The Lake County Winegrape Commission announced that Debra Sommerfield has started as its next president this January.
Sommerfield, formerly the County of Lake deputy chief administrative officer for Economic Development, was selected from over 30 applicants to replace outgoing President Shannon Gunier. A committee of Winegrape Commission board members interviewed the top four candidates twice before offering the position to Sommerfield.
Commission chair Peter Molnar joined vice chair David Weiss and board members Jeff Lyon and Bill Brunetti in conducting applicant interviews and choosing Gunier’s replacement. Announcing the decision, Molnar stated that, “with a string of high quality harvests, recent large investments as well as positive consumer and media interest, Lake County’s wine and winegrape industry is experiencing robust growth. Debra’s breadth of experience in marketing, economic development and the private sector make her uniquely qualified to lead the Winegrape Commission in this exciting time.”
“Everybody is happy with the committee’s choice. We are very pleased to have Debra accept the offer to join the Commission,” said Gunier, who will assist in the next months to ensure a smooth transition. “I’m thrilled with the decision. It let’s me leave the Commission in a strong position, knowing it will continue to progress under Debra’s leadership.”
In September, Gunier announced that after 20 years with the Lake County Winegrape Commission, she was leaving to pursue other interests. “This is an opportunity to keep the Commission leadership fresh and moving forward,” Gunier said when she made her announcement.
Sommerfield’s experience includes more than 15 years working in marketing and economic development with positions in the public sector, as a consultant, and in the private sector at Apple Computer and IBM Corp.
Since 1991 the Winegrape Commission’s objective has been to market the premium Lake County winegrape growing region to new and existing grape buyers and wineries all over the United States. A vote for continuance of the marketing order is taken every five years, and it has been strongly in the Commission’s favor each time, indicating success of the Commission’s sales and marketing endeavors, according to Gunier.
The Commission offers a variety of assistance to winegrape growers in the county. Activities include marketing, educational and research programs that benefit growers’ development of vineyards.
For more information about the Lake County Winegrape Commission, visit the website, www.lakecountywinegrape.org, or call the Commission office at 707-279-2633.