Executive Director Chris Chandler, the longest-serving leader of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, is retiring next week to cap more than a decade overseeing the nonprofit marketing and membership organization.
With Chandler at the helm, the association helped wineries, vineyards and businesses across Livermore Valley wine country continue to raise their profile on the statewide, national and international stage while at times navigating difficult economic and drought conditions as well.
"It's been an honor and privilege to represent Livermore Valley's wineries and vineyards for almost 14 years," Chandler said in a statement. "I'm so proud of everything the members, team, board and I have accomplished together"
"It hasn't always been easy. The Great Recession of 2008-2009 was difficult on wine regions all over the state, including Livermore Valley," she added. "It was nothing like the hardships of this pandemic, but I am confident that the region's history, creativity, dedication and heart will carry the Valley forward."
Brandi Addington, the association's longtime operations and membership director, will oversee the organization with support from its board of directors for the foreseeable future, officials said.
"The association thanks Chris for her leadership and dedication over the past 13-plus years and we all wish her only the best," said Amy Hoopes, president of Wente Family Estates and second-term association board president.
A Danville resident, Chandler has worked as the association's executive director since the spring of 2007.
With a focus on community and collaboration, Chandler spearheaded a range of accomplishments for the association, including the wine country signage program, paving the path to establish the Wine Heritage District, expanding the annual Taste our Terroir event and earning large state and federal grants worth just under half a million dollars to support regional marketing efforts, according to association representatives.
She also cultivated key partnerships with local organizations such as Livermore Downtown, Inc., the Las Positas College vinticulture and enology program, the East Bay-Economic Development Alliance and Visit Tri-Valley.
"We have appreciated Chris' guidance and her capacity through the years to stand with all the wineries, both large and small. Her ability to forge a path through the middle, that benefits everybody has been tremendous. She leaves behind numerous legacies in the Valley," Darcie Kent, proprietor of Darcie Kent Vineyards, said in a statement.
David Kent added, "One legacy that stands out in particular is how Chris got up and got going on the downtown wine country hotel. It would have been a very different outcome without her leadership, attention and ability to mobilize a broad section of the community to stand up for what is right and do what was needed to advance our wine country."