New Director for Oregon Wine Board

Oregon grapegrowers/vintners hope to expand their reach

by Kate Lavin
Jeanette Morgan
Jeanette Morgan
Portland, Ore. -- When screening candidates to serve as executive director, members of the Oregon Wine Board cast a net large enough to extend beyond the bounds of the wine industry. They found what they were looking for in California’s Silicon Valley, where incoming OWB executive director Jeanette Morgan served most recently as vice president of global government affairs at National Semiconductor Corp. in Santa Clara.

Morgan, who was not available for comment, is finishing up her first week in the position, which was vacated in March when Ted Farthing resigned to pursue a career in marketing consulting. David Beck, OWB director and proprietor of Crawford Beck Vineyard, described the search for a new executive director: “As many good candidates as we had, when she came to our attention, we knew right away.”

Although Morgan’s immediate professional background is not wine industry related, neither is she a novice. In fact, her first job was working at a winery tasting room. So, when the opportunity came to transition her wine hobby into a career, she jumped.

Parties involved
Most immediately, the OWB and its sister organizations will rely on Morgan’s personal magnetism to rally participation and assemble the groups’ assets in the most meaningful way. The Oregon Wine Board, which is supported by a tax the wine industry places on its own grape tonnage and wine volume, functions as the promotional arm for the Oregon wine industry. The Oregon Wine Association, supported by membership dues, is a government affairs organization, and the Trust for Oregon Wine Education and Research (TOWER) supports philanthropic activities and causes such as scholarships and wine industry education. All three organizations share a board, which is appointed by the governor.

“Jeanette brings a fresh energy to the position, and I think she will engage many people who haven’t been as active in the organization,” Beck said. “I keep coming back to this word multiply, and how this position will multiply the efforts of us as individuals.”

Government affairs
Finding a candidate with experience in governmental and regulatory affairs was highly important to the OWB. Additionally, board members sought a person who could act as the glue to hold three different organizations together.

And as the economic slowdown takes its toll on the discretionary spending of consumers, all three groups share a common goal: Expanding the reputation of Oregon wine.

“In a situation where Oregon is not one of the largest producers -- it’s behind California and certainly other places in the world -- we want to grow the organization with someone who has the insight to expand and make Oregon Pinot Noir and Oregon Chardonnay household names,” Beck said. “That’s something we expect to do in the next handful of years, and we expect Jeanette to be the leader.”
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