2014 Ag Award Honorees

Each year the Sonoma County Harvest Fair selects five outstanding members of the Sonoma County agricultural community to be honored for their contributions to the preservation and enhancement of farming in Sonoma County. The Ag-Recognition selection committee is comprised of past recipients and a chairman which, for 2014, is Steve Dutton, owner of Dutton Ranch and Dutton-Goldfield Winery. 

This year the Sonoma County Harvest Fair Board of Directors is proud to honor the following people for the 2014 Agricultural Recognition Awards:

World- class, handcrafted ales served in the heart of Wine Country are  the hallmarks of Bear Republic Brewing Company, and are the notable qualities that have earned it the first-ever Sonoma County Harvest Fair Award for Excellence in the Craft Beer Industry.

Located on the corner of Healdsburg’s historic downtown square, Bear Republic Brewing Company was established in 1995 by the Norgrove family, including third and fourth generation Sonoma County residents Richard and Sandy, along with their son Richard Jr. (Ricardo) and his wife Tami. Bear Republic offers a diverse menu, family friendly atmosphere and more than 14 freshly brewed beers on tap. In 2006, the family opened their Factory Five Brewery in Cloverdale, just 15 miles north of the original brewpub in Healdsburg. As of 2014, Bear Republic is recognized by the Brewers Association as the 36th largest craft brewery in the United States.

The brews of Bear Republic have earned top honors in the American brewing industry, including Racer 5 IPA®, which is one of America’s most award-winning beers. In 2006, Bear Republic won the Small Brewing Company and Brewmaster of the Year awards from the Great American Beer Festival®. To date, Bear Republic has won 19 medals from the Great American Beer Festival®, as well as various medals from the World Beer Cup®, Good Food Awards™, The California State Fair, and many more.

In addition to producing outstanding hand-crafted beer, Bear Republic and the Norgrove family are noted for their strong commitment to the Sonoma County community, donating regularly to various organizations in the North Bay and small worthy causes locally.

Bear Republic from BNC Studio on Vimeo.

Fresh local food delivered to hundreds in the North Bay, thousands invited to come and pick their own produce straight from the farm, and an innovative program to reduce food waste; these are just a few of the reasons why the Sonoma County Harvest Fair is pleased to honor Bloomfield Organics with the first-annual award for Excellence in Food Production.

Owned by Mike and Karen Collins, Bloomfield Organics farms 45 acres between Bloomfield and Valley Ford, growing an array of certified organic and GMO-free products including: pastured eggs, lettuce, strawberries, kale, tomatoes and potatoes. The Collin’s family also operates a nursery, growing rare edible and medicinal plants not often found in the commercial marketplace.

In honoring Bloomfield Organics for Excellence in Food Production, the Harvest Fair recognizes Mike and Karen Collins for their outstanding role in promoting local food, farming and sustainable practices; for their strong advocacy for Sonoma County agriculture; for their commitment to increasing the availability of local fresh farm products; for raising the standard of farming and ranching through innovative techniques and practices; and for their dedication to educating consumers and supporting other industry members.

Bloomfield Farms from BNC Studio on Vimeo.

This year’s Friend of Sonoma County Agriculture is awarded to Carlos Chavez, co-owner of Safety Environmental Compliance Associates. The award recognizes Chavez for his work to promote and enhance the agricultural industry in Sonoma County. He is honored specifically for his more than 22 years of diligence to keep Sonoma County’s agricultural workers safe and for providing regulatory guidance to support and benefit the industry.

Chavez emigrated from El Salvador to the U.S. when he was 15 and graduated from Los Angeles High School and UC Davis, majoring in political science and Spanish. He married his wife, Linda, in 1996 and went to work with the Ventura County Agricultural Association. In 1999, Carlos and Linda each left their secure jobs to start their own business. They moved to Sonoma County settling in Healdsburg and formed Safety Environmental Compliance Associates (SECA), which is dedicated to helping vineyards and wineries implement health and safety regulations. Since then, for over 14 years, Chavez has worked closely with vineyard and winery workers, guiding them through each stage of grape growing and winemaking to insure they return home to their families safely and in good health.

Carlos Chavez from BNC Studio on Vimeo.


The 2014 Harvest Fair is pleased to honor David Stare, founder and owner of Dry Creek Vineyard, for his Lifetime Contribution to the Sonoma County Wine Industry “Methuselah” Award. Initiated in 2011, the award recognizes a person, family, or company within the wine industry with outstanding contributions to the industry and Sonoma County.. Few people have had as significant an impact on the quality and variety of the wines produced in Sonoma County as David Stare. And few have been as vocal and persistent in spreading the word about the wines being made in the county, putting the region on the global map for world-class wines.

In many ways, Stare is a pioneer. He came west in the late 1960s with little more than a dream, a solid work ethic and determination. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and worked for the B&O Railroad for several years but quickly realized that his true calling was in the wine industry. Today, Dry Creek Vineyard is the standard bearer for Fumé Blanc in Northern Sonoma County. Over the last 40 years, the winery has also developed an international reputation for its Dry Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandels and Bordeaux varietals, and Stare has created a legacy as one of Sonoma County’s founding and foremost vintners. His daughter Kim Stare Wallace now runs the family business and the winery is flourishing. 

David Stare from BNC Studio on Vimeo.

Born at his family’s Healdsburg farmhouse in 1926, Al Cadd graduated from Healdsburg High School in 1944. Al served two years in the U.S. Merchant Marine and returned home to marry his sweetheart, Alyce Swim in 1947. That same year, he went to work on the family farm, which over the past century has produced hops, prunes and apples and, at one time, operated a 50 cow dairy. Today, the family ranch, like most of Alexander Valley, is planted to wine grapes that achieve world-class eminence in the valley’s terroir. In 1963, Cadd went to work for Sonoma County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. He served as flood control supervisor until 1979, when he returned to full time farming. In 1991, Cadd leased the land to his son and retired, which is when he says he “really got busy.”

Al is a member of the founding board of directors of the Alexander Valley Association and served one term as president. He and other farmers formed the association years ago to protect agriculture from urban development and to preserve the valley as a rural treasure. Today, Alexander Valley is the picture postcard image of Wine Country. Cadd is also on the board of directors of the Russian River Property Owners Association and served as president for 15 years. Currently he’s working as project manager in charge of stream monitoring to establish that frost protection pumping, in most cases, does not harm fish or water levels. Most recently, he was also a member of the Riparian Corridor Work Group.

This year, The Harvest Fair is pleased to honor Al Cadd with the Lifetime Contribution to the Sonoma County Agriculture.

Al Cadd from BNC Studio on Vimeo.

Lise Asimont started her career in the wine industry while studying anthropology at Saint Mary’s College. She devoted a junior thesis to the inner-workings of a small winery in the Russian River Valley and developed a love for winegrowing. She went on to receive a master’s in viticulture from UC Davis, with master’s research on grapevine rootstock resistance to root-knot nematodes. After graduating, Asimonth went to work for Cambria Winery in Santa Barbara County as an assistant vineyard manager. In 2001, she moved to Sonoma County and worked in grower relations for Geyser Peak Winery, where all the vineyards in the state of California became her living classroom. 

Asimont joined the winemaking team at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in 2006 and has helped to develop their North Coast and Central Coast wine programs. As the Director of Grower Relations, she sources grapes for all wine programs at the Francis Coppola Winery, including from ten counties throughout California. She is responsible for the quality of fruit that comes to the winery and understanding the quality and style of wines that will come from each vineyard.

Asimont serves on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Viticulture and Enology and was named president in July. She is a member of the Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm Viticulture Advisory Board and the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium Developmental Committee. She lives in Sonoma County with her husband Shawn, children Lily and Cassius, two dogs, one cat and six chickens. Her family spends their free time supporting Lily and Cassius’ sports teams, and enjoying the amazing recreational and agrarian life of western Sonoma County.

The Harvest Fair is proud to honor Lise Asimont’s passion, professionalism and skill by naming her the 2014 Outstanding Young Person in Agribusiness

Lise Asimont from BNC Studio on Vimeo.

At 30 years young, Cameron Mauritson’s connection to the land and to his family’s vines is seemingly ancient. For such a young man, his strong commitment and leadership to preserve Sonoma County’s farming heritage for generations to come is notable—like an old soul who is wiser than his years. And, people are taking notice. The Sonoma County Harvest Fair is pleased to name sixth generation Sonoma County grape grower Cameron Mauritson as the 2014 Outstanding Young Farmer

Cameron is a life-long resident of the Dry Creek Valley where his Mauritson family has been growing grapes since 1868. He left the Dry Creek Valley temporarily to attend California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Wine Business and a Master of Science in Agriculture with a specialization in Crop Science. Today he and his wife Ashley live in Dry Creek Valley and Cameron is a partner in the family business. He works as vineyard manager alongside his dad, Thom, and brothers Bob and Blake to manage 310 vineyards acres spread across Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Rockpile Appellations. The family’s harvests are highly sought after, delivering superior fruit for regional winemakers to work with year after year. Mauritson is the current president of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley and a past-president of the Rockpile Grape Growers Association. 

Cam Morritson from BNC Studio on Vimeo.

Previous Award Winners

Outstanding Young Farmer:


1976     Tom Crane

1989     Jim Young

2002     Mike Strunk

1977     Warren Dutton

1990     Craig Jacobsen

2003     John Bucher

1978     Lee Martinelli, Sr.

1991     Bill Kunde

2004     Lee Martinelli, Jr.

1979     Mel Sanchietti

1992     Bob Cannard

2005     Ned Hill

1980     Richard Dilworth

1993     Jim Murphy

2006     Tom Rued

1981     Dane Petersen

1994     Dennis Murphy

2007     Mike Sangiacomo

1982     Phil Marcuacci

1995     Steve & Dave Gatti

2008     George Martinelli

1983     Thom Mauritson

1996     Leonard Diggs

2009     Steve Sangiacomo

1984     Tom Dehlinger

1997     Keith Kunde

2010     Brett Munselle

1985     Marvin & Rita Cardoza

1998     Pat Stornetta/ Joe Leveroni

2011     Ryan Petersen

1986     Bev Wasson

1999     Steve Dutton

2012     Mark Sanchietti

1987     Norm Yenni

2000     Joe Dutton

2013      Tyler Klick

1988     John Balletto

2001     Kelly Parsons


Outstanding Young Person in Agribusiness:




1980     Alex  Vyborny

1991     Doug Snyde

2003     Rex & Kerry Williams 

1981     Paul Mononi

1992     Jim Pratt

2004     Armon Azevedo

1982     Marc Dahlgren

1993     Peter Opatz

2005     Chris & Dawn Lindelof

1983     Mike Lee

1994     Joe Votek

2006     Chris Bowland

1984     Dave Rafanelli

1995     Katie Wetzel Murphy

2007     Dana Grande

1985     Steve Hill

1996     David Drucker

2008     Jeff Carlton

1986     Brian Gebhart

1997     Kirk Lokka

2009     Ulises Valdez

1987     Steve & Candy Sommer

1998     Lorri Emmerich

2010     John Azevedo

1988     Dan Benedetti

1999     Jeff Lyon

2011     Brent Young

1989     Kevin  Barr

2000        Lee Ann Cameron-Reuter

2012     Clay Mauritson

1990     Perry Kozlowski

2001     John Bidia

2013      Tom Gore, Jr.

Friend of Sonoma County Agriculture:




1987     Tim Tesconi

1996     Mike Runyan

2005     Capt. Cliff Stewart

1988     Bill & Patsy Stratton

1997     Dan Desmond

2006     Nick Frey

1989     Steve Olson

1998     Gaye LeBaron

2007     Gail Davis

1990     Larry Bertolini

1999     Terry Lindley

2008     Rhonda Smith

1991     Rich & Saralee Kunde

2000     Bob Anderson

2009     Bo Simons

1992     Millie Howie

2001     Glenn Klein

2010     Paul Kelly

1993     Richard Thomas

2002     Michele Anna Jordan

2011     Oliver’s Markets

1994     John & Phebe Sorensen

2003     Ken Silveira

2012     Chef John Ash

1995     Paul Vossen

2004     Bill Traverso

2013      Lucia Varela

Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture:




1984     Mike Rossi

1994     Newton Petersen

2004     Ron & Ruth Waltenspeil

1985     Elmer Brown

1995     Darrel Hurst

2005     Cecilia Mello

1986     Sam Nisson

1996     Louis J. Foppiano

2006     Jim King

1987     J. Wesley Jamison

1997     Carmen Kozlowski

2007     Mitch Mulas

1988     Paul Mancini

1998     Joe Vercelli

2008     Lee Walker, Sr.

1989     Louis Ricci

1999     Dr. Fred Groverman

2009     Joe Rochioli, Sr.

1990     Gene Benedetti

2000     Louis Giacometti

2010     Rich Kunde

1991     Gus Sanchietti

2001     George Menini

2011     Dominic Carinalli

1992     Robert Young

2002     Warren & Gail Dutton

2012     Art Ibleto

1993     Joe DiGrazia

2003     Angelo Sangiacomo

2013      Bill King

Lifetime Contribution to the Sonoma County Wine Industry "Methuselah Award"


2011     Jess Jackson

2011     Joe Martin

2012     Louis M. Foppiano – Foppiano Vineyards

2013      Sangiacomo Family