received the Industry Service award; and Brian Carter, Brian Carter Cellars, was awarded the Grand Vin.
Grower of the Year
Sadie Drury, general manager of North Slope Management/Seven Hills Vineyard, received the Erick Hanson Memorial Winegrape Grower of the Year Award for demonstrated viticultural skills that provide impact in the vineyard and in the bottle. Sadie Drury is a Walla Walla native who has been passionate about agriculture since her first job of picking strawberries at the age of 12. In 2007, Sadie decided to combine her passion for agriculture with her love for quality wine by attending the Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College and pursuing a career in viticulture. In 2008, Sadie started an internship at Ciel du Cheval Vineyard where she moved up the ranks to Assistant Vineyard Manager. Sadie joined the North Slope Management team in early 2013 and took over the reins of Operations Manager and Viticulturist later that year.
She currently manages eight vineyards including Seven Hills Vineyard. The original vineyard and heart of SeVein, Seven Hills, is one of the first commercial vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley AVA. Seven Hills Vineyard was first planted in 1980 and then expanded in 1989. Norm McKibben purchased this 20-acre old block in 1994 and, in partnership with Gary Figgins, Marty Clubb, and Bob Rupar, expanded Seven Hills Vineyard in 1997 and 1998 to over 200 acres. The three partnering wineries collectively utilize 50 percent of the vineyard fruit, selling grapes to more than 25 other premium wineries.
Sadie is involved with many winegrowing organizations. She’s a past Washington Technical Chair for LIVE Certified (Low Input Enology and Viticulture), she currently sits on the board and technical committee for Vinea Sustainable Trust, she is a member of the Education Committee of the Washington Winegrowers, and she is on the Oregon Wine Standing Committee on Research. Sadie is committed to growing the highest quality wine grapes possible while improving sustainable practices industry wide.
Tom Judkins, founder of Inland Desert Nursery – family owned and operated – received the Industry Service Award for a lifetime of service impacting the grape and wine industry. Tom began this business with the intent to not only supply the cleanest and healthiest grapevines available to growers across North America, but to help growers develop sustainable, high-quality vineyards.
Tom first propagated grape cuttings in his high school FFA class in Prosser, WA. Decades before the wine industry blossomed in Washington, Tom cared for Concord and Niagara starts in his parents’ backyard. With the support of Dr. Walter Clore, the “Father of Washington Viticulture”, Tom pioneered establishment of the first certified winegrape mother-blocks in Washington.
For over 40 years, Tom’s vision, work ethic, and commitment to growers is his hallmark and that, too, of Inland Desert Nursery. Tom has been a visionary before his time and understands the importance of clean plants to the industry – and to greater ag – before their true value was really understood. And now his family-owned business sells plants across North America taking pride in helping growers plant successful vineyards with the cleanest material available.
Brian Carter, owner and winemaker of Brian Carter Cellars, was awarded the Grand Vin Award, for making a significant impact in the winery, on wine and branding. Since his arrival on the Washington State wine scene in 1980 when there were just 16 wineries, Brian continues to influence this industry which now boasts more than 1,000 wineries and is growing weekly. His involvement as winemaker, consultant, and guide to dozens of wineries has helped elevate the Washington wine industry from a regional industry to an international powerhouse.
Brian’s early curiosity about microbes led him to study microbiology at Oregon State University, where he discovered his appreciation for the wines of Oregon. After two years at the University of California-Davis School of Enology, Brian honed his winemaking skill with stints at esteemed California wineries Mount Eden Vineyard and Chateau Montelena. But the Pacific Northwest beckoned, and Brian returned to join early Washington winemaker Paul Thomas Winery, where his skills and artistic touch marked him as a winemaker to watch. At a competition held at Windows on the World in New York City, Brian’s 1983 Paul Thomas Cabernet took first place, outpacing the likes of Quilceda Creek and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.
Brian’s initial success laid the foundation for his steady ascent. His wines garnered many awards, and this string of accomplishments led him to pursue a career as a consulting winemaker for a series of young wineries including McCrea Cellars, Hedges Family Cellars, Soos Creek, Silver Lake, and others. In 1997, after years of producing wines for others, Brian created a small production of his own wine, “Solesce,” at the Apex winery where he was residing as winemaker and co-owner. The wine quickly sold out and the time for Brian Carter Cellars had arrived. With the introduction of the Brian Carter Cellars Collection in 2006, Brian completed one aspect of his outstanding career and began another. In 2006, Brian released his full line of blended wines, including Oriana, Tuttorosso, Byzance, and Le Coursier (formerly L’Etalon). Brian Carter Cellars became the first winery in Washington dedicated exclusively to producing blends.
Brian was twice touted as “Winemaker of the Year” by Washington Magazine, and he is the only three-time recipient of the Pacific Northwest Enological Society’s Grand Prize. Often recognized by his peers, Brian was the Honored Vintner at the 2007 Auction of Washington Wines, and he received the prestigious Industry Service Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Dedicated to giving back to the industry that has supported him, Brian is a long-standing member and past chairman of the Wine Research Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations on how state funds are spent on wine and grape research at Washington State University. Brian is also a Board Member for the Washington Wine Foundation.
About the Washington Winegrowers Association
The Washington Winegrowers Association serves as the synergistic leader and unifying voice – through advocacy and education – for growers, vintners, partners, and policymakers.