Spring 2014:National Wine and Grape Policy Conference – Washington, DC

May 17-19, 2014

Washington, DC – WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, took part in the annual National Wine and Grape Policy Conference this week in Washington, DC. Held in conjunction with Winegrape Growers of America, the three-day conference attracts wine industry leaders from across the country to meet and weigh in on the most pressing public policy issues affecting growers and wineries.

This year, industry leaders from 16 states were in attendance, representing wineries, growers and state associations. Subjects covered included immigration reform, GMO labeling, pest and disease management, and the overall political climate in Washington, DC. The event culminated with the Wines of America Congressional reception held in the House Agriculture Committee hearing room, where members of Congress, their staff and selected guests sampled wines from 25 states.

New Leadership

The WineAmerica Board of Directors meeting was also held, bringing about a fresh and new direction for the organization, including new top officers.

Assuming the position of Board Chair is Caroline Shaw, Executive Vice President and Chief Communications and Marketing Officer of Jackson Family Wines, the family-owned company that is the parent of beloved wineries such as Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Cambria, Stonestreet and more than two dozen others across California and around the world. In this position she is responsible for developing a unified public relations, government affairs, digital communications, employee engagement and brand marketing strategy, which aligns diverse Company functions and interests under a single, comprehensive approach. She also serves as personal publicist to chairman and proprietor Barbara Banke and the Jackson family. In her career, Shaw has served as a senior advisor to a variety of high-profile individuals and organizations including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, the Utah Jazz NBA team and a Fortune 500 Company. In
these roles she has managed multi-million dollar budgets and directed public relations teams of ten to hundreds.

“I am very committed to the mission of WineAmerica, and delighted to serve in this role,” said Caroline Shaw. “WineAmerica is the only organization representing the American wine industry, which makes a huge contribution to the economy of our nation and all our states. By conveying that message with one voice, we can have a major impact that will brighten the business climate for grapes and wine.”

Elected to the position of Board Vice Chair is Trent Preszler, Chief Executive Officer of Bedell Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island, New York. Bedell Cellars was founded in 1980 and is owned by Michael Lynne, the former CEO of New Line Cinema and Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings. Trent has served on the board of WineAmerica since 2008 and the board of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation since 2004. Trent earned an MS in Agricultural Economics and a PhD in Viticulture — both from Cornell University — where he published economic sustainability models for grapevine crop load management. He is a frequent guest lecturer at Cornell and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

“History has repeatedly shown that grassroots action is the most powerful force in creating change, and WineAmerica has the unique capacity to coordinate it,” said Trent Preszler. “ “With wineries now in all 50 states serving as important anchors for many agricultural communities, all 100 Senators along with a substantial majority of Representatives in the House increasingly understand the importance of the wine industry to  American economic growth.”

WineAmerica was founded to be the eyes and ears of the American wine industry in Washington, DC through sound public policy and advocacy. The WineAmerica Board is moving forward to better achieve that mission by initiating a search for government affairs representation in Washington, DC. Additionally, the existing staff of the organization will see an elevated role moving forward. Michael Kaiser will serve as the Director of Public Affairs, and Tara Good will serve as the Director of Operations.

The next WineAmerica Board of Directors meeting will at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla, Washington from October 26-28, 2014.