Recruiting and Retaining Talent
Business/Operations Breakout Session

The landscape for talent acquisition and retention has certainly shifted since we convened this popular panel in 2020.  External factors have changed the way people work, where people work and what they expect in compensation. 

Who is in the driver seat today may not be in the year ahead; will it be the talent, or will it be the employer?  This question looms over the entire enterprise, from the vineyard through the cellar, into the office and tasting room and out into sales and distribution.

We will examine the levers that HR professionals are pulling now to keep the talent pipeline supplied for both current operations and areas of future growth.

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Ray Johnson
Sonoma State University, California

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State, the first university in the United States to offer a BS in Wine Business in 1998, the first to offer a Wine MBA in 2008 and the first in the world to offer an Executive Wine MBA in 2012.

Johnson joined the wine business in 1986 at the Christian Brothers’ Greystone Cellars in Saint Helena, California. He went on to sell wine, first on the supplier side, and later in retail, working directly with consumers. He earned his Master’s in Wine Business from the University of Adelaide in South Australia and taught for fourteen years.

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Susan Flannery Adams
BPM LLC, California

With a sense of humor and engaging approach, Susan develops and aligns HR programs with business strategies to ultimately drive results through effective partnering with business leaders.


Amy Gardner
Wine Talent, California

Amy Gardner founded WineTalent in 2004 to provide confidential and individualized search services to the wine industry. With an educational foundation in plant science at UC Davis, she first worked in research and production laboratories. She quickly realized her true interest in recruiting, and for the last 25 years has been matching companies and employees for long-term placements. The relationships she has developed within the wine business allows her to be able to find the right people for the job.


Nora McAuley
Trinchero Family Estates, California

Nora McAuley is a Human Resources Business Partner at Trinchero Family Estates, a large family-owned winery headquartered in St. Helena, California. She joined TFE full-time in 2008 after interning with the company and earning her degree in Business Administration from Chico State.


Erica Thompson
Jackson Family Wines, California

Erica grew up in Northern CA and studied at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo. Erica knew she found her home at Jackson Family Wines after spending a summer working at La Crema Winery in the tasting room. With a love of food and wine Erica spent the beginning of her career in the distribution side of the business working in both the off-premise channel and on-premise channel for Regal Wine Co.

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