P.O. Box 487, Geyserville 95441; 707-385-2261; wilsonartisanwines.com
Professional background: Twenty-eight years in various accounting positions and 12 years in the wine industry. I started at Chalone Wine Group and Diageo Chateau & Estates Wines.
Education: B.S., accounting, Golden Gate University
Wilson Artisan Wineries is comprised of Wilson Winery, Mazzocco, Pezzi King, DeLorimier, Matrix, St. Anne’s Crossing, Soda Rock and Jaxon Key’s Winery & Distillery.
The company also operates a large collection of distinctive, complementary lodging accommodations such as Grapeleaf Inn and Calderwood Inn, located in Healdsburg.
Since 1998 Ken and Diane Wilson have created a portfolio of largely estate- and single-vineyard-focused wines, fully integrated from ground to glass. Beginning with one planted Dry Creek Valley vineyard and the Wilson Winery, today the portfolio has vineyards, production facilities, tasting rooms and a tasteful selection of overnight guest accommodations.
“Jon Pelleriti is an intricate part of this family organization,” Mr. Wilson said. “We are very pleased that he is being recognized for his hard work and dedication, congratulations Jon!”
What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?: Providing accurate, consistent, and timely financial information is the lifeblood of a business operations. In a rapidly growing small business, the role of CFO extends beyond financials to that of project sponsorship, crisis management, and front-line worker. You have got to be everywhere in the organization for it to thrive.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your industry?: Competition in the direct-to-consumer sales channel is increasing rapidly, leading to tremendous shifts in the way we work with marketing strategies and emerging technology. Keeping pace with our competitors is not an option; we have to lead the way.
Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past?: One of the challenges we face as a company is to grow each of our brands individually as we add more brands to our company portfolio. I see a fine line between consolidating brands into a unified corporate effort providing a system of support structures, while not causing harm to brands as unique entities.
The difficult balancing act of defining corporate structure versus maintaining individual brand identity can add tremendous value to the company if done well. We are constantly evaluating where the line falls for the brands in our company.
What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?: Challenge yourself to understand your business and take on different activities in your organization. Don’t hesitate to delegate, so you can advance your career and earn more responsibility.
What’s the best advice for weathering today’s economic environment?: Our company has to be prepared for any type of hardship to come our way. We are fortunate to have strong relationships with our business partners who are committed to tackling our challenges as well as sharing in our successes.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years?: The wine industry is becoming even more competitive, and we will need to find advantages however we can. Hiring and retaining for the very best employees is critical to achieving that goal. Winery operations that do not find the best employees will struggle.
What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?: I learn from all my decisions, but one that stands out was not pulling the trigger on the sale of a bulk-wine order because it did not meet an expected price. In the long run, the indirect costs of not accepting that deal far exceeded the lost price differential.
What is your most memorable business experience?: The direct refinance of multiple properties emerges as one of many memorable experiences. I had the opportunity to work with our tremendous financial partners who provided much-needed cash, allowing for Wilson Artisan Wineries’ continued growth.
What is your greatest business success?: The greatest business victory for me has been our company’s constant growth. Every winery and property we have purchased over the past five years is a reminder of the constant effort poured into our financial and strategic planning.
What was your toughest business decision?: Unpopular decisions are especially tough. From business-reorganization efforts to imposing spending limits, I always try to communicate why the decision was necessary.
What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?: I’m part-owner of a vineyard and an avid concert-goer. Both of these hobbies allow me to embrace a less cerebral side than I show at work.
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