WOODINVILLE, Wash. — The Auction of Washington Wines, one of the top five charitable wine auctions in the U.S., has named Michelle Moyer, a Washington State University professor, as an Emerging Leader Award recipient for 2023.
This year marks the 36th annual Auction of Washington Wines, and the presentation to Moyer will be part of the second annual TOAST! Honoree Celebration on Thursday, Aug. 10 at Château Ste. Michelle.
The festive Winemaker Picnic & Barrel Auction is Friday, Aug. 11 on the winery’s campus, followed by the auction’s signature Gala on Saturday, Aug. 12. The Gala Online Auction begins Tuesday, Aug. 8 and runs through Aug. 12. Money raised helps support Seattle Children’s, the Washington State University viticulture and enology program and grant partner Vital Wines in the Walla Walla Valley.
Each of this year’s TOAST! recipients will be announced this week on GreatNorthwestWine.com.
Previously announced honorees for the 2023 Auction of Washington Wines include longtime Costco executive Annette Alvarez-Peters (Honorary Chair), Ben Smith and Gaye McNutt of Cadence Winery (Honorary Vintners) and Miguel Rodriguez of Weinbau Vineyard (Honorary Grower). Co-chairs are Cam & Linda Myhrvold and Ian & Laura MacNeil.
“The mission of the auction is to uplift the Washington wine industry through celebrated events that give back to the industry and community,” says Jamie Peha, executive director of the Auction of Washington Wines since 2019. “With the Washington wine industry as our North Star, the auction can add value to the industry by recognizing past and present icons, emerging leaders and all aspects of the industry including vineyard workers and champions of the industry.”
Moyer’s academic résumé and research rank among the most impressive in the North American winegrowing industry, and her path to Washington state seemed to have been one of destiny.
She grew up in the suburbs of Madison, Wis., and her work history took root in her family’s ornamental plant nursery and landscaping company, so it made sense for her to study both plant pathology and genetics at the acclaimed University of Wisconsin-Madison. Next came her doctorate in plant pathology at an Ivy League school — famed Cornell University in New York — where her research centered on the epidemiology of powdery mildew on grapes.
Considering that her degrees came from two of the country’s cool-climate growing regions, Moyer’s arrival at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser lined up coincidentally with the 2011 vintage — which stands as the last of Washington state’s “cool” growing seasons.
Moyer’s recent work centers on researching the use of rootstock to manage soil-borne pests and diseases. These days, vineyard managers in Washington and Idaho face the reality that phylloxera is a growing concern. (Marty Clubb of L’Ecole N° 41 is transitioning his family’s prized Ferguson Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley from own-rooted vines to rootstock.) Moyer also is a leading proponent for sustainable farming methods surrounding powdery mildew.
In addition to her research projects, Moyer continues to teach several courses for those winemakers and vineyard managers working on their certificate through WSU.
At the same time, she represents WSU and Washington state on several national grape-related boards and foundations, including serving as President of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, sitting on the board for the Washington State Grape Society and is a committee member for the National Grape Research Alliance in Sacramento, Calif. Moyer recently stepped down from the board for Prosser Economic Development after 11 years.
This spring, WSU promoted Moyer to a full professor of viticulture, which reflects the work she’s performed at the Prosser center and beyond, according to IAREC director Naidu Rayapati.
“Dr. Moyer’s impactful research and extension programs have brought international recognition to WSU as a center of viticulture excellence,” Rayapati says.
Among her former students is Brittany Komm, recently named vineyard manager for historic Sagemoor Farms.
In 2020, Moyer won the American Society for Enology and Viticulture Extension Distinction Award. This year, she received the Faculty Excellence in Extension Award from WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) as well as praise from Jean Dodson Petersen — the school’s V&E department chair.
“She has established a dynamic viticulture program for the sustainable production of grapes,” Dodson Petersen points out. “Additionally, she is collegial, kind and resourceful, working tirelessly to support growers, students and faculty.”
Auction to reveal all Toast! recipients this week
Last year, the Auction of Washington Wines created the TOAST! program, which helps cast a spotlight on a number of those who have been key to elevating and innovating the state’s wine industry, according to Laura Kleinhofs, business manager for the Auction of Washington Wines.
“When we conceived of TOAST!, it was important that we recognize established industry leaders, but we also wanted to have a category where we would recognize those “up and comers,” those people who may not be generally recognized.,” Kleinhofs says. “We feel that the well-established folks get the bulk of recognition — locally and nationally — and we didn’t want the next generation, those newer to the industry, to feel that they weren’t being seen. That’s why the category of “Emerging Leader” was originally conceived.”
Recipients of 2022 Emerging Leader awards were Sadie Drury of North Slope Management in the Walla Walla Valley, Shae Frichette of Frichette Winery on Red Mountain, Andrew Januik of Novelty Hill/Januik in Woodinville and Lacey Lybecker of Cairdeas Winery in Manson.
“Last year, we had so many nominations for that category, we decided it made sense to honor more than one, especially since the rest of the categories arguably are geared towards those who have been in the industry for a longer time,” Kleinhofs said. “This year, it was again the most popular category, receiving the most nominations, and with so many to choose from we again decided it made sense to honor four people.”
This year also marks the launch of the Allen Shoup Memorial Fellowship, which will award one journalist each year with a two-week research project in Washington wine country. Shoup, who founded world-renowned Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, was the CEO of Stimson Lane and backed the establishment of the Auction of Washington Wines. Stimson Lane was rebranded as Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in 2004.
Honor roll of 2023 TOAST! recipients
Monday, July 10
9 a.m. — Lifetime Achievement Award: Ted Baseler, retired President/CEO, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Noon — Award of Distinction: Marty Clubb, owner/managing winemaker, L’Ecole N° 41, Lowden
2:30 p.m. — Healthy Land, Healthy Communities: Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain
Tuesday, July 11
8:30 a.m. — Emerging Leader: Becca De Kleine, GM/director of winemaking, Four Feathers Wine Services, Prosser
11:30 a.m. — Emerging Leader: Devyani Isabel Gupta, winemaker/viticulturist, Valdemar Estates, Walla Walla
1:30 p.m. — Emerging Leader: Michelle Moyer, professor, Washington State University, Prosser
3 p.m. — Emerging Leader: Ashley Trout, winemaker, Vital Wines/Brook & Bull Cellars, Walla Walla
Wednesday, July 12 – final day
9 a.m. — Vine to Wine: Eduardo Zaragoza, vineyard manager of Shaw Vineyards, Red Mountain
Noon — Wine Industry Champion: Andy Perdue, journalist, Richland
2:30 p.m. — Auction of Washington Wines Star: Gary McLean, President of GMMD Consulting, Seattle