The new 2021-2022 board of directors took office during the July meeting of the Lodi Winegrape Commission. Incumbent alternate Jason Eells joins current commissioners Phil Abba, Bruce Fry, Curt Gillespie, Matt Lauchland, Tom Murphy, Diego Olagaray, Aaron Shinn and Brandon Sywassink. Joe Larranaga joins current alternates Dirk Heuvel, Joan Kautz, Jacylyn Stokes, Todd Maley, Colton Machado, Mitch Spaletta, Garret Schaefer and Scott Armolea.
Established in 1991 as the grower-centric force behind the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA), the Lodi Winegrape Commission represents 750 winegrowers farming more than 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. The year 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the California-based organization. Comprised of nine commissioners and nine alternates, the board of directors provides direction and input on behalf of the region’s winegrowing community.
At the July meeting, Shinn was elected chair, Olagaray vice chair, Gillespie secretary, and Sywassink treasurer. Shinn is the co-owner of Round Valley Ranches, Inc. – a Lodi-based, full-service vineyard management company – and a graduate of California State University, Fresno, with a bachelor of science in agriculture business. Shinn has served on the board of directors of the Commission since 2015 and previously served as vice chair (2020-2021). He also serves on the California Winegrape Inspection Advisory Board and is the current chair of the LODI RULES Committee of the Commission.
“Serving on the board of directors of the Lodi Winegrape Commission for the past six years has been a pleasure,” says Shinn. “I am honored to work alongside such an experienced and committed group on behalf of an entire agricultural community as we continue to move Lodi forward in the areas of recognition, quality, innovation, and sustainability.”
Moving to commissioner, Eells – a veteran of the United States Navy – is the owner/operator of Arbor Vineyards, Eells Family Farm and Mettler Family Vineyards. Past president of the Lodi District Grape Growers Association (LDGGA) and former member of the board of directors of the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau, Eells says, “I am motivated to continue my service on the board of directors to carry on the efforts to promote higher demand for Lodi winegrapes and wine.” In addition to the board of directors, Eells serves on the Winery Marketing Committee of the Commission.
Joining as an alternate, Larranaga is the owner of Larranaga Vineyard, a 10-acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon, and farm manager with Pacific Agri Lands vineyard management. After completing an associate degree from San Joaquin Delta College, Larranaga completed a bachelor of science in plant science at California State University, Fresno. Says Larranaga, “My goal is to ensure we are representing Lodi winegrowers in the best ways possible. Through service, I’m looking forward to continuing to learn more about our industry.”
“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 of directors is commissioner Kendra Altnow of LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards. Altnow has served on the board of directors non-consecutively for 11 years, most recently as chair (2019-2021). Altnow continues to be active in Commission initiatives and currently serves on the Grower Marketing Committee.
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.