RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Vineyards Association has announced its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2018 Grower of the Year.

Bill Tonkins, vineyard manager at Veritas Vineyards and Winery, Afton, has been named 2018 Grower of the Year. Bettina Ring, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry noted that “Bill’s work in increasing the Veritas acreage fivefold is a fitting parallel to the dramatic growth of the Virginia wine industry in general.”

Chris Hill , a pioneer in the development of the Virginia vineyard and wine industry, was honored with the Virginia Vineyards Association’s  Lifetime Achievement Award. Hill was an early advocate of vertically divided vine-training systems. Looking for a low-cost way to tame the excessive vigor of his vines, he decided to divide the canopy vertically, allowing descending shoots to simply fall without an additional catch wire. He adapted this approach to create a solar collector system, which maximizes sunlight for vines on vigorous sites with an east-west orientation.

The Virginia Vineyards Association originated in 1979 as a joint effort for information exchange and cooperation among viticulturists, wineries, and Virginia Tech. Its members include commercial growers and wineries, those who grow wine grapes as a hobby, and others who are simply interested in viticulture. More information can be found at: 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips