New head for Lake County wine group

Maria Brunn has been selected as the new executive director for the Lake County Winery Association. She replaces Jill Ruzicka.

Brunn comes to the nonprofit trade group from the Sonoma County Vintners, where she was the business operations manager, overseeing legal and financial reporting, human resources and information technology for the organization. She also assisted with the Sonoma County Barrel Auction.

She also previously worked in marketing and operations at the wine industry trade publication, Wines & Vines. Brunn is a graduate of Sonoma State University with an undergraduate degree in history.

“I am so excited to have this opportunity,” Brunn said in a statement. “Lake County is perfectly positioned for growth in this market. With over 9,400 acres planted to wine grapes, the volcanic soil and high elevation vineyards have led to wines of character and distinction and I am looking forward to elevating the profile of Lake County’s outstanding wines and this beautiful region.”


Truett-Hurst gets Weight Watchers imprint

Truett-Hurst Inc. of Healdsburg launched last week its Cense wine label, which has been endorsed by Weight Watchers as part of its meal program.

The first varietal will be a sauvignon blanc and will be stocked in national supermarkets such as Kroger. The wine will have a value of three SmartPoints within the Weight Watchers scorecard for a five-ounce-glass serving. Most white wines have a value of four points or more.

“By working with esteemed winemaker Truett-Hurst to develop Cense, we are not only offering our members wine they can enjoy for fewer points, but we have also created a serious product that addresses the strong consumer demand for a great-tasting wine that is also lower in calories,” said Ryan Nathan, vice president of products, licensing, and e-commerce at Weight Watchers International.

After coffee, wine is the second most tracked item by Weight Watchers participants in their individual software programs.


Acumen Wines hires 2 sales representatives

Acumen Wines, an Atlas Peak winery in Napa County that was founded five years ago, has hired two new representatives for its sales team.

Carter Prasse-Freeman has been appointed as the company’s central regional sales manager. He previously served for six years as district sales manager for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits in Houston. He earned the title of certified specialist of wine from the Society of Wine Educators in 2012.

Daniel Saavedra has been selected as the winery’s eastern regional sales manager. Saavedra has worked the last seven years in the national sales division for Ladera Vineyards in St. Helena, most recently as vice president of sales. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans before relocating to California for a career in the wine industry, working for E & J Gallo Winery. He will be moving back to his home state of Florida to better serve the region.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to