Two major awards made annually by New York’s major wine and grape organization have been renamed to honor two pillars of the state’s wine community, according to an announcement made today.
“Since its creation 30 years ago, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF) has recognized people in the grape and wine industry who have made significant contributions in various ways by presenting annual awards in different categories: Grower, Winery, Research, Retailer, Distributor, Consumer, and others,” the announcement said. “At the top of the list are the Unity Award for major contributions in promoting unity within the industry, and the Industry Award for extraordinary contributions to the advancement of the industry. Going forward, these awards will be named the ‘Phyllis Feder Unity Award’ and the ‘Jim Finkle Industry Award’.”
Phyllis Feder is the owner of the Hudson Valley winery Clinton Vineyards, located in Clinton Corners, Dutchess County. The winery was founded by her husband, the late Ben Feder, in 1976, and she joined him in the operation in 1988. She served as chair of the Foundation’s board of directors for three years during its formative years as an organization dedicated to education, promotion, and legislative efforts on behalf of the industry.
“Phyllis guided the organization through hazardous waters with a combination of unshakable determination, amazing strength, and inspiring diplomacy,” the announcement explained. She also has served as president of the Dutchess Wine Trail, and been involved in other organizations as well.
James Parker “Jim” Finkle, who died in September at the age of 66, “made more contributions to the New York, American, and international wine industry than are possible to list,” the announcement said. “As senior vice president for public affairs at Constellation Brands, Jim served on our board for over 25 years, including three as chair; had a similar record at WineAmerica, the national organization of American wineries; rescued a vital international organization (FIVS) and served as its president for over 15 years, and played leadership roles in The Wine Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council, The Beer Institute, and other organizations.”
In concluding the announcement, the Foundation news release said, “Phyllis Feder and Jim Finkle represent the best characteristics of humanity — selflessness, modesty, commitment, integrity, and passion — and we are delighted to name these important awards after them as an inspiration to others.”