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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, March 24, 2014, 6:40 am

Wine conference panels to address latest trends

Duckhorn success with Decoy to be part of April 22 keynote

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    SANTA ROSA — A panel composed of a prominent sommelier and leaders from a relatively new winery and fast-growing on-premise equipment supplier are the final pieces now in place for  The Business Journal‘s 14th annual Wine Industry Conference on April 22.

    Rick Magnuson

    Rick Magnuson

    Keynote speaker at the conference will be Rick Magnuson, executive managing director of Menlo Park-based private-equity firm GI Partners, which acquired St. Helena-based Duckhorn Wine Co. in 2007. The fast growth of Duckhorn’s Decoy label has been widely watched in the industry.

    “Thanks in large measure to our  underwriter-partners, Farella Braun + Martel, Moss Adams and Wells Fargo, this conference is once again a unique and powerful gathering of the leading voices in wine,” said Business Journal Publisher Brad Bollinger. “Whether you want to hear the incredible story of success of a label such as Duckhorn’s Decoy or what an internationally known sommelier is hearing on the restaurant floor, this will be the place to be.”

    Q&As with conference speakers

    The Business Journal asked wine industry figures set to speak at its 14th annual Wine Industry Conference about building successful brands, taking alternative and innovative approaches to marketing and packaging and surviving tough economic times.

    Speakers interviewed were Rick Magnuson of GI Partners, owner of Duckhorn Wine Co.; Alex Ryan of Duckhorn; Tom Bonomi of Classic Wines; Phil Hurst of Truett-Hurst; sommelier and on-premise wine consultant Eugenio Jardim; Jordan Kivelstadt of Free Flow Wines; Erle Martin of Crimson Wine Group; Hardy Wallace of Dirty & Rowdy; and Matt Wood of Domaine Chandon and Newton Vineyard. [read more]

    One of two panels addressing brand and other trends in the industry is made up of:

    • Tom Bonomi, president and chief executive officer of Classic Wines, LLC;
    • Matt Wood, estate director of Domaine Chandon in Yountville;
    • Erle Martin, president and chief executive officer of Napa-based Crimson Wine Group, whose portfolio expanded with Seghesio Family Vineyards of Healdsburg in 2011;
    • Phil Hurst, president and chief executive officer of Healdsburg-based Truett-Hurst, producer of innovatively packaged brands Paper Boy and California Square.

    The panel will be moderated by Kay Philippakis, partner and chair of the wine industry practice for Farella Braun + Martel in St. Helena.

    Wine Conference 2014The conference also will feature a discussion about on-premise wine consumption and other industry trends. Jordan Kivelstadt, founder and chief executive officer of Napa-based Free Flow Wines, is set to talk with San Francisco-based wine consultant, sommelier and wine educator Eugenio Jardim. Started in 2009, Free Flow Wines has enjoyed explosive growth in the past few years and now is considered a leader in kegging wine for higher-end producers and managing those vessels to and from the vintners’ by-the-glass accounts.

    Also part of that discussion is scheduled to be Hardy Wallace, winemaker and an owner of Dirty & Rowdy Family Winery of Calistoga. A former information technology specialist in Atlanta, in 2009 he jumped at Murphy-Goode’s much-publicized search for a six-month wine lifestyle blogging stint, building on experience with his Dirty South Wine blog. In 2010 he got into making wines, working on the The Natural Process Alliance brand, which won awards in 2010–2011. The inaugural vintage of Dirty & Rowdy was 2010.

    This year, Mr. Jardim became a partner in small-scale importer Esprit de Champagne and director of wine studies at the San Francisco Cooking School. He is the wine expert for the weekly PBS television show Joanne Weir Cooking Class. For the past dozen years, Mr. Jardim was wine director for top San Francisco restaurant Jardinière. He also established wine programs for a number of restaurants in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

    The conference is set for 7:30–11:30 a.m. at Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa in Santa Rosa. Registration costs $95 each. Preregister here by April 18.

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