Grape Grower Association Leader to Retire
After nearly two decades of leadership, Nat DiBuduo will retire as president and CEO of Allied Grape Growers (AGG) at the end of June. The AGG board has appointed Vice President of Operations Jeff Bitter as the next president of the 500-member statewide winegrape marketing association.
DiBuduo, who serves as a member of American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines’ Editorial Advisory Board, made the announcement at the AGG April Grower District Meetings.
“Serving California winegrape growers since 2000 has been the pinnacle of my career,” says DiBuduo. “My previous roles in farm management, independent consulting, and vineyard development positioned me to understand the challenges facing California grape growers, and equipped me with the desire and ability to make a difference.”
In addition to executing AGG’s marketing services for its members, under DiBuduo’s direction, AGG has been a voice for California winegrape growers. During his tenure, AGG developed strong financial stability with a solid grower base and excellent winery relations. But his colleagues say the real benefit was DiBuduo’s tireless work on numerous industry boards and committees, always looking for ways to increase awareness of grower issues and improve their economic situation.
“The decision to transition to the next phase for me was not an easy one, but passing the baton to Jeff and the next generation of this dedicated staff is exciting. Having worked with him for so many years, through up and down markets, I know Jeff is a leader who is prepared to move AGG forward,” DiBuduo says. “He has the insight and commitment needed to continue the legacy of serving our membership and the industry.”
Employed by the association since 1997, Bitter holds a master’s degree in business administration and has completed the California Agricultural Leadership Program. Bitter is known for producing and distributing reliable industry data, which provides industry stakeholders with knowledge and insight on winegrape supply trends.
“I firmly believe that there is something to be learned from everyone, and I have been fortunate to work directly with someone who offered a great deal,” notes Bitter. “Nat has been a wealth of knowledge and a strong leader, and he has built a solid foundation for this association. I’m excited to continue the mission of the cooperative and assure the success of its growers. I look forward to incorporating the staff’s passion for excellent service with my personal desire for top performance.”
In transition, Bitter will assume responsibility for association affairs that pertain to the fiscal year starting July 1, while DiBuduo will complete the current fiscal year.
Following his June retirement from AGG, DiBuduo plans to pursue involvement in agricultural real estate brokerage and to remain involved in agricultural and local community organizations.
Formed in 1951, the AGG’s goal of maximizing returns to growers to assure their long-term economic viability remains a top priority. Its membership of 500 growers represents approximately 10% of California’s non-related party winegrape crush.