Vice president of communications, F. Korbel and Bros.
13250 River Rd., Guerneville 95446; 707-824-7000; korbel.com
Professional background: Vice president for communications, F. Korbel and Bros, 18 years; director of member relations, Wine Institute, 17 years; assistant to the director of public relations, Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, four years.
Tell us about yourself and your company: I have had the pleasure to serve the California wine industry for 39 years and watch it expand dramatically into the $24.6 billion industry it is today. How fortunate I am to be a part of such growth, in an industry I love. Back when I was a little girl, we would spend summer vacations at my grandmother’s house in the Russian River Valley. As we would pass the impressive entrance to Korbel winery, we knew we were getting close and our excitement mounted. For over 18 years, I have worked at Korbel and that same sense of excitement still affects me today.
Established in 1882, Korbel Champagne Cellars produces the United States’ most popular méthode champenoise champagne. But the true measure of Korbel’s success during its 133 years can be seen in the impact it has on American consumers by virtue of its presence at numerous and varied celebrations throughout the years. Owned and managed by the Heck family since 1954, Korbel currently makes eleven California champagnes and produces one of the country’s most respected brandies.
Words that best describe you: Personable, energetic and enthusiastic with an unwavering positive attitude.
What is a major accomplishment in the past year or so?: Two years ago I headed up the marketing and design team for one of our brands. By taking a new integrated approach with creative, innovative packaging and increased communications, we saw a healthy increase in sales.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career?: Sustaining 39 years in the wine industry is my greatest achievement. Back when I joined Seagram in 1975, I never imagined that this industry would take me on such an incredible journey. There have been many proud moments from managing an international conference, meeting U.S. Presidents, serving on committees to pass important legislation, being able to work on an iconic celebratory brand and finally being selected from the industry to serve as an officer to lead our trade association, Wine Institute.
What is your biggest challenge today?: Keeping Korbel relevant in an ever growing sea of wine labels, staying on top of industry trends, digital marketing practices and public policy issues remain constant challenges.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: Just as technology has already entirely changed the way we communicate and stay connected, I believe in the near future we will have access to better tools to analyze and target our consumers based on their attitudes and purchasing practices.
As a successful female professional, what have been the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?: I opted to go directly into the wine industry in lieu of obtaining a college degree. This could have been an obstacle; however I was compelled to work harder, learn the industry through its pioneers and leaders, develop and refine public speaking skills and be ever mindful of opportunities that would help me succeed.