Pat Roney

Partner, Windsor Retailing Inc.

6795 Washington St., Bldg. B

Yountville 94599

Age: 52

Career: partner, Bin to Bottle, 2006–present; CEO, Dean & DeLuca, 1995–97 and 2005–06; vice president of marketing, Black Fox Group, 1993–95; president, Kunde Estate Winery, 1992–94; president, Chateau St. Jean, 1989–92; partner, Napa Valley Specialty Wines, 1989–present; senior vice president of marketing, The Christian Bros., 1986–89; senior product manager, The Seagram Wine Co., 1978–86

Education: B.S. in Communication Studies, Northwestern U., 1978; MBA with an emphasis in Marketing, Southern Illinois U., 1980

Staff: 180 at Windsor Retailing Inc.

Brands: Girard, Grove Street, StoneFly, Windsor Sonoma and Windsor Vineyards

Outlook for wine M&A: “We’re aware of wineries today without a solid transition plan and with consolidation in the business are looking for an exit strategy. We’re bullish.”

Biggest professional risk and success: “Acquiring Girard Winery was my key moment as a wine entrepreneur. It was just before Sept. 11, 2001, and I had to develop the business in the midst of a bust cycle.”

Most admired wine pioneers: Joe Heitz and Dick Maher

Current reading: “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson

Stress relievers: Cooking and his 1964 Chevrolet Corvette

Residence: Santa Rosa

Family: Wife of 25 years, Laura, and son Sean, 25, a law student

WINDSOR -- Three decades ago, Pat Roney was looking to get out of the wine business. Today he’s a partner in a fast-growing North Coast wine company.

Mr. Roney, 52, oversees a portfolio of wine brands, currently called Windsor Retailing Inc., that includes Napa Valley high-end cabernet-focused Girard, direct-marketing powerhouse Windsor Vineyards, Stone-Fly, Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Windsor Sonoma and Grove Street Winery.

Mr. Roney and longtime friend Leslie Rudd – known locally for the Oakville Grocery and Dean & DeLuca specialty grocery stores, Rudd Estate winery in Oakville as well as real estate and philanthropic pursuits – acquired all but Girard since April 2007. Now they’re scouting for a couple more North or Central Coast wineries producing about 25,000 to 200,000 cases a year to round out their portfolio at about 400,000 to a half-million cases made annually.

“We recognize that scale is important in this business as distributors consolidate,” Mr. Roney said.

Indeed, his three-decade career in the wine and spirits business has taught him much about beverage distributors and a challenging sales environment for wine.

While he was pursuing his undergraduate communications studies degree at Northwestern University in the late 1970s, he worked for three years as a sommelier at Chicago’s notable Pump Room restaurant. The job afforded him the opportunity to taste great wines and meet inspiring vintners such as Joe Heitz, whose St. Helena winery set the bar high for California wines.

However, Mr. Roney started in the wine industry only because The Seagram Wine Co. offered $4,000 more a year for a Midwest region beverage sales position than Proctor & Gamble had.

“I didn’t understand the business side of the wine business,” he said.

It wasn’t long before he forged a friendship with Mr. Rudd, who at the time was running the family’s Standard Beverage Corp. distributorship in Wichita, Kan.

Mr. Roney later moved to Seagram’s Manhattan office to another mentor, Dick Maher, former president of Beringer Vineyards who became president of Seagram Wine. During that time, Mr. Roney worked up from sales to marketing, eventually launching the wine cooler campaign that built up annual oversight of a $60 million marketing budget and 24 million case sales.

“That was crazy times,” he said.

Raised in Los Altos the son of an automobile salesman, Mr. Roney returned to California in 1986, settling in Santa Rosa, when Mr. Maher took the role as president of Christian Bros. Winery in St. Helena. When Hublein Fine Wines bought Christian Bros. in 1989, Mr. Roney and three other partners picked up the sacramental wine business and formed Napa Valley Specialty Wines, which continues to serve the 300,000-case-a-year nationwide market.

He moved on to stints as president at Sonoma Valley wineries Chateau St. Jean and Kunde Estate as well as a couple years in marketing with high-tech-focused venture capital firm Black Fox Group in Colorado.

Mr. Rudd tapped Mr. Roney to serve as CEO of New York-based Dean & DeLuca in the late 1990s and again during a management change in 2006. Mr. Roney also stepped in to turn around struggling Oakville Grocery in late 2006 before Mr. Rudd acquired it the following March.

Mr. Roney made his first move as a wine entrepreneur in 2000, when Mr. Rudd sold him the Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon-focused wine brand Girard, keeping the winery itself as a home for what is now Rudd Estate. In 2002, Mr. Roney brought in Mr. Rudd, Vine Cliff Cellar co-owner Chuck Sweeney and Stewart Cellars owner Michael Stewart as partners in Girard to be able expand marketing and production.

At 50,000 cases this year, Girard is made in a winemaking facility south of Sonoma that is at capacity. Mr. Roney plans to grow the brand to 80,000 cases a year and may need a larger facility for Girard.

In 2006, Whitehall Lane Winery General Manager Mike McLoughlin, Mr. Roney, John Wilkinson and acclaimed consulting winemaker Marco DiGiulio started a custom-winemaking business called Bin to Bottle in south Napa.

Early last year, Mr. Roney sold his stake in the upscale St. Helena restaurant Press to Mr. Rudd to fund his part of the acquisition of Windsor Vineyards from Foster’s Group.

Windsor Vineyards’ assortment of wines, totaling about 100,000 cases a year, had been made at the Foster’s Wine Estates’ Asti winery. To bring Windsor Vineyards production in-house, Mr. Roney and Mr. Rudd acquired Grove Street, a 20,000-case-a-year brand with a Healdsburg winery, in January of this year.

As of Aug. 1, most Windsor Vineyards wines are made at the Grove Street facility with higher-end selections made at the Girard winery.

The plan still is for Windsor Vineyards’ marketing and club fulfillment operations to relocate to a facility near Sonoma County Airport in the next couple of years.

As for the Grove Street brand itself, Mr. Roney wants to take it back from a high-end focus to the by-the-glass target market of founder Bill Hambrecht and offer Sonoma and Mendocino wines for $8 to $9 a glass.

The 1,000-case-a-year Napa Valley brand StoneFly, acquired in April and now made at the Girard winery, is being targeted at fly fisherman via a marketing partnership with outdoor clothing and accessories company Orvis.

Four-thousand-case brand Sonoma Coast Vineyards was acquired in May, and production is moving from Sebastopol to the Grove Street winery. Winemaker Anthony Austin now oversees all pinot noir winemaking for Sonoma Coast, Windsor Vineyards and Windsor Sonoma.

The latter is a new brand that will find a home at a 10,000-case winery set to be built starting next March on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley.

Part of Mr. Roney’s entrepreneurial focus is looking to the future of wine marketing, in which social networking with the Internet- and wine-savvy next generation will be key. The company has blogs for Windsor Vineyards and is preparing for a presence on public virtual encyclopedia Wikipedia and networking site Facebook. Honest information is key, according to Mr. Roney.

“The Yountville tasting room for Girard has only been open for two or three weeks, and already there have been a few reviews with pictures on Facebook,” he said.