New Fiscal Year, New Officers and Board Members Join the Lodi Winegrape Commission

It’s always an exciting time of the year when new board members join our ranks.  Yet, similar to the end of the calendar year, the end of the fiscal year is also bittersweet, with old acquaintances rolling off and new ones coming on.  Rest assured, our “old acquaintances” John Graffigna, Kevin Delu, and Bob Lauchland will not “be forgot” as in the New Year’s song, Auld Lang Syne:  Their service and contributions to the Board these past eight years have been much too significant, and let’s face it, who could forget Kevin Delu?!  I extend my sincere thanks to these three gentlemen, as they’ve willingly provided great direction and advice to me, along with other members of our Board who continue to serve, during these first few months as your executive director.

Past and current LWC Board members, Committee members, and staff enjoying a Grower Social event at Lodi Lake.

I’d also like to extend a big welcome to those who joined the Board in our July meeting:  Former board chair Craig Ledbetter returns, Matt Lauchland joins the group, and Kendra Altnow and Aaron Shinn shift from alternate member to board positions.  Those continuing to serve on the Board are Bruce Fry, Stanton Lange, Galen Schmiedt, Curt Gillespie and Ed Van Diemen.  Triana Berryhill comes on as an alternate member, joining Pieter den Hartog, Ben Kolber, John Shinn, Tom Murphy, Jason Spaletta, Brandon Sywassink, John Anagnos, and Art Prudhel.

At the July meeting, Bruce was elected chairman of the Board of Directors, Kendra vice-chair, Stanton secretary, and Galen treasurer.  Bruce has commented that he’s excited about the make-up of the new Board, saying, “Diversity of a board is key.  I like to have different ideas on the table to thoroughly discuss, come to a consensus, and back that decision.”  I have seen that Bruce likes to be hands-on.  Already, he has attended almost all our committee meetings, in line with his pledge to show up for as many meetings, events, and tastings as he can while serving as chair.


Bruce Fry – Chair
Kendra Altnow – Vice Chair
Stanton Lange – Secretary
Galen Schmiedt – Treasurer
Curt Gillespie
Matt Lauchland
Craig Ledbetter
Aaron Shinn
Ed Van Diemen


John Anagnos
Triana Berryhill
Pieter den Hartog
Ben Kolber
Tom Murphy
Art Prudhel
John Shinn
Jason Spaletta
Brandon Sywassink

Since I began writing this note with a reference to the new fiscal year, I’ll end with another quote from Bruce that references the year ahead.  I think he’s absolutely right:  Good things are ahead for the Commission and, in turn, our industry during the 2017-18 fiscal year:  “There are many exciting things happening in Lodi, and we will no doubt be very busy in the year to come.  Lodi’s popularity will only continue to grow.”

Cheers to this new fiscal year, friends old and new—and remember, we’re all here to serve—both board and staff—so let us know your needs and thoughts in the months to come.


Wendy Brannen has served as the Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission since October 2016.


About our new members:

Fry is the vice president of Mohr-Fry Ranches and is very active in the Lodi winegrape community, having served on the board for the last three years.  Fry was the past president of the Lodi District Grape Growers Association (LDGGA), Winegrape Growers of America, San Joaquin Farm Bureau, and the past director and vice chair of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG).  Fry received an agriculture business degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Lauchland, joining as a commissioner, is a fourth-generation Lodi grower and is the owner and manager of Lock L Ranches.  He holds a crop science degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  He previously served on the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau board and the Lodi Future Farmers of America (FFA) Ag Boosters. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to support and promote the innovative programs that will continue to elevate Lodi’s name in grape and wine production,” said Lauchland.

Ledbetter, a former chairman of the board of directors, is returning as a commissioner for the 2017-2018 fiscal year and says, “I am driven to make Lodi a premium destination for wineries to purchase fruit.” Ledbetter currently serves as the Vice President of Vino Farms, LLC, and is a member of the board for Ag Safe and the Wine Market Council. He obtained an agricultural economics degree from Fresno State University.

Berryhill joins the Commission as an alternate.  She is co-owner of BB Vineyards and is a current member of San Joaquin County Farm Bureau, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, CAWG, and San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association.  Berryhill has been farming winegrapes, walnuts, and almonds for the past 20 years in the Lodi region.  She holds an accounting degree from ITESM, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

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