The Lodi Winegrape Commission (LWC) named a new leader to oversee the commission’s regional branding efforts.
Wendy Brannen becomes the commission’s new executive director, effective Oct. 24. Brannen replaces Camron King, who left in May to be the President of the National Grape and Wine Initiative.
The commission represents more than 750 wine grape growers and 85 wineries in the Lodi American Viticulture Area (AVA). The AVA includes 110,000 acres of vineyards owned by families that have farmed grapes for more than a century.
“When I met this group, I was instantly confident that I wanted to work for them. The commission has a solid team already doing great things and a brand with infinite potential for growth,” says Brannen.
In her position at the LWC, Brannen will oversee the commission’s marketing, public relations, strategic planning, and grower relations. She will lead the organization’s team of 15, under the direction of the board of directors, and will be the primary spokesperson for the Lodi wine industry.
The region’s annual yield of nearly 671,000 tons of grapes in 2015 was valued at $413 million and comprised 18 percent of California’s total wine grape production.
To the LWC, Brannen will bring a fresh perspective and an innovative mind that specializes in brand strategy, consumer promotions, advertising, public relations, digital and social media strategy, marketing partnerships and more.
Leading one of the highest-planted acreages of any AVA, Brannen will also oversee the sustainable farming practices of Lodi Rules - a third-party certified sustainable wine growing program started by the commission in 2005.
Brannen has more than a decade of diverse experience in the agriculture sector. She joins the commission from the U.S. Apple Association, where she serves as the Director of Consumer Health and Public Relations, promoting consumption of U.S. apples and apple products.
She has a history there of initiating successful national marketing programs that showcase grower members. Her popular campaigns have consistently earned national recognition, such as the “Apples for Life” media tour, named National Awards Winner in 2015 by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA).
Brannen previously served as executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee for eight years. There, her innovative efforts led to a unique marketing campaign for Vidalia Onions, creating a DreamWorks Animation partnership titled “Ogres & Onions,” resulting in increased national coverage of the Vidalia brand and increased consumption among kids, reaching a new target demographic.
Brannen is an active member of the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) Board of Directors, has served on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Food & Farming (AFF), and the University of Georgia (UGA) Alumni Association Board of Directors, her alma mater.
She is a member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, United Fresh Produce Association, Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the Produce Marketing Association.