Sonoma County Harvest Fair Honors Audrey Sterling For Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture

Iron Horse Vineyards’ Founder will be honored on Sunday, October 1 at the Luther Bank Center for the Arts.

A native San Franciscan, Audrey Sterling, has led an exciting life in Paris and California with her husband Barry Sterling. The two met during their studies at Stanford University, and married 65 years ago. Shortly after, in 1976, the Sterlings founded Iron Horse Vineyards, and now three generations of Sterlings live on the estate. The Harvest Fair is proud to honor Audrey Sterling with the Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture award, for her dedication to charitable causes and Sonoma County.

Audrey Sterling became interested in the wine industry early on in her relationship with her husband.

“When we were dating, Barry brought a bottle of Mateus Rose to dinner. I could tell that he felt very sophisticated,” she said. “I was so impressed I took the bottle back to the dorm and put a candle in it.”

Living in France afforded the couple the opportunity to visit various wine regions where they learned more about the industry and honed in on the varietals of wines they enjoyed the most. France gave the couple the inspiration behind Iron Horse Vineyards.

“As Californians, we are acutely aware of the value of water,” Sterling said. “Job one when we bought the property was to finish installing a reservoir and replant some of the vineyards. In 1990, our son Laurence negotiated an agreement with the town of Forestville to recharge the reservoir with recycled water.”

But the Sterlings are environmentally and socially aware in more ways than one. They contribute about 3% of their total production to various charitable causes, and host an annual fundraising event called Celebrate Earth Day in Green Valley. The couple even has a partnership with National Geographic called Ocean Reserve, where $4 from each bottle goes to National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative, which helps establish marine protected areas and supports sustainable fishing.

Iron Horse Vineyards proudly supports the Green Music Center. Sterling was in on the ground floor of the development of Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute, and she fondly remembered attending the very first Sonoma County Vintners tour when the association was still a novelty.

Sterling has been highly recognized in the community and, outside of the wine industry for roles such as her job as Fair Employment Practices Commissioner for the State of California under Governor Pat Brown, a Director of the Sonoma-Marin Fair, and one of the first directors on the board of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair is proud to recognize Audrey Sterling for being so dedicated to protecting the Sonoma County area. Sterling will be honored during the Annual Awards Night Gala and dinner to be held October 1 at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. A limited number of tickets are available at or at the Harvest Fair Box Office located at 1350 Bennett Valley Road in Santa Rosa.

The 2017 Sonoma County Harvest Fair is October 6-8 at the Sonoma County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. Visit or call (707) 545-4200 or find “Sonoma County Harvest Fair” on Facebook.