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Celebrating first Lodi International Wine Awards

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Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 10:00 pm

I would like to share one person's story of the joy of being stuck in Lodi.

As a recent transplant from Virginia, I investigated joining Rotary and decided the Lodi-Tokay Rotary Club was a good fit. One of the joys of my life has been working on projects that make a difference, and I was impressed by members' commitment to the community.

Timing is everything.

The Lodi-Tokay Rotary was ready to create the Lodi International Wine Awards, a new community service project, uniquely suited to Lodi. I signed on as the volunteer and public relations coordinator.

LIWA has three goals: Support community and international service projects; create national exposure for Lodi and the Lodi grape growing appellation; create a wine event that celebrates diversity of personal tastes in wine.

Working with the city of Lodi, local business leaders, the Lodi Conference and Visitors Bureau and a small number of first-year sponsors, the result has been amazing.

Club members, their spouses and non-member volunteers have devoted endless hours to LIWA. We created feature stories about LIWA and Lodi in the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as the San Francisco Chronicle, Napa Register, Sonoma Index-Tribune, Stockton Record and Lodi News-Sentinel.

Five-hundred, twenty-seven wine entries were evaluated at Hutchins Street Square on March 11.

The event concludes Friday night with a celebration of success of the first Lodi International Wine Awards. I would personally like to invite every reader to a tasting at Wine and Roses. Award-winning wines will be poured by 27 wineries from 5 to 7 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling Brenda Akin, 333-8115.

Having created events in other communities over the years, I have never experienced anything like Lodi's pulling together to support this new community service project. I now appreciate the meaning of livable, lovable Lodi.

Mark Hamilton

Lodi-Tokay Rotary

Editor's note: Mark Hamilton is a business development manager specializing in the health care technology. He took a break from multiple business ventures for a few months to help direct the Lodi International Wine Awards. He has lived in Lodi since September 2005.

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