NAPA -- Treasury Wine Estates Ltd. on Monday said Chief Executive Officer David Dearie will step down immediately, and the company cited his decision to destroy millions of dollars of wine as a factor.

Mr. Dearie was appointed CEO immediately prior to TWE’s demerger from Fosters Group Ltd in May 2011, and will initially be replaced by Warwick Every-Burns, a non-executive member of the board. Mr. Every-Burns will assume the role of CEO on an interim basis while the search for a successor to Mr. Dearie takes place.

Speaking on today’s announcement, Chairman Paul Rayner said Mr. Dearie played a "critical role" in the demerger that established the company as a standalone business and that he built a profile of "iconic" wine brands internationally.

“However, following the writedown of excess U.S. inventory announced on 15 July 2013, the board has undertaken a review and concluded that now is the right time to look for a new CEO,” Mr. Rayner said. “In particular, having established a solid platform since demerger, the board believes TWE needs a leader with a stronger operational focus to deliver the company’s growth ambitions.”

Mr. Dearie in early July opted to destroy about $33 million in unsold wine that was considered past its prime.

In Sonoma County, Treasury owns Chateau St. Jean, Cellar No. 8 and Souverain. Stags' Leap Winery, Beringer Vineyards and St. Clement are among the company's Napa brands.