Lessons From a Wine Entrepreneur (by Jon Tourney)

Posted: December 6, 2012 by wynmaker in Cellars, Research, Wine, Winemaking, Wineries, World wine news
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Winery Exchange CEO Byck sees growth in private-label wines


Peter Byck, co-founder, president and CEO of Winery Exchange, a full-service provider of private-label wine, beer and spirit brands for retailers, told an audience of students, faculty and wine industry professionals at the University of California, Davis (UCD), last week that private-label wine brands comprise 50% of the retail wine market in the United Kingdom. While private-label wines may not grow to that level in the United States anytime soon (they currently total 5%), Byck believes the potential U.S. market could reach 25%.

Byck’s talk, presented through the UCD Robert Mondavi Institute and the Department of Viticulture and Enology, was the eighth annual presentation in the Walt Klenz Lectureship Series sponsored by Treasury Wine Estates (formerly Beringer Blass Wine Estates) in honor of former Beringer CEO Walt Klenz. Klenz, who introduced Byck, said the lecture series is intended to present business-related topics at UCD to familiarize students with the many facets of the wine business. Beginning in 2013, the series will expand to two lectures per year, held in spring and fall. In his introduction, Klenz said, “Winery Exchange is a new type of wine company that is looking at the wine business in a different way, building intellectual capital instead of asset-based capital.”

The theme of Byck’s talk was “Entrepreneurship in the Wine Industry—Balancing Risk and Reward in an Ever-Changing Market.” Byck discussed business lessons learned during the course of his career and tied them to highlights in the Winery Exchange’s company history, which began in 1999 in Novato, Calif., where it remains headquartered. The company was founded with the intent of blending extensive industry experience with cutting-edge business practices. The company now has international offices in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Spain, managing more than 100 brands and 300 products. Winery Exchange produces products in 22 countries on five continents and ships products to 16 countries on four continents.

Byck is a UCD graduate in computer science and math; he holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. Previously Byck was a consultant for Southcorp Wines of Australia and was VP of strategic and business development at Golden State Vintners. He discussed how Winery Exchange has had to adjust its business model during its short history and adapt to market conditions.
Read on …

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