Thriving Organizations – Fostering Your Dream Team
Business/Operations Breakout Session

Retaining a loyal, passionate, and effective workforce is more important now than ever. Companies are being hit with both macro-economic and sector-specific profit pressures, highlighting the critical need to have the right people in the right positions. At the same time, in all parts of the grape and wine industry, the talent pool, our physical workspace and employer/employee expectations are changing and evolving.

This panel will explore how companies large and small can cultivate and retain a top-performing, thriving workforce.


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Julie Lumgair
Art Nouveau Wines, California

Julie Lumgair is an award-winning consulting and hands-on winemaker. Her wines span eighteen vintages and 25 varietals from Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Italy. She has served in many combined estate winemaking and winegrowing roles with a keen eye on agricultural and cellar practices increasing both sustainability and top quality. Her calling cards are consistently producing acclaimed wines that reflect their place, excellence in winery operations, substantial innovation and trial programs feasible for artisan wineries’ scale, a passionate attention to customer delight and long-lasting relationships.

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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.


Joel A. Miller
ChateauHR LLC, California

Mr. Miller brings a unique set of talents honed in senior executive roles in Human Resources, Operations, and Strategic Planning. His broad experience across different industries, continents, and functions focuses on pragmatic high-quality execution – keep it simple, deliver top-notch results, and build a foundation for long-term success. From start-ups to large global firms, he relishes opportunities to help businesses grow. He is also a master of organization re-engineering, morphing teams and people systems to deliver improved profitability. 


Vanessa Shimer
Trefethen Family Vineyards, California

Vanessa Shimer is the Vice President of Human Resources at Trefethen Family Vineyards a family-owned estate vineyard and winery in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. She recently launched a companywide survey focusing on employee feedback on topics such as culture, communication, and learning and development. In addition, she is developing the DEI framework, initiatives, and goals to be launched across the organization this year. 

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