As the world’s top-ranked research institute for viticulture and enology, the University of California, Davis, is pleased to announce the newest members of its Executive Leadership Board for the department of Viticulture and Enology. The 26-member board is an important and influential advisory group for the department.
New leaders include NBA legend and entrepreneur Dwyane Wade with Wade Cellars, wine writer and Black Wine Professionals founder Julia Coney and viticulturist and recent UC Davis alumnus Miguel Luna, a partner with Silverado Farming Company.
“All of our new board leaders have really unique skills to help the department achieve our strategic goals,” said David Block, professor and chair of the Viticulture and Enology department. “They bring excellent communication skills, a passion for diversifying the industry and making sure students receive a great education and fulfilling career, and a passion for wine. Past and current members will help us to reach even a higher level of teaching, research and continuing education for the industry.”
Dwyane Wade, three-time NBA champion and thirteen-time NBA All-Star, is co-founder of Wade Cellars in Napa Valley.
Wade founded The Wade Family Foundation to provide relief to marginalized communities in need and also helped launch the Social Change Fund United to invest in and support organizations focused on empowering communities of color. He joined the Executive Leadership Board this year and hopes his involvement will increase minority enrollment and opportunities in programs at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
“I’m excited to join forces with UC Davis to support their efforts in bringing more diversity to the wine industry and make it more inclusive,” said Dwyane Wade. “Wine is for everyone, and I look forward to working with my fellow board members to create meaningful and impactful change. Together we hope to reach and inspire our community to pursue a career in the wine industry by creating a more equitable and viable pathway to achieve those dreams.”
As an influential and outspoken activist for social equality, Wade’s expertise will help the department reach new audiences and spawn interest in the wine industry among a diverse and younger demographic.
Julia Coney, a Washington D.C. and Houston, Texas-based wine writer, educator and founder of Black Wine Professionals, joined the board in June. Coney is a contributing editor at VinePair, the largest online drinks platform. She was recipient of the Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 Social Visionary Award for her work in writing and speaking on diversity, equity and inclusion in the wine industry.
“I look forward to working with my fellow members, faculty, staff and students to increase the diversity of our student population and other key ELB initiatives,” said Coney. “I invite anyone who has ever considered working in the wine industry to come along on this journey.”
Coney has already become actively involved with UC Davis, providing a keynote address at the Viticulture and Enology continuing education event, “The Importance of DEI in the Grape and Wine Industries,” this past June and playing a key role in planning a virtual recruitment event with the department.
Miguel Luna is a partner with Silverado Farming Company in Napa Valley and is a partner and founder of La Pelle Wines. He was named Viticulturist of the Year in 2020 by Wine Enthusiast. Luna is the first member asked to join the board as the Recent UC Davis V&E Alumnus Board Member, a position created by the ELB to provide a unique perspective on strategic plans for the department. He is recognized for his work as a mentor in the wine industry and for his commitment to transitioning vineyards to herbicide-free environments.
“I am committed to making sure students see viticulture, enology and the wine industry as a great career path,” said Luna. “I am also committed to educating immigrant parents to navigate the American school system to ensure first-generation Americans are prepared to succeed in higher education. It’s a great honor to be part of the ELB and I look forward to helping the V&E program continue to be the best in its class.”
Luna and the Silverado Farming Company team oversee farming for some of the best vineyards across Napa’s top appellations.
More about the board
The Executive Leadership Board is composed of invited industry leaders, educators, wine appreciators and selected colleagues to lend expert counsel and assistance to the department in setting and accomplishing its long-range goals. These goals include strengthening relationships with the wine and grape industries, increasing industry investment in research, building strong relationships with alumni and strengthening the department’s teaching program.
The department also continues its commitment to help increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the wine industry. In 2012, the department of Viticulture and Enology established the Broadening Horizons project, which aims to increase the percentage of underrepresented students pursuing careers in all parts of the grape and wine industry. As a result of those efforts, the percentage of underrepresented students enrolled has increased from less than 10% to more than 25%. — By Amy Quinton, News and Media Relations, UC Davis