Exkalibur University, Organizer & Host

This is the 8th Annual Wine Industry Workshop organized by Exkalibur University, the education affiliate of The Exkalibur Organization, with the support of our Wine Industry Sponsors.

Lary Kirchenbauer is the founder of The Exkalibur Organization, which includes its affiliates:

  • Exkalibur University, the current website that hosts Exkalibur’s online and in-person educational platform,
  • Exkalibur.com, a web site dedicated to informing subscribers and visitors about the journey to Become a More Effective Leader, and
  • The Exkalibur Leadership Forum, which provides individual and group leadership coaching.

Lary is also a professional author and speaker as well as a leadership coach facilitating leadership groups among CEOs and senior business leaders in the SF Bay area. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco and the author of more than 125+ newspaper columns published by the SF Bay affiliate of the NY Times among the 800+ articles at Exkalibur.com.

He has been married forever to a beautiful woman and has one spectacular daughter who has dedicated her life to helping children with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses. You can learn more about his background and activities here.

Full Speaker List 
Return to Main

1. The Latest Tax & Accounting Changes for Wineries & Growers

Tax experts from Moss Adams will provide an update on what’s been learned since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) became effective on January 1, 2018, and share how wineries can plan for Revenue Recognition changes & Lease Accounting impacts.

Jennifer Rabanal, CPA, Partner, Moss Adams LLP

Jennifer has been in public accounting since 1991 and specializes in working with members of the wine industry.

Prior to joining Moss Adams, she had her own firm for nine years, performing audits, reviews, compilations, financial forecasts, and consulting services for wine industry clientele. Jennifer earned a BA in business economics with an accounting emphasis from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, California Society of Certified Public Accountants, Wine Women, and Women for WineSense. She also serves on the finance committee for the Napa Valley Grapegrowers Association.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Jeff Shilling, Managing Director, Moss Adams LLP

Jeff leads the Tangible Asset Incentive Services practice at Moss Adams LLP.

PHe provides supervisory and technical expertise related to cost segregation, allocation of purchase price, and tax depreciation optimization studies. Over his career, Jeff has developed an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the tax laws relating to fixed assets, repairs and maintenance, depreciation, and real and personal property transactions. Industries served include wine, manufacturing, health care, banking, gaming, food processing, real estate, and construction.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Aaron Tompkins, CPA, Senior Manager, Moss Adams LLP

Aaron has practiced public accounting since 2002, working with mid-sized public and closely held businesses in tax planning and compliance matters.

As a tax senior manager, he is responsible for the oversight and processing of a variety of tax consulting and compliance engagements. He is actively involved with the firm’s construction, food & beverage, and manufacturing practices. Prior to joining Moss Adams, Aaron spent three years working for a Big Four firm.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Rae Paulson, CPA, Senior Manager, Moss Adams LLP

Rae has been in public accounting since 2005. She provides assurance services for clients in a variety of industries, predominantly wine, food processing, and natural resources.

Rae also manages all phases of employee benefit plan audits, including 401(k), 403(b), defined benefit, and health and welfare plans. She is responsible for training staff and seniors on employee benefit plan issues and maintains current knowledge of industry regulations through ongoing continuing professional education.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

2. What’s Mother Nature Got to do with It?

In the wake of the tragic fires that struck in wine country last year, along with earthquake and other unexpected challenges from Mother Nature in recent years, it’s an ideal time to share what’s been learned, what gaps have appeared in insurance coverage and what wineries are doing to be prepared for Mother Nature’s next tantrum.

Liz Bishop, Managing SVP, Heffernan Insurance Brokers

Liz Bishop 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.

Liz leads the Heffernan Wine Practice in Petaluma, which currents helps over 100 wineries with their insurance needs. The Wine team’s long term commitment to community and strong relationships with insurance company partners has made them a perfect choice for wineries and growers. Liz received the 2012 North Bay Business Journal’s Women in Business Award for Insurance and was selected by Insurance Business America as one of the Elite Women in the industry.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Debra Costa, Senior Vice President Heffernan Insurance Brokers

Debra Costa is a Senior Vice President of Heffernan Insurance Brokers and leads their Wine Practice. Debra has over 25 years of commercial insurance experience and specializes in insuring wineries and food manufacturing operations.

Debra provides risk assessments for CFO’s and their management teams to reduce claims and coverage gaps (and over-insurance). Her knowledge of the insurance marketplace and relationships with specialty insurers helps clients to develop coverage unique to their risk and manage costs by staying ahead of the insurance cycles.

Debra graduated with a BA from Cal State University of Northridge (CSUN). She is an Associate member of the Wine Institute and former Advisory Board Member for Junior Achievement of the Redwood Empire. Debra resides in Marin County and enjoys family, friends, and good wine.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Tony LeBlanc, General Manager, Silver Oak & Twomey Cellars

After 32 years in the wine business, Tony LeBlanc still gets excited each year when harvest rolls around. “It’s the time of year you come face-to-face with Mother Nature,” says Tony. “The rest of the year, the environment is fairly controlled, but at harvest, you’re at her mercy.”

As General Manager, Tony oversees all Silver Oak and Twomey facilities and has spent his career building “controlled” environments. He joined Silver Oak in 1992 when Ray Duncan and Justin Meyer purchased the Geyserville winery, which had gone bankrupt under its previous owners.

In 1999 when the Duncan family purchased the winery in Calistoga that became the home of Twomey Cellars, Tony, who had performed due diligence on the property, was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. By that time he had also assumed responsibility for the Oakville winery. In 2005, Tony helped oversee the acquisition of what is now the Twomey Healdsburg winery, and led its renovation into a Pinot Noir facility. With four facilities to oversee, Tony was promoted to General Manager and today he leads the winemaking, vineyard, retail and hospitality teams.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

3. What is My Digital Marketing Strategy?

What are the keys to developing Strategies, Tactics and Actions Plans for a successful Digital Marketing Strategy?

Mark Evans, President, Triumph Advisers

Mark Evans has been passionate about the premium Wine Industry ever since he first worked as a laborer for small, local vineyards and wineries in his late teens.

Over his 32-year professional career spanning various sales and marketing management positions to key C-Level roles for some of Napa and Sonoma’s most prominent wine companies, Mark has developed a unique 360-degree perspective that he brings to the companies he leads and advises today. He is currently the President of Triumph Advisers, specializing in helping Food & Beverage companies plan, develop and execute unified strategies in sales, marketing, winemaking, finance and Direct-to-Consumer that directly result in increased sales revenues, profits and brand equity.

Mark is an avid artist and art collector, father of four grown, functioning children and enjoys endurance sports including triathlons, marathons and ultra-marathons.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Stephanie Peachey, Vice President of DTC & Brand Strategy, Kosta Browne Winery

Stephanie Peachey has been successfully creating and executing marketing strategies for 15+ years – at both regional and global levels.

After gaining vast experience in growing brands and the bottom line in a corporate setting in NYC, Stephanie married her love for marketing with her passion for wine and pursued her MBA from the Sonoma State Wine Business Institute. While completing her masters, Stephanie joined the Vintage Wine Estates team where for almost six years she led their DTC business. Currently, Stephanie is the Vice President of Direct to Consumer and Brand Strategy, for Kosta Browne Winery. Stephanie and husband of 12 years, Derek, spend their not-so-downtime playing with their two young boys, Lane and Davis, and are always planning the next big adventure.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Peter Andres, Founder & Principal, Wine Works.

Peter Andres has 20 years of web site development experience primarily focused on design and UX development. Specializing in wine ecommerce, Peter co-founded Vin65 (now WineDirect) and is owner of Wine Works, a full-service website design and development firm, which has managed hundreds of winery website projects on various ecommerce platforms. These include WineDirect, Commerce7, eCellar, Nexternal, and WordPress.

Recent notable engagements at WineWorks include Duckhorn Vineyards, Opus One, Crimson Wine Group, Constellation Brands and Robert Young Estates Winery. Other projects have included working with Avia Media (aviamedia.com) as lead UX developer on projects for Vikings, Kroger, Purell, and Edge Shaving Gel. As an expert in ecommerce platforms, Peter helps clients, in clear and understandable terms, to navigate through the business and technical decisions related to website development.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

4. How Can I Accelerate Sales in the DTC Channel?

With 9,600 wineries and over 150,000 different wines available, selling your wine is increasingly difficult.

We will tap the knowledge and expertise of proven industry veterans to offer some innovative steps and describe some of the opportunities available in various channels to sell more wine.

Violet Grgich, President, Grgich Hills Estate

Violet’s passion for wine began early spending summers at the winery doing everything from laboratory analysis to working in the tasting room.

Violet earned her B.A. in music from University of California, Davis while taking classes in biology, chemistry, and enology; she received her Master of Music in harpsichord at Indiana University. Violet joined the winery full-time in 1988. As President of Grgich Hills Estate, she leads the winery and continues the legacy her father embarked on in 1977. Violet says she has the ideal job, “wine brings people together and makes them happy, which makes my job extraordinarily fulfilling.”

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Stephanie Wycoff, Estate Director, Seghesio Family Vineyards

Stephanie Wycoff has spent over a decade leading DTC sales, marketing and operations for 3,000 to 130,000 case wineries including: Anaba, Quivira, La Follette, Gary Farrell, and Seghesio.

She serves on the DTC Wine Symposium steering committee and is a frequent speaker at various wine industry conferences including the DTC Wine Symposium, Wine Industry Technology Symposium, Luxury Marketing Council Winery Bootcamp, and VingDirect Forum. Stephanie earned her master’s degree in Wine Business from Sonoma State University in 2010, and serves as an alumni liaison to its Wine Business Institute Board of Directors. Beyond her passion for wine, she is a self-proclaimed business nerd, reading the latest business books and listening to podcasts daily. Stephanie is a winner of the North Bay Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” award (2016), and resides in Sonoma County with her husband, their black Labrador and two cats.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

5. Should I Use Outsourcing to Save Money & Strengthen My Business … Or Not?

Outsourcing has grown as a powerful tool across many industries and for every functional area. 

We’ll ask our panel to discuss the pros and cons of outsourcing, in the sales process as well as in the vineyards.

  • What are the advantages? Disadvantages?
  • What are the costs and how do they compare to hiring your own team for that function?
  • Can I expect the same level of service and success as with my own employees?

6. Is the Recruiting & Hiring Model Broken?

Based on real-world client experiences, our panel will shed light on a multitude of mistakes being made by many organizations in their recruiting and hiring processes and what can be done to “fix” those shortcomings. They will discuss many of the innovative strategies and techniques to improve your success with attracting and retaining management and senior management level talent.

David Newlin, Founder & CEO, Newlin Associates

David Newlin brings 30 years of executive recruiting and management consulting experience to this panel. In 2002, David founded Newlin Associates, a retained, senior-level executive search firm focused on recruiting assignments in the wine industry for CEOs, Presidents, GMs and their direct report in all functional disciplines.

Newlin Associates is the first search firm in the wine industry to utilize a personality assessment tool, which increases the accuracy of identifying candidates with the right Job Fit and Culture Fit that results in de-risking the recruiting process. In addition, David is the only recruiter in the wine industry who is certified in Performance-based Hiring, a re-engineered, breakthrough and end-to-end approach to executive search. He is regularly consulted about recruiting processes, leadership, team and culture development issues.

David is a graduate of San Jose State University, with a B.S. in Finance/Economics. He is also certified in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and is a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistics Programming (NLP).

Full Speaker List
Return to Main

Nicole Cummings, PHR, Human Resources Director, Cakebread Cellars

Nicole is responsible for leading the activities of the HR department. She served as the first HR Manager for the winery from 2001-2006 and rejoined the winery in June, 2014 as the head of Human Resources. Nicole oversees recruitment, selection, talent management, development and implementation of various employee and leadership training, compensation, benefits, employment compliance, safety, and performance management.

Prior to joining Cakebread Cellars, Nicole worked for Securities America from 2007-2014 as the Director of Human Resources and Training. Nicole graduated from California State University, Chico with a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources, and obtained her Executive MBA from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. She holds the Professional in Human Resources certification, was a recipient of the 40 under 40 award from the Midlands Business Journal in 2012, and is an active member of the Society of Human Resource Management, Forbes HR Leadership Council, Wines, Vines, and HR, and is the Napa County representative for the Napa Valley Vintners on the citizens advisory committee for the Napa Valley Transportation Authority. Nicole resides in Napa with her husband and two children.

Full Speaker List
Return to Main