Monday, January 11, 2016

The face of NYS's wine industry stepping down

Trezise speaking at a NYWGF event.
Jim Trezise, who has headed the New York Wine & Grape Foundation since its creation in 1985, will step down from the post by the end of the year.

In an announcement made Sunday by NYWGF board chairman Trent Preszler, it was revealed that Trezise had made his intentions known to the board at its December meeting. The search for his successor will begin immediately, with Prezsler heading the search committee.

"On behalf of everyone in the New York grape, wine, and juice industry, I would like to thank Jim for 30 years of dedication, excellence, and, most important, his friendship," said Prezsler, owner of the Long Island winery Bedell Cellars. "Jim is the ultimate champion, a tireless promoter, a supremely skilled administrator, and our most enthusiastic ambassador. We look forward to a smooth and successful transition."

After the late Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law the legislation creating the Foundation, Trezise turned it into a major force in promoting the state's grape and wine industry, encouraging and helping create legislative and regulatory actions to aid the industry, creating wine competitions and cooperation between the state's wide-ranging wine regions, and traveling the globe as competition judge, industry ambassador, and salesman for the recognition of New York wines.

"I have had the privilege and pleasure of serving as the Foundation's president for three decades, and I have been lucky to work with some of the finest people in the world," Trezise said in a statement. "While I fully intend to continue my involvement with the wine industry, I believe my transition at this time will be a key step in ensuring the success of the Foundation for another 30 years. This is not the beginning of the end, just the end of the beginning."

Last October, Cuomo's son, the current governor Andrew M. Cuomo, paid tribute to Trezise's career and its impact on the tremendous growth and success of the state's grape and wine industry, saying, "There is no single individual more responsible for that success than Jim Trezise."

Since the creation of the Foundation, the state's wine industry has grown to more than 400 wineries in 59 of its 62 counties, more than 20 wine and beverage tourism trails, and an estimated $4.8 billion annual economic impact statewide. Scientific research funded by NYWGF at Cornell University has helped improve the types and sustainability of grape varieties. In 2014, the influential magazine Wine Enthusiast named New York State the "Wine Region of the Year."

Prior to his NYWGF appointment, Trezise was executive director of the New York State Wine Grape Growers, then was president of the New York Wine Council that represents both growers and vintners. The native of Rochester, who lived in France for several years before his New York industry posts, earned a master's degree in international communications from the American University in Washington, DC, after earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from Allegheny College.

Among honors accorded to him over the years are the “Grand Award” of the Society of Wine Educators in 2014; inclusion on “The 20 Most Admired People in the American Wine Industry” list in 2013, based on a survey by Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine; the first-ever “Distinguished Service Award” in 2001 from the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (Eastern Section), and, the Perpetual Monteith Trophy (Thomas Jefferson Cup) in 1995 from the Vinifera Winegrowers Association.

Trezise also is founder and president of the International Riesling Foundation, a coalition of top Riesling producers from around the world seeking to promote Riesling and educate consumers. He also serves on the Presidential Council of FIVS (formerly Fédération Internationale des Vins et Spiritueux -- International Federation of Wines and Spirits) that is based in Paris. And, he also serves on the executive committee and board of directors of WineAmerica, and at one time was director of communications for the International Organization of Vines and Wines in Paris.

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