Some optimism returns for annual two-day wine industry symposium

NAPA – Optimism among top wine industry executives about the prospects for profitability and sales growth are higher than they were this time last year, bouncing back to levels before financial markets crashed in September 2008, according to survey results to be released at a major conference in Napa this week.

Robert Smiley, professor emeritus and director of wine studies in U.C. Davis' Graduate School of Management, has been presenting the prognostications of industry executives for years at the Wine Industry Financial Symposium, to be held today and Tuesday in Napa. The financial outlook for the business brightened this year from the respondents' perspectives.

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"2009 was the most bearish response to profitability and sales growth for the industry going forward," said David Freed, chairman of Napa-based investor UCC Vineyard Group and one of the founders of the symposium 19 years ago.

Dr. Smiley gauges these perceptions of industry confidence based on a poll as well as in-depth interviews.

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