Kruse tapped to lead Sonoma Co. winegrape group

SANTA ROSA -- Sonoma County Winegrape Commission found the next leader for the 1,800-plus-member group in its recently hired marketing director, Karissa Kruse.

[caption id="attachment_70077" align="alignright" width="313"] Karissa Kruse[/caption]

Ms. Kruse came to the commission in August and starts in her new role as president on May 1, coming in as longtime President Nick Frey is set to retire that month, the organization's board of directors announced this week. Mr. Frey will be acting as an adviser through the end of this year.

"Karissa's strong marketing background and ability to build relationships will help us maintain and grow the momentum that the winegrowers have experienced over the past four years with the collaboration of the Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Vintners," said John Balletto, board chairman, in a statement.

The board's search committee spent 18 months searching for a marketing director before hiring Ms. Kruse and considered her as a top candidate for the role of president. After considering outside prospects, the board chose her.

In her six months with the commission she created an 18-month strategic plan, took up a community outreach program and cemented relationships with Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Vintners. The three trade groups launched a joint Sonoma County marketing program last summer and rolled out a multimedia campaign earlier this year.

Ms. Kruse has an MBA in marketing and a bachelor's degree in economics both from the Wharton School of Business. Her career includes General Mills, Universal Studios and seven years at Dairy Management, working on behalf of farmers nationally. She owns 25 acres in Bennett Valley, with five acres planted to grapes.

[caption id="attachment_67205" align="alignleft" width="180"] Nick Frey[/caption]

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