Lodi Winegrape Commission Announces New Executive Director

From www.prnewswire.com by Lodi Winegrape Commission
Lodi Winegrape Commission Announces New Executive Director

Lodi Winegrape Commission (PRNewsFoto/Lodi Winegrape Commission)

LODI, Calif., Sept. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Lodi Winegrape Commission, which represents more than 750 winegrape growers and 85 wineries in the Lodi American Viticulture Area (AVA), has recently announced the appointment of Wendy Brannen as Executive Director. Brannen will assume her new role on October 24, 2016.

The Lodi AVA, comprised of 110,000 acres, is farmed by many growers whose families have produced grapes for a century or more. "When I met this group, I was instantly confident that I wanted to work for them.  The Commission has a solid team already doing great things and a brand with infinite potential for growth," says Brannen. 

In her position at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Brannen will oversee the Commission's marketing, public relations, strategic planning, and regional branding efforts, as well as grower relations. She will lead the Winegrape Commission team of 15, under the direction of the board of directors, and will be the primary spokesperson for the Lodi wine industry. The region's annual yield of nearly 671,000 tons of grapes in 2015 was valued at $413 million and comprised 18% of California's total winegrape production.

Brannen has more than a decade of diverse experience in the agriculture sector. She joins the Commission from the U.S. Apple Association, where she serves as the Director of Consumer Health and Public Relations, promoting consumption of U.S. apples and apple products. She has a history there of initiating successful national marketing programs that showcase grower members. Her popular campaigns have consistently earned national recognition, such as the "Apples for Life" media tour, named National Awards Winner in 2015 by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA).

Brannen previously served as Executive Director of the Vidalia® Onion Committee for eight years. There, her innovative efforts led to a unique marketing campaign for Vidalia® Onions, creating a DreamWorks Animation® partnership aptly titled "Ogres & Onions." The campaign linked Vidalias to the beloved Shrek character and his affinity for onions and their many layers, resulting in skyrocketing national coverage of the Vidalia® brand and increased consumption among kids, reaching a new target demographic.

"Leaving the produce industry after more than 10 years is bittersweet," says Brannen. "Both the U.S. apple growers and the growers of Vidalia® onions before them have meant more to me than I can convey in one sentence.  But, a primary draw of this opportunity is that I will continue to work for growers, which I love, but now I will employ the knowledge and experience I bring to the table from marketing other brands to help the Lodi winegrape growers and the related Lodi wineries.  I look forward to becoming both a part of the Winegrape Commission team and the Lodi community."   

To the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Brannen will bring a fresh perspective and an innovative mind that specializes in brand strategy, consumer promotions, advertising, public relations, digital and social media strategy, marketing partnerships and more. Leading one of the highest-planted acreages of any AVA, Brannen will oversee the Commission's annual budget to market the Lodi region, facilitate grower education, viticultural research, and expand awareness of the sustainable farming practices of the Lodi Rules™ – a third-party-certified sustainable winegrowing program started by the Winegrape Commission in 2005.

Brannen is an active member of the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) Board of Directors, currently serves on the Communications Committee for and has served on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Food & Farming (AFF), and the University of Georgia (UGA) Alumni Association Board of Directors—her alma mater.  She is a member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, United Fresh Produce Association, Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the Produce Marketing Association.

Brannen replaces Camron King, who left in May to be the President of the National Grape and Wine Initiative.

For additional information about Wendy Brannen, images or to schedule an interview, please contact Katie Calhoun at Calhoun & Company Communications at 415-346-2929 or katie@calhounwine.com.

About the Lodi Winegrape Commission
The Lodi Winegrape Commission, established in 1991, strives to serve the common interests of all Lodi Crush District 11 winegrape producers and to enhance the profitability of winegrape production through promotion, research and education. The Lodi Winegrape Commission represents 750 winegrowers farming nearly 110,000 acres of winegrapes and 85 wineries.

Located south of Sacramento, west of the Sierra Nevada, and east of San Francisco, the Lodi wine region features a classic Mediterranean climate. A major winegrape growing region since the 1850s, Lodi is home to more than 85 wineries, many of which have garnered major awards at domestic and international wine competitions. Most notably, Lodi was recently named "2015 Wine Region of the Year" by Wine Enthusiast magazine, one of the wine world's premier wine publications.

Lodi is also a leader when it comes to sustainable viticulture. The Lodi Winegrape Commission created Lodi Rules™, California's first third-party-certified sustainable winegrowing program, which recently won Gov. Brown's annual Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) – the highest environmental award in the state of California – for its mission to address major environmental, economic and social challenges facing California's agricultural industry. With more than 100 varieties currently being cultivated, Lodi offers a diverse array of wines, from its renowned Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Albariño, and Tempranillo, and many others. For more information about the Lodi wine region, visit www.lodiwine.com and www.lodigrowers.com.

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