Partner, Windsor Retailing Inc.
6795 Washington St., Bldg. B
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.