Browsing articles in "wine festivals"
Mar 28, 2014
Terri Judson

Exchange helps La Quinta chef support sustainability

Morgan’s in the Desert Chef de Cuisine Brian Recor is on the cutting edge of America’s culinary movement for humanely raised meat and locally sourced, sustainable produce.

Recor’s mentor and executive chef at Morgan’s, nationally celebrated farm-to-table innovator Jimmy Schmidt, is building a platform called FoodShed Exchange to bridge the communication between like-minded chefs and sustainable food suppliers. The idea is for transparency in the transaction between food suppliers and chefs.

“The FoodShed Exchange cuts out the middle level, which drives down prices for the chef and farmers,” said Recor.

Through the FoodShed app, chefs will be able to convey their needs to farmers, foragers, ranchers and fishermen. Farmers in turn can immediately alert chefs to what is seasonally available. Recor said he will be able to input an order, have it verified and the order is shipped that day via UPS or FedEx.

While FoodShed Exchange is still fledgling, Recor expects the operation to help in sourcing peak of the season picks during the restaurant’s continuing food and wine festivals. The festivals are designed to celebrate food seasons globally, not just throughout California, according to Schmidt.

Blue Mussels Festival

We had the pleasure of experiencing the recent Blue Mussel Festival with mussels from Havelock, New Zealand, the honey mussel from British Columbia.

According to the menu notes, blue mussels reach their peak in the frigid winter waters of New Zealand, where their byssal or “beard” harbors them to the rocky shoreline. Inside their black to navy blue shells, the inner meat yields deep amber (females) to white (males). These particular mussels were harvested from the icy waters surrounding Prince Edward Island.

The honey mussel, harvested from the cold waters off Quadra Island, B.C., was developed by natural breeding to yield a sweet, honey flavored meet with splashes of golden amber running through the shell.

The festival menus are a collaborative between Schmidt and Recor. While they have planned each peak harvest festival in advance, “We develop the actual menu about two weeks ahead,” said Recor.

For the first course, cider-steamed blue mussels arrived in a wide bowl on a bed of winter leeks and honey crisp apples. The server poured the velvety celery root chowder over the dish. The ocean taste of mussels with the earthy celery root was a perfect balance.

Next a stack of butter-poached honey mussels was served with white bean medley flavored with saffron, sweet garlic and paprika in a basil emulsion.

We also tried Morgan’s Bosc pear and watercress salad tossed with spiced nuts, Nueske’s bacon and Maytag blue cheese for an intriguing combination of sweet fruit, salted bacon, tangy cheese and crunchy nuts.

From the char-grill we tasted plump Maine diver sea scallops on soft polenta in a frothy basil emulsion.

Caramelized Bosc pear on sea salted caramel ice cream with a pecan crisp was the finale to the blue mussel festival menu. We also tried Morgan’s extravagant Meyer lemon cheesecake with nuts, powered sugar and drizzled with caramel sauce.

Coming up

Upcoming food and wine festivals are the Asparagus Festival, April 1-13, with Stockton-grown asparagus; the Vidalia Onion Festival, April 14-27, with product from Vidalia, Ga.; the Morel Mushroom Festival, April 28-May 10, produce grown in Mesik, Mich.; and the Artichoke and Soft Shell Crab Festival, May 12-23, with artichokes from Castroville.

The three-course festivals start at $59 per person and additional for wines pairings.

Morgan’s in the Desert, La Quinta Resort Club, is at 49499 Eisenhower Drive

Information: (760) 564-7600, www.morgansinthedesert.com

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Mar 28, 2014
Terri Judson

Changes fitting for revamped business awards

Mark Monaghan officially launched the 2014 CGU Banjo Business Awards on Thursday

AS chairman of the Orange Business Awards committee Mark Monaghan officially launched the 2014 CGU Banjo Business Awards yesterday, he also unveiled several radical changes.

The 2014 awards will be revamped to coincide with the now annual Banjo Paterson Festival, the first of which was held in February this year to celebrate Paterson’s 150th birthday. 

The awards’ ceremony gala dinner, normally held in November, will now become a steadfast fixture of the festival and as such, the 2014 gala dinner will be held on Friday, February 13, 2015.

“We’re very excited about the changes that have been made,” Mr Monaghan said. 

“We are encouraging all local businesses to get involved this year, it should be a great year.”

Chairman of the Banjo Paterson Festival Len Banks echoed Mr Monaghan’s sentiments.

“We’ve got food and wine [festivals], and seeing as the business awards are named the Banjo awards, it’s a good fit,” he said.

The 2014 awards will also celebrate another milestone, 25 years of CGU as major sponsor for the event.

“It’s a fantastic achievement,” Mr Monaghan said.

“We would like to thank CGU for their support, especially Allan Train who as well as being a major sponsor is also a member of the awards committee.”

Award nominations launch on Tuesday with forms in the paper, or businesses can nominate online through the Orange Business Chamber website. Nominations  close on May 2.

“This year public voting will be invited in all categories,” Mr Monaghan said.

“Businesses receiving the most votes will become finalists. Finalists will be required to complete a submission, then the submissions will be judged by two independent judges. The judges score the number of votes and the committee’s choice will be complied together to determine the winners of each category.”

This year further recognition will be given to the winning businesses of several categories, which become finalists for the NSW Business Chamber Regional Awards.

For more information about the award head to www.orangechamber.com.au.

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Mar 28, 2014
Terri Judson

‘Exciting’ changes fitting for revamped business awards

Mark Monaghan officially launched the 2014 CGU Banjo Business Awards on Thursday

AS chairman of the Orange Business Awards committee Mark Monaghan officially launched the 2014 CGU Banjo Business Awards yesterday, he also unveiled several radical changes.

The 2014 awards will be revamped to coincide with the now annual Banjo Paterson Festival, the first of which was held in February this year to celebrate Paterson’s 150th birthday. 

The awards’ ceremony gala dinner, normally held in November, will now become a steadfast fixture of the festival and as such, the 2014 gala dinner will be held on Friday, February 13, 2015.

“We’re very excited about the changes that have been made,” Mr Monaghan said. 

“We are encouraging all local businesses to get involved this year, it should be a great year.”

Chairman of the Banjo Paterson Festival Len Banks echoed Mr Monaghan’s sentiments.

“We’ve got food and wine [festivals], and seeing as the business awards are named the Banjo awards, it’s a good fit,” he said.

The 2014 awards will also celebrate another milestone, 25 years of CGU as major sponsor for the event.

“It’s a fantastic achievement,” Mr Monaghan said.

“We would like to thank CGU for their support, especially Allan Train who as well as being a major sponsor is also a member of the awards committee.”

Award nominations launch on Tuesday with forms in the paper, or businesses can nominate online through the Orange Business Chamber website. Nominations  close on May 2.

“This year public voting will be invited in all categories,” Mr Monaghan said.

“Businesses receiving the most votes will become finalists. Finalists will be required to complete a submission, then the submissions will be judged by two independent judges. The judges score the number of votes and the committee’s choice will be complied together to determine the winners of each category.”

This year further recognition will be given to the winning businesses of several categories, which become finalists for the NSW Business Chamber Regional Awards.

For more information about the award head to www.orangechamber.com.au.

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Mar 28, 2014
Terri Judson

Save the date for the 28th annual Sandestin Wine Fest

Known as the “Kentucky Derby of Wine Festivals,” the 28th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival is set to inspire foodies and wine enthusiasts April 10-13.

Over the years the event has grown to include live entertainment, food demonstrations and celebrity sightings — a little something for everyone.

“It’s not just a four-hour wine tasting,” said Lanier Motes, event manager at the Village of Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin. “The festival is always changing.”

Events such as a champagne and seafood lunch aboard the Solaris at Baytowne Marina, food pairings with regional chefs and a Sunday brunch by the bay, highlight the rich culinary culture of the EmeraldCoast. Some restaurants in the Village will even feature a special menu for the weekend.

“This year’s festival is about celebrating the region,” said Motes. “Many people that come to the Sandestin Wine Festival are from out of town. Working with Visit South Walton, we’re able to promote local restaurants.”

Perhaps one of the biggest draws is the festival’s location. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort features more than seven miles of beaches, golf courses, swimming pools and more. Staying at Sandestin is half of the fun of the festival.

“You can get dressed up, walk around the Village and take the elevator back home,” Motes said. “It’s not really an experience you can get anywhere else. Who doesn’t love a wine festival on the beach?”

At Friday and Saturday’s Grand Wine Tastings, hundreds of domestic and international wines in all varieties, styles and price ranges are available to sip. You can also purchase your favorite wines or spirits at a special festival discount throughout the weekend.

Proceeds from the Sandestin Wine Festival will be put to good use and donated to The Fisher House, which provides free or low-cost housing to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers and Sandestin Foundation for Kids, which helps make a positive impact in the lives of children.

“We’ve worked with The Fisher House and Sandestin Foundation for Kids for several years now,” said Motes. “These are local organizations so the funds go right back into the community to help those in need.”

The 28th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival will feature hundreds of domestic and international wines in all varieties, styles and price ranges are available to taste. You can purchase your favorites throughout the weekend at a special festival discount.

The wine festival has changed in its almost 30-year history adding events that highlight the culinary talents of local and regional chefs. Restaurants located in the Village will even have a special menu for festival weekend.

WANT TO GO? The 28th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival will be April 10-13 at the Village of Baytowne Wharf inside Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.sandestinwinefestival.com. 

 

 

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Mar 27, 2014
Terri Judson

Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Manhattan Beach wine fest, Vintners Spring Weekend

It is the ninth year for Shade Hotel‘s Ultimate Wine Festival in Manhattan Beach, to be held Sunday afternoon, April 6. For this year, the organizers have lined up more than 50 wineries for the festivities, including Opus One, Ceja Vineyards, Flowers, PlumpJack, Silver Oak, Grgich Hills, Trefethen and Trinchero. If any of those number among your all-time favorite wineries, you might want to pony up $125 for the admission to the tasting, which includes passed hors d’oeuvres. Limited to 350 guests, the event can sell out quickly. For more information or to buy tickets, call (310) 546-4995, or visit www.shadehotel.com.

The seventh annual Pebble Beach Food Wine event kicks off April 10 up north and goes through the weekend. If you’re headed that way, you can take in the efforts of 100 chefs and 250 winemakers. This one is usually a sellout given the lure of that incredible landscape and the quality of the presenters. The weekend is stuffed with cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and wine luncheons and dinners.

This year our own Ricardo Zarate (Picca) and Nancy Silverton (the Mozza group) are on the roster, along with SF’s Traci Des Jardins and Hubert Keller and chefs from around the country, including Paul Bartolotta, Dean Fearing, Masaharu Morimoto and Jonathan Waxman. Wine buffs may be thrilled to meet wine critic Antonio Galloni or Frédéric Engerer of Château Latour.

Highlights of the food and wine event include a tribute to the late Charlie Trotter cooked by Paul Bartolotta, David LeFevre (M.B. Post) and Todd English. And some of L.A.’s chefs will cook “Dinner with the Stars of Los Angeles.” That would be Michael Voltaggio (Ink), Jon Shook (Animal), Ori Menashe (Bestia), Rory Herrmann and Walter Manzke (République). They’ve got some terrific wine events scheduled such as a tasting of five decades of Mayacamas or a tasting in celebration of Vega Sicilia Único’s 150th anniversary.

To purchase tickets to the Seventh Annual Pebble Beach Food Wine, or for more information on ticket packages, visit www.pbfw.com or call 1-866-907-FOOD (3663). Ticket prices range from $100 for a single event pass to $4,750 for a VIP four-day pass, which gives you access to all events and private after-hour parties with the chefs and winemakers.

The Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend runs April 10 to 13 too, so you’ll have to choose. This one is a much more egalitarian (and affordable) affair that includes education seminars and winemaker dinners, but also vineyard walks, a golf tournament and a farm-to-table picnic. Held at River View Park in Buellton, the full schedule can be seen here.

When the organizers say wine education seminar, they’re not fooling around. The Santa Barbara Vintners Wine Education Seminar Series runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s actually four different sessions on subjects such as comparing wines from Santa Barbara’s five diverse AVAs, tasting three consecutive vintages from two different winemakers to assess whether vintage matters, or tasting Pinot Noir from grapes sourced from the famed Bien Nacido vineyard and six different winemakers ($250).

Vineyard hikes on Friday, April 11, sound like fun. They’re two hours long, and include wine. Sign up to hike at Purisima Mountain Vineyards, Buttonwood Farm, Baehner-Fournier Vineyards, Hilliard Bruce Vineyards or Refugio Ranch Vineyards ($80). Or how about Zaca Mesa’s popular “Hike with Your Dog and Vineyard Picnic with Our Winemaker ($40)?”

Saturday’s Grand Tasting runs from 1 to 4 p.m. With more than 100 winemakers pouring ($95). In addition, throughout the weekend many of the local wineries will be holding open houses, with most charging a modest fee for tasting. And if you want to sign up for just one dinner, make it Longoria Wines winemaker dinner at The Ballard Inn ($125 per person, not including tax and tip). But then again, the Brander Vineyard is doing an Argentine BBQ and tasting Saturday afternoon for just $20.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend.

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Mar 26, 2014
Terri Judson

Alliance Ups Funding Request to City for Social Media, Arts Month Promotion

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City York Counties.

City of Williamsburg logoThe Greater Williamsburg Chamber Tourism Alliance wants to put more focus on its social media presence, and has asked the City of Williamsburg to help fund the effort.

Karen Riordan, who took over as president and CEO of the Alliance at the end of January, increased the organization’s original funding request — already $50,000 more than the $650,000 it received from the city in fiscal year 2014 — to $75,000 more than last year during a budget work session with City Council on Monday.

Before Riordan stepped into her new role, former President and CEO Dick Schreiber sent a funding request to the city for $700,000.

In keeping with her own goals for the Alliance, Riordan is asking for the additional $25,000 — a request submitted to the city only — to launch a three-year strategic plan for social media that would be implemented this year. Riordan emphasized the need for the Alliance to be constantly present on various social media platforms to reach out to a wide demographic of people.

“There are a lot of misconceptions that if you build a platform then [building a following] just sort of happens. It’s very, very time intensive,” said Riordan, who added social media sites provide a reliable focus group filled with people unafraid to express their opinions on whether they like what an organization is doing. “… It truly is two-way communication and requires monitoring and vigilance.”

Schreiber’s original request asked each of the three Historic Triangle localities to increase funding by $50,000 to help promote a to-be-determined weekend event in September, which would focus on either performing or culinary arts, in an effort to boost visitation during Arts Month. The Alliance will request more funding from James City County than originally requested to target a different growth area in a budget work session today with the county’s Board of Supervisors, Riordan said.

Arts Month, celebrated throughout the Historic Triangle but concentrated in the City of Williamsburg, begins in September and culminates with the long-running An Occasion for the Arts on the first weekend of October.

“Arts Month holds significant potential for this area,” reads the original funding request to the city. “However, we need more major events and more advertising funding to help it achieve its potential.”

Riordan said a new weekend-long event to Arts Month would be an opportunity to complement the successful ventures of particular organizations – such as food and wine festivals at Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens – to bridge guests between those attractions and Williamsburg as a destination.

“We want something fairly sizeable in performing or culinary arts that promotes [the Historic Triangle],” she said.

Riordan’s presentation showed how the rest of the requested $725,000, along with the revenue it receives through James City County, York County and its membership fees, would be spent with an overview of the Alliance’s goals.

Much of the Alliance’s efforts would focus on rebranding the narrative for Greater Williamsburg as a tourist destination, as market research has found potential visitors have misperceptions of what Williamsburg has to offer.

Advertising – 90 percent of which would be concentrated in the summer months – should bring a spotlight to the Historic Triangle’s qualities beyond Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, Riordan said. Better promotion of Christmas in Williamsburg and Arts Month, along with quality programs during those times to entice visitors to return, would aim to promote Williamsburg as a whole.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which submitted a level funding request of $1.3 million from the city to support its media budget, touched on a similar theme of tweaking its messaging to inform potential visitors of all that is offered in its presentation to the council Monday.

“Perceptions of Colonial Williamsburg have not caught up with today’s revolutionary city in terms of the nature of the experience we now offer in the historic area and museums, nor is there a full appreciation of the totality of the experience that encompasses shopping, recreation and a range of culinary and hospitality events,” CWF President Colin Campbell said.

CWF said its research has shown its target customer — which has been recently redefined as someone who enjoys discovery and learning but want to have fun at the same time — see Colonial Williamsburg solely as a destination to learn history.

Janet Eason, CWF’s director of marketing communications, pointed to a discrepancy between its target customers and those who recently visited. Recent guests are twice as likely to find Colonial Williamsburg more engaging than other historic sites, while target customers are largely unaware of the “depth and breadth” of its programming.

She also said CWF’s target customer, dubbed pioneers by CWF staff, tends to believe Colonial Williamsburg is a tourist destination best suited for families with children between the ages of 7 and 12 — a limiting perception the organization hopes to change.

“Those who haven’t been here think we’re boring, they think we’re like other historic sites, they think they’re going to be talked at. They really don’t realize how our programming is much different, much more immersive, much more hands on,” said Eason, who added it can appeal to a wide age range.

City Council members did not speak for or against the funding requests from CWF and the Alliance on Monday, largely using their time to ask clarifying questions.

City Manager Jack Tuttle will release his proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 to City Council on Thursday, and members will meet for a budget work session at 4 p.m. April 7 in the 3rd floor conference room of the Municipal Building. Citizens can offer their opinions of the proposed budget during the public comment period of that meeting, and council will host a public hearing on the budget April 10.

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Mar 26, 2014
Terri Judson

Starting a winery? Try this ‘short list’ of suggestions on what to do

In writing this week for Central PA magazine a story on Spring Gate Vineyard, which opens Friday in Lower Paxton Township outside Harrisburg, I sought the wisdom of those that already are established, sending out emails to a group of wineries that have been in business for more than three years on advice they would give to someone starting out.

Some of those responses I’ll use with the magazine story. Others, like this lengthy one from Sal Cullari at Cullari Vineyards and Winery in Hershey, Pa., are as applicable for a full post. Cullari and his wife Kathy operate the downtown area’s lone winery, with their product also sold at a number of area restaurants.

Cullari wrote in an email Monday that business continues to be good. “We have a couple of new dry reds that you can try the next time you’re around,” he said. ” Actually, last year we sold about 60% dry or semi drys wines as opposed to 40% sweet semi-sweet, but I think that is because we’re in Hershey and we get a lot of tourists.”

He was kind enough to tick off a list of suggestions he’d offer an individual in the process of laying the groundwork for a new winery.

Wrote Cullari: “I guess the suggestions would depend on whether it’s both a vineyard/winery or just winery.  If it’s both, the process (and cost) will be more complicated and expensive.

Assuming it’s just a winery:

1) Plan on having at least three years without any significant profits.

2)  Talk to some experienced and older wineries about what equipment is absolutely necessary and what is optional. When I first started, I bought a lot of expensive equipment that I didn’t need. Examples:  You probably will need a lift truck for unloading bottles, grapes and other equipment. You may not need any fancy/expensive bottling,  pumping, or filtering equipment until you figure out approximately how much wine you will be producing each year, and then buy equipment to match those figures.    At the same time, look for used equipment or auctions whenever possible

3) Make sure you have  a competent wine maker.  Making homemade wine and making wine commercially are vastly different.

4) Leave plenty of time for permits (including those for labels), and other federal, state and local requirements.

5)  Plan on making wine that sells, not what you personally like.

6)  If your winery is “out in the boonies,” you will probably need to supplement your sales through wine festivals, winery events etc.  because you may not get a lot of visitors/customers at least when you first start off.

7)  Have a well-detailed business plan.

8) Join a local wine trail.

9) Decide very early on if you are going to do in-house bottling or whether you will out source this.

10) Unless you already have a large and diverse vineyard, make sure you have a reliable source of  high-quality grapes.

11. Get RAMP training for yourself and staff as soon as possible.

12.  Match your wine to your primary location.  I have found that the type of wine I sell in Hershey, PA is different than what a a winery will sell in Perry County or other rural areas.

13. Join the PWA and attend their training sessions.

14. Screen your employees very carefully, especially those that will be serving/selling your wine. This can make or break you very early on.

15.  Make sure your wine quality is very good/excellent. Most people don’t buy a lot of “junk” wine anymore.

16.  Keep your wine list short, at least in the beginning. Sell a small number of really good wines, rather than a large number of “just ok” wines.

17. Make sure you know the wine market out there before you begin. Yes, most PA wineries sell a lot of sweet wines, but this depends on location, age of customers and so on.

18. Get involved with social media, but remember the key to being a successful winery is “word of mouth.”

19.  Don’t try to do everything yourself.  A winery business is complicated and tales a lot of time, creativity, etc.

20.  Don’t be afraid to talk to other wineries or wine makers.  As a group, most PA wineries re very friendly and willing to help new comers.

My thanks to Sal and the other owners who already have emailed me. I’ll put up a few more answers during the next couple days.

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Mar 25, 2014
Terri Judson

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Mar 25, 2014
Terri Judson

Photo: Jennifer Zielinski – File photo

A WINning tourism strategy




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Geotourism — a concept defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

An idea both new and old that brings people to a place in order to enhance it rather than harm it, and an idea that is gaining more ground in the Okanagan.

With this focus, the Watershed Intelligence Network (WIN) is facilitating community partnerships in order to strengthen geotourism in the ‘Okanagan region’ of British Columbia and Washington State.

Project director Don Elzer anticipates that this initiative will roll out over the course of a decade and as it does, it will be strengthened by similar efforts found in other parts of the world.

“We need to realize that our environment here is intrinsically linked to a vast number of ecosystems and species that are not held into place by political geography,” explained Elzer.

He hopes the initiative will encourage the tourism sector and communities involved to expand their efforts in protecting and rehabilitating their core natural and cultural assets.

He also hopes these partners view the ‘Okanagan Valley’ as a whole concept that is part of a wider Columbia River Basin that includes both Canada and the United States.

Elzer says the project will unfold in small steps, emphasizing the development of stories, events and ideas linked to geotourism in the OkanaganValley.

His team then plans to establish a “Geotourism Stewardship Council” guided by a“Geotourism Charter”.

“We’ll be bringing attention to the risks that we face here such as the loss of biodiversity. At the same time we’ll be sharing stories about places, history and the people who are making a difference in our rapidly changing region.”

The project is already in discussions with National Geographic.

Elzer suggests that every decade or so, tourism needs to redefine what it is.

“We see a lot of tourism development happening here, we see more resorts and hotels being constructed; more residential developments are happening all supported by the idea of an Okanagan lifestyle – however in order to deliver this idea, we need to protect the landscape here, and we need to remember the stories about this place.”

“While these core values need to be strengthened, so do the people and services delivering these core values,” added Elzer.

The concept of the hundred mile economy and shopping local also plays an important role in geotourism says Elzer.

“We are seeking to stimulate sustainable tourism in the Okanagan and in Canada. The initiative will help the public recognize that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations—and we’ll instill the importance of protecting a place’s character.”

The North Okanagan’s Watershed Intelligence Network role will be to generate editorial and digital content for project leaders and partners and then to broadcast that content regionally, nationally and internationally in an effort to strengthen geotourism in the Okanagan.

“The Okanagan will benefit in so many ways as this world-class collaboration develops.”

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