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November 2006
by Jim Gordon & Tina Caputo
Wine Industry Financial Symposium
The Wine Industry Financial Symposium focused on growth and profit strategies in its general session.
Photos: Kent Hanson
"Restrained optimism" characterized the mood of wine and finance professionals at the 15th Annual Wine Industry Financial Symposium Sept. 27 and 28 at the Meritage Resort in Napa, Calif. "It seems like we're in a fairly good place now," said David Freed, chairman of the UCC Group and a symposium founder. The industry's financial health tends to fluctuate in eight-year boom-and-bust cycles, he told the registrants, who totaled 332 over two days. He reflected that one of the biggest changes is the increasing professionalism of the relationship between the industry and the financial institutions that serve it.

Robert Smiley, director of wine studies at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, said his department's most recent interviews with winery executives found them quite optimistic about wine consumption, despite domestic wineries' smaller U.S. market share. Smiley reported results of the Wine Industry Financial Symposium Survey, compiled by Wine Business Monthly.

Keynote speaker John Grant, chief of staff of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, discussed his company's strategy for long-term growth, and asserted that families are important innovators in an increasingly corporate world. In a subsequent panel, executives from Diageo, Fosters, Constellation and Don Sebastiani & Sons examined "How Global Supply and Demand Is Changing the Wine Industry."
Wine Industry Financial Symposium
Wine Industry Financial Symposium
Wine Industry Financial Symposium
Wine Industry Financial Symposium

"A superior route to market is our No. 1 source of competitive advantage," said Steve Spadarotto, upper left, of Diageo Chateau & Estate in a panel on global supply and demand. Dan Zepponi, upper right, said wineries of all sizes compete in a global marketplace. David Hayman of Constellation, lower right, said, "Companies, more than countries, will define the competitive landscape." Moderator Ronald Larson of Trinchero Family Estates is shown lower left.
Among other highlights:

UBS Warburg and Chanin Capital Partners explained "Investing in the Wine Industry, How it Differs Today." Legal strategies for direct sales by retailers dominated a panel on "Beyond the Supreme Court Decision: A New Look." John Gillespie, WineColleagues, presented "Consumer Intelligence That Works."

Jim McCann, founder of, which owns the Ambrosia wine retail business, spoke on "The Importance of Relationship Building and Customer Service."

Workshop sessions included Holly Myers, VP of marketing, Clos Du Val Wine Co., outlining the winery's "Hollywood Program."

In a panel discussion of "Front Line Selling: What is Really Going on in the Streets," Dick Reeves, Heck Estates national sales manager, Bob Larkin, VP, Pacific Southern Wine Co. and Serenity Vineyards owner David Wiley shared insights on selling to retailers and restaurants.

The Wine Industry Symposium Group's president, Kathryn Archer, announced the upcoming Central Coast Insights, Mar. 14, 2007, in San Luis Obispo. For more information, see
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