I received an email from the Washington Wine Ambasadors that due to liability issues that the WWA program can not continue being a part of the Washington Wine Commission. I have been part of the program for a number of years and hate to see it go away.
June 11, 2009
It is amazing how far the Washington Wine Ambassador (WWA) Program has come since it’s inception in 2003. We began as the brain child of Barbara Shotwell, a retired stock broker turned wine volunteer. She convinced the Board of Washington Wine Commissioners of the value of Washington wine enthusiasts who could help spread the word about the state’s wonderful wines. As a result, the Ambassador Program was developed under the auspices of the Washington Wine Commission.
After six years, this program has grown from a very small group of people to one with over 1300 members, giving thousands of volunteer hours to the Washington wine industry. Not only have these volunteers provided between 2000 and 3000 man-hours annually for Taste Washington alone; the program has been a great source for industry staffing positions; a labor pool for seasonal requirements; and as always, fabulous at teaching people about Washington wines both locally and abroad. The Washington Wine Ambassador Program has been such a success that other states are mirroring this effort.
We have gotten a lot of notice for all our great work, however, with success comes exposure. With our growth over the years, the Washington Wine Commission legal counsel has became concerned about liability issues for the program. As a result, the Wine Commission informed the WWA Cork Board that it could no longer continue under the Washington Wine Commission. The only option for the Ambassador Program to continue was for it to become it’s own non-profit entity, otherwise the program would have to be terminated. As WWA Cork Board is made up entirely of volunteers like you, to become a non-profit organization, the Ambassador Program would need a dedicated staff and a revenue stream to pay for the legal, insurance and operating expenses, etc.
Because of these issues and constraints, the WWA CORK BOARD HAS ELECTED TO DISSOLVE THE WASHINGTON WINE AMBASSADOR (WWA) PROGRAM AS IT CURRENTLY EXISTS, EFFECTIVE JUNE 30, 2009. This has not been an easy decision for the members of the Cork Board. We know how much each of you care about this Program and how much you have given to all the groups that we have helped. Your support, energy and enthusiasm are valued assets. We encourage you to continue to volunteer for your favorite organizations and wineries as a continuing legacy to the Washington Wine Ambassador Program.
While words are not really adequate to say “thank you” for all you have done; we hope you can join us for the LAST annual Washington Wine Ambassador Appreciation Party at Chateau Ste. Michelle on Sunday, June 28th (to register and get more information, please log onto the Ambassador Exclusive Zone of the Ambassador website, http://wwambassadors.org/ ).
All the Best,
The Cork Board
Washington Wine Ambassadors