Profitability is the top concern this year for wine industry professionals, according to a University of California, Davis, survey prepared for the 20th Wine Industry Financial Symposium, to be held at the Napa Valley Marriott hotel in Napa on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 19 and 20. The event typically attracts several hundred industry and financial services professionals.
[caption id="attachment_38857" align="alignright" width="403" caption="One of the questions Dr. Robert Smiley, professor emeritus of the U.C. Davis Graduate School of Management, asked 132 wine industry professionals this year in an annual survey for the Wine Industry Financial Symposium was,"][/caption]
Of 132 responses to an annual survey and analysis by Dr. Robert Smiley, professor emeritus of the Graduate School of Management, "profit margins" ranked the most significant wine business trend, garnering virtually a 4 on a five-point scale. Other major factors, in order of ranking, were "cost of materials" including fuel, "pricing pandemonium: Can I raise prices?" "distribution," "new consumer values and how to work with them" and "inflation."
The theme for this year's symposium is "Flexibility in the Global Marketplace."Afternoon seminars that Monday will touch on tasting room management, vineyard management, wine company valuation, trends in equity and debt financing and direct-to-consumer sales metrics.
Speaking on global changes in the businesses during the Tuesday symposium will be Jean-Charles Boisset, president of Boisset Family Estates, whose recent acquisitions include Buena Vista Carneros and Raymond Vineyards. John Gillespie of Wine Market Council and Wine Opinions will be presenting new marketing research.
One of the panel discussions has founders of Justin Vineyards and Seghesio Family Vineyards and the respective acquirers, Stewart Resnick of Roll Global, which also acquired Landmark Vineyards in Kenwood more recently, and Erle Martin of Crimson Wine Group.
Event registration starts at $225 to $775 per person for the Monday seminars only or both days. To view the schedule and register, visit register.winesymposium.com.
Speaking of wine-related presentations, Mario Zepponi, a principal of Santa Rosa-based wine industry transaction consultancy Zepponi & Company, will be among the speakers at the Business Journal's annual Impact Napa conference at the Meritage Hotel & Spa in Napa the morning of Sept. 1. He's set to talk about recent trends in vineyard and winery valuation.
Headlining the conference will be Beacon Economics managing partner and go-to pundit Chris Thornberg. He will be providing an overview of the national and local economic forces weighing on key Napa County industries such as wine.
In addition to a new base of operations and high-tech tasting room on the premises of Sebastiani Vineyards in Sonoma and a $3 million funding injection, Crushpad has a new chief executive. Peter Ekman, who was executive vice president and co-founder of Ascentia Wine Estates, assumed day-to-day oversight of Crushpad, a custom-winemaking business for thousands of hobbyists and 100 small-scale pros.
Crushpad founder Michael Brill now is focusing on developing international partnerships and new products, such as Crushpad Syndicate and options for wine from international producers.
"We've been working on the idea of me focusing more of my energy on the areas where I'm strongest -- product, winemaking, marketing and sales support -- and bring on some fresh blood to take on overall responsibility," Mr. Brill wrote in the company's email newsletter. "The big difference now is that I can be a lot more effective in areas that matter to you -- and me."
Mr. Ekman said he "strongly" believes in the Crushpad vision.
"With an intense focus on the customer experience, wine quality and the innovative use of technology, my plan is to bring Crushpad from its humble urban winery beginnings to a global company that enables millions of wine enthusiasts to achieve their dream of being a winemaker," he said.
Taking a cue from holiday-targeted stores, beverage industry supplier Gusmer Enterprises, which owns The Wine Lab in Napa, opened The Gusmer Harvest Store in a shopfront at 9025 Old Redwood Highway, Ste. C, in Windsor on Aug. 1. Gusmer plans to sell fermentation-related supplies such as the new proprietary direct-inoculation yeast FrootZen and offer certain on-site testing there until the end of November. Hopefully, the 2011 North Coast winegrape harvest will be done by then.
George Petersen Insurance Agency is partnering with Lodi-based SN Potter Insurance Agency as the appointed Sonoma County broker for WineryPlus, a specialty insurance program for wineries, vineyard estates and custom crush facilities.