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Tuesday, Dec. 06, 2011

Oregon Wine Board hires former Ste. Michelle, Seattle's Best Coffee exec

PORTLAND — The Oregon Wine Board and Oregon Winegrowers Association announced today in a news release that Tom Danowski has been selected as the executive director of the state’s largest organization representing Oregon’s $2.7 billion wine industry.

Danowski, a native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, was chosen by the OWB’s board of directors from a field of more than 120 candidates.

He replaces interim director Steve Burns, former leader of the Washington Wine Commission. Burns stepped in after Jeannette Morgan, a former Silicon Valley executive, served as the OWB director less than eight months. Her stint was marked by the departure of more than half of the organization's staff.

Danowski has managed a strategic marketing consulting business in the Seattle area, for the past two years. His background includes director of winery marketing for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

He was also chief operating officer for Seattle’s Best Coffee until it was acquired by Starbucks Coffee, vice president of global marketing for Cutter & Buck Inc. and chief marketing officer of Gene Juarez Salons & Spas.

“Tom brings a wealth of operational and consumer marketing experience to the Oregon wine industry,” said Sam Tannahill, chairman of OWB. “We are extremely fortunate to have been able to attract a veteran of the wine industry, savvy marketer and native Oregonian to lead our industry during this important time in our growth.”

“We’re in a reputation economy,” Danowski said of the opportunities ahead for the Oregon wine industry. “Developing and promoting a brand that truly captures the essences of Oregon wine in all of its many nuances is critical to the industry moving to the next level. I relish the opportunity to help take it there.”

As the executive director of both the OWB and OWA, Danowski is the leader for both group’s marketing, education and research programs. The two organizations represent the state’s 420 wineries and 850 vineyard owners.

In 2010, the Oregon wine industry had a $2.7 billion impact on the Oregon economy, according to a study released in July. That represented a 93 percent increase over the last time the study was conducted in 2005.