The new 2023-2024 board of directors assumed service and elected officers during the August meeting of the Lodi Winegrape Commission.
New board members Pieter A. den Hartog and Hadyn Schatz join current commissioners Phil Abba, Jason Eells, Curt Gillespie, Joan Kautz, Tom Murphy, Diego Olagaray, and Jacylyn Stokes. Board alternates include Scott Armolea, Dirk Heuvel, Joe Larranaga, Colton Machado, Todd Maley, Art Prudhel, Garret Schaefer, Mitch Spaletta, and Brandon Sywassink.
Olagaray was elected chair, Gillespie vice chair, Stokes secretary, and Murphy treasurer. Olagaray is the co-owner of Olagaray Brothers & Twin Vines and has served on the Commission’s board of directors since 2019. He also has served on the California Association of Winegrape Growers, the San Joaquin County Resource Conservation District, and the Lodi District Grape Growers Association. He is a current director of the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau.
“I am honored to serve alongside this passionate group of winegrowers,” says Olagaray. “I look forward to continuing to bring a different perspective to the Commission over the coming years.”
Established in 1991 as the grower-centric force behind the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA), the Lodi Winegrape Commissionrepresents 750 winegrowers farming approximately 100,000 acres of winegrapes. Over the years, the Commission has provided abundant support for the region through marketing, education, research, and sustainable winegrowing programs, cementing Lodi’s leadership in viticulture and elevating its reputation as a premium winegrowing region. Comprised of nine commissioners and nine alternates, the board of directors provides direction and input on behalf of the region’s winegrowing community.
New commissioner den Hartog – a graduate of Duke University – is the Vineyard Operations Manager at Den Hartog International Farms, Inc. He is a second generation board member and currently serves on the Commission’s LODI RULES Committee. Den Hartog is focused on utilizing his more than 10 years of experience to support the Commission’s efforts. He states, “I look forward to collaborating with my fellow board members to ensure the viability and the sustainability of Lodi winegrapes for the future.”
Schatz, another new commissioner, is the Vineyard Manager at R&G Schatz Farms and a graduate from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo with a degree in agricultural systems management. Schatz, whose father Rodney served on the board as chair from 1997 to 1999, is proud to be a part of the team. “I’m excited to continue to promote and assist in sustainable winegrowing in the Lodi wine region,” says Schatz.
“We are proud to have such a qualified and diverse board of directors guiding the efforts of the Commission and our larger agricultural community,” commented Lodi Winegrape Commission Executive Director Stuart Spencer. “I look forward to working with them to continue building on our great work supporting the region through the Commission’s primary initiatives of promotion, research, and education.”
Rolling off the board of directors are Aaron Shinn of Round Valley Ranches and Matt Lauchland of Lock L Ranches. Shinn ended his eight consecutive years (2015-2023) as the outgoing board chair. Lauchland has served on the board of directors for six consecutive years beginning in 2017. Both individuals continue to be active in the Commission’s initiatives and supportive of the ongoing efforts of the greater Lodi winegrowing community.
About the Lodi Winegrape Commission
Established in 1991, the Lodi Winegrape Commission 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 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. For more information about the Lodi Winegrape Commission, visit lodigrowers.com.
About the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA)
A historic winegrowing region since the 1850s, Lodi is perfectly situated 40 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco. Lodi’s Mediterranean climate and distinct soils allow its growers to cultivate more than 125 winegrape varieties, making Lodi the most diverse winegrowing region in the United States. 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.
Lodi is naturally a leader in sustainable viticulture. Created by California farmers and accredited by world-renowned scientists, LODI RULES is America’s original sustainable winegrowing program. Held to a high standard of scientific rigor and excellence, the program emphasizes environmentally and socially responsible practices, while keeping economic feasibility in mind for long-term business success. Today, there are nearly 70,000 acres certified throughout California, in Washington, and Israel. For more information about the Lodi AVA or LODI RULES, visit lodiwine.com and lodirules.org.