President, Sonoma County Winegrowers, 3637 Westwind Blvd., Santa Rosa 95403, 707-522-5863, www.sonomawinegrape.org
Residence: Santa Rosa
Professional background: I have more than 17 years of experience in various aspects of marketing, brand management, strategic planning and business development. I have worked for companies such as General Mills, Universal Studios, Mattel and Dairy Management. I worked at Dairy Management for seven years on behalf of dairy farmers nationally.
[caption id="attachment_94222" align="alignleft" width="245"] Karissa Kruse[/caption]
I am a partner in a small winery, Argot Wines, and the owner of a 25-acre parcel in Bennett Valley, with five acres planted to grapes. That makes me a winegrower, in addition to working for them.
I am on the board of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation, Sonoma County Tourism, Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, Santa Rosa Junior College Viticulture Advisory Committee and a member of Leadership Santa Rosa Class 29. I was selected as a North Bay Business Business Journal Forty Under 40 award recipient in 2012.
Education: B.S., economics, and MBA, marketing and strategic management, Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania.
Staff: I have five full-time staff people, one shared staff person and a contract bookkeeper. I manage a 21-person board and oversee two committees -- Marketing and Grower Programs, a joint community relations task force and a Sustainability Initiative working group.
Tell us about yourself and your organization: I am the president of Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers. It's a marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world's premier grape-growing regions. I work on behalf of the 1,800 grape growers in Sonoma and Marin counties (District 3).
We are a state commission with oversight by California Department of Food and Agriculture, which supports producer regions. This means that growers have voted to assess the sale of their grapes in order to have a fund to do marketing, promotions, education and support agriculture preservation.
Sonoma County Winegrowers has an unprecedented partnership with the Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Tourism to support tourism, winemaking and grape growing in Sonoma County. We are known as the "trio."
My role in the organization is to work with the board of directors to set a strategic plan and budget. I oversee 60-plus grower education programs a year dealing with everything from new technologies, pest management, water conservation, employee development and sustainable winegrowing. I also lead the SCW marketing efforts, many of them in partnership with the "trio," which includes national advertising with partners such as the Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine Magazine, and Wine Spectator.
We have events such as Sonoma in the City and Sonoma Summit, focused on educating trade, media and consumers about our region, wines, and vineyards.
SCW also has a community relations and outreach initiative in partnership with Sonoma County Vintners. In order to immerse consumers in the vineyard experience, SCW has a unique program with vineyard walks and a consumer Grape Camp event every year.
I also work with the local, regional and national media on both promoting Sonoma County and educating on our grape-growing issues.
This organization handles everything from water issues that affect growers to marketing Sonoma County grapes and wines. I truly never know what the day will bring and always feel motivated and challenged by the vast array of the things I get to do.