When the 2010 New York State Ice Wine Best in Show award is announced Feb. 26 at the Fire and Ice Gala, the winner will receive an original glass sculpture designed by Beccy Feather, a graduate student in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology. Feather’s sculpture was featured prominently at the annual Ice Wine Festival at Casa Larga Vineyard Feb. 20 that saw hundreds of guests sample traditional ice wines from a dozen regional wineries.
Feather, a graduate student in the School for American Crafts at RIT, has a broad background in glassblowing techniques through experience as an artist’s assistant at several prominent museums and schools.
“A passion of mine is traveling, so during the years 2005 to 2008, I used different glassblowing skills that I learned at university to work in different studios around the world,” she says. “I worked in Canada, America, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Turkey.
“I enjoyed experiencing the diverseness of different cultures and meeting the people who lived there. I learned a great deal from working in so many different studios and experienced many different styles of operating a glass studio,” she adds.
In 2007, Feather was an artist’s assistant to Corban Walker, an international glass sculpture artist, at the Pilchuck Glass School at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y. She also was a teacher’s assistant for public glassworks classes at the museum, and served in the same capacity at the Glass Furnace, a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.
“It was brilliant,” she says. “Such a fun experience and amazing culture. I am lucky that I have a skill that I can travel with and work in all these exciting places.”
Feather was one of several students and faculty involved in the festival at Casa Larga Vineyard this past weekend. The second annual New York State Ice Wine Festival was coordinated by Lorraine Hems, a lecturer in the RIT School of Hospitality and Service Management. She presided over the ice wine competition Feb. 12 at Henry’s restaurant at RIT, as well as the festival that took place at Casa Larga Vineyard in Victor, N.Y.
During the competition at RIT, Kasie Tierson and Michelle Nichols, students in Hems’ hospitality classes, poured and distributed the ice wines that were judged that day. It was the first time for both students to participate in a formal wine competition. They also were part of the team of students who helped organize the festival and acted as hosts and assistants at the seminars, winery tables and food stations.
Tierson, a third-year biotechnology student, took a Wines of World introductory class. “I fell in love with wine,” she says. “I started this for fun, then it became an interest.” She will be transferring to the University of California at Davis next year and plans to pursue a certification in wine making.
Nichols had a similar experience of taking a class about wines for fun. She lived in Europe for several years, participating in a co-op experience in a restaurant in Sheffield, England. “It’s interesting to see how people start in this business, how they grow to appreciate what they drink,” says Nichols, a fourth-year hospitality student.
The culmination of the Ice Wine festival is the Fire and Ice Gala to be held at Casa Larga Vineyard on Feb. 26 where the Best of Show will be awarded.