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Napa Valley’s Future Leaders Begin Their Journey

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5/22/2023 – Saint Helena, CA – Last week the third cohort of the tailor-made Napa Valley Vintners Leadership Program began their nine-month journey. The custom initiative is designed for driven professionals with a desire to grow personally and professionally, while contributing to the greater wine community. It is unique in the world of wine.

While cultivating the spirit of leadership among vintners isn’t new to Napa Valley, a formal program to develop leadership was only implemented in 2021. The catalyst for the program came after one of the most challenging years in Napa Valley history in 2020. 

“Napa Valley’s success can be directly attributed to its visionary leaders. After 2020 we saw the need to come together, invest in our future and ensure that tradition is carried forward,” said Linda Reiff, President & CEO of Napa Valley Vintners. “Not only do we want to instill the core values that have helped to make Napa Valley what it is today, but we also want to go beyond by inspiring broader, more diverse involvement and deeper action to write the next and best chapter for our iconic region.”

The program includes in-person sessions, inspirational speakers, thoughtful conversations, educational assignments and strategic group projects. It offers a stimulating environment of personal and professional development, while building the region’s capacity for innovation and excellence.

By the end of the program the group will have selected a project to work on together. In March, the second cohort launched their leadership project, the Dream.Work.Napa. digital resource site that was created to help those looking to start a career in Napa Valley.

One important function of the program is to ensure a diverse range of voices and viewpoints is cultivated to help shape the future of Napa Valley. Of the 28 graduates from the first two years, nearly all are still involved in the program. This year they are serving as speakers and mentors for the upcoming group. Several have moved into leadership positions in the Napa Valley Vintners organization including Jaime Araujo of Troix Nois and Elizabeth Vianna of Chimney Rock Winery who were elected to the board of directors in 2022. 

Each iteration of the Leadership Program has built upon the last with learnings incorporated. The program is led by Reiff and Dr. Jacques-Olivier Pesme, Director of the Wine Research Centre at the University of British Columbia, who consults with wine organizations around the world on strategy and program development. 

“What sets Napa Valley apart in the world of wine is a collaborative spirit and strong sense of community that is like nowhere else. It is so stimulating to be part of this program to help instill in the next generation how special that is and to help them harness that spirit and carry it forward,” said Pesme. 

Participating in cohort three of the program are:

  • Kale Anderson, Kale Wines
  • Michael Baldacci, Baldacci Family Vineyards
  • Derek Baljeu, Knights Bridge Winery
  • Sally Johnson Blum, Tamber Bey
  • Kelly MacLeod, Hudson Vineyards
  • Shannon Muracchioli, Sequoia Grove Winery
  • Ryan Pass, Farella Vineyard
  • Mailynh Phan, RD Winery
  • Suhayl Ramirez, Trois Noix
  • Matthew Sharp, Shafer Vineyards
  • Molly Sheppard, Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery
  • Wesley Steffens, Vineyard 7 & 8
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