Stories in this reportApril 18 forum of experts to tackle shrinking supply, globalization, financeThe supply puzzle: Experts weigh in on how a shortage will impact industryNavigating the global markets: Plan on a long-term commitmentWinegrape shortage could last six to eight years

SANTA ROSA -- As the supply of raw materials for wine are evaporating around the globe, emerging economies become thirstier for the beverage, the U.S. emerges as the world's top wine market and the complexities of international trade, investment and economics multiply, 13 top California wine industry executives will be defining the challenges and opportunities at the Business Journal's 2012 Wine Industry Conference on April 18 in Santa Rosa.

The keynote speaker for the 12th annual conference will be Rick Tigner, president of Jackson Family Enterprises. He has been in that role for the Santa Rosa-based family-owned operation for nearly two years and started with the company in 1991 as western division manager.

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One of North America's largest wine companies, Jackson Family Enterprises employs about 1,000 in several countries and produces about 5.5 million cases of wine under more than three dozen brands, namely Kendall-Jackson.

The interwoven factors affecting the supply of grapes and wine in California in a global marketplace and the capital needed to do so will be addressed by three panels.

On the supply panel will be Joe Ciatti, a partner of Zepponi & Company, a Santa Rosa-based wine industry transaction consultancy; Mark Couchman, president of major California coastal vineyard investor Silverado Premium Properties of Napa; Jeff O’Neill, chief executive officer of Larkspur-based O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, a large bulk winery, branded wine owner and control-label supplier; Bill Pauli, president of Pauli Ranch Winery, which farms about 1,100 acres of vines in Mendocino County's Potter, Ukiah and Redwood valleys, and current chairman of the California Association of Winegrape Growers; and Steve Smit, vice president of vineyards and grape management for Constellation Wines U.S. [Panelists answer major questions on grape and wine supply in "The supply puzzle: Experts weigh in on how a shortage will impact industry," p. 8.]

On the globalization panel will be Mario Zepponi, a real estate attorney who started Zepponi & Company; Stephen Brauer, managing director of the Napa-based Beringer brands business unit of Treasury Wine Estates, a publicly traded wine company based in Australia; Eva Bertran, executive vice president of Freixenet USA, the Sonoma-based arm of Spain-based Freixenet Group, producer of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine; David Hayman, senior vice president of wine operations for Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines; and Paul Hobbs, whose Sebastopol-based company makes and imports high-end boutique brands from the North Coast and South America. [Panelists tackle significant topics in the globalization of the wine business in "Navigating the global markets: Plan on a long-term commitment," p. 8.]

The conference's finance panel includes Perry DeLuca, newly hired as industry head and team leader for the wine food and beverage group of Wells Fargo, and Peter Kaufman, managing partner of Bacchus Capital Management of San Francisco.

The conference will be held from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa in downtown Santa Rosa. Registration for the conference costs $75 a person and closes April 13. Register online at or call 707-521-5270.