North Coast Wine Industry Awards 2013: Michael Gribben, Beringer Vineyards

What operations do you oversee?

Michael Gribben: From May 2012 to August 2013, I managed the Operations at the Beringer Luxury Wine Crush and Processing Facility and the Winery Operations at St Clement Luxury Winery both in St Helena. Reporting to me in those roles were the cellar, maintenance, master scheduler, health and safety manager and business management departments.

Since August 2013, I have been appointed into an interim position as the Director of Packaging Operations, managing Treasury Wine Estates’ Bottling Center in Napa. Reporting to me are production, maintenance, bottling cellar, training, continuous improvement, warehousing and packaging material receiving and storage, mobile bottling, secondary production, external production, health and safety, quality, master scheduling, wine transportation and business analysis.   What have been recent highlights for Beringer operations?

[caption id="attachment_84652" align="alignleft" width="315"] Michael Gribben[/caption]

Mr. Gribben: Beringer Operations hired one of the most innovative and forward thinking maintenance managers I have ever worked with. He has brought the facility to life and is working with his staff to make the Beringer and St. Clement Luxury Facilities World Class and the preferred employer in the area.

 We also hired an extremely skilled cellar manager who has taken a very seasoned and skilled workforce, made them believe in themselves and their abilities and is leading them to greatness. The quality of cellar employee in this facility has been most impressive to me. They just needed someone to care about them as people; listen to their suggestions based on their years of experience and let them be the facilitators in making the facility World Class.

The winemaking staff has launched outstanding new products this year with Beringer Luminus Chardonnay and Quantum Red and have continued to win accolades for their Private Reserve, Knights Valley and St. Clement Wines. In fact, TWE wines have more 90+ scores than any other wine company. They are truly a special group of people who are extremely passionate about making the best wines in the world!How do you balance and manage the significant production differences between high-end and mass-market labels?

Mr. Gribben:  Quality is an attitude with no latitude. We focus on treating every drop of wine like it’s the very best in the world. We strive to continuously be great at everything we do. It’s our culture.How much has your operation changed in recent years?

Mr. Gribben: The focus on the facility has changed and we’re gaining broader skills and expertise. When I arrived, we were limited to handling only a few brands or certain parts of the winemaking process. We now strive to utilize all of our assets at the winery to the fullest extent to maximize our return on investment. We do everything from crush, process and blend wines, to provide barrel storage and processing and crush services to third-party customers. The facility is now a viable work horse for the company.

How healthy is the wine business, from Beringer’s perspective (e.g., sales growth, pace of high-end vs. mass-market sales)? We’re excited to see the growth and overall health of the industry and continuous improvement in winemaking quality and techniques.What are the top three opportunities and challenges facing your business in the foreseeable future? How are you preparing for them?

Mr. Gribben: In my opinion, our top three opportunities are to ‘Win in the Americas,’ maintain our focus on quality, and continuously improving our processes and capabilities. Our company is only 2 ½ years old as a standalone wine company, so we are still experiencing normal growth issues. We are focusing on organizing our business to deliver on our strategy, retaining and hiring great talent and making Beringer a World Class facility where we are the employer of choice in the region.

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