Sonoma State seminar: Value Creation in the Wine Industry

Brand equity trumps real estate in many acquisitions and whether a business is being managed for sale or legacy, the objective must be the same -- maximizing value. Since value is measured by the investor or buyer, business owners must target the drivers of value in their day-to-day operating plans.

This two-day seminar is targeted to wine company principals, senior leadership and their advisers. It will concentrate on what drives value growth and how that is accomplished in today’s ultra-competitive wine industry. It starts with the consumer but is equally dependent on developing an effective access to the market - distribution. Topics include; measuring returns on sales and marketing investment, brand building, successful personnel management, matching distribution strategies to the business, financial forecasting, partnering, selling and the M&A process.

Returning to SSU to lead the new program are Martin Jones and Michael Houlihan, who together bring forty years of experience in the beverage alcohol industry. Joining Mr. Jones and Mr. Houlihan will be Kris Karlson and Eric Bergman, principals with mergers-and-acquisitions specialists California Winery Brokers, and Quinton Jay, managing director at strategic wine industry investors Bacchus Capital.

Mr. Houlihan spent 19 years at the helm of the Barefoot brand, taking it to approximately 600,000 cases per year. After capitalizing on Barefoot’s brand equity through a sale to E&J Gallo in 2005, Mr. Houlihan stayed on with Gallo, acting as an adviser and transition ambassador, solidifying brand integrity while broadening consumer exposure and distribution. Three years later, Barefoot sales exceeded 7 million cases a year.

Mr. Jones began his career in brand management. In 1992, he was appointed president and CEO of Corby Distilleries, a public company and the largest producer, marketer, and importer of wines and spirits in Canada. In 1996, he initiated and led the merger of Allied Domecq's U.S. businesses, becoming president and chief executive officer of Allied Domecq Spirits USA. In 2001, he became general manager of Premier Wine & Spirits, a large New York wine distributor, before establishing his own consulting practice in 2005.

Information: Dana Swilley, 707-664-3347,,

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