Wine Rows

Wine Business Institute Board of Directors



Gary Heck - Board Chairman
President & Owner, F. Korbel & Bros. 
Gary Heck is the owner, President, and Chairman of Korbel Champagne Cellars. Heck was appointed as the President in 1982 and has continued the legacy of his father, Korbel's previous owner. Heck grew up in the champagne-making business and now produces the leading premium champagne in this country. Learn more.

caroline_bailey_headshot.jpgCaroline Coleman Bailey - Board President
E & J Gallo Winery
Caroline Coleman Bailey is a third generation member of the Gallo family and her experience within the company includes public relations, corporate and brand communications, as well as marketing and sales. She has served as the lead spokesperson for the Gallo Family. Learn more.


kaj_ahllmann.jpgKaj Ahlmann

Proprietor, Six Sigma Ranch & Winery
In 2000, Kaj Ahlmann and his wife purchased a 4,300 acre ranch in Lake County and named it Six Sigma Ranch. The release of the first wine under the label, Six Sigma Ranch, was celebrated in 2006. Kaj Ahlmann applies the Six Sigma methods on this ranch in both the grape growing and winemaking processes, and continuously monitors and refines data at each stage. Learn more.


bonomi_smalls.jpgTom Bonomi
President & CFO, Classic Wines




chris_burt_edited.pngChris Burt
Vice President, Director West Division, Brown-Forman
Chris is the VP Managing Director for Brown-Forman, responsible for sales and marketing execution within the Western United States. Chris has been with Brown-Forman since 1985. Brown-Forman is a family owned publicly traded corporation that owns the Sonoma Cutrer Winery and the Jack Daniel's Distillery, and has sold Korbel Champagne for the the Heck family since the late 1950s. Chris is a 1985 graduate from Sonoma State University, has an MBA from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate from the UCLA Anderson Executive Program in Management. 
Learn more.

roy_c_headshot.jpgRoy E. Cecchetti
President & CEO, Cecchetti Wine Company
Cecchetti Wine Company marks Roy Cecchetti's second time founding a California wine brand. He also co-founded Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellar with his brother-in-law Don Sebastiani. The company grew to become one of the fastest growing California wineries. Learn more.



perry.jpgPerry DeLuca
Senior VP and Team Leader, Wine, Food and Beverage, Wells Fargo
Perry DeLuca is a a 10-year veteran of wine industry finance.
He is currently the industry head and team leader for the Wine, Food & Beverage group in Wells Fargo's Santa Rosa-based North Coast Commercial Lending Office. Learn more.

Erik Greeny
Vice President of University Development, Sonoma State University


steve_gross.jpgSteve Gross
Director of State Relations, The Wine Institute
Steve Gross is Director of State Relations at Wine Institute, where he has been employed since 1986.  Steve's duties entail overseeing the activities of Wine Institute's six State Relations Regional Counsels and Regional Managers as they address state legislation affecting the wine industry, as well as coordinating Wine Institute's legislative and regulatory activities with staff, contract lobbyists and member wineries.

Steve regularly participates in many national programs dealing with issues facing the wine industry, both on the legislative and regulatory levels.  Steve serves on the Board of Directors of both Sustainable Conservation and the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance (CCEEB).  He also serves on the Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute's Executive Board.  A native of Nebraska, Steve brought to Wine Institute knowledge garnered during his ten years of employment in the on-sale food and beverage industry, as well as extensive experience in political campaigns and legislative activism.
Learn more.


ray_2.jpgRay Johnson
Director, SSU Wine Business Institute





james_kimball.jpgJames Kimball
Senior Vice President & Region Head, Commercial Banking, Wells Fargo
James Kimball is in charge of a team of 17 Commercial Banking managers that serve a territory stretching from San Francisco to the Oregon border. However, a crucial sector served by the team is California's wine industry. Learn more.



walt_klenz.jpgWalt Klenz
Vice Chairman, The Vincraft Group
Walt Klenz began his California wine industry career in 1973. In 1976, he was named Director of Marketing at Beringer Vineyards. Klenz held a number of senior marketing, financial and operations positions at Beringer until his appointment in 1990 as President. After Beringer was sold to Foster's Group in 2000, he headed Foster's global wine business. Klenz served on the Advisory Board of ASC Fine Wines from 2008 to 2010 and also serves on the Board of Directors of J. Lohr Winery and Columbia Sportswear Company. He is a past President of Napa Valley Vintners and a past Chairman of the Wine Institute. He is currently a partner and Vice Chairman of the Vincraft Group. Learn more.

ed_lemay.jpgEd LeMay
Senior Vice President of Marketing Services, Constellation Brands
With over 30 years of experience in the wine industry, Ed has a reputation for using his background in change management to transform organizations.  In his current role, he develops and oversees critical "Centers of Excellence", including Strategic & Consumer Insights, Wine Education and Digital Marketing. Ed also oversees several other support and shared services functions including Trade Marketing & Promotions, Creative Services, Brand PR, Retail Operations, Visitor Centers and Direct-to-Consumer Marketing. Learn more.


erle_martin.jpgErle Martin
Recent President & CEO, Crimson Wine Group
Since joining Crimson Wine Group as President and CEO in 2007, Erle Martin has left an indelible mark on the wine company, refining the Pine Ridge product offerings and packaging, reorganizing sales efforts at Archery Summit, leading the post-acquisition integration of Chamisal Vineyards and Seghesio Family Vineyards into the Crimson portfolio and launching the ForeFront by Pine Ridge brand. With over 20 years of management experience in the fine wine industry, Mr. Martin began his career as a sales representative for Gallo, soon moving to the distributor side of the business at Young's Market Company, where he rose to become Vice President of the State Fine Wine division. In 1996, Mr. Martin joined Niebaum-Coppola (now Inglenook), where he led a team that helped transform proprietor Francis Ford Coppola's small, estate-based wine business into one of the top 20 American wineries. Mr. Martin, who makes his home in Napa Valley, has served as President of the Stag's Leap District Winegrowers Association, has been active on several Napa Valley Vintners committees and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute. Mr. Martin has a BS in business administration from Boston University. Learn more.

robert_merletti.gifRobert Merletti
Publisher/CEO, Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine, Vineyard & Winery Services, Inc.
Robert Merletti is the owner and Chairman of Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine. Vineyard and Winery Management has become one of the largest wine industry trade shows in the nation. The magazine has given Robert Merletti an exclusive perspective on the industry as a whole. Learn more.



fredrick_pierce.jpgFrederick W. Pierce IV
President & CEO, Pierce Education Properties, L.P.; Trustee Emeritus, The California State University
Frederick W. Pierce IV is the President and CEO of Pierce Education Properties, a San Diego-based owner, manager and developer of student housing and education-based real estate. Learn more.



rubin.jpgRon Rubin

Owner, River Road Family Vineyards & Winery, and CEO of The Republic of Tea
Ron Rubin is dedicated to enriching people's lives through premium teas, education and innovation - emphasizing a "Sip by Sip Rather Than Gulp by Gulp" lifestyle. Rubin is also the owner of the River Road Family Vineyards and Winery, a small-production winery located in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley American Viticulture Area located in Sonoma County, California. Learn more.



Alex Ryan
President & Chief Executive Officer of Duckhorn Wine Company
Since 1988, the visionary leadership of Alex Ryan has been instrumental in establishing and growing Duckhorn Wine Company. During his illustrious tenure, Duckhorn has grown into one of the most highly respected and fastest-growing luxury wine companies in the industry. Alex started at Duckhorn as the vineyard manager, was made general manager and chief operations officer in 2000, and then promoted to President in 2005. Having come up through the ranks in the vineyard and production side of the company, Alex has earned a reputation as a "winemakers president", known for his commitment to quality from grape to glass. At the same time, Alex's leadership has established excellence in every area, from the vineyards to operations, sales and marketing. Learn more.

william_silver.pngWilliam Silver
Dean, Sonoma State's School of Business & Economics 


Terri Stark
Owner, Stark Reality Restaurants

steve_sterling_2.jpgStephen Sterling
Vice President of Marketing & Sales, Esterlina Vineyards and Everett Ridge Winery
Stephen Sterling comes from generations of winemakers who believe in quality over quantity. Learn more.




douglas_thornley.jpgDouglas Thornley
Principal, Gould Evans | Baum Thornley Inc.
Douglas Thornley has an extensive background in architectural practice and education. A bay area native, Thornley has a special interest in built form within the urban context. Learn more.



john_yandell.jpgJohn Yandell
CEO, Yandell Truckaway, Inc. 
John Yandell started his tenure at Yandell Truckaway Inc. but eventually took over as President. While at Yandell Truckaway, he also founded Santa Clara Warehouses, Inc. John has become extremely active in the wine industry, serving a 20 year term as Chairman of the Wine Institute's Associate Members. Learn more.


Ning Zhang
Proprietor, Teucer


Contact SBE
Contact SSU
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics. Reach.
1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377