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Each year the Sonoma County Harvest Fair selects four 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 2012, 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 2012 Agricultural Recognition Awards:
John Ash - As one of the acknowledged creators of “Wine Country Cuisine”, it is fitting that chef John Ash should receive the title “Friend of Sonoma County Agriculture”, presented by the 2012 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Now an internationally admired chef, author and educator, Ash began in the local culinary spotlight in 1980 when he opened John Ash & Co., the first Northern California restaurant to use local, seasonal ingredients to create dishes that complemented regional wines. Within five years, he had earned rave reviews from Food & Wine magazine—and national recognition. His knowledge and zeal led to his being named Dean of the Brown-Forman Center for Global Wine Education, an intensive wine education program designed for the wine trade, with particular emphasis on restaurateurs, retail wine buyers and distributors. Ash also works as a consultant within the restaurant and hotel industries.
Clay Mauritson - The Harvest Fair is proud to honor Clay Mauritson’s passion, professionalism and skill by naming him the 2012 Outstanding Young Person in Agribusiness. As a sixth-generation grape grower born and raised in the Dry Creek Valley, Clay Mauritson’s destiny was clear. And for over 15 years now, he has been actively devoted to the Sonoma County wine industry. Even before his 1997 graduation from the University of Oregon, Clay was a member of Kenwood Vineyard’s Sales & Marketing team. He earned his degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on marketing; he minored in Economics. While in college, he also played outside linebacker for the UO Ducks in the 1995 Rose Bowl and the 1996 Cotton Bowl. Clay’s first wine under the Mauritson label was a 1998 Dry Creek Zinfandel, and for the past decade, his full attention has been on the Mauritson Family Winery.
Mark Sanchietti - Mark Sanchietti is a fourth-generation Sonoma County farmer, having grown up among grape vines on the West Santa Rosa property originally purchased by his family nearly a century ago. At just 28, Mark farms over 200 acres of vineyards, has five years under his belt with his own farming business, Sanchietti Farming LLC, and has handled four harvests at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm. Mark started Sanchietti Farming in 2007 after graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The business provides a full spectrum of vineyard services, from new site development to farming established vineyards. It uses sustainable methods and always strives to be a steward of the land. For his skills, dedication and commitment to excellence, the Harvest Fair is proud to honor Mark Sanchietti as this year’s Outstanding Young Farmer.
Art Ibleto - Art, now in his mid-80’s, was only 22 when he left Italy for America, where he broke into the workforce as a zucchini picker in Petaluma. He acquired his own land over the years, including 50 acres of vineyards. The success of the Spaghetti Palace, which premiered in 1974, motivated him to start a retail store on his Cotati property. Art has been a cow herder, Christmas tree farmer, butcher, pilot, mechanic, grape grower, vintner, opera singer and caterer—to name a few. He has been a local and national leader in the Sons of Italy and the Italian Catholic Federation, as well as a founder and board member emeritus of the North Bay Italian Cultural Foundation. His products have won multiple awards at the Harvest Fair over the years, including for his pesto sauce in 1999, his herbed oil and vinaigrette salad dressing in 2001 and the wine made from his first commercial grapes, which were harvested in 2002 and won a Gold Medal in 2004 under the Bella Sonoma label. The Harvest Fair is indeed honored to recognize Art Ibleto for his Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture.