Sonoma County Tourism Announces 2023 Stars of the Industry Award Winners
SONOMA COUNTY, CA (May 10, 2023) The best and brightest in Sonoma County's tourism and hospitality industry gathered at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country Tuesday night to celebrate the 2023 Sonoma County Tourism Stars of the Industry Awards. Wine Country Radio’s own Natalie Wright served as host, recognizing 30 industry professionals, and presenting 11 awards to businesses and individuals that have excelled in, or have had a positive effect on, the Sonoma County tourism and hospitality industry.
The inaugural Stars of the Industry Awards occurred in 2021 as part of Sonoma County Tourism’s annual meeting. The awards proved so successful Sonoma County Tourism elected to create a standalone celebration corresponding with National Travel & Tourism Week (May 7-13). As with the previous year’s awards, Sonoma County Tourism solicited the local hospitality industry to submit nominations. A committee then pared the nominations down to three finalists in each category before inviting the industry to vote for the winners. During the voting window, online ballot submissions were limited to one per day, per email address, with 6,450 respondents casting 21,269 votes in all.
The 2023 Sonoma County Tourism Stars of the Industry are:
- Bryan Bergman with LO & BEHOLD, Front of the House
- Santos Perez De Wile from the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, Heart of the House
- Hayden Puryear of Larson Family Wines, Rising Star
- Ridge Vineyards, Environmental Stewardship/Sustainable Practices
- Brewsters Beer Garden, Customer Experience
- The Lodge at Bodega Bay, Lodging Property of the Year
- Transcendence Theatre Company, Community Enrichment
- Dustin Valette of Valette/The Matheson, Champion of the Industry
- J Vineyards & Winery, Innovation Award
Special recognition was given to Analy High School for the Accredited Hospitality Professional Program Champion Award, and Don and Thera Buttaro, who received the Legacy Award for their tenured legacy and leadership serving the hospitality industry in Sonoma County.
Front of the House winner Bryan Bergman, server of LO & BEHOLD has over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. Bryan is an exemplary hospitality professional whose efforts to provide a quality experience never go unnoticed. Customers, co-workers, and even outside industry professionals can attest to Bryan’s willingness to offer a helping hand wherever needed and without being asked. He is a true team player committed to providing a quality customer experience and is willing to go above and beyond to do so for each guest that walks through the door. His passion for food and the industry is what makes a dining encounter with Bryan both one of a kind and memorable.
Heart of the House winner Santos Perez De Wile from the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa has been in the hospitality industry for 28 years and is truly passionate about her work serving as a room attendant. It’s her attention to detail and positive attitude that stands out to both guests and staff as she always has a smile on her face and never lets the unexpected dampen her attitude. Santos even takes it upon herself to make note of reoccurring guests so that she may provide an impeccable arrival experience. She is always timely and takes great pride in her work, proving time and again that she cares deeply and is truly dedicated to the hotel and the team.
Rising Star winner Hayden Puryear of Larson Family Wines began his hospitality journey as a tasting room associate for Larson Family Wines in 2021 and quickly proved he had a knack for the industry. His charisma and dedication to the team caught the attention of colleagues and customers as he became a top seller out of the gate, despite having had minimal experience prior. He has been an integral part of creating a functional and upbeat work environment even after hardship struck the winery. Hayden’s willingness to step in wherever needed and ability to assist in the company’s growth is what made promoting him a no-brainer for the Larson Family Wines team. Now tasting room manager, Hayden continues to assist in company operations, marketing, and customer service. His co-workers feel lucky to have him and feel he has a bright future in hospitality.
Environmental Stewardship / Sustainable Practices winner Ridge Vineyards makes an effort to prioritize sustainability by making it a philosophy and a set of environmentally responsible practices designed to safeguard the land on which they grow their grapes. As shepherds of the land, they seek to conserve and renew natural resources, while protecting wildlife habitats. The solar powered winery constructed of straw bales and earthen clay, is a silver member of the International Wineries for Climate Action. They also demonstrate their dedication by taking advantage of a sophisticated water recycling systems. Ridge Vineyards is the largest producer of organic grapes in Sonoma County and a leader in regenerative farming techniques.
Customer Experience award winner Brewsters Beer Garden goes above and beyond to create a customer experience that is both memorable and photo worthy. In addition to their tasty menu offerings, they are equipped with a passionate and upbeat staff that strives to acknowledge each and every passerby, and with smiles on their faces. They allow for staff individuality and personality to shine through and offer an open-air, kid and dog friendly dining environment. Brewsters’ cuisine is influenced by Southern Carolina BBQ, and they strive to source their offerings locally and sustainably, prioritizing Petaluma based producers and ranchers. They are especially vibrant around the holidays as they present Miracle at Brewsters, decorating from ceiling to floor, and creating a magical holiday experience for their guests.
Lodging Property of the Year winner The Lodge at Bodega Bay offers incredible views and a relaxing guest atmosphere. While aiming to put customer service first, this lodging property offers spacious rooms for unwinding, award winning dining, and a luxurious spa for visitors and the community to enjoy. From their tranquil spa treatment rooms to their signature Warm Shell Massages, they take an artisanal approach to wellness treatments offering guests an opportunity to truly unwind. The Lodge at Bodega Bay aims to create an experience where guests have the opportunity to collect memories, sources of refuge to relax the body and mind, and to rekindle the spirit.
Community Enrichment winner Transcendence Theatre Company has partnered with numerous schools, organizations, and non-profits to give back to the Sonoma County community. This entertainment company’s focus on enrichment has inspired 11,000 youth through education programs, donated 7,500 tickets to communities in need, and raised $685,000 to save historical landmark Jack London State Park. They have spent countless hours on community projects and workshops that have garnered them honors such as, Arts Educator of the Decade by Broadway World, Champion for Children by 4Cs Sonoma County and Best Theatre Company by the Press Democrat.
Champion of the Industry winner Dustin Valette of Valette and The Matheson comes from a long line of hospitality professionals based here in Sonoma County. Restaurant owner, vintner, and chef, Dustin Valette has over 30 years’ experience in the industry, and is proud to carry on his family’s legacy though his carefully crafted, locally sourced rotating menu, served in the same building where his grandfather once ran his bakery. Dustin is a seasoned restaurant professional in every facet having worked as a dishwasher, manager, executive chef and now owner of Valette and The Matheson in Healdsburg. He is passionate about the food and wine making process and strives to prioritize diversity, and sustainability in the workplace. He intentionally pays tribute to local purveyors and artisans and considers his restaurants and wine, a love letter to Sonoma County.
Innovation Award winner J Vineyards & Winery offers a wine and multi-course pairing menu that was the first of its kind in Sonoma County. However, it’s their multi-week chef residency, Shifting the Lens, that is their claim to innovation. The program established in 2022, includes VIP dinners followed by an intimate discussion with acclaimed chefs-in-residence and wine makers. Through this series, the winery is providing an opportunity to expand the palate and perspective on traditional wine and food pairing while teaching the importance of culture. Featuring a diverse range of culinary and industry expertise, J Vineyards & Winery helps bring authentic cultural conversations to wine and food and brings attention to marginalized voices in the industry.
About Sonoma County
Sonoma County Tourism is the region’s official Destination Stewardship Organization. Through a multi-channel sales and marketing program, the organization promotes Sonoma County as a global visitor and meetings destination, where diversity thrives, and everyone is welcome. Leveraging the region’s unmatched assets, wine, culinary, wellness and sustainability continue to define its character. As the industry recovers, SCT will work with partner businesses to rebuild the tourism economy, regain critical revenue and re-establish a vibrant workforce. For more information, visit www.sonomacounty.com
Delayna Fitzgerald, Communications Manager
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