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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, June 28, 2010, 3:46 am

Wine Industry Business Journal: Spotlight: Leaders of the North Coast’s Independent wine companies

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    Following are profiles of the top day-to-day leaders from the Business Journal’s lists of the largest independently owned wineries under 100,000 cases, published in March, and the largest wine companies, published in May.

    Listed alphabetically by company name.

    Hank Wetzel

    Proprietor and winemaker

    Alexander Valley Vineyards, 8644 Highway 128, Healdsburg 95448, 707-433-7209, www.avvwine.com

    Harry and Maggie Wetzel in 1962 purchased property from the family of Cyrus Alexander, after whom the valley is named. Their oldest son, Hank, launched the winery with 7,000 cases in 1975 based on the business plan from his senior project for an undergraduate fermentation science degree from U.C. Davis.

    Red wine makes up 75 percent of production, with half being in cabernet sauvignon, one of the varieties for which the valley is known. The winery produces 17 labels, ranging from the trademark Sin Zin zinfandel and proprietary blends such as Cyrus. Production last year was 175,000 cases.

    Mr. Wetzel said the winery’s key to weathering the current economic recession has been sticking with estate-bottled, appellation-specific wines at affordable prices. For example, Decanter magazine recently rated the Alexander School Reserve cab, which retails at $35 a bottle, just behind a $150 Napa cab for the 2006 vintage.

    Managing partners of the winery are Mr. Wetzel, his wife, Linda, and his younger sister, Katie Wetzel Murphy. New owners of the business are his sons, Robert, national sales manager, and Harry IV, assistant winemaker.

    This year the winery was certified as a Sonoma County Green Business, one of 14 local wineries to earn it so far.

    Mike Benziger

    Co-founder, general manager and Tribute winemaker

    Benziger Family Winery, 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen 95442, 888-490-2739, www.benziger.com

    Mike and Mary Benziger co-founded the winery in 1980, and since that time the family business has been a leader in environmentally friendly winegrowing and advocate for Biodynamic farming. The family company’s labels include Benziger, Imagery and Biodynamic-focused Tribute.

    Also in line with the family’s forward-thinking was the launch this year of smart-phone applications that provide dynamically updated access to information on the wines and events.

    Among the family involved in operating the organization is his brother-in-law and President Tim Wallace, who joined the company in 1988 from stints at Time-Warner International Division and the marketing division of American Home Products Corp.

    Peter Mondavi Jr. and Marc Mondavi

    Co-proprietors

    C. Mondavi & Sons, 2800 Main St., St. Helena 94574, 707-967-2200, www.charleskrug.com

    President and CEO Peter Mondavi’s sons Marc and Peter Jr. oversee Napa Valley’s oldest winery, started by Charles Krug in 1861 and acquired by their grandparents Cesare and Rosa Mondavi in 1943. At 1.5 million cases produced last year, the winery is among one of the North Coast’s largest producers. Brands are CK Mondavi, targeted to the mass market, and Charles Krug, positioned toward the higher end of the market.

    Marc Mondavi, born in 1954, started working at the winery at age 10 and returned after college in 1978.

    Peter Mondavi Jr., born in 1958, has graduate engineering training and was heavily involved in the nine-year, $44.5 million vineyard and facility capital project that wrapped up last year.

    Roy Cecchetti

    Co-founder and chief executive officer

    Cecchetti Wine Co., P.O. Box 637, Vineburg 95487, 707-996-7221, www.cecchettiwineco.com

    Roy Cecchetti and his wife, Rachael, started the company in 2007. It focuses on Lake County wines made by Bob Broman, whom Mr. Cecchetti worked with at Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellars. Mr. Cecchetti was part of that venture, which reached 500,000 cases produced annually, with brother-in-law Don Sebastiani until 2001.

    Cecchetti Wine Co. received the Rising Star award from Beverage Information Group in 2008 and 2009 for the Redtree and Line 39 brands. Impact branding magazine named the Redtree label last year a “hot prospect” for 2009.

    Case production has grown significantly in recent years to 31,870 in 2007, 98,628 in 2008, 144,662 last year and an anticipated 210,000 this year.

    Mr. Cecchetti said the company has thrived in the tough fine-wine sales environment by producing wines with an “exceptional price-to-quality ratio in both taste and packaging” and keeping retail price at or below $10 per bottle.

    John Clews

    Winemaker and chief operating officer

    Clos Du Val, 5330 Silverado Trail, Napa 94558, 707-261-5200, www.closduval.com

    John Clews leads vineyard and winemaking for the winery, one of five wine operations the Goelet family owns in the U.S., Australia and France. John Goelet and Bernard Portet started it in 1972, in time to participate in the famed 1976 Paris tasting.

    Mr. Clews came to the winery in April 1999. Previously, he was general manager and chief enologist for Steele Wines in Lake County and worked in production at Newton Vineyard in Napa Valley and Preston Vineyards in Sonoma County. He started as an accountant in London in the 1970s then took up winemaking.

    Jackie Downer

    Vice president and general manager

    Clos Pegase, 1060 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga 94515, 707-942-4981, www.clospegase.com

    Jackie Downer is vice president and general manager of Clos Pegase, which former publishing mogul Jan Shrem and his wife, Mitsuko, launched in 1987 after purchasing 50 acres of Napa Valley acreage. Today the winery has 450 acres of vines and makes more than 30,000 cases annually.

    This year, Ms. Downer is chair of the Napa Valley Vintners trade group’s Community Outreach Committee.

    Jay Shoemaker

    Chief executive officer

    The Coppola Companies, 820 Airpark Road, Napa 94558, 707-968-1120

    Jay Shoemaker is chief executive officer of The Coppola Companies, the umbrella operation for Francis Ford Coppola’s hospitality, entertainment and wine businesses. Rubicon Estate Winery in Rutherford and Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville are estimated to produce about 1 million cases a year.

    A major renovation of the Geyserville winery is set to reopen in July, with roughly 130 new hires.

    Jay Schuppert

    President, director of marketing and sales

    Cuvaison Estate Wines, 4550 Silverado Trail North, Calistoga 94515, 707-942-6266, www.cuvaison.com

    Jay Schuppert has been president since 2001, after serving as director of marketing and sales in 1998. The Schmidheiny family acquired Cuvaison in 1979.

    Building on seven years of experience with Jess Jackson’s wine empire launching Regal Wine Co., Mr. Schuppert took Cuvaison to foreign markets. He led construction of the estate winery among 400 acres of Los Carneros vines in 2004 and of a new barrel room in Calistoga and tasting rooms at both wineries last year.

    Don “Donny” Sebastiani Jr.

    President and chief executive officer

    Don Sebastiani & Sons, 135 W. Napa St., Sonoma 95476, 707-933-1704, www.donandsons.com

    Don Sebastiani and his sons, Donny and August, in 2001 started “Don & Sons,” a negociant producer of mass-market stalwarts Smoking Loon and Pepperwood Grove and edgy brands such as Mia’s Playground, Aquinas Napa Valley, Screw Kappa Napa and Flocktopped with cutting-edge closures. Production in 2009 was roughly 1.4 million cases.

    Last year, the company underwent significant organizational changes as the sons assumed greater day-to-day oversight. Donny Sebastiani, a 1999 business economics graduate of Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, moved up to the top role from executive director. August Sebastiani became president of The Other Guys, a spun-off sales organization.

    Don Wallace

    President

    Dry Creek Vineyard, 3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg 95448, www.drycreekvineyard.com

    Fourth-generation farmer Don Wallace joined Dry Creek Vineyard in 1990 to manage ranch operations, which now cover 200 estate acres, and became president in 2006 when founder David Stare retired. In 1982 Mr. Wallace married Mr. Stare’s daughter, Kim, vice president.

    In 1972, Mr. Stare started the first new winery in Dry Creek Valley since Prohibition. Dry Creek Vineyard, maker of about 100,000 cases a year, was a domestic pioneer in fume blanc wine and the Meritage blend, but the winery specializes in zinfandel, for which the valley is renowned. The company also has the official wine of the Screen Actors Guild award program.

    Bill Foley II

    Proprietor

    Foley Family Wines, 389 Fourth St. E., Sonoma 95476, 707-933-3200, www.foleyfamilywines.com

    Bill Foley II, chairman of Florida-based Fidelity National Financial and Fidelity National Information Services, has been expanding his wine industry holdings rapidly since 2007, with production totaling almost a half-million cases a year. Most recently he inked a deal with star attorney Fred Furth for Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery and the home ranch for an estimated $100 million.

    The wine portfolio now includes LinCourt Vineyards, started in Santa Barbara 14 years ago; Las Mermanas in Santa Rita Hills; Firestone Vineyard also in Santa Barbara; Merus, Altus and Venge in Napa Valley; Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla Valley; Sebastiani Vineyards in Sonoma Valley; Wattle Creek in Alexander Valley; the New Zealand Wine Fund collection of brands; and a majority stake in Kuleto in Napa Valley.

    Mr. Foley combined marketing, finance, operations and human resources for the brands into Foley Family Wines in early 2009.

    Louis M. Foppiano

    Chairman

    Foppiano Wine Co., 12707 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg 95448, 707-433-7272, www.foppiano.com

    Louis M. Foppiano, born in 1947, is chairman of the pioneering pinot noir and petite sirah Russian River Valley winery. He is great-grandson of Giovanni Foppiano, who started in 1896. The winery is supplied by 115 acres of vines and produces roughly 50,000 cases a year.

    The Foppiano family is preparing for ongoing leadership of the business. Todd Arterburn joined in mid-2009 as chief operating officer.

    Jonathan Frey

    General manager

    Frey Vineyards, 14000 Tomki Road, Redwood Valley 95470, 707-485-5177, www.freywine.com

    Jonathan Frey was the founding winemaker of the organic and Biodynamic wine specialist in Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley. The winery produced 80,000 cases of wine last year from 110 acres of vines. A 40-acre local vineyard was purchased recently and is being developed to qualify for organic certification.

    Jonathan, Matthew and Paul Frey, the eldest of 12 children, opened the winery in 1980. Jonathan Frey trained younger brother Paul in winemaking, so he could assume the role of general manager.

    He trained in bio-intensive farming under master English gardener Alan Chadwick and worked in winemaking at Cotturi winery in Sonoma County.

    Mr. Frey also is vice president for energy of Willits-based Renewable Energy Development Institute.

    Gina Gallo

    Head winemaker

    Gallo Family Vineyards, 3387 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg 95448, 707-431-5500, www.gallosonoma.com

    Gina Gallo is granddaughter of Julio Gallo, co-founder of the world’s second-largest wine company, Modesto-based E&J Gallo. The North Coast production is estimated to be 3.2 million cases, made from 3,000 acres of vines.

    She started in the family business in 1991 in sales and progressed to learn winemaking from longtime Gallo winemaker Marcello Monticelli and U.C. Davis. She and her viticulturist brother Matt became instrumental in the family’s venture into fine wine.

    Other North Coast brands are Ghost Pines Vineyard; Louis M. Martini, acquired in 2002; Marcelina; William Hill Estate, acquired in 2007 from Beam Wine Estates; Frei Brothers; MacMurray Ranch and Rancho Zabaco.

    In September, Ms. Gallo married Jean-Charles Boisset, president of St. Helena-based Boisset Family Estates, the U.S. arm of Burgundy’s third-largest wine producer and maker of local brands that include De Loach and Raymond.

    Juan Furne

    President

    Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Freixenet USA, 23555 Highway 121, Sonoma 95476, 707-996-7256, www.gloriaferrer.com

    Juan Furne came to Sonoma Carneros sparkling wine house Gloria Ferrer in 1985 as a regional sales manager, rising to West Coast sales manager of the Ferrer family’s Freixenet USA sparkling wine import business in 1990 and national sales manager in 2000. He was named president in 2002.

    The Ferrer family started the winery in 1982 and built the facility in 1986. The company produces about 170,000 cases a year.

    Mike Grgich

    Proprietor, president and winemaker

    Violet Grgich

    Co-owner and vice president of operations

    Grgich Hills Estate,  1829 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford 94573, 707-963-2784, www.grgich.com

    Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, 88, made a name for Napa Valley in 1976 when his 1973 chardonnay for Chateau Montelena beat French wines in the legendary Paris tasting and was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in 2008. He and Hills Bros. Coffee co-owner Austin Hills formed Grgich in 1977.

    Mr. Grgich’s daughter, Violet, born in 1965, oversees operations with Ivo Jeremaz, vice president of vineyards and production. The winery made 70,000 cases in 2009 from 366 acres of certified Biodynamic estate vines.

    Dennis Groth

    President

    Groth Vineyards, 750 Oakville Cross Road, Oakville 94562, 707-944-0290, www.grothwines.com

    Accountant and former high-tech executive Dennis and Judy Groth started Groth Vineyards in 1982. After the sale of software maker Atari in 1984, his focused on wine.

    He was involved in industry efforts to create standards for sustainable business practices and is a current member of the board of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.

    The operation has 137 acres of vines and last year shipped 62,500 cases of wine, ranging from $19 sauvignon blanc, $29 chardonnay, $57 cabernet sauvignon and $150 reserve cab.

    Gary Bulger

    President

    The Hess Collection, 4411 Redwood Road, Napa 94558, 707-255-1144, www.hesscollection.com

    Switzerland-based Hess Group named Gary Bulger president in July 2009, replacing Tom Selfridge, who had been president since 2005, retired and joined the group’s board.

    Mr. Bulger has been at the winery for 15 years, starting as central region sales manager. He started in wine with Southern Wine & Spirits in 1986. For three years he was general manager of on-premise fine wine for Continental Distributing and in 1993 was central region sales manager for Cuvaison and Schramsberg.

    The winery has more than 1,000 acres of vines in California, with about 700 in Napa Valley and 300 in Monterey County. The winery operates out of the former Christian Brothers Mont La Salle winery and a newer winery and barrel-aging facility in American Canyon.

    The company is in a 10-year, $30 million vine replanting program in Napa Valley and employing environmentally friendly systems, such as wastewater treatment, grazing instead of mowing and solar power.

    Kathryn Lindstrom

    General manager

    J Vineyards & Winery, 11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg 95448, 707-431-5400, www.jwine.com

    Chief Executive Officer Judy Jordan launched J in 1987 with help of her father, oilman and vintner Thomas Jordan Jr.

    She appointed Kathryn Lindstrom general manager and chief financial officer in mid-2006. Previously, Ms. Lindstrom held senior finance and administrative posts at Peter Michel, Arrowood, Robert Mondavi Corp. and Opus One.

    The Russian River Valley winery has branched from sparkling wine into table wine with the J Vineyard brand.

    Barbara Banke

    Co-proprietor

    Jackson Family Wines, 425 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa 95403, 707-544-4000, www.kj.com

    Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke, co-founded Kendall-Jackson in 1982 in Lake County. The family wine business has grown to include dozens of facilities in the U.S. and abroad, making more than 5 million cases annually. Vineyard holdings in California total 14,000 acres.

    Ms. Banke earned her law degree in 1978 and later operated her own firm for 12 years. She has been in the top administrative post of the wine company in times past, first as chairman when Mr. Jackson retired in 2001 and then as chief executive officer during top-management transitions in the next several years.

    She was a major backer for the creation of Sonoma Academy and is co-founder of Sonoma Paradiso, the third-largest wine country philanthropy group.

    John Jordan

    Chief executive officer

    Jordan Vineyard & Winery, 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg 95448, 707-431-5250   www.jordanwinery.com

    Mr. Jordan has been the top executive of the chateau-like winery in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley since fall 2005. The Empire College School of Law graduate and part-time professor is a partner in the Santa Rosa law firm Smith Dollar and Navy Reserve officer.

    His father, Jordan Oil & Gas Co. owner Thomas Jordan Jr., opened the winery in 1976, four years after acquiring several hundred acres. The winery shipped more than 90,000 cases last year.

    Bill Phelps

    President

    Joseph Phelps Vineyards, 200 Taplin Road, St. Helena 94574, 707-963-2745, www.jpvwines.com

    Bill Phelps, an investment banking attorney for 20 years, moved to Napa Valley in 1998 to help his father, Joseph Phelps, with the acquisition of land on the Sonoma Coast for Freestone Vineyards. The elder Phelps launched the winery in 1972.

    Born in 1954, Bill Phelps took over as president in 2008 with the death of longtime president Tom Shelton. The Freestone winery was completed in time for crush in 2007.

    Gary Heck

    President, chairman and owner

    F. Korbel & Bros., 13250 River Road, Guerneville 95446, 707-824-7000, www.heckestates.com

    The Heck family in 1954 acquired Korbel Champagne Cellars, established in Russian River Valley in 1882. Gary Heck became president in 1982 and chairman in 1984.

    The Heck Estates portfolio includes King’s Ransom, Kenwood Vineyards, Lake Sonoma Winery, Valley of the Moon, Piniforino and Korbel California Brandy.

    The company is the largest U.S. sparkling wine producer by volume. Shipments reached 2.5 million cases last year, mostly of Korbel.

    Randy and Megan Mason

    Owners

    Mason Cellars, 714 First St., Napa 94559, 707-255-0658, www.masoncellars.com

    The Masons, known for their sauvignon blanc, started the brand in 1993, but it started to take off in the past decade, reaching 45,000 cases last year.

    With U.C. Davis fermentation and animal science degrees, Mr. Mason in 1974 went to work in viticulture at Chappellet Winery near St. Helena, becoming vineyard manager. In the late 1970s he launched Lakespring winery, most recently the shuttered Havens Wine Cellars, and was winemaker and general manager for 16 years. In 1993 at the same time the Mason brand started, he was brought in to start Napa Wine Co. in Oakville and was the top executive for nine years.

    Ms. Mason has a hotel sales and marketing background and handles brand promotion and the Oxbow-area tasting room in Napa.

    Paul Dolan, Tim Thornhill, Tom Thornhill

    Partners

    Mendocino Wine Co., 501 Parducci Road, Ukiah 95482, 707-463-5350,   www.mendocinowineco.com

    Fourth-generation winemaker Paul Dolan has been an early visionary in sustainable winegrowing. A former landscape contractor, Tim Thornhill is chief operating officer and was instrumental in the formation of the Mendocino Winegrape & Wine Commission. With a career in investment banking and corporate management, Tom Thornhill oversees finances.

    Mr. Dolan retired from Fetzer in 2004 to form Mendocino Wine Co. with the Thornhill brothers and acquire Parducci Wine Cellars. The wine company has been aligning itself to become a carbon-neutral operation. He joined Fetzer Vineyards in Hopland in 1977 as winemaker and launched the first national organic wine brand, Bonterra, in 1991.

    John Tracy

    President

    Owl Ridge Wines, P.O. Box 1514, Sebastopol 95473, www.owlridge.com

    Retired optics physicist John Tracy acquired the Greg & Greg high-end custom winery in 2005 and has been steadily investing in greater capacity and services to a few dozen clients, including his own brands Owl Ridge and Willowbrook Cellars. In 2007 he launched the Sonoma Grapemasters vine-to-bottle custom wine service.

    Eighty-five percent of the more than 40,000 cases produced are for client vintners, according to Mr. Tracy.

    Jim Pedroncelli

    Proprietor, director of sales and marketing

    J. Pedroncelli Winery, 1220 Canyon Road, Geyserville 95441, 707-857-3531, www.pedroncelli.com

    Jim Pedroncelli first started with sales and marketing duties in 1957. In 1963 he and brother John Pedroncelli Jr. purchased the winery from their father, who started the Dry Creek Valley winery in 1927. The winery produces more than 50,000 cases a year from 105 acres of vines.

    Gary Mills

    Owner

    River Road Vineyards, 5220 Ross Road, Sebastopol 95472, 707-887-8130, www.riverroadvineyards.com

    Brothers Gary and Steve Mills started the company with the purchase of 78 acres of chardonnay on River Road near Forestville in 1976 and 48 acres on River Road near Cloverdale in 1978. The winery was finished in 2003.

    The winery makes more than 40,000 cases a year.

    Tom Klein

    Proprietor

    Rodney Strong Wine Estates, P.O. Box 6010, Healdsburg 95448, 707-433-6511, www.rodneystrong.com

    Tom Klein’s family has been involved in California agribusiness for about a century. With a background in management consulting, Mr. Klein assumed leadership of the business in 1984, and in 1989 Klein Foods acquired Rodney Strong Vineyards.

    The company upgraded facilities and Sonoma County-specific grape sourcing. In the past few years, the Sonoma Vineyards brand was launched to focus on the popular premium tier segment of the market, while Davis Bynum winery was acquired and a winery-within-a-winery for higher-end wines.

    Recently, he was elected chairman of the influential San Francisco-based industry advocacy group Wine Institute.

    Christopher Silva

    President and CEO

    St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, 500 Pythian Road, Santa Rosa 95409, 800-543-7713, www.stfranciswine.com

    Joe Martin and Lloyd Canton started St. Francis in 1979. They appointed former attorney and Petaluma dairy family descendant Christopher Silva as president and chief executive officer in 2003. Previously, he served four years as chief operating officer.

    The winery produces an estimated 240,000 cases a year from 500 acres of vines. Last year the company implemented a sustainable farming plan and won a best practices award from the Sonoma County Business Environmental Alliance.

    Emma Swain

    Chief executive officer

    St. Supery Vineyards & Winery, 8440 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford 94573, 707-963-4507, www.stsupery.com

    Last year Emma Swain was appointed chief executive officer of St. Supery, which the Skalli family launched in 1988.

    Ms. Swain’s career includes Rubicon Estate and Sebastiani Vineyards, which she left in January 2009 just after it was acquired by Foley Family Wines. She oversaw Sebastiani’s international sales, hospitality and administration and is credited with repositioning the brand since she arrived in 2001.

    Richard Ward and David Graves

    Managing partner and general partner

    Saintsbury, 1500 Los Carneros Ave.,   Napa 94559, 707-252-0592, www.saintsbury.com

    Richard Ward and David Graves have grown the pinot noir-focused Carneros winery from 2,000 cases at its launch in 1981 to roughly 60,000 cases a year.

    In 2007 chardonnay and pinot noir production was relocated from the Los Carneros winery to a 19,000-square-foot winemaking facility just south of Sonoma to allow higher-end pinot noir production in Carneros.

    Tom Davies

    President and managing partner

    V. Sattui Winery, 1111 White Ln., St. Helena 94574, 707-963-7774, www.vsattui.com

    After Tom Davies received an undergraduate business management degree from Chico State University in 1979, he joined V. Sattui Winery in September 1980, four years after Dario Sattui revived the family wine brand from 1885 with a new winery facility and vineyard acreage. V. Sattui produces 45 wines, and the nearby landmark Castello di Amorosa makes 17 wines.

    Recently, the wine company known for its large direct-sales effort launched a smartphone application and brought on General Manager John Winkelhaus II.

    Hugh Davies

    President and winemaker

    Schramsberg Vineyards, 1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga 94515, 707-942-6668, www.schramsberg.com

    Hugh Davies, son of founders Jack and Jamie Davies, has been president and chief executive officer of sparkling wine house Schramsberg Vineyards since 2005. He served a number of years as winemaker and general manager.

    His late parents purchased the abandoned property in 1965, when Hugh was born.

    With a graduate enology degree, Mr. Davies’ resume includes Moet et Chandon, Petaluma Winery in Australia and Mumm Napa.

    Schramsberg produces more than 60,000 cases of sparkling wine and a few thousand cases of J. Schram and Schramsberg Reserve still wines. The winery sources fruit from 90 different sites to create naturally structured sparkling wine.

    Axel Schug

    Managing partner

    Schug Carneros Estate Winery, 602 Bonneau Road, Sonoma 95476, 800-966-9365, www.schugwinery.com

    Axel Schug has been at the helm of the winery since 2007, when his father, owner and founder Walter Schug, retired.

    The younger Schug joined the winery full time in 1990, when new acreage was planted for increasing production from 5,000 cases at the time. Bolstered by a bachelor’s degree in international relations from U.C. California and an internship with a winemaking equipment importer, he had been managing restaurants in Lake Tahoe and Long Beach for Hyatt Hotels.

    In 1983, Walter Schug started his own winery. The Schug brand shipped 43,000 cases of wine last year, produced from 42 acres of vines, 18 of pinot noir and 24 of chardonnay.

    E. Peter Seghesio Jr.

    Chief executive officer

    Seghesio Family Vineyards, 14730 Grove St., Healdsburg 95448, 707-433-3579, www.seghesio.com

    Pete Seghesio operates Seghesio Family Vineyards with his winemaker cousin Ted, who launched the family brand in 1983. The Seghesio family has been making wine from a 400-acre ranch in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley since 1902.

    Pete joined the business in 1986 and became general manager in 1993 amid organizational challenges involving succession tax law. He created national distribution and scaled back production from 130,000 cases to heighten quality. The zinfandel-focused winery, undergoing energy-efficiency upgrades this year, has ramped back up to more than 90,000 cases.

    David Duncan

    President and chief executive officer

    Silver Oak Cellars, P.O. Box 414,   Oakville 94562, 707-944-8808   www.silveroak.com

    David Duncan oversees high-end cabernet sauvignon producer Silver Oak Cellars, started by his father, Ray, and Justin Meyer in 1972. The Duncans started Twomey Cellars in Calistoga in 1999. The 10-acre Monument Tree Vineyard in Sonoma County was acquired recently for Twomey.

    Total production is roughly 70,000 cases annually.

    David Duncan developed a financial model for Silver Oak as part his 1994 MBA coursework. He rose to president of his father’s Duncan Oil company then in 2002 to general manager of Silver Oak, overseeing the acquisition of Napa Valley and Sonoma County wineries to support Silver Oak and Twomey as well as the reconstruction of the Oakville winery after a 2006 fire.

    Russ Weis

    General manager

    Silverado Vineyards, 6121 Silverado Trail, Napa 94558, 707-257-1770, www.silveradovineyards.com

    Russell Weis, born in 1962, was senior vice president for international business development when he joined Silverado in 2004. Mr. Weis’ career includes being a tour guide and publicist for Christian Brothers in St. Helena, global brand manager for International Distillers & Vintners and a stint at Robert Mondavi Winery.

    Ron and Diane Miller, son-in-law and daughter of Walt Disney, bought Silverado Vineyard in 1978. The winery was completed in 1983 and produces more than 40,000 cases annually from six family-owned vineyards totaling 400 acres.

    Dennis Carroll

    President and chief operating officer, Sonoma Wine Co.; president, Purple Wine Co., P.O. Box 390, Graton 95444, 707-938-9229, purplewine.com, sonomawineco.com

    Dennis Carroll is president and chief operating officer of custom vintner Sonoma Wine Co. and president of sister organization Purple Wine Co., which produces the brands Avalon, BEX, Blue Jean, Mark West and Rock Rabbit. Sonoma Wine has seven North Coast facilities. Cartlidge & Brown in American Canyon was acquired last year, adding a Napa Valley base for production.

    Mr. Carroll’s history with the company dates back to the Associated Vintage Group, which brothers Derek and Courtney Benham purchased in 2000 as Codera Wine Co., the predecessor of Derek Benham’s ventures Sonoma Wine and Purple Wine companies.

    Mr. Carroll started as a financial consultant and CPA for Deloitte & Touche and eventually became a top executive for Illuminations, the Good Guys and Beverages & More.

    Steve Tylicki

    General manager and viticulturist

    Steele Wines, P.O. Box 190, Kelseyville 95451, 707-279-9475, www.steelewines.com

    Since 2002 Steve Tylicki has managed 68 acres of vines in Lake and Mendocino counties and the former Konocti winery in Kelseyville for winemaker Jed Steele.

    Mr. Tylicki’s three-decade viticulture career included management of BJ Carney Vineyard in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, Edmeades Vineyard for Kendall-Jackson and Central Coast vineyards for Bonny Doon. He is also known as an expert in olive cultivation.

    Last year production of brands Steele, Shooting Star, Writer’s Block and Styme decreased 12 percent to 60,000-plus cases.

    Mr. Tylicki recently was elected to the current board of the Lake County Wineries Association.

    John Trefethen

    Proprietor

    Trefethen Vineyards, 1160 Oak Knoll Ave., Napa 94558, 707-255-7700, www.trefethen.com

    John Trefethen, son of Eugene and Katie Trefethen, who purchased the property with an abandoned winery in 1968, operates the winery with his wife and chief executive officer, Janet.

    The first wines appeared in the early 1970s. Production last year was 50,000 cases.

    Bob Torkelson

    President and chief operating officer

    Trinchero Family Estates, P.O. Box 248, St. Helena 94574, 707-963-3104, www.tfewines.com

    Since 2004, Bob Torkelson has been president and chief executive officer of Trinchero Family Estates, one of the largest U.S. wine companies with an estimated 13 million cases in brands such as Sutter Home, Trinchero Napa Valley, Montevina, Terra d’Oro, Folie à Deux, Ménage à Trois, Napa Cellars, Trinity Oaks, dealcoholized Fre and imports Angove’s, Reynolds Vineyards and Little Boomey wines of Australia. The company also produces wines for retailers and celebrities.

    Mr. Torkelson started in the wine industry with E&J Gallo right out of college in 1982. Five years later he was general manager of western states operations. In 1990 he became general manager of Sacramento-based Lovotti Bros. Distributing Co. Seven years later he joined Trinchero as Midwest division manager, then progressed to oversee national and global sales.

    Pat Roney

    Managing partner

    Vintage Wine Estates, 205 Concourse Blvd., Santa Rosa 95403, 707- 877-289-9463, www.vintagewineestates.com

    Mr. Roney and Leslie Rudd have acquired or taken a stake in several North Coast wineries in the past few years. In February they acquired a minority share in 100,000-case-a-year Kunde Family Estate Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood and more recently opened a tasting room for the portfolio’s wines in central Healdsburg. Among a number of top-executive wine and retail positions, Mr. Roney was president of Kunde in the early 1990s.

    The wines include acquisitions –Windsor Vineyards, Girard Winery, Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Grove Street Winery, StoneFly Vineyards and International Wine Accessories – and startups Windsor-Sonoma and Vintage Wine Estates Select.

    Tom Leonardini Sr.

    Proprietor

    Whitehall Lane Winery, 1563 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena 94574, 707-963-9454, www.whitehalllane.com

    Businessman Tom Leonardini Sr. purchased Whitehall Lane Winery in March 1993 from the Finkelstein family, which now operate Judd’s Hill and Napa Valley MicroCrush. Since then he has upgraded the 40,000 to 50,000-case-a-year operation, including a new barrel-aging facility and new winemaking equipment.

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