2007 Executive Wine Summit Ponders, “Where is the Industry Heading?”
After speaking extensively about his family’s experience in the wine industry since the 1960s, Michael Mondavi turned to the growing importance of wineries’ sales and marketing departments and the increasing internationalization of the industry. Exposure, Mondavi believes, is the key. “Once people taste our product, they will continue to be drawn to it.”
Several of the wine industry’s biggest names recently spoke at Yountville’s Villagio Inn & Spa for the 2007 Executive Wine Summit. The agenda included looking back at the past few decades as well as thoughts on where the wine industry is heading.
Panelists included Michael Mondavi (owner of Folio Fine Wine Partners in Carneros), Joel Gott (owner of Joel Gott Wines), Carolyn Wente (owner of Wente Vineyards in Livermore Valley), and Leonardo LoCascio (CEO of Winebow, an importer of Italian wines).
Joel Gott talked about the increasing demand for organic wines as well as his recently launched True Earth label. True Earth is an ambitious, relatively high quantity venture consisting of non-vintage organic wines that are made at Sutter Home. Gott also spoke about the challenges of making products that are truly environmentally friendly, citing packaging concerns.
Although Carolyn Wente’s family has been making wine for many years, she contended that, “the California wine industry is still in its infancy.” She continued by saying there will be many opportunities for fostering new international markets over the next decade. Wente also talked about the importance of connecting wine to a specific location and lifestyle. “Wine is about enjoying the lifestyle experiences and we have to keep going back to the consumers and tell them our stories.”
Leonardo LoCascio spoke about America’s increasing consumption of wine and the opportunities that this presents. He predicted that, “By 2009, the U.S. market will be the largest in the world, surpassing France and Italy combined, with its 300 million people.” Since he founded Winebow in 1980, LoCascio has had an uncanny ability to keep his importing business in line with changing demographics and preferences. Robert Parker has called him, “One of the most influential wine personalities of the last 20 years.”