The Wine Industry Workshop

This was the 6th Annual Wine Industry Workshop organized by Exkalibur University, the education affiliate of The Exkalibur Organization and, with the support of our Wine Industry Sponsors.

The Wine Industry Workshop is focused on presenting practical business strategies to help you achieve superior performance in your wine business … an annual tradition dedicated to helping you become a More Effective Leader and Build a Successful Business.

As you know, great wine from great grapes is rarely enough to build and sustain a profitable and successful wine business. There are many other factors that contribute to a successful wine business:

  • Recruiting and retaining the best leadership team
  • Employing dedicated sales and marketing professionals
  • Creating positive cash flow and financial stability
  • Understanding how to create realizable value in your business
  • Enhancing social media and DTC capability

Our mission is to help you navigate these waters and to share with you Best Practices adopted by successful wine businesses.

Click here for our list of speakers.

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Who Will Benefit?

The Wine Industry Workshop benefits every winery executive, across all of its important functions. It also benefits other companies whose success is synchronous with the success of wineries, including growers, bottlers, negotiants and related agricultural companies.

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Who Has Attended?

The Wine Industry Workshop has averaged approximately 100 attendees for its annual events. Our Workshop Guests have included CEOs and other C-Suite executives as well as managers from sales, marketing, operations, vineyard management, finance and accounting, HR and general administrative functions.

We have hosted senior executives and managers from such wineries and related companies as Peter Michael, Trinchero Family Estates, Duckhorn Wine Company, Cakebread Cellars, Trefethen Family Vineyards, C. Mondavi and Sons, Jackson Family Wines, Francis Ford Coppola Presents, Silver Oak Cellars, Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, Black Dog Ranch, Paul Hobbs Winery, Black Knight Vineyards, Lambert Bridge, Napa Valley Reserve, Kachina Winery, Merryvale Vineyards, Dos Lagos Vineyard, DaVero Farms & Winery, Markham Vineyard, Enkidu Wine, V2 Wine Group, Saxon Brown Wines, Halleck Vineyard, Orin Swift Wine Cellars, Lasseter Family Winery, Iron Horse Vineyards, Dutton Ranch, Bacchus Vineyard Management, V Sattui Winery … and many others.

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Our Wine Industry Sponsors are committed to Your Success

I have been fortunate to work closely with each of Our Sponsors over many years, and am continually impressed by their commitment to serving their clients and community and to helping their clients and colleagues build more successful businesses. 

All of us are genuinely interested in helping you advance your wine industry knowledge and learn practical tools and best practices you can immediately put to work in your wine-related business.

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Link to this page

Event Location & Details

This was an invitation-only event for the clients and guests of our Sponsors.

If you registered as a guest of one of our Sponsors, you were added to our Wine Industry Workshop mailing list and will receive all of the relevant workshop materials. It’s an easy way for us to communicate.

The information, below, is for your convenient reference:

Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Time: 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Food: Continental Breakfast & Lunch

Location: Near the Santa Rosa airport (Details to be provided upon registration.)

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2017’s Program

Our Growing List of Speakers

We have assembled some of the keenest minds in the Wine Industry to discuss some of the most important business challenges facing companies in the wine industry.

Here is a preliminary list of some of the Speakers & Panelists who were featured at last year’s event.

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Lary R. Kirchenbauer, Chancellor, Exkalibur University

Lary is the founder of The Exkalibur Organization, which includes its affiliate, Exkalibur University, its educational platform providing educational and training experiences, in both in-person events and through its online curriculum focused on Leadership, Productivity and Business Finance.

Jeff Gutsch, Partner, National Practice Leader, Wine Industry; Moss Adams, LLP

Jeff has been in public accounting since 1992. He is the leader of the Wine Industry Group, is a member of the firm’s Food Processing & Agriculture Steering Committee and serves as the tax and engagement partner for many of our wine industry clients.

Bill Vyenielo, MBA, Senior Business Consultant, Moss Adams, LLP

Bill has been working with clients in the wine industry for more than 25 years, and has been solving operational challenges for vineyard and winery clients since 2006. Prior to joining Moss Adams, Bill held executive management positions leading estate winery operations and served as President of Medlock Ames Vintners and GM and Chief Executive at Peter Michael Winery.

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Liz Bishop, Managing SVP, Heffernan Insurance Brokers

Liz leads the Heffernan Wine Practice in Petaluma, which currents helps over 100 wineries with their insurance needs. She has been in the insurance industry for over 25 years, and has since focused on helping those in the wine, agribusiness, food, hospitality, nonprofit, construction and manufacturing industries.

Joe Souza, District Manager for California, KPA

Joe Souza is a District Manager in California for KPA, a leading enterprise risk management organization. He brings over 22 years’ experience in the Environmental Health and Safety field, and is certified as an instructor to include OSHA Outreach trainer, Specialist in Safety and Health (Construction, General Industry, and Occupational Safety), First Aid/CPR instructor, Environmental & Occupational Safety, to name a few.

David Newlin, Founder & CEO, Newlin Associates

David Newlin brings 25+ years of executive recruiting and management consulting experience, with 16+ years in the wine industry. In 2002, he founded Newlin Associates is a retained, senior-level executive search firm focused primarily on C-level to VP-level recruiting assignments.

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Sean Maher, Managing Director & Founder, Aspect Consumer Partners

Sean is the founder and Managing Director of Aspect Consumer Partners, an independent mergers and acquisitions, strategic and corporate finance advisory firm focused on the middle market (market capitalizations up to ~$1 billion). He leads the wine practice as a  22-year industry veteran, completing transactions totaling in excess of $2 billion in completed transaction value in the wine industry and $65 billion overall.

Chloe Tyer, Membership Manager, Huneeus Vintners

Chloe Tyer oversees the strategic direction and planning of the membership programs for Quintessa, Flowers, Faust, Illumination and Leviathan wines.

Don Davis, Director of Sales and Marketing – MacRostie Winery and Vineyards

Don Davis oversees wholesale marketing, and every aspect of the MacRostie Winery and Vineyards consumer experience, including its acclaimed hospitality program. In this pivotal role, Don also serves as the winery’s brand director, guiding MacRostie’s guest services, direct sales, digital and social media, wine club and public relations programs.

Tim Bouchet, Director of Hospitality and Retail Sales, Pride Mountain Vineyards

Tim has devoted the last 20 years of his professional life building Pride Mountain Vineyards very successful Direct to Consumer program. Tim and his team have collectively built an active 30,000 person mailing list that achieves an 85% direct to consumer sales ratio and hosts an average of 25,000 by-appointment-only guests per year at the top of Spring Mountain.

Christopher Pappe, Founder & CEO, CRP Trade Solutions

Christopher is currently founder and CEO of CRP Wine Trade Solutions based in Napa California. Previously, he held the position of managing partner of Chatterbox Wine Marketing Services, in Napa California, and recently held the position of Senior Advisor to Bacchus Capital Management in New York, NY with responsibilities as COO of Madrigal Family Winery in Napa, CA, and President of Panther Creek Cellars in Dundee, OR.

Mark Evans, GM, Robert Young Estates

Mark has over 30 years’ experience in the luxury wine business, and became General Manager of the iconic Robert Young winery in Geyserville, CA in September of 2016. Prior to Robert Young, Mark was the President of Yalumba USA and General Manager of Merryvale Vineyards and Paul Hobbs. He began his professional career working for Schramsberg, Trefethen and Kendall-Jackson wineries in various Regional, Divisional and National roles.

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Mark Crisler, Founder, Trellis Wine Group

Mark began his wine industry career with Southern Wine & Spirits, as the On-Premise Wine Sales Manager for the region. Later, Mark went to work for the Robert Mondavi Winery managing Southern California and then all the on-premise national accounts from the Mississippi West. After the sale of Robert Mondavi to Constellation Wines. In June of 2005, Mark created the Trellis Wine Group to help guide & grow the family-owned winery and artisan spirit producer to successfully work with and be featured on these dynamic national multi-unit on-premise national wine & spirits lists.

What Was Covered?

Below, you will find a current summary of the topics that were covered in last year’s Workshop.

In all cases, we encourage an active conversation among the panelists and the audience and will reserve plenty of time for your questions.

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1. 2017 Wine Industry Financial Benchmarking Survey

Credible wine industry financial data is scarce, which makes it a struggle for owners and managers to compare their business performance against their peers. Knowing where your business is competitive, where you have a competitive advantage, or, just as importantly, a disadvantage can be vital to shaping your management strategies and your company’s future.

Moss Adams will share the results of its 2017 Wine Industry Financial Benchmarking Survey™, which it conducted with support from Heffernan Insurance Brokers, Turrentine Brokerage and American AgCredit.

Data supporting the results in their report was provided by wine businesses predominantly in California but also spanning Oregon and Washington. Winery participants ranged in size from those that produce less than 5,000 cases to those with over 700,000 in annual case sales.

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2. Winery Safety Practices that actually Save Money!

Are you prepared for the real costs, including regulatory challenges and fines, where your winery is deficient in following critical safety practices?

Please join us to learn more about recent Napa/Sonoma Valley winery deficiencies in:

  • Confined space,
  • Heat illness protection,
  • Lockout/tag out, and
  • Stormwater practices.

Get the best practices in all these key areas, avoid stiff Cal OSHA’s fines and learn what will help keep your employees safe.

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3. The Achilles Heel of Hiring in the Wine Industry

The Achilles Heel of Hiring in the Wine Industry

At the end of the day, the hiring process really boils down to answering only two questions:

  1. Can you do the job? (Job Fit)
  2. Can you work with us and can we work with you? (Cultural Fit)

When hiring mistakes occur, which are painful, embarrassing and costly to your organization, the reasons can usually be traced back to these two factors.

How effective is your company at de-risking these two drivers of hiring mistakes at all levels?

Newlin Associates’ David Newlin, a leading wine industry senior executive recruiter, will provide an overview of a game-changing approach to assessing new-hire candidates aimed at significantly improving the likelihood that you’re only considering the right candidates for each job.

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4. Trends in Winery, Brand, and Vineyard Acquisitions

In this discussion, Sean Maher, a Partner and Co-founder of Aspect Consumer Partners will offer his insights about the Trends in Winery, Brand & Vineyard Acquisitions.

There continues to be robust M&A activity in the wine industry.   We will get the latest perspective on that activity, including the following:

  • The impact of high land and grape pricing
  • Wine and CPG companies that continue to buy innovation to drive growth
  • Distributor consolidation and impact on small and large wineries
  • What are the key value drivers
  • Are we headed for a slowdown in M&A activity?

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5. Best Practices for Direct-to-Consumer Success

This panel discussion will share the latest practical strategies being used by successful visitor centers, hospitality programs, tasting rooms and wineries to create, manage and grow the Direct to Consumer sales channel.

Our panel will discuss …

  • Elevating the guest experience,
  • How to optimize DTC offerings,
  • Best practices to structure allocations,
  • How to analyze where clients come from (PR, Word of Mouth, Social Media, etc.), and
  • How to analyze the sources of clients and the respective value of those channels.

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6. The Outlook for the Distributor Channel

The consolidation of both wineries and distributors continues to be one of the most important trends affecting the wine industry.

In this panel discussion, you will hear a wide perspective from winery leaders, distributors and learn some of the strategies to get on the wine lists of national restaurants, hotels, bars, and venues.

The panel will help you understand the impact of these changes and what strategies will result in the greatest sales and marketing success.

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Contact the Exkalibur Team for any reason

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Exkalibur Team if you need assistance for any reason.

You can reach our Business Manager, Deborah Harlow at; 888–351–8880, x 3. I promise she will respond promptly to your inquiry.

You may also reach me directly at or 888–351–8880, x1.

Please let us know if we can be helpful to you in any way.

All the best,