Alisa Jacobson, winemaker, consultant and the co-chairperson of the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium’s program development committee for 2023.
Alisa Jacobson, winemaker, consultant and the co-chairperson of the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium’s program development committee for 2023. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk file photo)

The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation’s biennial Santa Barbara Wine Auction will return Nov. 11 and 12 at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara.

Proceeds from the event will benefit both Direct Relief and Community Health Centers — the latter funds medical care for Santa Barbara’s farmworkers and their families.

The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Santa Barbara Vintners. Since its inaugural gala in 2000, the auction has raised more than $5 million for humanitarian organizations, including its longtime beneficiary and partner, Direct Relief. 

The 2022 Wine Auction will mark its 12th year of gathering together to support, strengthen and give back to its community.

The family-owned and operated Grassini helped pioneer the Happy Canyon AVA in Santa Barbara County, and will be awarded this year’s Vintner Honoree. Famed charity auctioneer Billy Harris will be emcee.

“Our Vintner Honoree award is more than a celebration of a successful wine brand,” said Jessica Gasca, president of the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation and owner and winemaker of Story of Soil.

The Santa Barbara Wine Auction will honor the family behind Grassini Vineyards.

The Santa Barbara Wine Auction will honor the family behind Grassini Vineyards. (Courtesy photo)

“It’s for the true leaders like the Grassini family, who go beyond and give back to the workers, steward the land and demonstrate the ultimate respect for our place and our community.”
The witty and electric Los Angeles-based Harris is among world’s most sought-after philanthropic hosts and specializes in raising money at food-and-wine events.

He has helped raise more than $100 million for the James Beard Foundation, No Kid Hungry, The New York Food Bank, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Autism Speaks, among others.

Emcee Billy Harris

Emcee Billy Harris

(Courtesy photo)

For more information and sponsorship opportunities, visit

Local Winemaker Selected to Co-chair 2023 Unified Development Committee

The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium’s LLC managing committee, which represents the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), has announced its selection of co-chairs to lead its 2023 Unified program development committee.

Leticia Chacón Rodríguez, winemaker and winery manager at the University of California, Davis, and Alisa “AJ” Jacobson, founder of Santa Barbara County’s Turning Tide Wines and a wine consultant, have been appointed to manage the 36 volunteer members who comprise the program committee.

“The program development committee for Unified has already been working hard on organizing sessions,” Jacobson told me in an email. “Our focus on winemaking and grape growing has a lot of sustainability in mind with technology and water use especially, but will also address some of the climate challenges we’ve had recently, like untimely frost events.”

Jacobson continued: “The 2023 business and marketing sessions will highlight success stories from the past couple of years … and strategies that have worked in the new world we live in.”

Before joining UCD, Rodríguez was the director of operations at Safe Harbor Wine Storage, where she oversaw the operations from harvest to bottling, as well as developed and educated the team on food safety and industrial safety programs. She has been part of the winemaking team for Treasury Wine Estates, E&J Gallo Winery, Golden State Vintners (now Wine Group) and Delicato Family Vineyards. 

She has served as ASEV’s past president (2012-2013) and on various committees, and on Unified’s program development committee and LLC managing committee since 2008. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México, Mexico City, and her Master of Science with emphasis on enology from UCD.

Jacobson founded Turning Tide in 2018, and transitioned to a consulting role in 2021. She worked at Joseph Phelps Vineyards as a laboratory technician and was then hired by Joel Gott Wines as its first employee, where she ultimately became vice president of winemaking, overseeing a team of 30 and managing all winery and vineyard operations in California, Oregon and Washington. She also supervised international projects in Argentina, Chile, Italy, France and New Zealand for the label.

She currently sits on the board of the Oregon Wine Council, is a peer-review panelist for the NW Center for Small Fruits Research proposals and chairperson of the research committee on the West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force. She received her bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from UCD.

The Unified Symposium will host the conference and trade show Jan. 24-26, 2023, at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center in Sacramento. Registration opens Oct. 18. Information:

Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance teams With Wine Folly

The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA) announced this month its partnership with Wine Folly to create a Paso Robles Region Guide on the latter’s digital education platform. Via the deal, the PRWCA will allow all of the Paso Robles region’s wineries to engage with Wine Folly’s more than 20 million guests.

Click here to visit the Paso Robles Region guide on

More than 180 of Paso Robles’ brands already have uploaded information to the platform, and the Wine Folly Paso Robles Region Guide reached 2.6 million viewers the first month it was live, with nearly 300,000 users engaged.

“The online opportunities to learn about wine are constantly evolving, and Wine Folly is at the forefront of reaching new audiences in a fun and informative manner; they have become a go-to resource for wine lovers around the globe,” said Joel Peterson, executive director of the PRWCA.

“Through this partnership, we really wanted to make sure all Paso Robles wineries have the opportunity to showcase their brands on a platform with an incredible reach.”
“Our region guides are the first time in the wine industry where wineries are treated as equals. Wine producers share their stories with over 20 million wine learners,” said David Gluzman, CEO of Wine Folly.
Paso Robles is the seventh Region Guide produced by Wine Folly, and only second in California. Other regional guides include Walla Walla Valley, Napa Valley, Argentina, Alto Adige, Sicily and Bordeaux.

SLO County Wine Industry Recognizes Industry Leaders

In the annual award ceremony to recognize dedication, stewardship, innovation and leadership, the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Coast Wine Collective, the Independent Grape Growers of the Paso Robles Area, the Vineyard Team and past award recipients have handpicked the 2022 winners.

The honorees are evaluated on their leadership and accomplishments in California’s third largest wine region, San Luis Obispo County.

The honorees are Hilary Graves of Booker Vineyard, named Wine Grape Grower of the Year; Bob Lindquist, Verdad Wine Cellars and Lindquist Family Wines, named Winemaker of the Year; and Gretchen Roddick, Hope Family Wines, named Wine Industry Person of the Year.

“Our community is excited to come together at a signature event in our county, the Mid-State Fair, and celebrate leaders in our industry, said Peterson of the PRWCA.

“This year’s winners are deserving for their dedication to San Luis Obispo County’s vineyards, wines and marketing efforts, and their leadership in their area of focus. Their passion and commitment to their craft and the local industry have helped continue to expand the recognition and accolades for this region.”

The winners will be feted beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 22, at Mission Square at the Mid-State Fair. The awards presentation is a free event — with paid admission to the fair.

Immediately preceding the presentation will be a ticketed event featuring a walk-around tasting of the gold medal winners of the Central Coast Wine Competition (CCWC), and the CCWC Winery of the Year award will be presented to Pear Valley Vineyards.

The PRWCA is the trade organization that represents wineries, growers and businesses in Paso Robles Wine Country. The region encompasses more than 40,000 vineyard acres and 200 wineries.


— Laurie Jervis tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via The opinions expressed are her own.

Laurie Jervis

Laurie Jervis, Noozhawk Columnist

Laurie Jervis can be reached at The opinions expressed are her own.