The new 2019-2020 board of directors took office during the July meeting of the Lodi Winegrape Commission. Diego Olagaray
joins current commissioners Kendra Altnow, Ben Kolber, Aaron Shinn, Galen Schmiedt, Bruce Fry, Curt Gillespie, Matt Lauchland, and Ed Van Diemen. Joining current alternates Brandon Sywassink, Art Prudhel, Tom Murphy, Clifford Castelanelli, and Phil Abba are Mitch Spaletta, Todd Maley, Garret Schafer, and Jason Eells
The Lodi Winegrape Commission, established in 1991, represents the common interests of Lodi winegrowers with programs in marketing, education, research, and sustainable viticulture. The Commission collectively and effectively promotes Lodi’s vibrant, multi-generational farming community and the California’s most dynamic wine region. Comprised of nine commissioners and nine alternates, the board of directors provides direction and input on behalf of the region’s 750 winegrowers.
At the July meeting, Altnow was elected chairman, Kolber vice-chair, Shinn secretary, and Schmiedt treasurer. “I’ve been involved with the Commission for six years and we are steps away from implementing our strategic plan, Board restructuring, and a branding campaign,” said Altnow. “I am excited to see the planning through with our experienced and diverse board who have deep Lodi roots and have Lodi grower’s interests at heart.” Altnow is the Marketing Manager at LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards where she works closely with family and team members to determine strategy for their portfolio of brands while supporting wholesale and DtC channels. Altnow holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Olagaray, joining as a commissioner, is co-owner of Olagaray Brothers & Twin Vines in Lodi. In addition to his role on the Board of Directors for the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Olagaray currently serves on the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) Board of Directors, District 3 which is comprised of California Crush Districts 5, 9, 11 (Lodi), and 17. Olagaray holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Joining as an alternate, Mitch Spaletta farms approximately 450 acres under Spaletta Farms and has recently launched a family wine brand – Intercoastal Vineyards – with his wife, Rachele. Spaletta is heavily involved in the California agriculture industry, having also served with the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau, Lodi District Grape Growers Association (LDGGA), and California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG).
Maley, joining the ranks of alternates, is a mutli-generational winegrower who currently farms nearly 260 acres of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, and more for his own family as well as neighboring farms. A graduate of San Diego State with a Bachelor’s in Marketing, Maley founded family wine label Maley Brothers in 2002. In addition to serving with the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Maley is an active member of the Lodi-Tokay Rotary Club.
Also joining as an alternate, Eells – a veteran of the United States Navy – is the owner/operator of Eells Family Farm, Arbor Vineyards, Inc., and Mettler Family Vineyards. Past president of the Lodi District Grape Growers Association (LDGGA) and former member of the board of directors for the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau, Eells says, “I’m looking forward to bringing my perspective of farming winegrapes and marketing wine to the continued efforts of the Lodi Winegrape Commission board of directors.”
Rounding up the alternates is Garret Schafer, Operations Manager of JW Moore Vinyeyards – a family-owned 200-acre farm whose entirety currently goes to Charles Krug Winery, Napa Valley’s oldest wine estate. A graduate of Delta College with an Associate’s degree in Construction Management, Schafer and wife, Haylee, are soon launching their own family label, Alliance Winery, which will debut with an Old Vine Zinfandel potentially followed by a Rosé, Sparkling, and others in the coming years.
“We are lucky to have such a qualified and diverse board of directors that have been so active with the Commission as well as our agricultural community,” commented Lodi Winegrape Commission Executive Director Stuart Spencer. “I am looking forward to working with the group to enhance the image and profitability of the region through the Commission’s primary initiatives of promotion, research, and education.”
Rolling off the board is commissioner Craig Ledbetter and alternates John Anagnos, Jason Spaletta, Triana Berryhill, and Pieter den Hartog. Each has contributed a number of years of dedication, leadership, and service to the Lodi Winegrape Commission board, with Ledbetter (10 years), Anagnos (8 years), and den Hartog (7 years) contributing significant amounts of time.
“We are exceedingly grateful for the time and energy these individuals have devoted to the Commission’s initiatives,” said Spencer. “Their involvement has been integral to the successes of the Lodi Appellation and I am certain that they will continue to maintain an active role in the community way past their time with our board.”
About Lodi Wine Country
Located 40 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco, the Lodi wine region benefits from a classic Mediterranean climate of warm days and cool evenings. A historic winegrowing region since the 1850s, Lodi cultivates more than 100 diverse winegrape varieties. From Iberian varietals like Tempranillo and Albariño to classic Rhône varietals such as Grenache and Cinsault, Lodi offers wines for even the most discerning palate.
The region also serves as home to 85 boutique wineries specializing in small-lot, handmade wines that have garnered major awards at domestic and international wine competitions. In 2015, Lodi was awarded the prestigious Wine Star Award for “Wine Region of the Year” from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The recent increase in critic and consumer attention paid to Lodi-designate wines has fueled an astronomical growth in demand for Lodi wines, as well as tourism to the wine region.
Lodi is a leader when it comes to sustainable viticulture. Created in 2005, LODI RULES™ is California’s first 3rd-party-certified sustainable winegrowing program and has received significant recognition over the years, having been awarded the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) in 2006 and again in 2014. For more information about the Lodi wine region, visit lodiwine.comand lodigrowers.com.