Learn

About
Us

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), was established in 2006 as a marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. SCW has oversight by California Department of Food and Agriculture which supports producer regions.

With more than 1,800 growers, SCW’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers around the world.

In January 2014, SCW committed to becoming the nation’s first 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019. As of September, 2019 99% of vineyards are certified by a third party auditor. These sustainability efforts were recently recognized with California’s highest environmental honor, the 2016 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). Today, SCW continues our sustainability leadership with a new climate adaptation certification program. For more information, visit our sustainability page.

Our Board of Directors

The Sonoma County Winegrowers is fortunate to have some of Sonoma County’s leading winegrowers on our board of directors.

2019/2020 Commissioners

  • Glenn Proctor (Chairman)
  • Mark Sanchietti (Vice Chairman)
  • Tony Bugica
  • Joe Dutton
  • Ray Johnson (Public Member at Large)
  • George Martinelli
  • Doug McIlroy
  • Bret Munselle (Secretary)
  • Brad Peterson
  • Steve Sangiacomo
  • Taylor Serres

Commissioner Alternates

  • Marissa Ledbetter-Foster (Treasurer)
  • Kevin Barr
  • Domenic Carinalli
  • Anna Darden
  • Kris Hicks
  • Vickie Mulas
  • Mark Pasternak
  • Richard Schaefers
  • Rhonda Smith (Public Member at Large)
  • Carolyn Wasem
  • Robert Weinstock
Our

Mission

The mission of the Sonoma County Winegrowers is to increase the value of Sonoma County winegrapes and to nurture and protect this agricultural resource for future generations.

Our

Values

Sonoma County Winegrowers are family farmers who work hard every day to produce high quality grapes that are the foundation for world class wines. We are dedicated to sustaining our land for future generations. We preserve the land where we live and work and the water and air that we share with neighbors. We actively support our communities and are proud to be a part of Sonoma County.

Our Team

Karissa Kruse
President

Karissa Kruse is President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. She joined the organization as Director of Marketing in September 2012 and was named President for the organization on May 1, 2013.  Since taking over the top leadership role, Kruse has guided the strategy and implementation of Sonoma County’s commitment to become America’s first 100% certified sustainable wine region. Her forward thinking approach has helped Sonoma County Winegrowers gain global recognition for their efforts and she’s been invited to speak at major conferences around the world.

To continue to lead in the social responsibility component of sustainability, Kruse announced the relaunch of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation in January 2016 that aims to assist local agricultural employees and their families in the areas of healthcare, affordable housing, childcare, education and workforce development. She currently serves as executive director of the Foundation.

In January of 2017, Kruse launched the Sonoma County Center for Ag Sustainability, a think tank in partnership with the Wharton School of Business, that is focused on bringing subject matter experts from around the United States to Sonoma County to work on issues and opportunities affecting the long-term preservation of agriculture.

In January of 2020, Karissa announced that Sonoma County Winegrowers is the exclusive partner with the California Land Stewardship Institute to launch a Climate Adaptation Certification, a first of its kind for agriculture. This exciting initiative will move beyond best practices in healthy soils to analyze the whole farm and implement climate friendly farming practices that minimize greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration, which vary by soil type and microclimate.

Karissa earned a BS in Economics and an MBA in Marketing from Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She has 20 years of experience in various aspects of marketing, brand management, strategic planning and business development. Karissa has worked for companies such as General Mills, Universal Studios, Mattel and Dairy Management. She is a partner in a small winery, Argot Wines, and the owner of a 12-acre vineyard on Sonoma Mountain.

Kruse is on the Alumni Advisory Board for Wharton’s Initiative on Global Environmental Leadership and a member of the Global Wharton Women in Leadership. Karissa is on the German Marshall Fund Alumni Leadership Council and FIVS Global Environmental Sustainability Working Group. She is on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Housing Task Force for the Sonoma County Alliance. Karissa is on the Board of Directors, Board Development Committee and Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Wine Country and past Board Chair. She is on the Board of Directors of Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma County Harvest Fair and Health Action Council. In 2020, Karissa joined the Board of Directors for the California Association of Winegrape Growers and First 5 Sonoma County.

In 2014, Kruse was selected as a North Bay Business Journal Women in Business Award recipient and was a Forty under 40 Award recipient in 2012. Kruse was honored with the Marshall Memorial Fellowship in 2015. Karissa received the 2016 Friend of Agriculture Award from the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. She was named to the 2016 and 2017 Wine Business Monthly Magazine’s Top 50 Wine Industry Leaders. In 2017, she was named to the Organic Authority’s List of “Badass Disruptors Changing Your Food System” and Food and Wine Magazine named her one of the most Innovative Women in Food & Drink. Karissa was honored by the North Bay Business Journal in 2017 with a Community Philanthropy Award. In 2018, Karissa was named A Green Leader by Wine Enthusiast and selected as the Leader of the Year by the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

Contact Karissa

Kate Piontek
Vice President, Operations & Sustainability

Kate Piontek joined the Sonoma County Winegrowers as Vice President of Operations in 2015 to support President Karissa Kruse in overall strategic business planning by implementing and coordinating the programs and activities that promote the winegrape growers and Sonoma County as a premier food and winegrape-growing region. Her main responsibilities include financial and human resource management, overseeing the expansion of the Commission’s educational, sustainability and sponsorship programs and managing the annual grower assessment process.

Piontek has an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise and more than a decade of experience working in finance and operations for both small and large organizations. Prior to the Commission, Piontek served on several Executive Teams where she was responsible for designing and leading all the financial and operational strategy as well as contributing to the overall strategic direction of the business.

Contact Kate

Amy Tesconi
Director of Marketing & Public Relations

Amy Tesconi joined the Sonoma Winegrape Commission in 2017 as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations. Her responsibilities include guiding and executing the marketing strategy for Sonoma County Winegrowers and promoting the quality of Sonoma County Winegrapes to local and national audiences.

Amy grew up in the farming community of Ceres, California among almond groves and wine grapes. After graduating from San Diego State University with a BA in Communications she spent 3 years working in Brand Management for a vitamin company before moving to San Luis Obispo in 2008 to pursue her MBA at Cal Poly. During graduate school, Amy spent her free time discovering new wines and visiting the many AVAs of the Central Coast. After graduating from Cal Poly she made her way back to Southern California where she spent two years as the Marketing Manager for Ponte Family Estate in Temecula and served as marketing chair for the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

In 2013 Amy fulfilled a dream of moving to Sonoma County, an area she had explored many times. She went to work in brand marketing for Benziger Family Winery, marketing sustainable and biodynamic wines. Most recently, she led direct-to-consumer marketing as Senior Marketing Manager for Mumm Napa and Kenwood Vineyards.

Amy lives in Santa Rosa and enjoys hiking, swimming, cooking, reading and traveling at every opportunity.

Contact Amy

Alisha Basich
Business Development & Program Manager

As the Business Development and Program Manager, Alisha plays a dual role, working on behalf of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission (SCW) and managing the programs and development of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation (SCGGF). In this, she is responsible for the commission sponsorship program, securing revenue for both SCW and SCGGF through donor outreach, grants, events and designing educational and workforce development programs for AG employees through the Foundation.

Alisha earned a BA in Political Science from San Diego State University. She has over 15 years experience raising funds and awareness for non profit and political campaigns. She has worked for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The Nature Conservancy, Tramutola Public Mobilization and numerous political campaigns at both the local and national level.

Contact Alisha 

Valerie Pearce
Program & Grower Education Manager

Valerie Pearce joined the Sonoma Winegrowers team as the Business Manager in May 2018. Her main responsibilities include supporting the President, Karissa Kruse, and working closely with the VP of Operations, Kate Piontek, with the daily administrative business activities. Valerie will also support the Center for Ag Sustainability and oversee the annual grower assessment process.

Having grown up on a family vineyard right here in Sonoma County, her love for the wine business and agriculture has always been strong. Valerie has experience working as the Office Manager at a few small, family owned wineries such as Neyers Vineyards in St. Helena and most recently at Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves in Healdsburg. Working at small wineries has given her the opportunity to actively participate, oversee and manage various aspects of the business and she is thrilled to continue her growth and knowledge of this industry we all love with the Sonoma County Winegrowers!

Contact Valerie

Karissa Kruse

Kate Piontek

Amy Tesconi

Alisha Basich

Valerie Pearce

Committees

The Sonoma County Winegrowers are supported by several committees comprised of members of our Commission Board, winegrower and viticulture leaders, our Sonoma County community, as well as the greater wine industry. They are a valuable resource for our promotional and grower education efforts.

Finance Committee

The Sonoma County Winegrowers Finance Committee meets regularly to discuss the finances of the organization, including monthly budgeting, long-term financial planning, and more. The committee is comprised of members of the Commission Board, Executive Committee, and staff members. They meet on the first Monday of each month.

Sustainability & Grower
Education Committee

The Sustainability Committee discusses the latest news, strategies, and other topics related to our goal of 100% sustainability by 2019. The committee is comprised of winegrowers, wineries, representatives from AVA’s and other regional groups, vineyard management companies, and other members of the community. The Committee provides guidance and support to our educational programming, including development of topics and content for our various grower meetings and events.

President’s Council

The President’s Council is a collection of Sonoma County AVA leaders, regional marketing associations, and other members of the Sonoma County wine industry community, who collaborate on marketing initiatives, share ideas, current trends, upcoming AVA marketing activities, and other promotions impacting Sonoma County’s winegrowers and vintners. This group is a great example of the collaboration and partnerships that have helped elevate Sonoma County, its vineyards and wines.

Interested in joining the President’s Council? Contact Karissa Kruse at [email protected]

Marketing Committee

The Marketing Committee reviews current marketing and promotional activities of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, and discusses new marketing trends, tools, and other related topics that can positively impact our promotional goals to expand awareness for Sonoma County Winegrowers and our larger partnership with Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Tourism. The committee is comprised of winegrowers, wineries, representatives from AVA’s and other regional groups, tourism, and other members of the community.

All Notices & Agendas

These notices and agendas are for our regularly scheduled committee meetings. You can find the notice for each meeting below. Select the title to view more information about the meeting and view the attached agenda.

Title Committee Posted
Finance Committee Meeting- November 2nd, 2020 Finance Committee October 12, 2020
Commission Board Meeting- November 2nd, 2020 Commission Committee October 12, 2020
Executive Committee Notice- October 9th Executive Committee September 29, 2020
Executive Committee Notice- September 15th, 2020 Executive Committee September 4, 2020
Executive Committee Notice- August 11th, 2020 Executive Committee July 29, 2020
Finance Committee Meeting- August 3rd, 2020 Finance Committee July 22, 2020
Commission Board Meeting- August 3rd, 2020 Commission Committee July 22, 2020
Executive Committee Meeting Notice- July 14th, 2020 Executive Committee June 30, 2020
Finance Committee Notice- July 6th, 2020 Finance Committee June 26, 2020
Commission Board Meeting- July 6th, 2020 Commission Committee June 25, 2020
Executive Committee Meeting June 16th, 2020 Executive Committee June 4, 2020
Commission Board Meeting Notice- June 1st, 2020 Commission Committee May 22, 2020
Executive Committee Meeting- May 22nd at 12pm Executive Committee May 13, 2020
Finance Committee Meeting Notice – June 1st, 2020 Finance Committee May 6, 2020
Commission Committee Meeting Notice – May 4th, 2020 Commission Committee April 24, 2020