Gordon W. Murchie and Dave Barber Receive Prestigious Wine Awards

By Posted on Mar 24 2012 | By

 American Wine Society Recognizes Two Virginians for Industry Contributions 

The American Wine Society–originally organized in 1967 at the winery of the legendary Dr. Konstantin Frank—culminated its 44th national conference in Rochester, NY on November 11, 2011 by honoring two men with close ties to the Virginia wine industry.

pixGordon W. Murchie received the Award of Merit, the highest honor bestowed by the society. Murchie, one of the most recognizable wine names in the Old Dominion, has forged a storied second career promoting Virginia and the Eastern US wine industry since his retirement as a Foreign Service Officer in 1993.

Murchie’s numerous accomplishments include:

  • President of the Vinifera Wine Growers Association from 1989 to 2008.
  • Executive Director of the Virginia Wineries Association from 1999 to 2005.
  • Preeminent leader and advocate in the growth and quality-focused development of both the Virginia and Eastern U.S. wine industries.
  • Served on the board of the National Wine Coalition in 1991 and as its Executive Director from 1993 to 1996. In this role, he laid the groundwork for the U.S. Congressional Wine Caucus.
  • Executive Director of the Licensed Beverage Information Council and legislative Chairman for the World Association of the Alcohol Beverage Industries, Inc.
  • Tireless advocate on behalf of the wine industry to U.S. Congresses, administrations, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and international organizations since 1993.

One notable achievement familiar to Virginia wineries was Murchie’s role in founding the Mount Vernon Wine Festival, held twice yearly on the grounds of our first President’s home. Selection to participate in the festival is one of the more coveted honors a Virginia winery can receive.

Jim Law Winter Pruning

“I appreciate the time and effort Gordon has devoted to advancing the industry for two reasons: one, I don’t do it nor do I have the time; and two, I’m in awe of those who contribute to the extent he has. Gordon has actively advanced the growth of East Coast wine for the last few decades and his commitment has borne ripe fruit,” says Jim Law, owner of Linden Vineyards and one of the Mid-Atlantic’s leading vintners.

Lucie Morton, an international vinicultural consultant and lecturer, says, “Gordon Murchie has been a rootstock in the renaissance of Mid-Atlantic wine growing.”  Praise from the likes of Law and Morton is not easily earned and reflects the respect the gentleman has earned in the Commonwealth and beyond.

“It’s gratifying to receive this award.  My wife Anita and I have enjoyed our work on behalf of the industry. Over the years, we have met untold numbers of wonderful people in the East Coast wine scene. The memories are treasured,” Murchie says.

Dave Barber received the Outstanding Member Award at AWS’s annual conclave in recognition of his valued service.  Barber is the business consultant for Hartwood Winery in Fredericksburg, VA.  He is also an International Certified Judge, participating in a number of wine competitions.

His award highlighted his many achievements, including:

  • Chapter Chairs of the Philadelphia and Northern Virginia AWS; the latter position he has held from 1986 to present.
  • Coordinated the 1989 AWS Amateur Wine Competition.
  • Served as Virginia Regional Vice President of the AWS for eight years beginning in 1992.
  • Graduated from the Wine Judge Certification Program in 1988. He has been an instructor for the program from 1990 until the present. His dedication as a leader and mentor raised judging standards and assisted the AWS in achieving a reputation for qualified judges and reputable wine competitions.

pixBarber says, “It is truly an honor to be recognized by the American Wine Society.  My work with AWS has been one of the most rewarding of my life. I look forward to many more years of advancing our region’s cause.”

Murchie and Barber are also active in the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association, ASWA.  Murchie serves as President Emeritus for the organization formerly known as the Vinifera Wine Growers Association, and is an elected member of the Virginia Wine Council. Barber is a member of the ASWA Board of Directors.

The association’s current president is Carl G. Brandhorst, an illustrious wine educator and a certified wine judge with national credentials. Brandhorst is also regional officer of the American Wine Society, Chapter Board Member of the German Wine Society, and travels widely in furtherance of his wine expertise.

ASWA is the preeminent East Coast wine association with numerous achievements, including:

  • Organized in 1973 as the Vinifera Wine Growers Association, it was among the first wine trade associations on the East Coast.
  • Promoted the planting and harvesting of the European Vitis Vinifera wine grapes inVirginiaand the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Organized and conducted the first Virginia wine festival and competition.
  • First organization to present Virginia and other East Coast wines at the WineTECH/grapeTECH, and Unified Wine and Grape Symposiums, as well as conduct public wine tasting lectures on the West Coast.
  • Organize and conduct the annual wine awards and tasting reception on Capitol Hill in cooperation with the U. S. Congressional Wine Caucus.

Men such as Gordon Murchie and Dave Barber have done much to advance the cause of East Coast wine. Mid-Atlantic wine lovers are fortunate to have such talent and commitment working on their behalf.

Published in the Spring 2012 edition of the Virginia Wine Gazette. 

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