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Wine alliance names the 2023 wine industry persons of the year 

Alex and Monica Villicana

Alex and Monica Villicana. Photo from winery’s website.

Alex and Monica Villicana will receive the award at upcoming annual gala

– On Feb. 8, the Paso Robles wine community will join together to honor a couple who has “exemplified the spirit of Paso Robles Wine Country with outstanding leadership and vision.” Alex and Monica Villicana, owners of Villicana Winery and Re:Find Distillery, will receive the 2023 Paso Robles Wine Industry Persons of the Year award at the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA) annual gala.

Alex and Monica Villicana have been promoters of and contributors to, the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA), its wines, people, and community since their first vintage in 1993. Monica and Alex started Villicana Winery while living and working in Pasadena and for the first six years, they commuted to and from to plant their vineyard and tend their wines. After the birth of their second child in 2001, they decided to move to Paso Robles permanently and open a tasting room on their property off Adelaida Road, and raise their family in the Paso community. They continue to produce estate wines from the vines they personally planted.

In an effort to be more sustainable in their winemaking practices, the Villicanas started the first distillery in the region, Re:Find Distillery in 2011. The distillery began by capturing the valuable saignèe that many wineries discard and upcycling it into premium grape based spirits. In the 2022 harvest, Re:Find was able to reclaim the equivalent of a 70-acre vineyard from being discarded. That’s a lot of fuel, water, and manpower being recovered. Their Re:Find project has enabled Paso wineries to recoup some of their grape costs and has created a whole new beverage tourism industry in Paso Robles.

“We are truly honored to be recognized by our peers in the Paso wine industry,” said Monica and Alex Villicana. “We are humbled to be included among such an incredible group of past recipients who have all done so much for the region. Our fellow vintners are not only our peers, they are friends with the common goal of making great products, supporting an amazing community, and promoting Paso Robles.”

Alex has served on multiple industry-related boards. Currently, he brings a winery and distillery perspective to the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission (vice chair) as the only vintner on the board in decades. He also serves on the board of Travel Paso (chairman) and California Distillers Association (president). Alex has previously served on boards for the PRWCA (both vice chair and chair), Wine Institute, Paso Robles Distillery Trail (founder/President), and Twin Cities Hospital Board of Governors.

Monica currently serves as the vice president/treasurer of the Paso Robles Distillery Trail (founding member). She and/or Alex have served on this board each year in various capacities since its inception in 2015. Monica is also on the board of Project Zozu and is a member of the PRWCA’s Marketing Committee. Monica has also served on the boards of Art for Children (founding member) bringing art curriculum to Templeton students, and the Far Out Wineries back when the Adelaida/Vineyard corridors were the path less traveled. Monica is passionate about hiring Cal Poly students, training, and developing them, and mentoring them toward their careers in and out of the industry based on their strengths and interests.

“Alex and Monica are shining examples of the spirit of Paso Wine Country,” said Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance Joel Peterson. “They are creative, innovative, kind, and natural leaders. We are thrilled to honor them.”

Alex and Monica Villicana were nominated and named the 2023 Paso Robles Wine Industry Persons by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance membership, which represents 450+ companies including wineries, vineyards, and associated businesses. The Villicanas will be recognized by industry colleagues at the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance’s Annual Gala on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at Rava Wines. Elected officials and representatives from national, state, and local offices are also on hand to commemorate the honor.

The evening will also feature the installation of the 2024 PRWCA Board of Directors, and executive committee, and the recognition of departing board members. The incoming Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance Board of Directors (in alphabetical order) are as follows:

  • Chloe Asseo – L’Aventure
  • Josh Beckett – Peachy Canyon Winery
  • Cris Cherry (Vice Chair) – MAHA Estate / Villa Creek
  • Randy Heinzen (Treasurer), Coakley Vineyard / VPS
  • Carole MacDonal – Il Cortile Ristorante / La Cosecha
  • Noreen Martin – Martin Resorts
  • Molly Scott (Chair) – Justin Vineyards & Winery
  • Michelle Thacher – Thacher Winery & Vineyard
  • Maggie Tillman – Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery
  • Jeff Strekas with Onx Wines departs the board with Thacher set to replace his seat. Strekas completes a two-year term that began in 2021.

For more information about The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance visit pasowine.com

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About the author: News Staff

The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.