North Bay Business Journal convenes its 19th annual Wine Industry Conference on April 18, bringing together leaders in wine business with insight on the latest trends, including the luxury wine market, and the progress on making wine with the environment in mind.
By and for industry leaders, the conference will take place at Sonoma State University’s Student Center Ballroom in Rohnert Park from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.
How to make wine and do what’s best for the environment will be the keynote address offered by someone who has overseen such a task — David R. Duncan, proprietor, chairman and CEO of Silver Oak Cellars.
Silver Oak’s Napa Valley winery was rebuilt from 2006 to 2008 and became the first commercial winery in the world to achieve LEED Platinum status under the existing buildings, operations and maintenance rating category.
Silver Oak Cellars was started by his father, Ray, and Justin Meyer in 1972. The Duncan family started Twomey Cellars in Calistoga in 1999 and acquired Monument Tree Vineyard in Sonoma County for Twomey. In August 2012, Silver Oak acquired Sausal Vineyard & Winery.
Exploring the hottest topics in the wine industry today will be a conference panel drawing on years of experience in that industry.
Corey Beck became president of The Family Coppola’s winegrowing endeavors in Sonoma County in 2014 then in 2018 was named CEO and winemaking chief. He joined Francis Ford Coppola Winery in 1998 as assistant winemaker. A high point of his winemaking career before that was at Napa Valley's Chateau Montelena, where the Calistoga-born Beck learned the craft by tagging alongside his grandfather who was the vineyard manager.
As president and CEO of St. Helena-based Trinchero Family Estates, Bob Torkelson operates 10 wineries across California, producing more than 50 wine, spirits and specialty brands. Among them are Sutter Home, targeted at the mass market, and Trinchero Napa Valley, aimed at the luxury market.
Also bringing the latest in trends in the business will be Alex Ryan. After joining the company in 1981, Ryan was appointed president and CEO of Duckhorn Wine Company by founder Dan Duckhorn in 2005. Private-equity firm GI Partners acquired Duckhorn two years later. In 2016, another private-equity firm, TSG Consumer Partners of San Francisco, became the new owner.
In July 2018, St. Helena-based Duckhorn announced that it has purchased Sebastopol’s Kosta Browne winery — which helped put luxury pinot noir from Sonoma County on the map.
Offering his take on the latest trends as well will be Dan Baker. Born and raised in the Sonoma County community of Sebastopol, he joined Korbel Champagne Cellars in 1983, rising to his present job as executive vice president of the Sonoma County sparkling wine maker.
Joining the others on the panel will be Michelle Benvenuto, executive director of the Winegrowers of Napa County. She represents the interests of several prominent wineries such as Duckhorn Vineyards, Trinchero Family Estates and Rombauer Vineyards in an area which has seen debate over the future of the wine and wine tourism business.
Trends in the marketing of luxury wines — those starting at prices upwards of $50 a bottle — will be the focus of a panel made up of leaders, operators and owners wineries from the North Bay and beyond.
Cam Baker, proprietor of Larkmead Vineyards of Calistoga, is a wine executive who married into the Solari family and began helping out Larry, the prominent winemaking father of his wife, Kate, in running the wine estate.
Wine Industry Conference
Thursday, April 18, 2019, 7:30-11:30 a.m.
Sonoma State University Student Center ballroom, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Register by April 12: nbbj.news/wine19
Cost: $99 per person or $1,050 for a table of 10
Keynote: David Duncan, proprietor, chairman and CEO, Silver Oaks Cellars
Hot topics panel:
• Corey Beck, CEO and winemaking chief, Francis Ford Coppola Winery
• Bob Torkelson, president and CEO, Trinchero Family Estates
• Alex Ryan, president and CEO, Duckhorn Wine Company
• Dan Baker, executive vice president, Korbel
• Michelle Benvenuto, executive director, Winegrowers of Napa County
• Ron Denner, Denner Vineyards
• Cam Baker, proprietor, Larkmead Vineyards
• Tom Bonomi, president and CEO, Price Family Vineyards & Winery
• Steven W. Spadarotto, Far Niente Wine Estates
Sarah House, director and senior economist, Wells Fargo