Adam Lapierre MW becomes president of Vinfolio

Vinfolio CEO and co-owner Don St. Pierre has handed over leadership of the California-based fine wine business to Adam Lapierre MW.

Adam Lapierre MW was director of wine buying at Lidl

Lapierre has spent two years at Vinfolio, first leading the buying team and then taking over collector sourcing and private client sales, before becoming president on 1 February.

Before joining Vinfolio, Lapierre has played various industry roles for companies such as multinational retailer Lidl and importer Frederick Wildman and Sons.

As president, Lapierre will continue to grow Vinfolio’s business while also introducing a new product to the US market that allows consumers the option to secure a portfolio of investment-grade collectible wines, which can subsequently be held, traded or consumed as desired by the investor.

Commenting on the development, Lapierre said, “The idea of fine wine as an investment is something that US collectors are really just starting to awaken to.”

Continuing, he said, “Historically speaking, fine wine has outperformed many of the traditional asset classes available, with the added benefits of low volatility and high liquidity (no pun intended!). With our deep knowledge of the collectible fine wine market, unmatched global network of suppliers, and innovative business model, we are uniquely positioned to quickly establish a leadership position in this growing sector.”

In addition to providing a new way to invest in wines, Vinfolio will also offer its clients a UK-storage option. According to Lapierre, “demand for purchasing wines on pre-arrival at competitive prices has not gone away as a result of the recently imposed import tariffs, and many of the wines our clients are buying today won’t be at peak drinkability for many years. By providing a high-quality UK storage option for our US clients, we are allowing them to take advantage of favourable prices without being impacted by hefty tariffs. When the tariffs are resolved, clients can safely bring their wine home.”

For clients interested in taking advantage of current domestic conditions by selling their wines, Vinfolio has a self-service sales platform called Marketplace that allows collectors to list their wines for sale at the time and price of their choosing.

Meanwhile, former Vinfolio CEO Don St. Pierre will remain involved as executive chairman of the board of directors. First founded in 2003, Vinfolio underwent a turning point in 2016 when Don took over as CEO and invested in the business. Prior to joining Vinfolio, St. Pierre co-founded ASC Fine Wines, Greater China’s leading importer of wines. After selling ASC to Suntory and moving to San Francisco in 2015, Don became interested in helping the many fine wine producers he knew from his previous experience at ASC better navigate the US distribution environment in an effort to connect with the end consumer.

According to Don St. Pierre, his strategy paid off, and since taking over, Vinfolio has enjoyed revenue growth of 133% ($28m in 2019), with St Pierre investing more than $12m to take majority ownership of the business, while modernising the company’s technology platform and infrastructure.

St. Pierre said, “How many fine wine producers outside the US are satisfied with their distribution and have an understanding of their end consumer? How many producers in Napa and Sonoma that previously had a successful DTC model are struggling to attract new customers, or have existing customers with too much wine? How many wine collectors have too much wine and do not know what to drink or when to drink it? How many people on the other side of the street, state, country or world would be interested in drinking some portion of that person’s overstocked cellar? How easy is it for that person (with too much great wine) to sell or trade with others who want to drink that wine and are willing to pay a fair price? Four years ago, I invested in Vinfolio because I thought the company might be the right model / platform to address the untapped opportunities the questions above raise, today I am convinced that it is.”

Vinfolio is majority-owned by CEO Don St. Pierre Jr. and his business partner and good friend Allan Warburg, co-founder and co-CEO of Bestseller Fashion Group China. Vinfolio’s ownership also includes Jean-Michel Valette MW, who chairs the Education and Examination Board (EEB) of the Institute of Masters of Wine and is former chairman of Robert Mondavi Corporation and Peet’s Coffee; Jon Moramarco, former CEO of Constellation Brands, and Steve Case, founder of AOL and co-founder at venture capital firm Revolution.

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