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Governor Rick Snyder makes appointments to Grape and Wine Industry Council

Friday, June 6, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced appointments to the newly restructured Grape and Wine Industry Council.

The 12-member Grape and Wine Industry Council is housed in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. It was recreated by Executive Order 2014-6 to update appointment terms. The council provides research on grapes and wine and provides marketing programs for Michigan’s wine industry.

“This board plays a key role to promote Michigan’s food and agriculture industry,” Snyder said. “I am pleased to appoint such a talented and experienced group and I am confident they will do good work.”

Initial terms to expire Feb. 1, 2016:
Walter Brys, of Traverse City, is the proprietor of Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery, which produces between 5,000 and 6,500 cases of wine each year. Previously, Brys worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and in real estate development. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Michigan University. He will represent wine makers.

Mark Esterman, of Grand Rapids, isthe wine-spirits buyer and category manager for Meijer with over 25 years of experience working in the wine trade. He previously served as a consultant for Linens N Things, The Berkeley Wine Co. LLC. and was owner of Linden Liquors Inc. He also served as a prosecutors agent for the Union County Prosecutors Office. Esterman earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arizona State University – Tempe and a law degree from Lewis and Clark College.He will represent people who operate a retail food establishment and holds a specially designated merchant license to sell Michigan wines.

Joanna (Taylor) Simpson, of Lake Leelanau, is the sales, distribution and marketing manager for Good Harbor Vineyards. She previously served in multiple capacities for Southern Wine and Spirits in Chicago. Simpson earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latino studies from University of Michigan. She will represent wine grape growers.

Initial terms to expire February 1, 2017:
William (Brien) Fox, of Ada, is the president and CEO of Henry A. Fox Sales Co. He previously served in numerous capacities with the company as well as E&J Gallo Winery and Romano Brothers Beverage Co. He serves on the board of directors of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and the executive committee of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America. Fox earned a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. He will represent beer and wine wholesalers.

Martin Lagina, of Traverse City, is the president and CEO of Rock Management Group Ltd., owner of Villa Mari, and founder and CEO of Heritage Sustainable Energy LLC. Lagina earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a law degree from University of Michigan. He will represent wine makers.

Jeffrey Lemon, of Berrien Springs, is the owner, winemaker and treasurer of Lemon Creek Winery Ltd. Lemon has 40 years of experience in the wine-making industry, starting at Lemon Creek Fruit Farm in 1974 and progressing to the winery. He is chairman of the Oronoko Charter Township Planning Committee. He will represent wine makers.

Richard Rinvelt, of Wixom, has extensive experience in the retail wine and beer industry, having served in numerous capacities, including key account manager for Western and Northern Michigan, category space manager Michigan and general manager for Anheuser Busch. He currently manages family investments and has a small oil and gas business. Rinvelt is an Army veteran and earned a bachelor’s degree in food distribution from Western Michigan University. He will represent the general public.

Ex-Officio members:
Tino Breithaupt, of Traverse City, will serve as the CEO designee of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Breithaupt is the regional director of retention and growth for the MEDC. He previously served as the senior vice president of economic development for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Breithaupt holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Michigan State University.

Stephen Lovejoy, of Haslett, will serve as the staff member recommended by the dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Michigan State University. Lovejoy is the associate director for Michigan State University Extension and a professor in the university’s Departments of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics, Sociology, and Epidemiology. Lovejoy earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and political theory from Purdue University, a master’s degree in sociology from Minnesota State, and a Ph.D. in resource economics from Utah State University.

Sharon Martin, of Portland, will serve as the designee of the chairperson of the Liquor Control Commission. Martin is the director of licensing for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission where she plans, organizes, and directs the operational activities of the Licensing Division.

Gordon Wenk, of Williamston, will serve as the designee of the director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Wenk is chief deputy director of the department and has worked there for more than 35 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management and agriculture from Michigan State University.

Appointments to the council are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.