Tom Klein of Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg was elected Wine Institute Chairman for the 2010-2011 fiscal year at Wine Institute's 76th Annual Meeting of Members held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Also elected were David Kent of the Wine Group, headquartered in Livermore, first vice chairman; Kathleen Heitz Myers of Heitz Wine Cellars in St. Helena, second vice chairman; Chris Fehrnstrom of Constellation Wines U.S. in San Francisco, treasurer; and Carolyn Wente of Wente Family Estates in Livermore, secretary.
Klein is proprietor of Rodney Strong Vineyards and a third-generation California farmer. Born and raised in Stockton, Klein grew up working on the family ranches in all aspects of the farming business. He earned a political science degree from Stanford University and graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. While working as a management consultant, he had an assignment with Rodney Strong Vineyards, which eventually led to Klein and his family purchasing Rodney Strong Vineyards in 1989. Klein and his wife Kate Kelly, a former CBS-TV news anchor, are active community philanthropists. He is a member of the World Presidents Organization, a board member of the California Travel & Tourism Commission (CTTC), a Trustee Emeritus of the California Academy of Sciences and received an honorary Doctor of Oenology Degree from Johnson & Wales University in 2006.
As Wine Institute Chairman, Klein will continue the emphasis on preventing punitive taxes from being imposed on wine and advocating against proposals that restrict fair trade, such as H.R. 5034, the wholesaler monopoly protection bill. Klein was an initial supporter of Wine Institute's California First communications campaign to convey the cultural and economic value of the state's wines. Because of his work on the CTTC board, he helped establish the partnership between CTTC and Wine Institute to promote California's wine and food offerings that attract the state's 20 million visitors to its wine regions. Klein, an early adopter of solar power, sustainable farming, Fish Friendly Farming and whose winery became carbon neutral in 2009, will also support Wine Institute's work on the adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices and its outreach to expand trade both in the U.S. and internationally.