The Sonoma County Vintners names Michael Haney interim executive director, as Jean Arnold Sessions plans to step down from the role at the end of this month, the trade group announced Tuesday.
Haney currently is the group’s director of membership and government relations. Arnold Sessions came into the role on an interim basis in July 2016.
“Sonoma County is a world-class wine region, and I am passionately committed to continuing to bring greater appreciation to Sonoma County wines through advocacy and education,” Haney said in a statement.
Russell Joy, board president, said Haney is “ideal” for the transition.
“Michael has spent the last three years as director of membership and is a vintner himself,” Joy said. “In addition, he has been a leader in government and community relations and raised much needed awareness about the wine community’s positive impact to Sonoma County.”
Haney also has extensive experience in fundraising. For 11 years he was on the board of l’Ete du Vin, America’s original and oldest charity wine auction, and for three years he was executive director. During that time, the Nashville, Tennessee-based organization raised over $15 million for cancer-related research and services.
Founded in 1944, Sonoma County Vintners represents more than 200 wineries and affiliated businesses in the county. The group puts on the Sonoma County Wine Auction, which raised $5.2 million in September, and Sonoma Wine Country Weekend.
Haney also will oversee Sonoma County Vintners Foundation in the interim role.
He is a member of the Martinelli family behind Martinelli Winery and Vineyards in Russian River Valley. Haney also produces his own label, Black Dog Cellars, which makes dozens to hundreds of cases of Russian River pinot noir, zinfandel, syrah and chardonnay wines.