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Viticulture Briefs: Rombauer Vineyards promotes longtime winemaker Richie Allen

Rombauer Vineyards in the Napa Valley has announced promotions of three veteran employees, including longtime winemaker Richie Allen to vice president of viticulture and winemaking.

Allen has been with the family-owned winery since 2004 and has served as enologist, assistant winemaker and head winemaker since 2008. He oversees three winery facilities and more than 700 acres of vineyards.

In other moves, Matthew Owings has been promoted to chief operating officer and will also continue to serve in his duties as chief financial officer. Owings joined the winery in 2018 and works closely with chief executive officer Bob Knebel in operational leadership and strategic initiatives for the business.

Lynn Sletto also has been promoted as vice president for legal and human resources. She has been with the company for eight years.

Schug celebrates 40th anniversary

Schug Carneros Estate Winery is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month as it releases the first vintage from its newest winemaker, Johannes Scheid.

Walter Schug, the founding winemaker for Joseph Phelps, started the Sonoma winery in 1981 as he was attracted to the cooler climate of the region just north of San Pablo Bay, the setting for pinot noir and chardonnay grapes used in its wines. Schug died in 2015.

The anniversary coincides with the 2019 vintage that Schug is now releasing that is the first under winemaker Scheid. The 35-year-old Scheid first met Schug at Geisenheim University in Germany, their shared alma mater. Scheid was named assistant winemaker in 2016 before later being named head winemaker a few years later.

The Schug family continues to operate the 30,000-case winery after Walter Schug’s death, and the bottles are sold on four continents.

Wine group applauds USTR confirmation

A wine trade coalition has applauded the Senate confirmation of Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative for the Biden administration, hoping she can break a logjam of international trade disputes that involve the sector.

Kai, a former congressional staffer on trade issues, was confirmed Wednesday by a 98-0 vote. Wine trade groups are asking that she work to eliminate tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on European wine imports as well as resolve disputes with Beijing that have led to tariffs on U.S. wine sold in China.

“Winemakers and consumers alike are facing tremendous economic pain due to the COVID-19 pandemic and devastating wildfires, which has been exacerbated by the past administration’s retaliatory tariffs on wine imposed as part of ongoing trade disputes,” according to a statement by the Wine Origins Alliance, a global coalition of 31 organizations in the wine sector.

“We urge Ambassador Tai to work alongside her partners in the European Commission to build upon the recent progress that has been made towards resolving the aircraft subsidies dispute and seek multilateral solutions to other disputes that avoid tariffs on unrelated products such as wine,” the statement continued.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.

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