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California Association of Winegrape Growers Names New President

Posted on May 06, 2010

The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) announced this morning that it has appointed John Aguirre as its new president. Assuming the role on June 1, Aguirre will lead the association in serving as an advocate for California’s winegrape growers, whose crops contribute more than $2 billion annually to the state’s economy. Aguirre will oversee the association’s membership, legislative, regulatory and marketing activities.

“California winegrape growers have led the way in so many aspects of the agricultural community,” Aguirre said in a press release. “They are innovative, forward-thinking stewards of the land and it will be an honor and privilege to represent and serve CAWG members.”

Aguirre joins CAWG after spending the last 11 years as the Executive Director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN), a full service trade association that represents those who grow, handle and retail Oregon’s ornamental horticulture products. The association has 1,200 members, a staff of 13 people and an annual operating budget of $2.9 million.

Aguirre replaces Karen Ross who led CAG for 13 years before joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this year as Chief of Staff for Secretary Tom Vilsack

During Aguirre’s tenure as Executive Director, the OAN grew significantly, adopting many new programs and services and increasing the association’s profile in state and federal affairs. Aguirre provided strong leadership on plant pest and disease issues, working closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This effort paved the way for the agencies to test-pilot innovative new approaches to managing plant pest and disease risks in Oregon with the launch of the Grower Assisted Inspection Program and the U.S. Nursery Certification Program.

“CAWG’s selection committee participated in an extensive search process and John was a superior candidate. His experience in government affairs as well as the unprecedented parallels between the Oregon Association of Nurseries and CAWG made him the top choice,” Kim Ledbetter Bronson, CAWG chairwoman said in making the annoucement. “We have an exciting future ahead. With the addition of John’s experience, personality, and new ideas, I am confident our organization will move into uncharted territories.”

Aguirre has spent his professional career in the field of public policy and government affairs. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he spent five years in Congress working for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and later for the House Committee on Agriculture. In 1991 Aguirre left Capitol Hill for a career as a Washington, DC, lobbyist. He served as Director of Government Relations for the National Food Processors Association and then moved on to be Vice President of Government Affairs for the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association. In 1999, Aguirre moved to Oregon with his wife and two children to take the OAN’s top staff position.

Region: California, USA
Job Function: President/Owner/GM

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