Board Retreat – April 2015

Beth Costa on Jun 26, 2015

BOARD MEETING                                          

  1. Election of officers – Board approved the slate of officers
  • President – Robin Calkins
  • Vice-President – Julia Lander
  • Treasurer – Robert Conrad
  • Secretary – Stacy Rafanelli
  • Lodging Rep – Sue Burnett
  • President Pro-Tem – Renae Perry


  1. Board Member Recruitment & Nominating Committee
  • Discussed board meeting attendance requirement – talked about excused absences.
  • Need to qualify candidates for the board in November for placement on the ballot in January.
  • Board members need to solicit people to volunteer to be nominated.
  • Candidates should be vetted them through a Nominating Committee.
  • Use a board meeting in the fall to identify potential candidates. 
  • We need winery owners on the board.



Appoint the Vice-President to serve as Nominating Committee chair. Board members will identify potential candidates at the October board meeting. The Board member bringing name forward will vet the identified candidate(s) and gauge their interest. Interested candidates will be vetted by Nominating Committee in time for November board meeting. Videos or photos or other promotional activities may be done as part of the election cycle.


  1. Succession Planning
  • Discussed current process of planning for the succession of leadership on the board.
  • Should we ask all board members to identify their interest for a leadership position?
  • There needs to be a succession strategy for the president’s position to ensure participation at the Executive Committee level in the immediate past-president year.


MOTION APPROVED:  At the October board meeting, current Executive Committee members will declare their interest in continuing to serve in a leadership position. Other board members would register their interest in a leadership role. The interested person(s) would be oriented to the leadership roles by the current president. If the individual affirms their interest, the names are considered by the Executive Committee for leadership positions. President or President Pro-Tem will work with ED to discuss interested candidates and make a recommendation to the Executive Committee. Executive positions should be for two years. 




  1. Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Discussed the requirement for board members to sign a conflict of interest policy.
  • Provided an overview of the concept of conflict of interest and why a policy is needed.
  • Agreed to have Beth check with Elizabeth Palmer to determine if board members need to annually sign the policy.
  • Beth will have a presentation at the June board meeting in regards to fiduciary duty and conflict of interest.




Beth highlighted the achievements of the organization in the last year.




  1. Perception of Declining Participation
  • Discussed perception that events have declining participation. The board needs to be informed that participation by wineries is not declining. Guest attendance has changed over the years, but it has not impacted the outcome of the experience. The core issue is the messaging at wineries who are not participating and having negative comments about the Wine Road events. How can we help shape this messaging for non-participating member wineries?


RECOMMENDATION: Create messaging to all members about being positive and supportive of the event(s) even if they choose to not participate. Remind them about the value, ask them to educate their employees and that participation is a choice. Consider creating a humorous video to illustrate the point. Educate members at the mandatory meeting about the event. 


  • Discussed ticket price for barrel samples with an additional fee for finished wine. Need to be sure we keep the balance between WR revenue and individual winery revenue.


AGREED to not increase the price of Barrel Tasting.


  1. Use of Volunteers
  • Wineries cannot use volunteers at any time for any events. Cannot pay for volunteer services in wine. Need to be sure that Wine Road has informed its members about the use of volunteers. 


  1. Member Event Participation and Deadlines
  • Sign up forms will be mailed. Reviewed sign up form and timeline for the Wine & Food Affair.
  • The board agreedto not reimburse wineries that do not meet the event timelines including mandatory meeting attendance, return of supplies and accounting of ticket sales and receipts for reimbursement.
  • When does their lack of payment or return of materials affect their membership in WR?


AGREED to add onto member renewal fee any outstanding balances due to the WR.


  • Discussed using EventBrite and Neon as a tool to collect ticket sales at the door instead of having to receive the money back from the winery. 
  • Refer to the Events Committee


  1. Health Permits
  • New requirements rolling out in July = increase in rates.
  • Online petition to the County asking to simply the form, process and not increase the fee.
  • Sent a letter to the members to send to the Health Department. Beth has asked the Health Department to be involved in the re-design of the permit form just for wineries.
  • Beth offered to collect all the forms in advance and submit to the Health Department. 
  • Beth will provide language for conversation.
  • The board agreed to reach out to key leaders in the community about the issue:


Contact – 

  • Ben Stone – Beth
  • Susan Gorin – Carri
  • Efren Carrillo – Carri 
  • James Gore – Beth
  • David Rabbit – ??
  • Shirlee Zane – Robin
  • Carolyn Stark – Beth
  • Kelly Bass Seibel – Robin
  • Ken Fischang – Beth
  • Veronica Ferguson, County Administrator – ??
  • Send to other appellation organizations – Beth


  1. Committees and Expectations
  • Events – Aaron (agreed to Chair)
  • Membership – Executive Committee
  • Marketing – Carla (agreed to Chair)
  • 40th Anniversary TF – Beth, Sue


  1. Barrel Tasting Reimbursements
  • A number of wineries have not received their reimbursements
  • Beth – (1) Recommends that she send a letter to all members about event outcomes for supplies (the cost of non-performance, non-participation) and specifically, outlining the new approach/form. (2) For those who have not yet received their reimbursement, a different letter will go out giving them a bye, but this is the last time reimbursement will happen if procedures are not followed. The letter will come from the Board to members that aren’t following protocols.



PRESENTATION – Alf Nucifora, The Luxury Marketing Council

  • “Ultimately, the gradual shift is away from iconic tangibles to unique and compelling services and experiences.” Think Tesla vs. BMW or Mercedes Benz
  • Simplicity Marketing – clear positioning, advertising, website access, easy to acquire, easy to use, easy to return. Core word EASY. Amazon is a great example of this approach.
  • Affluent want the “experiential” halo over the product or service: why staging is so important (staging will allow you to sell it for more and faster – ex: real estate sales). Uniqueness, customization and personalization (very relevant at the high-end, driven by CRM, growth of concierge services), “voice” rates high.
  • Superior customer service (want it now); investment grade and bespoke quality; a “deal” or “smart” buy (the buyer is in control)
  • Promotion – the rise of “connoisseurship” (learning how to be affluent, growth of rating systems, learning about luxury and quality). Implication – you have to do the teaching in a language they understand. One-to-one marketing is key (referral and relationship drive the consumer). Collaborations and partnerships make sense – building credibility. CRM are very important to support promotion (driving one-to-one marketing).



  • Brand is only the point-of-entry, leads to militant entitlement (What have you done for me today?)
  • Luxury sector is lazy, arrogant, reactive, driven by sense of entitlement and not customer-centric
  • You must develop trustto get loyalty. That demands constant communication and authenticity
  • The demand for “hard work” will continue to prevail (24/7, always responsive and available)
  • There is a “new” consumer dynamic driven by seismic behavioral shift: Technology = Information = Power




PRESENTATION – Alan Kropt, Anchor Distilling Co.

No notes taken during this fast paced, thorough presentation on “Reaching and Selling to Millennials”




  1. Feedback on Speakers
  • Clear branding, think outside box, technology is continuing to change, be cool
  • Membership Meeting – ask Alan to be a presenter
  • Can we create messaging around community involvement/engagement? Are there projects that we can adopt to give back to the community (fire department)?
  • Tie this to the messaging of the 40th Anniversary about industry involvement in the community. 
  • Create meaningful partnerships and highlight them for the community. 


  1. Festivals
  • Continue to focus on Monterey, San Diego


  1. Wine Road on the Road
  • Not doing it any more, focusing on Festivals


  1. New Logo
  • 8 new logo designs reviewed
  • #7 is the favorite from the online survey – easy to read
  • Eliminate Heaven Condensed
  • Sonoma County needs to be in the logo
  • Consider adding California or CA to the logo
  • Concern about the rub away in the font
  • Need to nail down 2-3 colors
  • Ask designer to provide additional designs based upon board comments
  • Launch in January 2016


  1. Key messages in 2016-17
  • Economic impact
  • 40th Anniversary
  • Discover Sonoma County Wine Road – authentic, real people, experiences, coolness (Wine Road, we’re cool; Wine Road, we’re real; Come be Wine Road Cool), people in the industry are not just “in” the wine business



40th Anniversary 

  1. Plans
  • Reviewed plan for the year of celebrations.
  • Judy Walker has been hired to manage Gala and Community Event.
  • Marcy Gordon will handle sponsor programs.
  • Need $200,000 for Anniversary activities.
  • Need to launch the entire program now via press releases and member sign-ups.
  • Scott: Connect Beth to SR Chamber re: media sponsorship program.
  • Looking at having WR wine flights at restaurants for the year.
  • Add a $500 sponsorship option 
  • Need an item to add to our WR signs – celebrating 40 years; a window cling; 40 years of COOL


  1. Event Champions & Board Support
  • Board – think about connections to consider sponsorships



Wine Road Wish List

  1. AVA Expansion – Sonoma Coast
  • Sub-AVA’s are covered during events
  • Should WR expand to include Sonoma Coast?
  • Discussed and agreed not to consider at this time.


  1. Wineries with Guest Houses
  • 20-30 wineries have guest houses (don’t know if they have innkeeper licenses)
  • Most are used for Wine Club members.
  • Invite them to participate in the auction as a donation.


  1. Brainstorm
  • The main focus is the 40th Anniversary celebration
  • Non-winery affiliate members – value based upon what WR already brings to the table, event participation, access to 250 members. A strategy for after the 40th Anniversary. – Assign Executive Committee
  • Inspirational activity – feel good activity – putting military vets into a job in the wine industry. Who is already doing this activity? Put them into something productive? Need to partner and not be the coordinator?
  • For 40th anniversary – 40 jobs for 40 vets in 2016 – partner with a community service provider (Jeff)
  • Discussed Terradash as an online tool to plan a trip to wine country (concierge services).




Brainstorm ED Goals & General Meeting

  1. General Meeting
  • Date: July 15
  • Time: 5 pm start, dinner 6 pm
  • Focus: 40th Anniversary, state of the state, finalize at next board meeting
  • Need to find a location
  • What is the most important thing to impart to the membership?


  1. ED Goals
  • Reviewed accomplishments by Beth in 2014-15
  • Executive Committee – come up with the goals for Beth at next meeting – May 21, 9 am at WR office
  • 40th Anniversary
  • ROI on current events
  • Consider 5-8 core goals
  • Renae – work with Scott to coordinate completion of Beth’s evaluation; discuss SIMPLE IRA plan


Posted by Beth Costa