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In Memoriam ~ Ben Drake

November 21st, 2018

We were deeply saddened to hear that our dear friend and colleague, Ben Drake passed away on November 7, 2018 after a courageous two year battle with cancer.

Ben was a fifth generation farmer in Riverside County and a resident of Temecula since 1973. Ben founded Drake Enterprises, Inc., a farm management company 40 years ago. They currently manage 750 acres of avocados and 450 acres of winegrapes in the Temecula Valley.

Ben accomplished much in his professional career including being a long-time Board member and President of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, President of the Rancho California Water District Board of Directors, Past Chairman of California Association of Winegrape Growers and Past President of Riverside County Farm Bureau just to name a few.

“It’s hard to know where to start when talking about Ben’s contributions to the success of Temecula Valley Wine Country,” said Krista Chaich, Executive Director of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. “He was a tremendous leader and an ardent supporter of our wine region. Most notably, his leadership and guidance were never more apparent than when our winegrape growers were faced with the devastating loss of vineyards due to Pierce’s Disease, a bacterial infection that nearly wiped out our wine country. Ben called upon the State of California to assist in the fight against Pierce’s Disease through significant funding and helped to set up task forces and treatment and research programs. Many of us believe that had it not been for Ben’s efforts, our wine country wouldn’t be the thriving and award-winning wine region that it is today.”

“Ben served on our Board of Directors for several years and as the Board President from 2014 through 2016. During this time, he fiercely protected both our winery owners and wine grape growers and consistently put the best interests of our entire wine region first. It’s hard to imagine a world without Ben Drake. We’ll not soon forget his big, infectious laugh and his endearing gruffness. His loss will be felt for many years to come.”

Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association Board President, Danny Martin said “This valley owes him a lot. Everyone respected Ben Drake. He was opinionated but principled and everyone respected that about him. But more than that, Ben was just a wonderful person and he will be greatly missed.”

Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards Chief Executive Officer Bill Wilson admired Drake’s commitment to quality wines in Temecula.

“His tenacity and passion to encourage, if not demand, that everyone in the Temecula Valley do whatever it takes to grow the best wine grapes possible and make world-class wines from them,” Wilson said. “His legacy to that end will live on and within the next generation of winegrowers for many years to come!”

Ben is survived by Sharon, his wife of 43 years, four children and five grandchildren.

The California Association of Winegrape Growers has set up a scholarship in Ben’s name. Contributions can be made to: CAWG Foundation, 1121 L Street, Ste 304, Sacramento, CA 95814. Please indicate that the contribution is for the Ben Drake Scholarship Fund.

Read Ben’s full obituary here

 

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