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Wine & Food Festival History

Following are brief highlights of the Wine Festival’s development.

Wine Festival History

Founding Wine & Food Festival Committee

  • Tara Andren
  • Carol Beam
  • Kathryn Carpenter
  • Katy Davies
  • Christine Twito
  • Julie Ebzery
  • Dona Hagen
  • Dave Hollatz
  • Dottie Hollatz
  • Mary Underriner
  • Joan Kalberg
  • Christene Meyers
  • Penni Nance
  • Dixine Pike
  • Gail Waller
  • Patty Selover
  • Donna Smith
  • Tony Smith
  • Lezlie Solari


Following are brief highlights of the Wine Festival’s development. Since the first year, Wine Festival events have expanded, and more important, dollars raised have grown.

  • 1992 – MSU Billings Foundation, in an effort to increase campus visibility, provide scholarship dollars to students and engage community volunteers with the Foundation and campus, formed an Ad Hoc Committee to explore a special event. Members were Dona Hagen, Gail Waller, Dottie Hollatz, Corby Skinner, Deb Dzuck and Dr. Bruce Carpenter, serving as a liaison member of the committee.
    • With Dr. Carpenter’s knowledge and love of wine, a wine festival seemed to be the way to go. After research on festivals across the country and visiting a few, the MSU Billings Foundation Board approved the idea and provided start-up funds.
    • Dona Hagen and Dottie Hollatz were the event’s co-chairs. Briggs Distributing Company became a partner with the Foundation and John Decker and Bob Wier of Briggs became members of the festival committee. Marriott Food Services, under the direction of Rick Waldt, also became a partner. Major sponsors of the event were Deaconess Medical Center, Exxon Billings Refinery, Fortin Enterprises and Norwest Bank/Norwest Capital Management.
  • 1993 – The first Wine Festival was held on the campus of MSU Billings. It was a two-day event: Friday wine tasting and a Saturday gourmet dinner and live auction.
    • Dotie Hollatz and Dona Hagen were the co-chairs.
    • Richard Arrowood of Arrowood Winery was the first Winemaster.
    • $43,000 net proceeds.
  • 1994 – $62,400 net proceeds.
    • Dona Hagen, chair.
    • Peter Mondavi, Sr. of Charles Krug Winery and Hank Wetzel III of Alexander Valley Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 1995 – $80,500 net proceeds.
    • Dona Hagen, chair.
    • First Wine Wise Seminar was held.
    • Bill Dyer of Sterling Vineyards and Dawnine Dyer of Domaine Chandon, Winemasters.
  • 1996 – $74,000 net proceeds.
    • Pat Petersen, chair.
    • Chris Markell of Clos du Val Wine Co., Ltd. And Hank Wetzel III of Alexander Valley Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 1997 – $104,000 net proceeds.
    • Pat Petersen, chair.
    • Cooking Schools began. Current Wine Festival logo adopted.
    • George Phalan of Dunnewood Vineyards and Winery and Sandy Rogers of Simi Winery, Winemasters.
  • 1998 – $100,000 net proceeds.
    • Susan Schwidde and Donna Sweeney, co-chairs.
    • Bill Easton of Domaine de la Terre Rouge and Kevin Mott of Ste. Chapelle, Winemasters.
  • 1999 – $188,000 net proceeds.
    • Susan Schwidde and Donna Sweeney, co-chairs.
    • Guest Chef Dinner began.
    • Ed Filice of Riverland Vineyards and Tom Larson of Sonoma Creek Winery, Winemasters.
  • 2000 – $215,000 net proceeds.
    • Billie Ruff, chair.
    • Barry Bergman of R.H. Phillips Wine Co. and Bob and Lelo Kerivan of Bridgeview Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 2001 – $188,000 net proceeds.
    • Billie Ruff, chair.
    • Jon-Mark Chappellet of Chappellet Vineyard and Jean and Jerry Bookwalter of Bookwalter Winery, Winemasters.
  • 2002 – $204,000 net proceeds.
    • Sharon Weatherwax-Ripley and Ben Ripley, co-chairs.
    • Wine 101 and Wines Around the World Tour began.
    • Kerry Norton of Covey Run Winery and Charles Ortman of Meridian Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 2003 – $220,500 net proceeds.
    • Sharon Weatherwax-Ripley and Ben Ripley, co-chairs.
    • Winemaster Dinners begin. Additional Cooking Schools added.
    • Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars and Scott Henry of Henry Estates, Winemasters.
  • 2004 – $285,000 net proceeds.
    • Evelyn Noennig and Cara Schaer, co-chairs.
    • Evening cooking schools available. Wine Wise Seminar becomes Wine 401.
    • Patty Bogle of Bogle Winery and Harry Wetzel IV of Alexander Valley Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 2005 – $280,000 net proceeds.
    • Evelyn Noennig and Cara Schaer, co-chairs.
    • Casey McClellan of Seven Hills Winery and Rick Sayre of Rodney Strong Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 2006 – $282,000 net proceeds.
    • Jane Howell and Joe Howell, co-chairs.
    • Jan du Prez of Leidersburg Wines and Barry Bergman of R.H. Phillips Wine Co., Winemasters.
  • 2007 – $360,000 net proceeds
    • Jane Howell and Joe Howell, co-chairs.
    • Winemaster Symposia introduced.
    • Laurie Hook of Beringer Vineyards and Don Wallace of Dry Creek Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 2008 – $335,000 net proceeds.
    • Susan Carlson and Stella Fong, co-chairs
    • Dave Lattin of Kuleto Estate Winery and Linda Trotta of Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Winemasters.
  • 2009 – $237,500 net proceeds.
    • Susan Carlson and Stella Fong, co-chairs.
    • Wine 201 and Iron Chef Competition introduced.
    • Gordon Hill of Milbrandt Vineyards and Bob Masyczek of Diageo Chateau and Estates, Winemasters.
  • 2010 – $245,000 net proceeds.
    • Kay Bery and Joan Holbrook, co-chairs
    • Private Cellar introduced.
    • Larry Brooks of Tolosa Winery and Eric Mohseni of Zaca Mesa Winery, Winemasters.
  • 2011 – $250,000 net proceeds.
    • Kay Berry and Joan Holbrook, co-chairs.
    • From Pasture to Plate: A Day of Discovering the People, the Land, and the Legacy of Beef introduced.
    • Bob Bertheau of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Adam Sbragia of Sbragia Family Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 2012 – $288,000 net proceeds.
    • Kay Berry and Amy Gibler Brown, co-chairs.
    • 20th anniversary celebration.
    • Bob Iantosca of Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyard and Jack Stuart of Benessere Vineyards, Winemasters.
  • 2013 – $322,500 net proceeds.
    • Amy Gibler Brown & Julie Lindermann, co-chairs.
    • Max Erlwein of Cono Sur Vineyards and Winery, & Patrick Merry of Merry Cellars, Winemasters.
  • 2014 – $311,000 net proceeds.
    • Julie Linderman and Randy Holbrook, co-chairs.
    • Erik Miller of Kokomo Winery and Randy Ullom of Kendall-Jackson Winery, winemasters.