Kirk Lokka Honored with Viticulture Award of Excellence
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Kirk Lokka (or, as we call him, Don Cruz), we can tell you that he is larger than life. Kirk is one of the founding partners of Emeritus Vineyards; he is our VP of Vineyards and General Manager. Kirk was recently honored by the Sonoma County Winegrowers with the 2015 Viticulture Award of Excellence. He was presented with a Resolution from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors by Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo. In addition, Assembly Member Marc Levine sent a Resolution from the California Legislature to honor his many achievements and contributions to our community. Go Cruz!
Sonoma County Winegrowers annually presents the Viticulture Award of Excellence to recognize grape growers who have made significant contributions to the Sonoma County Winegrowing community and greater Sonoma County. “Kirk Lokka exemplifies the very best of our grape grower community here in Sonoma County,” said Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. “Kirk has spent his entire life dedicated to promoting and supporting local agriculture and grape growing, including his work educating our youth about farming and helping our workforce improve their skills at various Pruning Contests over the past decade.”
Kirk was a founding member of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers, and served as president for two terms, this group is responsible for making the Russian River Valley Appellation known throughout the world. In addition, Kirk helped establish the County Regional Pruning Contests and Championship. Investing in our community’s workforce has been a passion for Kirk, and he still judges the contest each year.
Kirk is deeply respected for his work with the Russian River Foundation, with which he helped create and develop the El Molino High School Vineyard; he also supports numerous 4-H and FFA programs. Just recently, he travelled to the Santa Cruz to purchase—on his own dime—hop rhizomes for a new Santa Rosa High School Ag project reliving the early days of Sonoma County agriculture. That is the perfect example of Kirk’s dedication and kindness.
If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy Kirk has also served on many boards for non-profits and charity events raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Sonoma County schools and organizations. And to round out his list of extracurriculars, Kirk is an advocate and leader in wildlife preservation and habitat improvement. He served as Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for 10 years and volunteered with CA Department of Fish & Game on several habitat restorations in the Mendocino National Forest and Bureau of Land Management.
Kirk goes above and beyond all the qualities encompassed by the Viticulture Award of Excellence criteria. Congratulations Cruz we are so proud to work with you!