NGWI Elects New Board Chair, Tony Stephen; Re-Elects Officers and Board Representatives

SACRAMENTO, CA, January 30, 2018 – The National Grape & Wine Initiative (NGWI) held its Annual Meeting of Members on January 26, 2018, electing a new Chairman of the Board, Tony Stephen, and re-electing seated officers and members at large.

New Board Chair Tony Stephen has served on the NGWI Board, representing the American Vineyard Foundation (AVF), for seven years. Tony is Chairman of the AVF Board of Directors and Chief Planning Officer at Scheid Family Wines in Monterey, California. He has more than 35 years of experience in grape growing, wine production, winery design and construction, and IT systems development, and is a graduate of the Viticulture and Enology program at the University of California at Davis. Tony will serve as NGWI Chair for two years, until 2020, when he may be re-elected.

“These are exciting times to be at the helm of NGWI,” Tony said. “We are on the cusp of significant advances in genetics, disease management and precision agriculture that will transform production viticulture in America. We continue to build on years of hard work by our dedicated board, generous supporters, government partners and brilliant research scientists to reach the highest levels of sustainability and global competitiveness.”

Board officers Vice Chair Rick Stark (Sun-Maid Growers of California) and Secretary/Treasurer Dan Martinez (Martinez Orchards) were re-elected for one-year terms. Each also serves as a Commodity Sector Representative, as noted below.

NGWI’s Board of Directors is comprised of 29 Commodity Sector, Regional and At-Large Representatives from across the U.S., each serving three-year terms. Eleven were re-elected at the January meeting, as follows:

Commodity Sector Representatives

  • Rootstock/Nursery: Dan Martinez, Martinez Orchards, California
  • Vinifera Species: Vicky Scharlau, Washington Winegrowers
  • Raisins: Rick Stark, Sun-Maid Growers of California

Regional Representatives

  • California: Tom Smith, E&J Gallo Winery, California
  • Southwest: Al Wiederkehr, Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, Arkansas

At-Large Representatives

  • Jim Anderson, Missouri Wine & Grape Board
  • Nick Dokoozlian, E&J Gallo Winery, California
  • Ed Hellman, Texas Tech University
  • Marshall Miller, Thornhill Properties, California
  • Jason Smith, Paraiso Vineyards, California
  • Keith Striegler, E&J Gallo Winery, California

Click here to view the full list of NGWI Board members and staff.


In 2005, the National Grape & Wine Initiative was organized to drive research to strengthen the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of America’s grape industries. The group brings together all grape sectors including raisin, juice, table and wine plus non-profits, academic institutions and government agencies in a unique collaborative effort that targets research. Now in its 15th year, NGWI unites the industry with researchers and grant funders on game-changing, national-level research. For more information, visit

Media contact:
Donnell Brown
President, NGWI