David B. Kent, CEO of The Wine Group LLC, headquartered in San Francisco, became Wine Institute Chairman for the 2011-2012 fiscal year at Wine Institute’s 77th Annual Meeting of Members held at the Sonoma Mission Inn.

Also elected were Kathleen Heitz Myers of Heitz Wine Cellars in St. Helena, first vice chairman; Chris Fehrnstrom of Constellation Wines U.S. in San Francisco, second vice chairman; Carolyn Wente of Wente Family Estates in Livermore, treasurer; and Greg Coleman of E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, secretary.  Robert P. (Bobby) Koch is President and CEO of Wine Institute.

Kent has been chief executive officer of The Wine Group, which operates a dozen wineries in California, New York, Australia and Argentina, since 2001. Prior to joining The Wine Group as chief marketing officer in 2000, Kent spent 20 years with E. & J. Gallo Winery and Procter & Gamble. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, a steward for the Vintner’s Hall of Fame and past chairman of the Livermore Chamber of Commerce. Kent and his wife, Darcie, a noted artist and winegrower, reside in the Livermore Valley.

As Wine Institute chairman, Kent will strive to increase the global competiveness of California wine and continue the emphasis on defeating punitive tax increases and fees. He supports Wine Institute’s work to promote expanded trade and eliminate trade barriers both here and abroad, including opposing H.R. 1161, the wholesaler monopoly protection bill formerly known as H.R. 5034. Kent, whose passion for sustainability helped The Wine Group become a global leader in carbon efficiency, low waste/light weight packaging and solar power, is committed to Wine Institute’s work to increase adoption of California’s sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices.

The Wine Institute membership also elected new district- and at-large directors and alternates and 14 new winery and associate members, bringing the total membership to 1,011. District directors and their alternates were elected on a one-member-one-vote basis in each district, following nominations by regional winery associations. They are:

All members elected 20 at-large directors who had been nominated by the Institute’s Finance and Administration Committee. Alternates were chosen by at-large directors.

The new winery members are: Agajanian Vineyards, St Helena; En Garde Winery, Livermore; Marketta Winery, Napa; Middle Ridge Winery, Temecula; New Vineland Winery, Lompoc; Rosati Family Winery, Hopland; Sea Smoke Cellars, Lompoc; St. Helena Winery, St. Helena; Sunce Winery, Santa Rosa; Tasting Room, Inc., Santa Rosa; and Transcend Wines, Buellton.  New associate members are:  Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Fresno; Ellison, Schneider & Harris, LLP, a Sacramento law firm specializing in energy, water, land use and environmental matters; and EVCO Insurance Services, Inc., a Walnut Creek company offering insurance for employee benefits.