The Washington Wine Commission has hired pharmaceutical industry executive Steve Warner as its new executive director. Warner will start March 12, replacing Robin Pollard, who left the Commission at the end of 2011.
“I could not be more excited about joining the Commission and the industry at this particular time in our evolution,” Warner said in a statement. “We have tremendous opportunity ahead of us, and I look forward to working with our state’s growers and wineries to realize our full potential as a unified industry.”
Warner was a managing director for Merck based in Bucharest, Romania. Previously, he was a general manager in regional and global marketing in Seoul and Bangkok.
He was hired despite no experience in the wine or related industries.
“He loves wine. He’s been drinking European wine,” said Jay Soloff of Delille Cellars, who was on the hiring committee and the board of commissioners. “He’s a quick study.
“This guy is going to rally everyone. We believe his ability to galvanize the industry, his ability to bring people together, his ability to work with competitors made him the best candidate for the job.”
Warner graduated from West Seattle High School before serving in the United States military’s Special Operations Command, first as a sergeant in the Air Force and then as a lieutenant commander in the Navy. He graduated from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s in biology and earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Rutgers University.
The Washington Wine Commission is a state agency that promotes and lobbies on behalf of the Washington State wine industry through marketing efforts to generate greater demand for its wines. A commission-supported study claims that the state wine industry's annual economic impact in the United States at $4.7 billion and supports the employment of 19,000 Washingtonians and another 10,000 around the U.S. — including several jobs on Mercer Island.
The hiring committee was made up of commissioners and representatives from the Washington Wine Institute, the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers and the Wine Commission staff.
Warner was selected from about 170 applicants. The hiring committee, with the help of Olympia-based executive search firm Karras Consulting, narrowed the candidates to two finalists who were recommended to the board of commissioners, who ultimately chose Warner.
Ste. Michelle gift leaves WSU feeling like a million bucks
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and its parent company, tobacco giant Altria, committed $1 million to Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology program at the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers annual meeting Feb. 8.
Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and chair of the WSU Board of Regents, said research and education are critical to Washington wines’ success in the international wine market.
“Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany, no great wine region in the world succeeds without the support of a strong research university,” Baseler said in a statement. “This gift supports the Washington wine industry’s premier research university and aligns with our companies’ focus on investing in high-impact educational programs. The strength of the programs reinforces the need for expanded facilities, such as the Wine Science Center in Richland.”
Earlier, Washington winemakers and grape growers announced a $7.4 million pledge for the Wine Science Center raised from fees levied on assessments on grape and wine production. The fees will be levied for 10 years starting with the $7.4 million raised from the 2011 harvest.
Are you experienced?
More than a dozen Woodinville wineries and spirits producers will be pouring their wares at The Seattle Wine and Food Experience on Feb. 26 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.
The wineries participating include: Airfield Estates, Barons V Winery, Barrage Cellars, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery, Convergence Zone Cellars, DiStefano Winery, Guardian Cellars, Hestia Cellars, J. Bookwalter, Red Diamond, Robert Ramsay Cellars, Silver Lake Winery, Trust Cellars and Woodinville Wine Cellars.
Distillers Project V Distillery & Sausage Company and Soft Tail Spirits will also participate.
Guests can sample wine and spirits with appetizer-size sample dishes by Cantinetta, Coho Café, Purple Café and Wine Bar, Trellis and Wild Ginger.
For tickets click here.
Wine Pick of the Week: 2010 Goose Ridge Pinot Gris
Goose Ridge Winery was founded by the Monson family in Richland under the direction of the legendary Dr. Walter Clore. Its winemaker, Kendall Mix, was hired in 2010 under the recommendation of its former consulting winemaker Charlie Hoppes, another legendary winemaker.
All that winemaking experience translates to a Pinot Gris that is balanced, lithe and food friendly. This Pinot Gris from the cool 2010 vintage is crisp and driven by bright acidity. A bouquet of orange blossoms, lemon zest and lime zest leads to a palate of guava, melon and pink grapefruit. Citrus notes extend to the lengthy finish.
Goose Ridge favors old world elegance instead of the fruit-forward style common in new world Pinot Gris. It is that elegance and the aforementioned acidity that makes this a versatile food wine. Serve the 2010 Goose Ridge Pinot Gris for a casual dinner at home with take-out chicken teriyaki from any number of Woodinville teriyaki joints, such as King’s Teriyaki, Minami Teriyaki or Matsu Teriyaki.
At a reasonable $15 a bottle, it makes for an affordable, casual and hedonistic dinner.