NAPA -- From a farmer of thousands of North Coast acres of winegrapes to producers of Napa Valley's most prestigious wine brands to a broker of industry mergers and acquisitions, the speaker lineup for the Business Journal's Impact Napa conference later this month includes major figures in Napa County's wine industry.
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The Aug. 30 morning conference will include a look at the forces pushing and pulling on the finances of grape growers, vintners and consumers by Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics, which has offices in San Rafael and Los Angeles. Following the forecast will be a panel consisting of Bart Araujo of Araujo Estate Wines just east of Calistoga, Andy Beckstoffer of Rutherford-based Beckstoffer Vineyards, Jayson Pahlmeyer of Pahlmeyer Winery in St. Helena and Mario Zepponi of Santa Rosa-based Zepponi & Company.
"So much of Napa’s life and economy is intertwined with wine that we have decided to make it a central focus of Impact Napa," said Brad Bollinger, Business Journal editor and associate publisher. "To that end, we have invited some of the most sought-after speakers with interesting and stimulating stories to tell about wine."
A nationally recognized expert on the economy, Dr. Thornberg returns to Impact Napa with a localized analysis of the county's local drivers of business activity: wine, tourism, housing and construction.
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Coming from a family of California ranchers, Mr. Araujo moved from a career in homebuilding to wine crafting in 1990. That's when he and his wife, Daphne, purchased the 38-acre Eisele Vineyard, which had supplied grapes for acclaimed vintages from Ridge Vineyards, Conn Creek and Joseph Phelps over the previous two decades. Top wine critic Robert Parker Jr. featured Araujo Estate as a "reference-point winery" for terroir-driven Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon and syrah wine in his 2005 book The World's Greatest Wine Estates.
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An engineer by training, Mr. Beckstoffer acquired what is now Beckstoffer Vineyards in 1973 and now is one of the 20 largest winegrape growers in California. The company farms more than 1,000 acres of grapes in Napa County, more than 1,300 in Mendocino County and a like number of acres in the Red Hills appellation of Lake County. Starting in the mid-1970s, Mr. Beckstoffer has been a leader in North Coast and California wine industry and land-use policy.
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Since admittedly smuggling in French vine clones in his quest for the ideal Napa Valley expression of a Bordeaux blend in the early 1980s, Mr. Pahlmeyer has provided a stage for the rising star of several winemakers, including Randy Dunn, Bob Levy, Helen Turley and Erin Green. The result has been the high-scoring Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red and even determined loyalty to a high-end Merlot varietal wine.
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Behind the scenes of a number of recent North Coast wine industry mergers and acquisitions is Zepponi & Company, started by real estate and corporate attorney Mario Zepponi. He has been instructing clients and the industry on the new faces of wine M&A.
The conference will be 7:30-10:30 a.m. at Napa Valley Marriott hotel in Napa. To register, visit NorthBayBusinessJournal.com or call 707-521-5264 by Aug. 24. Cost is $45 per person or $450 for a table of 10 including company signage.