This year’s annual CVB dinner at Outer Aisle Foods was a great success, attracting more than 80 attendees who were treated to a delicious, five course farm-to-fork menu. We were also honored to have Bryce McAnally from Visit California join us for the evening as keynote speaker, and his colleague, Ann Sullivan, industry liason, who was able to stay later to answer questions.
The night of our annual dinner is when we report on our marketing outcomes for the year to our membership. But we suspect, guests look forward most to the awards-section of the evening when we hand out the Innovations in Tourism Awards, recognizing local businesses in the categories of Events, Attractions, Lodging, Restaurant, Retail and Recreation. One of these businesses also receives recognition as an Overall Winner. Each year, the CVB and Calaveras County tourism-related businesses are invited to submit nominations for the awards and then vote on the nominees. The nominee that receives the most votes overall becomes the overall winner for that year.
Brice Station Vineyards took home the Overall award as well as the award for Attraction this year, thanks to their popular hilltop concert series and the more recent addition of Shakespeare on the Vine, a summer outdoor theater. We caught up with Stuart Mast, who, along with his wife Dolores, owns Brice Station. They opened their tasting room in 2004, and after a few years began to get interested in using their property, which sits about three miles east of Murphys, as a venue for concerts and weddings. A local musician friend with experience producing outdoor events suggested the hilltop location and in the summer of 2010 they began with five shows, featuring familiar acts like Tour Guides, Cantamos and Original Snail.
The summer of 2014 brought an opportunity to add another cultural element to the mix with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, then this year the Masts partnered with a theater company to form Shakespeare on the Vine, which produced The Taming of the Shrew and is slated for 2016 to show As You Like it. One of the greatest things about their venue, says Mast, is that the “discovery factor” for visitors – you may come for the music, and discover the wines or that they also have Shakespeare.
It’s similar for tasting room visitors who might not be aware of all the cultural offerings. It doesn’t hurt that they share the property with Calaveras County’s second oldest production business, Quyle Kilns, which is well known for its pottery and draws people from around the world. The landscape itself is also rich with history and character, rising up out of the Utica Grade Road canyon to a sunny hilltop where culture and agriculture blend to make a unique Calaveras County experience. Pay them a visit and congratulate them on their 2015 Innovations in Tourism Award.
Complete List of 2015 Winners
9th Annual Innovations in Tourism Awards
Attraction and Overall Winner – Brice Station Vineyards – for their Hill Top concert series and for hosting their Theatre Under the Stars series: Shakespeare on the Vine.
Event – Calaveras County Fairgrounds – for bringing in new events like the Back Country Horsemen, and continually enhancing Fair & Frog Jump.
Lodging – Worldmark by Wyndham – for consistently bringing in large numbers of guests and for their excellent concierge services at the front desk.
Restaurant – The Pickle Patch – for their consistently great food, live music and Oktoberfest events.
Retail – Gold Country Roasters – for roasting the most delicious coffee in the county and for introducing their story slam events and for winning a silver medal in the national Golden Bean coffee roasting awards.
Recreation – Bear Valley Mountain – for bringing in high profile events and making snow to keep the mountain open during drought years.