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California Wine Institute appoints UK ‘dream team’

California Wine Institute has re-structured its trade, PR and event representation in the UK, following the closure of its London office earlier this year.

Justin Knock, MW (left) and Damien Jackman of Golden State Wines.

Golden State Wines UK, led by wine industry veterans Justin Knock, MW, and Damien Jackman, will manage trade representation and serve as brand ambassadors for the California Wine Institute in the UK, while R&R Teamwork has been appointed to manage its PR and media relations. Spear Communications will manage the organisation’s annual tasting event, set to take place in September 2017.

“California vintners are committed to our largest wine export market in Europe and one of the largest export markets for us worldwide,” said California Wine Institute vice president of international marketing Linsey Gallagher.

“We are so excited to have this ‘dream team’ come together to support our category-building efforts in the very important UK market. We have a strong California Wines brand in the UK with positive trends, and we have ambitious plans to accelerate our sales to the UK in the future.”

Earlier this year the California Wine Institute confirmed it was to close its UK office following severe cuts in funding from the US Dept of Agriculture. The London-based office had been headed up by John McLaren for the past 21 years. Its closure resulted in the termination of both McLaren’s and Venla Freeman’s – the Institute’s UK trade promotions manager – positions at the Wine Institute.

The institute’s new structure will see Golden State Wines take on the task of developing strategies for individual and chain-based retail promotions as well as promotions in restaurants and hotels to support Californian Wines

Knock, MW, is a former winemaker, wine judge and regular speaker on issues relating to the UK wine trade. Damien Jackman, Knock’s partner in Golden State Wines, is a lawyer and was part of the executive leadership team for Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) in the UK and Europe, gaining experience in government and regulatory issues across all UK and European markets, including labeling, excise and importation issues.

In 2015, California wine sales in the UK reached $284 million, with the California Wine Institute setting itself the aim of increasing sales to the UK to $400 million by the end of the decade. In 2015, total US wine exports, 90% from California, reached $1.61 billion in winery revenues, an all-time record and a 7.6% increase from 2014.

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