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Top people moves in drinks: March

Lizzy Rudd confirmed as Berry Bros & Rudd CEO

Berry Bros & Rudd called off its search for a new CEO after confirming interim executive chairman Lizzy Rudd, who stepped into the top role after the surprise departure of CEO Dan Jago in January, as the firm’s new boss.

Following Jago’s departure, it was announced Rudd would assume the role of executive chairman until a new CEO was appointed. However last month the company issued a statement confirming it had called off the search for a CEO.

“Following much consideration and after discussion with members of our Executive Board and Owners Board, I can confirm we have called off our search for a new CEO and I will be remaining in the role of Executive Chairman for the foreseeable future,” Rudd said.

“With responsibility for the overall strategic direction of the business, I will be closely supported by our Board members as well as our leadership team.”

Rudd, a third-generation member of the Rudd family, is only the second woman in the company’s 300-year old history to helm the renowned fine wine merchant, after her grandmother Ethel.

Having started her career at the firm in the marketing team, where she was responsible for building the global reputation of the firm’s whisky brand Cutty Sark, Rudd stepped back from an active role to concentrate on her family, and was appointed as a Non-Executive Director. She was later appointed deputy chairman when Simon Berry took over as Chairman in 2005, and took over from Berry when he retired in December 2017.

The merchant’s website described Rudd as “central” in communicating the vision of Berry Bros. & Rudd on behalf of the Rudd and Berry families during Jago’s tenure as CEO, providing an “essential” vision in guiding the planned direction of the company and feeding into the overall strategy for Berry Bros & Rudd.

Cassidy Dart MW joins Company Fine Wine as global wine consultant

Cassidy Dart MW joined California-based merchant Company Fine Wine last month as its global wine consultant.

Dart, originally from South Africa, was director of wine at the Pol Roger Portfolio from 2008 until February this year.

Dart explained that his new job, “will be split between our existing clients and our winery partners around the world, to both source and sell fine wine. I will be a liaison for wineries as we look to increase our allocations of certain wines, and will work with our clients as they build their collections.

“Of course as an MW I will look to continue educating our clients and team, as well as organising special guided visits to our favourite producers.”

CFW’s founder, Matt Wilson, commented: “We are very much looking forward to Cassidy working with us at CFW as we take the company to the next level”.

Dart will be moving to Beijing later this year, not at the instruction of CFW but because his wife is taking up a new job there herself.

Nonetheless, Dart said his job required a global reach and he would be able to work in “real time” with the CFW team.

Georgina Young appointed head brewer at Bath Ales

The head brewer of London’s Fuller’s, Georgina Young, left her post last month to become head brewer at Bath Ales, which was bought by Cornwall’s St Austell in 2016.

Young has been at Fuller’s since 1999, having joined the company as a production brewer. In 2017, she was promoted to the role of head brewer, the first woman to be given the position.

Having grown up in Bristol, Young began her career in beer at Smiles Brewery where she worked alongside Richard Dempster, one of the co-founders of Bath Ales. Having studied biotechnology at King’s College, London she also holds a Masters degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.

In her new role, she will oversee all of the brewing and packaging of Bath Ales’ beer brands, reporting directly to St Austell Brewery and Bath Ales brewing director, Roger Ryman. She will be based at the the brewer’s new Hare Brewery, which opened in May 2018. The opening of Hare increased the brewer’s production capacity to 50,000 barrels, the equivalent of 14.5 million pints a year. The brewery is capable of filling between 7,000 and 10,000 bottles an hour.

James Staughton, chief executive, St Austell Brewery commented: “We couldn’t be more delighted that George is taking the helm as head brewer at our Hare Brewery in Warmley. We look forward to welcoming her and to exciting times ahead, as George helps us to realise the full potential of the Bath Ales beer brands.”

Roger Ryman, brewing director, St Austell Brewery and Bath Ales added: “George and I have known each other for many years, both as brewers and friends. I’m therefore hugely excited that she’ll be joining our brewing and production team at Hare Brewery. I look forward to working and brewing alongside her in the years to come.”

Young stated that her decision to leave Fuller’s was something that she’d been considering for a while, given her family connections in the Bristol area.

Commenting on her new role, she said: “I’m delighted to be heading back to my home town of Bristol – it’s where my parents and sister still live and it’s something I’ve been mulling over for some time. So when a great brewer like St Austell offered me such a fantastic opportunity, I just couldn’t say no.

“The role at Bath Ales will allow me to take total control of the operation – including brewing and packaging – which gives me a new challenge. It’s sad to be leaving Fuller’s after all these years – but I’ve left a first class brewing team at Chiswick and I know they will flourish in the future.”

Hannah Lanfear appointed UK Armagnac educator 

Spirits specialist and WSET educator Hannah Lanfear was appointed the new Armagnac educator for the UK last month, and will be working closely with Amanda Garnham of the BNIA (Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l’Armagnac).

Lanfear set up The Mixing Class in 2017, providing spirits classes to industry professionals. Lanfear is already well-versed in Armagnac, having hosted WSET classes on the subject at Brooklyn Bar Convent in the US. She also took part in the annual Armagnac competition in the region last year where she was a guest judge.

A new role will involve presenting Armagnac masterclasses and training sessions in London and around the UK.

Commenting on her appointment, Lanfear said: “Since travelling to Gascony during distillation season I have completely fallen for this historic brandy. Not only is it an immensely interesting spirit to study the production of, it has a wonderful depth of flavour and is utterly enigmatic in a cocktail. I am thrilled to be able to share the story of Armagnac in London.”

Olivier Staub appointed investment director at Cult Wines

Fine wine company Cult Wines has appointed Olivier Staub to the newly created position of investment director last month.

Staub, who has previously held senior trading and portfolio management positions at international financial institutions including JP Morgan, Barclays Capital, Credit Agricole, and most recently the London Clearing House (LCH), will report to managing director Tom Gearing and will be based in the company’s head office in London and will serve as a member of the Global Management Team.

“I am absolutely delighted to join Cult Wines at this very exciting time,” Staub said. “I have followed the firm closely for a number of years and have always been very impressed with their business model, reputation and focus on delivering consistently impressive returns for their clients.”

Staub was one of the original founding investors and directors of the board of 67 Pall Mall, the St James Fine Wine Members Club. He developed an interest in the wine industry while studying economics and finance at the Burgundy School of Business.

Albino Armani re-elected president of the Consorzio Vini delle Venezie DOC

Albino Armani, president of Italy’s Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC

Albino Armani has been unanimously re-elected as the president of Italy’s Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC at a general meeting held last month.

The Consorzio DOC delle Venezie was founded in 2017 with the primary aim of raising the profile of Pinot Grigio, lifting it from an IGP classification to a DOC and ensuring quality production.

The Delle Venezie DOC covers the entire Northeastern part of Italy, including the administrative territories of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto regions and the autonomous province of Trento, an area that accounts for 85% of Italian Pinot Grigio.

Working alongside Armani will be vice presidents Valerio Cescon (Veneto) and Goffredo Pasolli (Trentino), as well as members of the newly elected board.

“I accept the challenge; along with the new Board, we will continue developing a project begun two years ago that has already brought extraordinary results”, said Armani, adding: “We are well aware of the responsibility before us; this appellation holds enormous potential just waiting to be developed. Already the conversation around this great variety has a new and different tone. It is an asset that we must defend and maximize, establishing it with a strong identity firmly grounded in Italy and in the Triveneto in particular.”

With the installation of its first elected board, the Consorzio Vini delle Venezie DOC becomes fully operational.

Among the priorities for the newly elected board – in addition to the development of promotional activities and maximising the potential of the appellation – is the completion of the DOC approval process at the European level, and improvement of the control and management tools for production potential.

“Our intention is that the ‘delle Venezie’ concept, with the wine, typical products and culture imbued with tradition, offer the idea of a region and an appellation able to deliver quality and, at the same time, strong, authentic and long-lasting emotions,” concluded Armani.

Alyn Williams departs Wild Rabbit to focus on London restaurant

Chef Alyn Williams has stepped down from his position as chef patron at gastro pub The Wild Rabbit in Kingham in Oxfordshire last month to focus on his restaurant in Mayfair.

Serving modern European cuisine, the chef opened Alyn Williams at The Westbury in 2011. His debut solo venture, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star the following year, followed by four AA Rosettes.

Williams arrived at The Westbury following his five-year tenure as head chef at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, accepting his residency at The Wild Rabbit in 2018 with the intention of dividing his time between the Cotswold-based gastropub and The Westbury.

Williams grew up in east London, where his father grew vegetables in two allotments and his back garden. Meat-free dishes remain a feature of his London restaurant in the Westbury hotel. 

Williams said: “I’m delighted to be back at The Westbury in London full-time. I had a brilliant time with the team at The Wild Rabbit and we’ve ended on extremely amicable terms, but London is where my heart really lies.

“I’ve got an exceptionally talented kitchen brigade at The Westbury and I’m hugely excited for this new chapter.”


Ryan Stewart appointed as director of international sales at Foley Family Wines 

Ryan Stewart has been appointed director international sales at US based Foley Family Wines. In his new position, Stewart will be responsible for the development of global export sales.

Prior to this role, Stewart was area sales director, Asia Pacific at Delicato Family Vineyards. There, he was responsible for opening the regional office in Bangkok in 2011. Before Delicato, Stewart was international business manager for Heck Estates.

Commenting on the appointment, Scott Edwards, chief operating officer of Foley Family Wines, said:  “Ryan brings a wealth of strong relationships, especially in emerging and developed Asia, and will no doubt be a great asset as we grow our luxury wine portfolio. We are delighted to have Stewart join the Foley family.” 

President and CEO, Hugh Reimers, said: “Considering his strong knowledge of global markets and relationships with key importer, distributor, and retail partners around the world, I’m confident that Ryan will lead our important export business to new levels.”

Chris Foss to retire from Plumpton College 

Chris Foss, the founder of Plumpton College’s Wine Division and a key figure in the transformation of the English wine industry, announced that he is set to retire from the college after 31 years.

Plumpton College’s principle, Jeremy Kerswell said Foss had been at the heart of the college’s “incredible success” for over thirty years and had established it as one of the leading education and research centres globally.

“The work that Chris has led has undoubtedly been one of the drivers behind the success of the English and Welsh wine industry in recent years, with his graduates now employed all over the world,” he said.

“He leaves an incredible legacy, and a team and resource base we are only keen to invest in further to ensure we stay at the heart of the future of the industry.”

Foss, who is half-French, was trained in Bordeaux where he managed the family vineyards in Entre-Deux-Mers, as well as working at Chateau d’Yqem, and St Emillion, before becoming winemaker to the GLA Leclerc vineyard group.

He later moved to England and after a teacher training course, was appointed to start the wine production programme at Plumpton College, starting with just two rows of vines in 1988.

As well as his work at Plumpton, he served ten years as the chairman of the South East Vineyards Association (SEVA) and currently chairs the Wine GB Environmental Sustainability Workgroup as well a being on the Wine GB Southeast committee.

Foss said he intends to continue working in climate change and vineyard sustainability after his retirement in June.

Dave Wilson, global president and chief operations officer of Patrón Spirits, to retire

L-r: Dave Wilson and Pete Carr

Wilson announced he would retire on 1 April, but will continue as a senior advisor to the spirits company. It was announced last month that Pete Carr, current president of Bacardi North America, will lead both the Bacardi and Patrón businesses for North America.

Mahesh Madhavan, chief executive officer of Bacardi, commented: “During his tremendously successful 40-year career, Dave has made an everlasting imprint in the spirits industry driving pioneering marketing, world-class operations, and innovative environmental programs. On behalf of Bacardi and our newest colleagues from Patrón, I thank Dave for his contributions to the industry and for supporting the union of two incredible organizations that are Bacardi and Patrón.”

As part of the new structure, Darren Doalson, senior vice president of US sales for Patrón Spirits will now report to Carr. David Rodriguez, director general of Patrón Sprits Manufacturing Operations in Mexico, will report to Jean-Marc Lambert, vice president of global operations for Bacardi. Lee Applbaum will continue to manage US and global marketing for both Patrón Tequila and Grey Goose Vodka, reporting to Madhavan.

Commenting on his appointment, Carr Said: “Bringing the Patrón brand into the Bacardi portfolio brought the company to the #2 spot in the United States by market share value and I am thrilled to lead the continued growth of the brand. Patrón is one of the most coveted spirits brands in the world and I feel privileged to work with this remarkable team.”

Carr has 30 years of experience working in the spirits industry. He joined Bacardi in 2014.

Chris Crosby appointed vice president at Billecart-Salmon 

Champagne Billecart-Salmon UK named Chris Crosby as its new vice president last month, with a remit to extend Billecart-Salmon’s network in the London on-trade, as well as members’ clubs and luxury hotels.

Crosby has almost 10 years’ experience working in London’s on-trade, beginning his career at Hakkasan as part of the team that relaunched the Ling Ling brand.

Crosby then went on to join The Arts Club, where he was instrumental in the opening of this renowned private members club.

Most recently, Crosby was global sales and marketing director for COYA, a group of Peruvian restaurants with eateries in London, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Crosby will work closely with managing director Colin Palmer.

“We’re delighted to welcome Chris to the team in the UK. His experience, charisma and connections make him the ideal candidate to help us expand our reach in the UK and further afield,” said 7th generation family member and CEO, Mathieu Roland-Billecart.

Ross O’Hara appointed Greene King head brewer

Greene King appointed Ross O’Hara as its head brewer last month, after he was named the world’s youngest Master Brewer last year.

O’Hara qualified as a Master Brewer from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) in August last year at the age of 28, making him the youngest person in the world to hold the title.

He joined Greene King as a shift brewer in 2016 with a first class honours degree in brewing from Heriot Watt University. He subsequently became new product development brewer, as well as overseeing the brewery’s apprenticeship scheme while simultaneously studying for the IBD qualification.

There are currently 578 Master Brewers worldwide.

While at Greene King, O’Hara has been responsible for the development of new brands including the award winning Heritage range, Yardbird Pale Ale, Gluten Free Old Speckled Hen, and the brewery’s seasonal beer range.

He is Greene King’s 17th head brewer in its 220-year-history, following in the footsteps of founder Benjamin Greene.

“Ross is a highly knowledgeable and capable brewer, passionate about brewing with an exceptional technical ability and flair for innovation,” managing director Matt Starbuck said.

“He is a great advocate for brewing as a career opportunity, encouraging the development of others and driving forward our brewing apprentice scheme.

“We are delighted to make this appointment as we look ahead to an exciting next chapter for Greene King brewing.”

Diageo recruits first female coopering apprentices

First-year coopering apprentices Angela Cochrane and Kirsty Olychick

Diageo has recruited its first female coopering apprentices, acknowledging that while the ancient craft of creating oak casks has been part of Scotch whisky for centuries, it’s an art that has traditionally been dominated by men.

First-year coopering apprentices Angela Cochrane and Kirsty Olychick have been hired by  Diageo at its Cambus Cooperage in Clackmannanshire.

Former psychiatric nurse, Angela Cochrane, 31, gained the coveted spot on the Cambus Cooperage apprenticeship programme after noticing the advert on Facebook.

She said: “I researched a bit about the trade online and thought it sounded like a really interesting career option, so I knew I had to go for it. It’s a lot more complex than I thought it would be and I’m knackered when I get in at night but everything from handling the barrels to swinging the hammer is already starting to feel a lot more natural.

“I’ve never been put off by gender stereotypes. I don’t think that should stop anyone from doing what they want to do. And knowing you’re contributing to the growing whisky industry is an amazing feeling.”

Kirsty Olychick, 38, meanwhile, left her home in Canada to pursue a career in the Scotch whisky industry.

“Coming into a male-dominated workplace didn’t put me off at all, in fact I found it really empowering to be one of the first women to take up the craft and make my mark in history,” she said. “It’s such an exciting prospect to think that I’ll be contributing to the next generation of Scotch. You shouldn’t let anything hold you back.”

Angela and Kirsty are part of team of 16 coopering apprentices in the Coopering School at Diageo Cambus, learning the skills of a cooper over the course of a four-year apprenticeship.

Coopering tutor, John Carberry, added: “There is incredible precision involved in the cooper’s craft. Our apprentices need to master a blend of strength, skill and patience, learning how to hand repair casks with no glue or nails, as well as calculate different oak depths, ratios and specific measurements.

“The craft of making and rejuvenating the casks is something that has to be cultivated and refined so it’s great to see our apprentices are so passionate about the craft. The traditional coopering skills take 10 years to master but once mastered, it’s a rewarding career which will last a lifetime.”

Aldi appoints two new wine buyers

Josh Heley, Aldi wine buyer

The discounter appointed Andrew Clarke, who joins the team from Greene King where he was purchasing manger. Clarke previously spent two years as wine buying manager at the Spirit Pub Company, before it was acquired by the pub giant, and prior to that he worked as a wine writer after starting his wine career at Majestic.

Josh Heley (left) has also joined the team, replacing David Elliot who has moved to another part of the business. Heley has been at Aldi for six years, including three as a buyer, latterly in pet food, completing his WSET qualifications in his spare time.

Heley said one of the biggest challenges of the year would be to further elevate the retailers sparkling wine offer after last year’s success.

“In December we sold over 17 million bottles of Champagne and Prosecco, which equates to an incredible 3.2 million glasses of fizz per day, so it will be a tough act to follow!” he said.

He said he would also be expanding the range of Eastern European wines.

Rufus Olins appointed new executive director of IMW

Rufus Olins began his career as a journalist and editor at The Sunday Times

The Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) confirmed last month that Rufus Olins will take over as its new executive director from May, following the departure of Penny Richards last year.

On finding a suitable replacement for Richards, Adrian Garforth MW, chairman of the IMW, said an “extensive global search” was carried out that resulted in a solid pool of candidates from both in and out of the wine world.

“Rufus was the stand-out candidate in that strong field,” he said. “He comes with vast expertise, especially with membership organisations, which is very exciting for the IMW. I’m delighted Rufus will be joining the team and I look forward to working with him as we move into the next phase of the IMW’s history.”

Olins began his career as a journalist and editor working for The Sunday Times. He went on to become managing director of Lord Heseltine’s Haymarket Brand Media in 2003, then CEO at the World Advertising Research Centre, an international data business for the marketers and academics.

After heading up Newsworks, the membership body for the UK’s national newspaper brands, he joined the Co-op Group as chief membership officer.

“I’m very excited to be joining the Institute of Masters of Wine and building on the excellent work of Penny Richards and the team,” Olins said of his new appointment. “I cannot think of a more important time to join such a multi-faceted industry encompassing geography, science, history, climate, fashion, economics and the sheer pleasure of drinking wine.”

“Nothing is a higher priority than maintaining the highest of standards of the MW award, but there are also exciting opportunities ahead for growth and development. I greatly look forward to working with members, students, supporters, the council and the team to develop the IMW’s activities and influence.’’

Rufus will join the IMW on 28 April 2019.

Olivier Goudet steps down as AB InBev chairman

(Photo: AB Inbev)

Olivier Goudet, the chairman of the world’s largest brewery, AB InBev, announced last month that he is stepping down from the role amid concerns that his growing ties with another beverage giant will create a conflict of interest.

A replacement for Goudet, who is managing director of JAB Holdings, will be announced at the next shareholder meeting on 24 April, it was confirmed.

The chairman said he would step down to devote more time to his “growing responsibilities as managing partner and CEO of JAB”.

JAB, which owns Krispy Kreme and Pret à Manger, acquired coffee and soft drinks maker Keurig Dr Pepper in 2018, a move than sources close to the matter claim raised concerns with AB InBev’s board members that its interests are wedded closely to theirs, reports the Financial Times.

“We are extremely grateful for Mr. Goudet’s many contributions and commitment to our company over the eight years as member of the board and four years as chairperson,” AB InBev said in an emailed statement.

“The board’s succession plan has been developed since last year and we have been working with Mr. Goudet on a smooth transition.”

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