Gail and John Kautz have been a fixture in agriculture, owning 5,000 acres of vineyards in Lodi and Murphys.
They were selected to the Lodi Community Hall of Fame last year, and on Monday, Gail Kautz was honored as being Woman of the Year in the 14th Senate District.
Kautz was honored Monday by State Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, on the State Senate floor in Sacramento with women honored from the other 39 Senate districts.
"I was absolutely thrilled," Kautz said. "It came as a total surprise."
Poochigian said in a prepared statement, "Gail has made a striking imprint on California's wine and agriculture industry, as well as her local community."
Born and raised in Oakland, Kautz has lived in Lodi for 48 years. After graduating from College of the Pacific, Kautz and her husband, John, formed one of California's premier wine-growing operations. In 1989, they built Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys.
Kautz sits on the University of Pacific Board of Regents, has traveled internationally educating others on issues facing California farmers, and was recently selected as a delegate for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2005 Trade Mission to China.
Kautz said she was unable to take the China trip, but she accompanied Schwarzenegger on a previous trip to Tokyo.
"We represented the tourism and trade industry. We met with travel agents there and sold them on the wonders of California," Kautz said.
She is also a strident voice for volunteer service and corporate philanthropy, Poochigian said. She has also been appointed by three governors to state commissions, including the state parks and recreation commission, state fair board of directors and the California Commission on Improving Life Through Service, which oversees the California Conservation Corps and Americorps programs.
As a lifetime honorary member of the California 4-H Foundation, Kautz has raised funds for educational and agricultural projects across the country, bringing tremendous awareness to California's agricultural industry, Poochigian said.
After Monday's ceremony at the State Capitol, Kautz attended a reception at the California State Museum, where photographs of all 40 Women of the Year were on display.
"I've actually been a museum piece," she quipped.
First published: Tuesday, March 21, 2006