The Washington Wine Commission today named Jane Baxter Lynn as its new executive director.

Baxter Lynn, who is former executive director of the Long Island Wine Council, will also head the Washington Wine Institute, the commission’s lobbying arm in Washington State and in Washington DC. Based in Seattle, she will oversee a US$1.5m budget.

She takes over in late August, succeeding Steve Burns, who held the post for eight years and is returning to the San Francisco Bay area to be a wine-industry consultant.

‘This is one of the most desirable jobs in the US wine industry today,’ said Zimbabwe-born Baxter Lynn, 48. ‘There are lots of opportunities to make significant contributions to the industry and to Washington State.’

Many observers consider Washington, not California, America’s most exciting wine state, partly because of its industry’s high-speed growth, innovations in red-wine styles and nonstop experimentation with microclimates.

Washington is now the second-largest wine state behind California. Its wine industry – worth US$2.4bn – grew from 19 wineries in 1981 to 275 today.

Although Washington wines are sold in all 50 states and in more than 40 countries, their image is not strong in major markets like Manhattan’s. One of Baxter Lynn’s first tasks is to help develop a national marketing campaign.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York