On February 11, 2010, Sonoma County Vintners posted a job opening on the wine jobs classified section of winebusiness.com and I submitted my resume the same day.


As I am the very best person for this job, I say this without arrogance but genuine confidence, I had hoped to hear from the folks at Sonoma County Vintners some time ago.

I resubmitted my resume on March 1, 2010. The next day, I received two emails from Sonoma County Vintners International Program & Operations Manager Tais Tillman; the first confirming receipt of the resume I had sent 19 days earlier, the second email sent 17 minutes later confirmed receipt of the resume I sent the day before. It seems that a computer glitch kept Sonoma County Vintners from seeing my resume for almost three weeks.

As my job would involve working closely with Honore Comfort, Sonoma County Vintners’ Executive Director, and the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Vintners, representing the interests of the Sonoma County Vintners, and the 180 members of the Sonoma County Vintners, with corporate and industry partners locally, nationally, and internationally, I would like to appeal to each directly.

The position requires:

• strong verbal and written communication skills,

• the ability to manage a team and project to completion,

• experience building and managing budgets,

• analytic and results orientation.

I have maintained a well read wine blog. I have managed teams and completed projects throughout my professional life. I have built and managed budgets for employers and my own business. I am incredibly analytic and am dedicated to mission accomplishment.

In meetings with the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau and the Sonoma Count Tourism Business Improvement Area in July, 2009 the Sonoma County Vintners’ Honore Comfort reported on priorities and initiatives that included international marketing, tradeshow activities, consumer events and wine events.

The advertised position seeks someone to to meet both marketing and event needs. Marketing responsibilities include:

• Develop annual strategic plan, budget and tactics to support marketing and event activities. Work with the Executive Director and Strategic Marketing Team to ensure strategic alignment of all marketing programs with organizational long-term strategies and goals.

• Develop and manage online marketing and social networking strategies to support major initiatives and programs, and build the Sonoma County brand through consumer communications.

• Identify trade marketing opportunities and sponsorships to support consumer and trade events; work closely with Executive Director on execution. Develop sponsor materials and communication pieces.

• Develop and manage all advertising initiatives including developing co-op and advertising partner program. Manage external agencies and vendors to develop creative, buy media, and execute planned programs.

• Development and maintenance of collateral, communication materials and electronic media in collaboration with the Communications Director.

• Manage internal communications with member wineries to develop support and participation for market development goals and activities.

• Track expenses and manage budgets for all aspects of marketing programs.

When I developed and managed the tradeshow program for Windsor Vineyards, I developed a strategic plan and budget, which I submitted annually – updating constantly, for specific marketing and event activities. I worked with the winery President, Vice Presidents, and many others to ensure marketing alignment and integration with organizational long term strategies and goals.

While at Windsor Vineyards, and then with the Wine Appreciation Guild, I made use of web resources then available for marketing and sales uses. My current web 2.0 activites including my website, JohnOnWine.com, as well twitter and facebook presences, provide both the experience and, within the social networking scene, the authenticity required to help achieve the goal of building the Sonoma County brand through consumer communications.

As the head of Windsor Vineyards’ tradeshow program, I worked with the winery officers on trade marketing opportunities and sponsorships to support our events, both trade and consumer. My experience working with the public, representing the winery at tradeshows, led to me being chosen again and again for consumer event activities.

While working with Sonoma County wineries, I have worked cooperatively with numerous businesses including real estate powerhouse RE/MAX, fast food giant Wendy’s, Chicago restaurant Zinfandel, chip manufacturer AMD, and communication hardware supplier Anixter.

I created and maintained the collateral communication materials necessary for the tradeshow program at Windsor Vineyards, as well as that needed for sales and marketing efforts at the Wine appreciation guild and for my own business. I have worked with others to create superior work.

I recently contacted 45 wineries participating at Dark & Delicious, a Petite Sirah tasting event produced by PSILoveYou, to ask what specific wines they would pour and the alcohol percentage of each of  those wines. When I achieved a response rate over 50%, PSILoveYou Executive Director Jo Diaz expressed surprise. Using email, phone, and networkingn tools, I ended up with a 95.56% response rate. I have demonstrated skill managing internal communications with wineries, and am the perfect person with the skills and experience to develop support and participation for market development goals and activities.

I have saved upwards of 1,000 receipts each year for my own business tax requirements. Tracking expenses and managing budgets for my activities with Windsor Vineyards and the Wine Appreciation Guild were simple by comparison. I am wholly capable of doing the same for Sonoma County Vintners.

Event responsibilities include:

• Direct national and international road shows and events; Manage event staff and coordinate with Operations and Communications teams. Provide events oversight and manage event coordinators, vendors and external consultants.

• Outline the budget, purpose, and goals of events for SCV annual event calendar.

• Coordinate with Communications and Operations teams on strategy, content, and event execution.

• Manage all aspects of event planning and execution including timeline, budget, vendors, communication, volunteer coordination, and promotion. Coordinate with SCV Communications and Operations teams.

• Develop reporting and planning tools as needed to track event development, execution, and results.

• Manage outside agencies or vendors as needed on event execution.

• Coordinate member communications and participation requirements and work with Operations Manager

• Coordinate with the Communications Director on member communications strategy and timing for all SCV events.

I have directed tradeshow and event activities in over 30 states. I have traveled for work to 8 countries, 30 states, 42 California Counties, hundreds of cities. I have managed staff and coordinated with others. I have worked side by side with others to ensure event success.

I have prepared budget, purpose and goal submissions for my tradeshow and event activities with Windsor Vineyards and the Wine Appreciation Guild.

I have coordinated with other segments of the companies I worked for to ensure alignment of marketing message and goals when working on tradeshow and event projects.

I have managed all aspects of both event planning and execution successfully and without fail. I have worked well with others.

I first developed reporting and planning tools to track event development, execution, and results as the intel analyst for the most forward deployed Infantry Battalion in the US Army. My job involved life and death situations, and I did my job so well that I was required to write a manual on how to do my job before I was allowed to come home. Developing reporting and planning tools is within my abilities.

I have regularly managed outside agencies and vendors in execution of tradeshow and event activities.

I have coordinated my efforts with the efforts of others to produce superior results, and under the direction of company officers.

I have coordinated on communication strategy and timing, then executed in almost every previous position.

I exceed the minimum requirements outlined in the job posting: I have nearly 20 years of wine marketing or wine industry marketing experience, as well as brand management experience. I have a wealth of event management and management experience. I have strong strategic thinking and analytic skills. My Top Secret Compartmentalized security clearance, though inactive, remains in effect for life, I clearly can demonstrate confidentiality and discretion abilities. My work experience demonstrates initiative and judgement. I have been on the front line of professional communications, both written and verbal, for the companies I have worked for. I have negotiated contracts and managed vendors. My organizational, time management and prioritization skills are excellent. I possess an entrepreneurial mindset, having managed my own business, and love the ever changing work environment that comes from tradeshow exhibition. I have demonstrated an ability to thrive in a multi tasking fast paced work environment and exemplify mission accomplishment in my work attitude and ethic. I have computer and web 2.0 skills. I have developed, bought and analyzed efficacy of advertising. I can lift and cary 40 pounds. I have, can, and will travel out of state and internationally. I have a Bachelors of Science in Marketing degree. I have a valid California drivers license for operation of a car or motorcycle.

When I directed tradeshow operations for Windsor Vineyards, Exhibitor Magazine awarded me the Expert Exhibitor Award over thousands of other trade show exhibitors three consecutive years. I know there is no tradeshow exhibitor more skilled, better able to craft and deliver a message.

I have a well read blog, where I write about wine, food, friends, and living in the wine country. Wine industry people who have read and responded positively to my blog include Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard, Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Winery, Carol Shelton of Carol Shelton Wines, and Hardy Wallace of Natural Process Alliance.

Last year, I had the 8th most popular one minute video application, of the 1,993 applications submitted, for the Lifestyle Correspondent position at Murphy-Goode.

I was born in Sonoma County, raised in Sonoma County, educated in Sonoma County. I was active in my Santa Rosa high school, Piner High School; I was Senior Class President, Student Activities Director, PTA Vice President, and captained our lacrosse team. I attended Santa Rosa Junior College, and was elected Student Body Executive Vice President and served as a Student Body Commissioner at Large. I have extensive Sonoma County community theatre experience. I have worked for three wineries, all in Sonoma County. My son was born in Sonoma County. I know and love Sonoma County above all places. I am uniquely qualified to tell the story of Sonoma County.

When fellow wine writer Frank Morgan from Chesapeake, VA left a facebook message on my wall

“Hi John. Hope all is well out there. Was wondering if I could possibly shake you down for a few recommendations? I’ll be in Sonoma/Napa beginning March 6. I have a lot of places I want to visit this year, but like to solicit ideas from the locals if possible.”

My response was

“I always tell folks visiting wine country to visit Napa so you can say you did, then head over to Sonoma County and get to tasting wines. Sonoma County has only about half the wineries of Napa County, but wins about twice as many gold medals in Nat’l and Int’l wine competitions…and cost less…and are more often poured by the winemaker or winery owner in the tasting room…and the tasting fees are less (zero is less, right?). Let me know your favorite varietals, and I’ll make some recommendations.”

Business Wire reported that Sonoma County Vintners represented more than 170 member wineries in January, 2006. Today, Sonoma County Vintners lists 154 member wineries and 26 affiliate members, 180 total members, on their site. I want to work for the 180 members of the Sonoma County Vintners. I want to tell the story of Sonoma County, the wines, the river, the forests, the mountains, the food grown and raised, the coast, the people; there is no place more beautiful. I have traveled to Asia and Europe, I have travelled much of the United States; I have always loved knowing that I was returning home.

I hope that by posting this here, I can bring attention to my desire to fill this position for Sonoma County Vintners. I’m not trying for a job I am not qualified for, but the job that I am uniquely most qualified for. I want this to be my last job. I would love to use my talents, skills, education, knowledge, passion, and love of Sonoma County’s wines and wine country until I retire 20 years from now – or later.

EDITED TO UPDATE: I received a phone call from Honore Comfort of the Sonoma County Vintners who generously acknowledged my efforts and the breadth of support my campaign to bring my skills and abilities to bear on behalf of Sonoma County and the wines and wineries of the county. Honore described a desire for a more orthodox candidate for the open position, someone with a resume more closely resembling Honore’s work history. I respect her choice, and am grateful for her phone call.

A month after my campaign, I did express my opinion that the Social Media Marketing of the Sonoma County Vintners has improved in the last month both in quantity and quality, in communication I had with a Sonoma County Supervisor.