Out of all the town’s amazing residents, Chris Turkovich has been declared Winters’ 2021 Citizen of the Year. A difficult year to say the least, it’s Turkovich’s dedication to the town that’s earned him this title and helped the community thrive through these hard times.
Although Turkovich is an inextricable part of Turkovich Family Wines, he’s also proven himself a boon to the rest of Winters’ businesses. From his work as a Winters Downtown Business Association organizer, to chairing the parking assessment committee, Turkovich maintains that when the town’s businesses — not just his own — flourish, so too does the community.
“It’s all about the small community, the farming outside of town and the businesses downtown. I’m invested in all of it and there’s no facet of it I don’t want to see improved,” said Turkovich. “With downtown, it really is an ecosystem. We all do better if the neighbors are doing better, and anything I can do to improve downtown as a whole, also helps me, the community and the city.”
With his spot on the COVID Street Structure Team, Turkovich also helped shape the look and feel of downtown. However, Turkovich insists he was only building upon a strong foundation already in place.
“It’s just doing what I can, where I can — starting with opening a business downtown and sitting on a few of the committees for the city. It was also just timing, too. I came into downtown when the city was going through a lot and starting to evolve,” Turkovich said talking about his involvement with the city. “There was definitely a great foundation and vision that were established before I was even thinking about starting a business. So when I arrived, it was just taking the torch and running with it.”
Perhaps Turkovich’s most memorable contribution to the town is co-founding the annual Tractor Parade. Now an established Winters holiday tradition, the town and its businesses flourish from the event’s popularity.
“I didn’t give it a lot of thought the first year. We knew we’d participate in it, but it turned into a unique, fun thing that now exists,” said Turkovich. “It was the partnerships and working together with everybody that made it possible. It’s grown so quickly and it’s a good event that shows the character of Winters as an agriculture town with a lot of farm influence.”
Yes, the title of Citizen of the Year is nice, he says. Through all service to the town, however, Turkovich received far more than just a title.
“I got an education. Coming from a farming background, I never thought I’d be a downtown guy. I learned a lot about cities, downtown and different types of businesses,” Turkovich said, talking about the diversity of his days. “It’s a fun experience where one day I’ll be in the vineyard by myself, and the next I’ll be working with the city on something downtown. The variety and education I’ve gotten have been awesome.”
Even after his accolade of Citizen of the Year, the hard work will continue to flow out of this Winters native and prove why he was selected.