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Top people moves: July

Opus one CEO departs for Meadowood estate role

David Pearson, the CEO of cult California winery Opus One since 2004, has announced he is leaving the winery to join The Meadowood Estate in the Napa Valley in September. Meadowood is owned by real estate developer and resort magnate William Harlan and his family, who also own Harlan Estate.

In a statement, Pearson said: “For almost as long as I can remember, my professional life has been attached to Rothschild, Mondavi and Opus One. I am forever grateful.

“Bill Harlan has proposed that I join him and his family as a partner in the creation of a new project. It is too early to share the nature or the specifics of this project. However, I can assure you that this project is new, visionary, and rather challenging as well. The chance to work as a partner with Bill Harlan and his team in the development of something new is exceptional. I am pleased and very honoured to have been offered this opportunity.”

Meadowood, a 250-acre estate, comprises a luxury resort, complete with spa and accommodation, meeting space and a three-Michelin star restaurant operated by chef Christopher Kostow. The Harlan family said Pearson “will be responsible for the oversight of all activities, including the strategic and synergistic rapport that has existed between Meadowood and The Napa Valley Reserve”.

Irish Distillers appoints new master distiller and distiller

Pernod Ricard’s Irish Distillers has announced two new appointments, naming Kevin O’Gorman as master distiller and Katherine Condon as distiller at the Middleton Distillery.

O’Gorman takes over from Brian Nation, who had served as master distiller since 2013. Nation is set to become master distiller at the start-up O’Shaughnessy Distilling Company in the US. Cork native O’Gorman began his career at Midleton in 1998, and has been the master of maturation since 2007.

Conor McQuaid, chairman and CEO of Irish Distillers, said: “Kevin’s exceptional leadership and talent as master of maturation has impressed the whiskey world. We know that he will continue to impress as master distiller, an evolved role that will see him lead both distillation and maturation.”

Katherine Condon will report directly to O’Gorman in her new role as distiller. She will have responsibility for the production process from brewing to distillation, tasting all the distillates daily and overseeing all the new pot and grain distillates fore maturation and bottling.

A chemical engineer, Condon joined Irish Distillers in 2014 as part of the company’s graduate-distiller programme. She was previously distiller at the micro distillery in Midleton, where she helped produce the popular Method and Madness range.

Penderyn hires former Halewood travel retail head

Welsh distiller Penderyn has hired the former managing director of Halewood’s travel retail operation, Simon Roffe, as its new director of business development.

Roffe has almost 35 years of commercial and general management experience, gained through roles at companies including Guinness Brewing, Diageo, the Fairtrade Foundation and Rémy Cointreau. In his new role, Roffe will help develop the next stage of Penderyn’s export plan.

Stephen Davies, chief executive of Penderyn, said: “We are very excited to work with someone as experienced and as specialised as Simon. We are all naturally looking forward to seeing where we can take the Penderyn brand with his drive and experience in the months and years to come. Simon’s exceptional work in the global travel retail market and developing international markets, in particular, will support the plans we have in place for Penderyn over the next five years.”

Roffe added: “I’m thrilled to be joining the Penderyn Distillery brand. Penderyn is already making huge leaps and bounds on the global spirits market. It is a brand driven by enormous ambition. It’s exciting to be working with such an innovative team delivering success.”

Penderyn is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, and earlier this year partnered with California’s Siddiqui Rums to produce, bottle and distribute its spirits in international markets.

Raventós Codorníu names Kellogg’s CMO as new CEO

Spanish wine group Raventós Codorníu has appointed Sergio Fuster as its new chief executive. Fuster previously held the role of chief marketing officer at The Kellogg Company, and will take up his new role in September.

In his new position as CEO, Fuster will oversee the performance of a portfolio of brands from across Spain, including Raimat, Codorníu, Legaris, Bodegas Bilbaínas, Parxet, Tionio, Abadia de Poblet, Scala Dei, Raventós de Alella, Portal de Montsant and Mont-Ferrant. Fuster has more than 20 years’ experience in the consumer goods sector, having worked for the likes of Procter & Gamble, United Biscuits and Danone. He was president of the latter’s dairy division in the US, and helped to position the brand as market leader.

In addition to his experience in Spain, the Valencia native has spent almost a decade in the US, and has worked for companies based in Mexico, the UK and Switzerland. As planned, Fuster will take over from Ramón Raventós, who will continue working for the group as its director of business development and as a shareholder in the company.

Ramón Raventós said: “It is a pleasure for me to hand over the baton to Sergio Fuster as the leader and top executive of the project. “Sergio is a person with vast international experience and leadership skills who will undoubtedly help us to expand our company, add value to our brands and grow.”

Fuster added: “It is an honour to join such an iconic company as Raventós Codorníu, with an enormous potential for development and value creation across its various categories, which include both premium Cavas and wines. “The company has always been a reference point in Spain and has the potential to accelerate even further internationally.”

Claiming to be the oldest winegrowing group in Spain, Raventós Codorníu operates over 15 wineries in Spain, Argentina and California, and controls more than 3,000 hectares of vineyards.

Long-standing CEO of Messe Düsseldorf retires

Werner Dornscheidt has retired as CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, the organiser of ProWein, after almost 37 years with the company. Wolfram Diener, the current managing director of operative business, took over on 1 July.

Commenting on his retirement, Dornscheidt said: “Trade fairs are my life. What we have built up together with my team over all those years benefits the company today. While conditions are difficult at present, it is comforting to know that ‘my’ company is in good hands. The team is already busy working on a re-start and developing further digital add-ons so that Messe Düsseldorf will also remain the successful, reputable company in future that it is today. I have made my contribution.”

Dornscheidt has been CEO of the trade fair organiser since 2004. In the last business year, the Messe Düsseldorf group posted a sales increase of 28.7% on the previous year, with sales totalling €378.5 million. When Dornscheidt took on the role of CEO, the group had a 6.4% return on investment (ROI) and a core capital ratio of 34.4%. In the last business year, these figures were 14.8% and 66% respectively.

Under Dornscheidt’s leadership, the group has also increased the number of foreign markets it deals and has increased the share of overseas exhibitors at its shows from 58% to 73.4%.

CEO of Jeroboams steps down

Hugh Sturges has stepped down from his role as CEO of London wine retailer Jeroboams, after joining the company in 2015. He will remain as a non-executive director the “foreseeable future”. From July, Matthew Tipping (pictured) will take on the role of acting chief executive.

During Sturges’ tenure, Jeroboams has increased revenues by 30%, rebranded and increased its retail estate, invested in back office systems, restructured management and enhanced its career development, developed a mobile-focused web site and returned to profitability.

Sturges commented: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges over the past five years or so and feel the measures we’ve put in place have ensured that I am handing over a stronger business. Jeroboams is a company now built on firm foundations and one with a growing reputation both in the local communities we serve and in the wider world of private account, trade and product led agency business.

“I could not be happier that Matt will be taking over; since being with Jeroboams he has been instrumental in helping drive the company forward and I have no doubt that he will continue to do so. I look forward to seeing where Matt and the team take the business over the next few years.”

Tipping added: “I’m delighted to take on the position after a sustained period of growth for Jeroboams and at this pivotal time in the UK. Despite the pandemic creating huge challenges for the business in 2020, our focus still remains unchanged as we continue to serve our private, trade and shop customers with the best products from the most interesting producers in the best shops in London.

“However, our path to achieve this is more flexible this year and we have improved the way we sell, market and promote our brand, as we continue to innovate, yet stay close to our customers. I look forward to working with the passionate, knowledgeable Jeroboams team to take the business to the next stage as we work hard to maintain our position as one of the leading independent retailers in London.”

Rich Beem becomes whisky brand ambassador

American PGA champion golfer Rich Beem has joined Loch Lomond Whiskies as a brand ambassador. He joins Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Cristie Kerr and Iona Stephen as golf ambassadors for the whisky brand.

2002 PGA champion Beem, who joined Sky Sports as a commentator and golf analyst in 2015, will put his broadcasting skills to good use by hosting a live Q&A with Darren Clarke, entitled ‘At Home with Darren Clarke’, during what would have been the week of The 149th Open (12-19 July).

Beem will also create a cocktail recipe called the Beemer using Loch Lomand 12-Year-Old single malt.

Beem commented: “Joining Loch Lomond Whiskies is a great honour for me. I’m very excited to work with the experts to create my very own cocktail recipe.

“It’s a great shame that The 149th Open has been cancelled for 2020, but I’m pleased to be working with Loch Lomond Whiskies to bring some entertainment to golf fans during this tough time.

“Hopefully it won’t be long before we can all enjoy a wee dram together!”

Loch Lomond Group CEO, Colin Matthews, added: “We’re very happy and excited to welcome Rich to Loch Lomond Whiskies.

“Not only is he an outstanding golfer, but his work for Sky Sports over the past five years has been fantastic. We can’t wait to start working together.”

Distill Ventures North America appoints new managing director

Heidi Dillon Otto has been appointed as managing director of Distill Ventures North America, taking over from Gonzalo de la Pezuela. Distill Ventures is Diageo’s incubator for new and growing drinks brands. Dillon Otto joined in 2018, and has led the North American arm’s marketing and consumer strategy and the US non-alcoholic drinks acceleration programme.

Commenting on her new role, Dillon Otto said: “I am thrilled to take on this new role as managing director of Distill Ventures North America, and look forward to leading our incredible team and portfolio companies as together we enter this new chapter. I am deeply grateful for all that I have learned from Gonzalo, and for the strong foundation he has built in his four years leading this organisation.”

Distill Ventures CEO and co-founder Frank Lampen added: “Heidi’s appointment to managing director of Distill Ventures North America is a tribute to the leadership, relationship skills and deep brand building experience she has demonstrated since joining the organization, and we are thrilled to have someone of her caliber to lead the team. In the near-term, we look forward to her leadership and guidance as together we nurture our portfolio companies.”

Emeritus Vineyards names new national sales manager

Michael Burton has been named national sales manager of California’s Emeritus Vineyards. In his new role, Burton will oversee the in-house sales programme for the Russian River Valley winery.

Emeritus was founded in 1999 by vintner Brice Cutrer Jones and specialises in the production of Pinot Noir grown in its Hallberg Ranch and Pinot Hill estate vineyards.

From managing the beverage offering at restaurants, Burton has subsequently held roles at drinks distributor the Breakthru Beverage Group, before spending a decade at Wilson Daniels were he served as divisional vice president. He represented a portfolio of premium wine producers including Schramsberg, Silverado, Ponzi, Royal Tokaji, Salon, Biondi Santi, Dujac and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Latterly he has worked in wineries as the general manager of Oregon’s Rose and Arrow Estate and the general manager and head of national sales for Walla Walla Vintners.

Commenting on his appointment, Burton said: “It is a rarity when a winery dedicates itself to doing one thing exceptionally well. Having represented wineries like Dujac and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, I find the commitment that Emeritus has made to focus exclusively on dry-farmed, estate-grown Pinot Noir inspiring. It is something I am proud to be a part of, and a story I am excited to share.”

President of Emeritus, Mari Jones, added: “With the retirement of our long-time VP of sales, Michael Lavenson, we are thrilled to have Michael Burton join our team. Michael understands and embraces our vision for Emeritus. He is also a great leader, who brings the kind of creativity, insight and experience to his role that will be invaluable to our trade and distributor partners as we all chart the course for the future of our businesses during this difficult time.”

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