SANTA ROSA – Early indications of improved fourth-quarter sales of fine wine could partly offset significant declines in sales growth this year, and 2010 could bring some upswing for the segment as trade buyers place orders to maintain new, lower inventory levels, according to a report released last week from Silicon Valley Bank's Wine Division.


TriVascular raises $30M

SANTA ROSA – TriVascular Inc. raised $30 million in a Series B offering. The funds will take the maker of abdominal and thoracic stent graft systems into clinical testing. The Series B financing is a continuation of Series A funding of $65 million in 2008 from  investors New Enterprise Associates, Delphi Ventures, MPM Capital and Kearny Venture Partners.


Autodesk revenues dip

SAN RAFAEL – Autodesk Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) reported revenues dropped during the third quarter by 31 percent and overall profits by 72 percent compared with the same period last year. But President and Chief Executive Officer Carl Bass said the company "appears to be increasingly stable." The maker of design, engineering and entertainment software reported a profit of $29.5 million, down from $104.5 million a year earlier.


Wine MBA gets endowment

ROHNERT PARK – Rough & Ready-based Zinfandel Advocates & Producers in Nevada County has established a $500,000 scholarship endowment for the Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute’s MBA program to honor the zinfandel organization's late founder Donn Reisen. The $500,000 endowment will be funded over the next three to five years and will result in approximately $20,000 per year for scholarships.


Fink to retire in 2011

SAN RAFAEL – Dr. Joseph Fink, president of Dominican University of California for the past 21 years, will retire from his position effective June 30, 2011. He has led the transformation of Dominican University from a small college of 650 students into a university of more than 2,000 students.


Napa Chamber names CEO

NAPA – The Napa Chamber of Commerce named Lisa Batto the new president and chief executive officer, replacing Kate King, who retired from her 10-year tenure. Ms. Batto has been with the chamber since April 2003 and has been the executive vice president since October 2006.


Guilty plea in Vallejo fire

VALLEJO – Mark Anderson, 61, of Sausalito pleaded guilty to all charges related to the Oct. 12, 2005, arson of the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo. Mr. Anderson operated Sausalito Cellars, which charged wine collectors to store their wine in environmentally controlled conditions. He admitted he set fire to the Wines Central warehouse, where he rented space; had been embezzling wine from his clients for many years; and failed to report more than $800,000 in income from the sale of embezzled wine. More than six million bottles of wine were destroyed in the fire.


Trinchero gifts $1M

NAPA VALLEY, DAVIS – Trinchero Family Estates donated $1 million to U.C. Davis to help build new facilities for a program that provides disease-free rootstock to California nurseries. A $3.8 million, 5,600-square-foot new building adjacent to the current facility is planned and will aim for LEED Silver certification.


Elypsis expands to Canada

NAPA – Elypsis Inc., provider of software solutions for the wine industry, established a joint venture in Canada to deliver country-specific winery management software solutions. Zuna Inc. will operate in Canada to develop, sell, service and support Canadian wineries with the Elypsis Winery software product line.


White to retire in 2010

MARIN – College of Marin Superintendent and President Dr. Frances White announced plans to retire June 30, 2010, in a letter addressed to the board of trustees.

“As the superintendent/president, I have achieved most of my goals to improve the institution. ... I’m very proud of all that we have accomplished together, particularly, the hard work of the faculty, classified staff, student, administrative and board leaders,” said Dr. White.


Westamerica income rises

SAN RAFAEL – Westamerica Bancorp reported third-quarter net income applicable to common shareholders of $23.8 million, compared with $44,000 in the same period last year. During the third quarter the bank completed systems conversions and branch consolidations related to the purchase of assets and assumption of liabilities of the former County Bank.

Total assets on Sept. 30 were $5.1 billion, up 22.6 percent from $4.1 billion on Sept. 30, 2008. Deposits were $4.1 billion, increasing 31 percent from $3.2 billion last year. Loans were $3.3 billion, up 35.2 percent from $2.4 billion in the same period last year. The provision for loan losses in the third quarter was $2.8 million, up from $2.6 million in the second quarter and $600,000 in the third quarter of 2008.