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Sonoma County’s Chalk Hill winery names Beaulac senior winemaker; founding winemaker at Napa’s Yao Ming exits

Michael Beaulac has been hired as senior winemaker for Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery located in the Russian River Valley appellation in Sonoma County.

Beaulac’s most recent tenure was serving as general manager and winemaker at Napa’s Pine Ridge Vineyards from 2009–2020, where he oversaw the estate’s 160 acres. Prior to this time, Beaulac was vice president of St. Supéry Vineyards in Rutherford from 2001–2009.

He spent an interim period at Laurier Winery in Sonoma’s Carneros region working as a cellarmaster from 1989 through 1991. This opportunity gave way to becoming assistant winemaker back at Murphy-Goode, where he spent four years developing new varietal programs for pinot noir and zinfandel. In 1997, Beaulac went on to spend four years as winemaker for Markham Vineyards in St. Helena.

Tom Hinde
Tom Hinde

Tom Hinde has left his post as founding winemaker Yao Ming Wines. The winery stated Hinde was director of winemaking for Yao Family Wines from 2009 to 2020.

The announcement from his winemaking consulting firm, Prestige Wine Co., stated Hinde will “devote his full time and energy into other projects, such as Calina, Kintera Wines, Cru 9, Napa Bench, House of Cards, Taub Family Vineyards, Au Contraire, and Mon Frere.”

He previously spent 16 years, 1989–2005, as vice president and general manager for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates. The announcement stated Hinde is chief winemaker for Taub Family Vineyards, Napa and leads winemaking for the family’s Au Contraire wines from Sonoma, and Mon Frere range from California.

Ryan C. Kelley
Ryan C. Kelley

Ryan C. Kelley, CFA, has been named chief investment officer for Hennessy Funds in Novato.

Hennessey stated Kelley will have primary responsibility for portfolio management operations for the firm’s family of mutual funds. Neil Hennessy, the firm’s founder who previously was investment chief, will now serve as chief market strategist focusing on market and economic analysis, and he will continue to provide strategic outlook and direction for the firm.

Kelley joined Hennessy Funds in 2012 through the acquisition of FBR Funds. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College. He is a CFA charterholder and member of both The Boston Security Analysts Society and the CFA Society North Carolina.

“I am thankful for this opportunity and am excited to take on a larger role in leading strategic and operational initiatives within Hennessy Fund’s outstanding investment management team,” said Kelley.

Crista Johnson
Crista Johnson

Crista Johnson has joined La Prenda Vineyards in Sonoma County as marketing manager.

She recently worked for six years in the marketing department at Schug Winery. Johnson started working at wine importer Negociants USA in 2007. She built up her experience and knowledge while handling sales and marketing for imported Australian and New Zealand wines, her new employer stated.

Heather Ruiz, who has more than 20 years of public sector experience, is the city of Napa’s new director of human resources.

Most recently, Ruiz served as the director of human resources with the city of Vallejo from 2018 to 2021. There, she managed a staff of 17 employees while providing services to all Napa departments and 600 employees. Ruiz also served in an acting assignment in the Vallejo city manager’s office supervising the Housing Division, public information officer and administrative staff, among other programs.

Previously, Ruiz worked for Napa County for eight years, beginning her time as the deputy director of employment and compensation and ending it as director of human resources. She has also worked as the deputy director of human resources for the City of San Jose and the director of human resources at the San Mateo Medical Center.

Ruiz earned a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in public management from California State University, East Bay, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in psychology/business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Gaynor Strachan Chun
Gaynor Strachan Chun

Gaynor Strachan Chun had joined Napa-based WineGlass Marketing.

Strachan Chun lived and worked in San Francisco for two decades as a group account Director at Chiat Day Advertising, Head of Marketing for Esprit Worldwide and Revo Sunglasses, her new employer stated. At marketing agencies, she worked on mostly consumer products such as Dreyer’s Ice Cream, Reebok, Coca-Cola, and Lucas Arts. Her alcohol experience includes Bushmills and the widely popular California Coolers in the late 1980s.

Originally from Scotland, Strachan Chun graduated with a bachelor’s degree with merit from Edinburgh University.

Karen Relucio
Karen Relucio

Napa County’s public health officer, Karen Relucio, who led the community response to the coronavirus pandemic,, has been named Woman of the Year by Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa.

Relucio has been public health officer and deputy director at the Napa County Health and Human Services Agency since 2015.

Before coming to Napa County, she was medical director of public health clinics, assistant health officer and chief of infectious diseases for the San Mateo County Health System from 2006 to 2015 and a clinical instructor at Stanford University Medical Center from 2003 to 2006.

Relucio is president of California Conference of Local Health Officers and Health Officers Association of California and is a member of the County Health Executives Association of California and Napa/Solano County Medical Society. In 2019, she was appointed to the state’s Commission on Emergency Medical Services by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Mary Denton
Mary Denton

Mary Denton is retiring as CEO of Side by Side, a San Anselmo-based nonprofit that serves vulnerable youth and their families in four Bay Area counties. The nonprofit stated Denton will retire on Sept. 1, after serving at Side by Side for over 20 years.

Also Denton has appointed Larry Woodland (former director of clinical practice and North Bay regional director) to serve as chief program officer. Woodland will assume responsibility for all program operations of Side by Side, effective immediately.

Denton was appointed CEO of Side by Side in 2010. She also served as Side by Side’s chief finance and administrative officer (2008–2010), consultant to the board of directors and CEO (2004–2008), and chief financial officer (2000–2004). Prior to joining Side by Side, Denton was a consultant for major international banks and financial institutions, focusing on strategy, policy and business implementation in international investments and financial markets. Denton was also vice president at Bank of America, working on international syndicated lending and investment management for 19 years.

“After more than two decades at Side by Side, I have made the decision to retire to focus more on family and personal interests. Side by Side has never been stronger as an organization and I am confident that this is the right time for me to transition without affecting the agency’s strength and ability to serve our clients,” Denton stated in the announcement.

Napa Farmers Market has added three new members to its board of directors.

Karla Enedina Gómez-Pelayo
Karla Enedina Gómez-Pelayo

Karla Enedina Gómez-Pelayo was born in Jalisco, México, and raised in the Napa Valley. She is a first-generation graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She now leads the group’s marketing committee.

Imane Hanine
Imane Hanine

Imane Hanine is a first-generation New York City native and currently a wine educator, hospitality and sales specialist and cellar hand for Matthiasson Wines. She brings to the board 15 years of experience in hospitality and production, the group stated.

Caroline Wiegardt
Caroline Wiegardt

Caroline Wiegardt is a volunteer at the organization and is the board secretary. She has lived in Napa for the past 25 years, and is a Realtor and a former creative services manager for packaged goods.

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