Viticulturist and wine educator Richard L. Thomas has been honored with the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association’s 2018 Monteith Wine Bowl Trophy. The prestigious Monteith award recognizes an “individual or organization that has made exceptional contributions to the development of the American wine industry by actively providing leadership and motivation in addressing both legislative and regulatory issues that confront the industry, supporting innovative and technical research in both the fields of enology and viticulture, also encouraging wine- and health-related studies, as well as contributing to consumer wine education and appreciation through the arts, literature, and the public media.”
Thomas’ contributions to the wine industry, particularly in Northern California, include founding the Santa Rosa Junior College viticulture program and developing the school’s farm vineyard into a nationally recognized program. During sabbatical leaves from teaching, Thomas studied in Australia, New Zealand, and Italy; from those journeys, he returned to California and helped introduce winegrowers to such (at the time) innovations as drip irrigation, nontill farming, and new trellising systems.
Founder of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association and the Sonoma County Vineyard Technical Group, his push for modernization and passion for the industry led to many awards over the years. He also advanced the profile of Sonoma County wines as co-founder of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, as a judging coordinator for several prominent wine competitions, and as a respected writer and speaker.
“Rich Thomas is an institution in Sonoma County and a living legend in the wine industry,” says Anne Vercelli, SRJC Wine Studies instructor and
assistant director of the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, who was instrumental in selecting Thomas for this honor.