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Sonoma State Wine Business Institute Appoints New Board Directors

Submitted By: Lewis Perdue, August 29, 2013
August 29, 2013

Rohnert Park, CA - Napa Valley wine business leaders Alex Ryan (Duckhorn Wine Company), Ning Zhang (Purlieu Wines) and Erle Martin (Crimson Wine Group) have joined Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute Board of Directors, enhancing an already distinguished line-up of experienced wine industry professionals.

Ryan, Zhang and Martin were selected for the board because of the individual specialties they could bring to the Institute. “Each new member is the leader of their respective wine companies, so they’ve seen everything,” said Ray Johnson, Director of the Wine Business Institute. “Our board members work in different aspects of the wine business. Some wineries are big, some are small and family-owned – it’s a great cross section of the industry and advice. They have the real life experience that goes a long way in education.”

As president and CEO of Duckhorn Wine Company, Ryan has transformed his brand into one of the most highly respected luxury wine companies in the industry. With his experience involving winemaking and a reputation for being a “winemakers’ president,” Ryan will be an asset to the team.
An entrepreneur at heart, Zhang is a champion of California wines in China. As proprietor of Purlieu Wines and founder of the California Wine Foundation, he is committed to California wines, making the Napa Valley appellation better known in China, and bridging the gap between China and Sonoma State.

Martin is president and CEO of Crimson Wine Group, a portfolio of luxury wines from California, Oregon and Washington. Crimson commits to allowing each winery to flourish on its own while simultaneously supporting the businesses as a unified group. Knowledgeable in balancing multiple interests at once, Martin’s distribution experience will contribute to the board’s wide scope of expertise.

Ryan, Zhang and Martin join the ranks of wine business leaders from the North Coast, such as Gary Heck, Institute Board Chairman and President and Chairman of F. Korbel & Bros.; Caroline Coleman Bailey, Institute Board President and Gallo Family Winery representative; and Walt Klenz, Vice Chairman of the Vincraft Group.

With a mission to “create extraordinary learning experiences for students and the wine industry,” the Institute selects its board members based on a number of requirements, including character and career stature. Members of the board meet quarterly to offer insight and advice, to grow the success of the program and to strengthen the relationship between the Institute and its surrounding community.

“The board works inward on strategizing, but they also work outward by spreading the word,” said Johnson. “They are ambassadors at the highest level.”

For more information, contact Jessica Heing at 664-3347 or
Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute Board of Directors

  • Gary Heck, President & Chairman, F. Korbel & Bros. - Board Chairman

  • Caroline Coleman Bailey, Representative, Gallo Family Winery - Board President

  • Kaj Ahlmann, Proprietor, Six Sigma Ranch & Winery

  • Tom Bonomi, President & CFO, Classic Wines

  • Roy E. Cecchetti, President & CEO, Cecchetti Wine Company

  • Perry DeLuca, Senior VP and Team Leader, Wine, Food and Beverage, Wells Fargo

  • Steve Gross, Director of State Relations, the Wine Institute

  • Ray Johnson, Director, Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute

  • James Kimball, Senior VP and Region Head, Commercial Banking, Wells Fargo

  • Walt Klenz, Vice Chairman, The Vincraft Group

  • Erle Martin, President & CEO, Crimson Wine Group

  • Robert Merletti, Publisher & CEO, Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine, Vineyard & Winery Services, Inc.

  • Frederick W. Pierce IV, President & CEO, Pierce Education Properties, L.P.; Trustee Emeritus, The California State University

  • Ron Rubin, Owner, River Road Family Vineyards & Winery, and CEO of The Republic of Tea

  • Alex Ryan, President and CEO, Duckhorn Wine Company

  • William Silver, Dean, Sonoma State’s School of Business & Economics

  • Stephen Sterling, Vice President of Marketing & Sales, Esterlina Vineyards and Everett Ridge Winery

  • Douglas Thornley, Principal, Gould Evans | Baum Thornley Inc.

  • John Yandell, CEO, Yandell Truckaway, Inc.

  • Ning Zhang, Proprietor, Purlieu Vineyards

  • About Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute
    Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute is located in the heart of California wine country and was created through a public-private partnership between the university and the wine industry. Founded in 1995, it is the first program in the United States to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry. In addition to its academic programs that include the first undergraduate and graduate degrees with a concentration in wine business, the Wine Business Institute offers an array of short courses and seminars for the industry. Its faculty members are published experts and active researchers who focus on the arena of wine business. The Wine Business Institute operates within Sonoma State’s School of Business and Economics, a fully accredited AACSB institution. Learn more at