2023 Industry Excellence Award Recipients

The Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association is proud to honor outstanding contributions to the Texas wine industry through its Industry Excellence Awards. Award recipients are honored each year at the TWGGA Annual Conference & Trade Show.

The 2023 Industry Excellence Awards recipients—who were honored at the TWGGA 2023 Annual Conference & Trade Show, February 21–2023, in San Marcos, Texas—are:

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2023 T. V. Munson Award Recipient

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Fran Pontasch

2023 T.V. Munson Award Recipient (Pictured, Center)

Named after Thomas Volney Munson of Denison, this award recognizes exemplary contributions to Texas grape growing.

The 2023 T.V. Munson Award recipient is Frances Pontasch. She is one of the original vineyard advisors prior to 2010 with Texas A&M. She has dedicated her entire career to supporting the Texas wine industry—from her master’s degree at Sul Ross focusing on Pierce’s Disease, to being the vineyard manager for Messina Hof, to her 13 years with Texas A&M Horticulure. To say she has had an accomplished career is an understatement. Fran has been the boots-on-the-ground source for research-based information in the Gulf Coast since the start of her Extension career. She has published numerous factsheets, been involved in dozens of research trials, performed thousands of site visits, and has given countless presentations, many of which were at TWGGA’s Grape Camp and Annual Conference. But most importantly, Fran has always been just a visit, phone call, or email away for her constituents. While the world sure has changed over the past few decades, Fran’s commitment to our grape growers in the state has remained unwavering. As she begins to wrap up her extensive and successful career serving the Texas wine and grape growers of Texas, there is no one more deserving of the T.V. Munson Award. She is a veteran viticulturist and has been one of the pioneers of our industry.

2023 Louis F. Qualia Award Recipient

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Anthony Mosley

2023 Louis F. Qualia Award Recipient (Pictured, Center)

Honoring the founder of Val Verde Winery in Del Rio, this award recognizes a pioneering spirit in a Texas winemaker or grape grower.

The 2023 Louis F. Qualia Award recipient is Anthony Mosley. Anthony Mosley has dedicated his life and career to the Texas wine industry with stops at several of the state’s top wineries. The wineries he has produced wine for have won countless international awards, including multiple Best of Class at competitions including, but not limited to, the San Francisco Chronicle, TEXSOM, and the Houston Livestock Show. On top of being a world-class winemaker, he’s “just a hell of a good guy” that will stop and help anyone that asks and expect nothing in return. “If work ethic, kindness, and a love for this industry are the qualities one needs for this award,” says his nominator, Steve Newsom, “I can think of no one more deserving.”

2023 John E. Crosby, Jr. Award Recipients

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Raymond & Gladys Haak

2023 John E. Crosby Award Recipients (Pictured, Center)

This award recognizes lifetime achievement in the Texas wine and grape industry.

The 2023 John E. Crosby, Jr. Award recipients are Raymond and Gladys Haak. Everyone in this industry knows what an undertaking it is to start a winery from scratch, let alone operate a winery, successfully, for 20 years. This is exactly what Raymond and Gladys Haak did up until they sold their winery in 2020, and they didn’t do it on U.S. 290. They did it in Santa Fe, Texas. Haak Winery was born from a gift of love, a single grapevine as an anniversary gift from Gladys, which led to Raymond’s path into winemaking. Fueled by passion and love, the two vowed a firm footed journey together to build a winery in the Gulf Coast of Texas. Raymond and Gladys were determined to push the Texas wine industry to new heights. They took every opportunity to educate and champion the Texas wine industry to every patron that entered the tasting room and every wine festival attendee. Raymond served on countless panels, sharing his knowledge and experiences with growing grapes and making wine on the Gulf Coast across the United States. Gladys served as a wealth of knowledge on successfully navigating the many trials and tribulations of winery operations. It isn’t easy having a winery and vineyard on the Gulf Coast, but they weathered every storm, literally. Opening the doors to their commercial winery in 2001, they developed lasting partnerships with Texas’ pioneering family vineyards and produced award-winning wines both from Texas vinifera and hybrid varieties. They built a winery capable of producing 15,000 cases, put Blanc Du Bois on the map as a premium grape variety winning 340 medals (and counting) within Texas and beyond, and further put Texas wine on the global map in developing their legendary Texas Madeira.  The time, passion, and desire put forth by these two Texas wine innovators helped raise our flag on the global wine stage where it can be proclaimed that Texas can, indeed, produce premium world-class wines.

2023 Frank Madla Award Recipient

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Kyle Frazier

2023 Frank Madla Award Recipient (Pictured, Right)

For diligent and altruistic commitment to furthering the Texas wine and grape industry through the legislature and government agencies.

The 2023 Frank Madla Award recipient is Kyle Frazier. Kyle Frazier is the owner of Kyle Frazier Consulting, Inc. where he has represented the legislative interests of his business clients, including TWGGA, since 1998. His clients’ interests include water desalination, water rights, healthcare, alcohol regulation, and taxes. Frazier has been involved in politics and governmental relations for over thirty years, having begun his career working on the Mark White for Governor Campaign in 1983. Upon winning his election, Governor White appointed Mr. Frazier to serve as Deputy Director of Appointments. In that position Frazier advised the Governor on pending appointments to statewide Boards, Commissions and State Agencies. Frazier also managed (retired Congressman) Jim Turner’s successful race for the Texas State Senate in 1990, became Director of Industry Affairs for the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, and, in 1998, joined the Schlueter Group, an Austin-based lobbying firm. Frazier studied at Baylor University and has participated in extensive professional development training on behalf of his clients, including water desalination, alcohol regulation and healthcare policy. Frazier has maintained an active role in the Austin community, including service as the Board President of Keep Texas Beautiful and as a board member for the Woman’s Advocacy Project.

2023 Bunny Becker Women in Wine Award Recipient

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Julie Whitehead

2023 Bunny Becker Award Recipient (Pictured, Center)

This award recognizes a woman in the wine industry who is dedicated to quality in all that she does, shows tenacity when facing even the most daunting of challenges, and models grace and courtesy while making her contribution to the Texas wine and grape industry.

The 2023 Bunny Becker Women in Wine Award recipient is Julie Whitehead. Julie Whitehead is the managing partner of the family-owned and operated Blue Ostrich Winery & Vineyard in St. Jo, Texas. For many years, the property was one of the foremost ostrich breeding and ranching facilities in the Southwest, but now it creates award-winning wines. As her nominator, Amy Sterling, notes, “This award was made for Julie.”