At the Annual Meeting of the Members on January 23, 2023, the members of the National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA) elected and/or re-elected officers and Board Directors for the organization. The election installed a leadership team that’s as geographically and economically as diverse as the regions and sectors of the grape and wine industry whose research needs NGRA represents.
The following Board Directors were elected as officers of NGRA, each serving a two-year, renewable term:
- Chair: Jessica Youngblood, Youngblood Vineyard, MI, succeeding Russell (Russ) Smithyman, a Washington-based independent industry representative, formerly of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, WA
- Vice Chair: Rich Schaefers, Nuveen Natural Capital, CA, succeeding Allison Jordan, Wine Institute, CA
- Secretary: Emily Hodson, Virginia Wine Board (Veritas Vineyard and Winery, VA)
- Treasurer: Dan Martinez, Martinez Orchards, CA, re-elected
- Past Chair: Tony Stephen, American Vineyard Foundation (Scheid Family Wines), CA
“I’m thrilled and honored to take the helm of NGRA alongside other colleagues from across the country who are passionate about science as a means to advance our industry,” says Jessica Youngblood, the first grape grower from a midwestern state to lead NGRA. Jessica also is one of only two Governor-appointed representatives for wine production on the Michigan Craft Beverage Council, served two terms on the Board of the Michigan Wine Collaborative and chaired its Cold Climate Grapes Conference Committee. She also currently serves as the Midwest Regional Representative on NGRA’s Board of Directors. “I grow wine grapes in Michigan that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Without research, they never would have existed. NGRA is at the apex of coordination of research that matters in every vineyard.”
NGRA’s Board of Directors is comprised of 28 Commodity Sector, Regional and At-Large Representatives from across the U.S., each serving staggered, three-year terms. At this year’s Annual Meeting, six either renewed their three-year terms or were newly installed, as follows:
- Wine Grapes: Rich Schaefers, Nuveen Natural Capital, CA, re-elected
- California: Keith Striegler, E. & J. Gallo Winery, CA, re-elected
- Natalie Collins, California Association of Winegrape Growers, newly elected
- Allison Jordan, Wine Institute, CA, re-elected
- Anji Perry, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, CA, re-elected
- Tony Stephen, American Vineyard Foundation (Scheid Family Wines), CA, re-elected
The National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA) was organized in 2005 as a strategic planning organization for research to strengthen the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of America’s grape and wine industry. The nonprofit organization unites all grape sectors including raisin, juice, table and wine grapes together with researchers and grant funders in a unique collaborative effort that focuses on initiating game-changing, national-level research to advance the industry. For more information, visit graperesearch.org.