Six out of the “Forty Exceptional Business Leaders under Forty” from the Wine Industry
Northern California is the proverbial heart of California’s wine country. Narrowing down our geographic focus, the North Bay (Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties) is home to some of the best wineries in California and maybe the world.
If you live in these areas, wine is a part of your life. So much so that it almost becomes second nature. But certain things remind you of how much influence the wine industry has on the North Bay economy and living. A perfect example is a story that the North Bay Business Journal wrote on the “top forty exceptional business leaders under forty.”
The wine industry doesn’t exactly embody youth. Yet, six out of the forty make their living in wine country. That’s fifteen percent! I doubt fifteen percent of North Bay jobs are in the wine industry. Cheers to those who made the list; they are listed below with a brief description from the article.
Naomi Brilliant: 34, Owner and president, Roshambo Winery, Healdsburg
- ”Since starting the winery in 1999, Naomi Brilliant has been fueled by the desire to “make wine culture fun and bring it to every lifestyle.” Every element of the winery is infused with Ms. Brilliant’s personality and the irreverent attitude that has become the brand’s trademark. But the winery isn’t all image, garnering awards and distribution in more than 25 states.”
Holly Finkelstein: 33, Owner, CEO and general manager, Judd’s Hill Winery, St. Helena
- “Though Judd’s Hill Winery has been around since 1989, Holly Finkelstein has helped transform the company since joining it three years ago. She spearheaded a custom crush operation to complement the boutique winery’s 3,000-case annual production.”
John Jordan: 34, CEO, Jordan Vineyard and Winery, Healdsburg
- ”John Jordan oversees all aspects of Jordan Vineyard and Winery, which had $26 million in sales last year. “Building a team that took Jordan from the No. 5 position in the Wine & Spirits most-requested brands poll to No. 1 in one year” has been his biggest accomplishment, he said, noting that staying competitive with the resources of larger conglomerates is a continuing challenge for the small, family-owned winery.”
Vanessa Robledo: 29, President, Robledo Family Winery, Sonoma
- ”Vanessa Robledo has worked with her family over the last 10 years to expand Robledo Family Winery from its modest start at 100 cases to the 20,000-case winery it is today. Before her father started the winery, Ms. Robledo was working to help build the family vineyard management businesses.”
August Sebastiani: 26, Managing director, The Other Guys division of Don Sebastiani & Sons, Sonoma
- ”August Sebastiani runs Don & Sons’ new California wholesale division, The Other Guys, which is targeting sales of 10,000 cases this year of five labels such as Plungerhead Zinfandel. Putting his undergraduate political science degree from Santa Clara University into action, he won a seat on the Sonoma City Council in November.”
Don Sebastiani Jr: 29, Director of marketing, Don Sebastiani & Sons, Sonoma
- ”Just a couple of years after Donny Sebastiani earned his degree in business economics from Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, his father, Don Sr., transformed Cecchetti-Sebastiani Cellar into a nimble, hip wine-branding juggernaut with upscale yet premium-priced selections, such as Smoking Loon and Used Automobile Parts. In the past couple of years, the 100-employee company has garnered accolades such as Winery of the Year from Gomberg Fredrikson & Associates under Donny Sebastiani’s marketing leadership.”