Sonoma County Winegrowers Announces Karissa Kruse as New President

The Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) is pleased to announce that Karissa Kruse has accepted the position of President, replacing Nick Frey as he retires.  Karissa will assume the role as of May 1, 2013. Nick will stay on in a reduced capacity through the end of 2013 to ensure a smooth transition and support Karissa and the Board as an advisor.

This promotion brings to completion an 18-month recruiting and succession planning process for the Sonoma County Winegrowers who recruited Karissa for the Marketing Director role in August of 2012. During the exhaustive search and her interview process, the Search Committee and the Board knew that they had found someone special who had the potential to replace Nick Frey.  As Nick’s retirement process began the Executive Committee and a 5-person task force interviewed Karissa as an internal candidate before making a decision to open the position broadly.  With a unanimous recommendation to promote Karissa, the Board is confident that she is the right person to lead the grower community.

“Karissa’s strong marketing background and ability to build relationships will help us maintain and grow the momentum that the Winegrowers have experienced over the past four years with the collaboration of the Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Vintners.” said John Balletto, Board Chair.  “Nick has been an integral part of forging the path for growers for over 14 years and now we are ready for Karissa to evolve the organization and represent us moving forward.”

In her short tenure as Marketing Director, Karissa has developed an 18-month strategic plan, undertook the leadership of a community outreach program, and has developed relationships with Sonoma County Tourism and Vintners and many in the growing community.

“Karissa has been a great addition to the Commission staff in just 6 months. She is quick to learn and motivated to represent growers’ interests to the wine trade and local community,” said Nick Frey. “Karissa’s experience and energy are what is needed to continue moving the Commission to new heights.”

Karissa comes to the SCW with an MBA in Marketing from Wharton School of Business and a BA in Economics from the same. She has worked for companies such as General Mills, Universal Studios and Dairy Management, in which she worked for 7 years on behalf of dairy farmers nationally. She is the owner of a 25 acre parcel in Bennett Valley, with 5 acres planted to grapes. Karissa understands the needs and concerns of growers, being one herself. Karissa brings a wealth of knowledge and energy to the position.

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Karissa Kruse
[email protected]

Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, aka Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), was established in 2006 as a non-profit marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing 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. For more information about SCWC and its programs, visit