Advisor Bios / Q&A
Philana leads new business development at Young’s Market Company and is responsible for lead generation, prospect management, and supplier acquisition. Philana actively partners with Young’s current and potential supplies to capitalize on market and category opportunities. Shortly after Philana joined Young's in 2010, she took on the leadership role of General Manager for Young’s Hawaii business unit – a move that would make her the industry’s first non-family, female executive to lead statewide sales, marketing, and operations for a major alcohol distributor in the United States.
Prior to joining Young's, Philana served as co-founder and CEO of Waiwera Artesian Water USA. Philana also owned and led B&Co., a boutique brokerage firm specializing in distributor sales support and delivering exceptional client experiences for suppliers.
Philana is the 2019-2020 Chair of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), and one of the founding members of the Advisory Board. She also serves as an officer for WSWA’s Council of Leadership Development. In the community, Philana is involved in the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii as a Corporate Board Member and serves on the Advisory Council for the Bone Marrow Foundation based in New York City.
Philana’s university studies in European history led her to St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford. Her interests include international travel, fine arts, chamber music, and sharing her culinary skills with friends and family. Philana lives in San Francisco, California.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Sonoma County, Michael De Loach grew up in the wine business: he started working in the vineyard at age 11 and in the cellar at 15. After college De Loach worked as Vice President, Sales and Marketing at fledgling De Loach Vineyards, and completed courses of study in winemaking at the Napa Valley School of Cellaring as well as the University of California at Davis Agricultural Extension.
De Loach learned the world of design, advertising, marketing and media during the 12 years he spent in that industry. During his three years at consumer goods design firm Glenn Martinez and Associates, he worked on branding, packaging, and advertising for top wine industry clients including Rodney Strong Vineyards, De Loach Vineyards, Parducci Winery, Glen Ellen, Far Niente, and many others.
De Loach was a partner in, and Creative Director of, leading regional advertising agency Pathos, where he personally won over 100 American Advertising Awards (The ADDY Awards) for his work. Clients during his career included Comcast, Mitsubishi Motors, and Bethesda Healthcare Systems.
After his advertising days, De Loach served as president of De Loach Vineyards from 2001 to 2005, then as president of Hook & Ladder Winery until 2016. He has served on numerous industry boards and advisory committees.
Currently De Loach is Owner and President of MD Wine Industry Consulting, and is a partner in Michael De Loach Brands, a full-service beverage alcohol brokerage.
De Loach has appeared throughout the country on radio, television and speaking engagements, and has been written about in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Wine Spectator, Wines and Spirits, Wines and Vines, and The Wine Enthusiast. He lives with his wife Lori in Geyserville, California.
"Well, you know, one of the things that I've seen in dealing with many brands is that what we tend to do is think of ourselves as really unique, but not really communicate what that is specifically. Just take a spin through everybody's website, and it's basically a template. We fell in love with wine. Maybe we bought some grapes. We make the best that there is, and therefore everybody should buy it, and my dog's name is Ginger. I would encourage wineries and the folks that do their copywriting and do their graphics on the website to look at everything and just think about, just on a basic communication level. This is where more people are going to get their information. If they stumble across your name and they Google you, they're going to end up on your website. So start there, and gotta really crush that story, especially if the newer entrants to the wine business, they've all, many of them have been successful in business elsewhere, and they want to do this as a dream or a passion as a friend of mine, who helps wineries launch in Napa, she says, “Don't use the words, ‘dream’ or ‘passion’, everybody uses those. Please do not."
"It's not necessarily the message. So just the simplicity of the website. Not making people have to jump through hoops. I would put it somewhere between 50% and 75% of the websites that I go to do research on don't have their information current. For instance, just simple things that you need as a salesperson, you need a tech sheet. Everyone's gonna ask you for one. I don't know what anybody does with one, and they don't really help you sell wine. It's a bunch of technical information, and basically that's all kind of boilerplate. The wine tastes like this, the grapes were picked on this date. It's all that kind of stuff. But what it does is it puts something in their hand that they can hand to someone in the trade. Do you have your logo available for download so I can take that and put it on a graphic for your next winemaker dinner? Or do I have to cut and paste it? If you have a full-size logo, or vector-based graphic it makes it easy for them to use.
You should also have a “for the trade” section on your web site. I think there's a big opportunity that really nobody's really doing it well. Maybe some of the bigger guys, obviously the corporate places are doing it, but amongst the small guys, they communicate to everybody with the same message. Well, the trade is at a totally different level than the consumer. "
"Well, I think the first thing is that you need to spend face-time with people. Leverage your current relationships that you have with those folks and something I often do is, and anybody can do this. Find that distributor, walk into those accounts, talk to the manager or the wine buyer. It's kind of like a hunting big game. All you're asking them, you're not asking them to buy anything or buy your wine. What you're asking them is, "if you had your preference, and you wanted to buy my wine in this fantasy world of buying my wine, who would the ideal distributor be that you'd be buying my wine from? Can you name three? Or maybe even just two? People you like to deal with." - That's a good place to start. Once you have that name, then you can call that distributor and say, Hey, so and so in such and such a place said that you're the man. Or woman, when it comes to selling wine to me. And that actually starts a relationship on a really good note.
So you have to recognize, it's not that these people don't like you or don't want to talk to you or don't find your product interesting or don't like your product personally. That has nothing to do with it. It's just that the pressure of the market is such that they get approached every day. The advantage that someone who is smaller has is that they're not corporate. That's really attractive to trade people. They really love that truly unique story."
Jake Hegeman is Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA). In this role, Jake works with state and federal regulatory officials on behalf of WSWA and its members. Jake joined WSWA in 2013 from Stateside Associates, a Virginia based state government affairs firm where he served as Vice President. In this role, Jake managed the company’s regulatory division and worked on advocacy efforts with a wide variety of state regulatory agencies.
Prior to rejoining Stateside Associates, Jake served as National State Liaison at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). As a liaison, Jake worked alongside agency leadership and state agriculture officials to improve regulatory processes and enhance communication and coordination across a range of animal and plant health issues.
Jake previously worked at Stateside Associates from 2004-2008 as Senior Regulatory Counsel where he managed the Regulatory Services Division and managed numerous research and compliance projects in the energy, environment and retail arenas. Jake also helped spearhead a workgroup of state environmental regulators addressing a range of waste and cleanup issues.
Originally from upstate New York, Jake earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and his Juris Doctor from Tulane Law School, both with honors. Jake is a member of the New York State Bar and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
"Right. And so, that's a great theme. This is not necessarily unique to our industry, but while change is constant, it seems we're just seeing the rate of change accelerate. A few of those accelerations seem to track with what’s being seen in both the supply and retail tiers- changing consumer demographics, premiumization, technology and convenience, to name just a few. And nobody's quite captured yet what they all mean. And that relates to what people drink, when they drink it, how they access it, etc. Wholesalers are connected to each one of those elements, and so they're working diligently with supplier and retailer partners to figure out how to best position brands for success. So, while some of these factors lead to consolidation for some wholesalers, they’re also creating opportunities for new wholesalers to enter the marketplace- something we’re seeing happen more and more. In short, it’s an exciting time to be in the industry."
"There are really three areas that I think WSWA is leading on today that bridge divides between the tiers, as well as consumers.
The first of these is the WSWA Convention. We run the biggest wine and spirits trade show in the country, and through this continue to link new products with wholesalers. One of the new innovations this year was an entire retail and consumer day to help share insights into the marketplace from the supply wholesale and retail perspectives.
The second area I’m really excited about is WSWA’s strategic alliance with Drizly, the third-party delivery app that connects consumers with local beverage alcohol retailers. I’m always impressed by the power of this technology to educate. Since it allows a consumer to see across multiple retailers in their area, one can often find products you didn’t even know were available, and then get them delivered, often within an hour. I ran a search recently in Washington, D.C. and found over 1400 SKUs of whiskey available to me through the app. Drizly is a great example of where innovation is really making it all about the consumer. We say that over and over and over, because it's true and it's something that we feel is critical for success in the long run.
The third one is our just released SipSource data product. This is really exciting because this is going to be the first time that we will see industry sales trends through wholesaler depletion data. This is an important perspective that will give valuable insight into, for example, how various products are trending in different trade channels – both off-premise and on-premise. For example, users will be able to see how 750 ml domestic whiskey blends are trending in dining accounts versus liquor stores. Like every industry, data is critical, and this product is really going to open the door for positive advances in the industry."
Dave Moore is currently the National Sales Director for Sojourn Cellars in Sonoma, CA. His 17 years of wine and spirits industry experience includes having worked for the largest distributors in the country. Dave has held sales and management positions for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, and executive roles for Young’s Market Company and Epic Wines & Spirits.
Since 2002, Dave has led and collaborated with dozens of successful sales groups and dealt with many of the largest brands in the world. He knows distribution inside and out and understands the three-tier system as the best way to build a national brand.
Dave is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) from the Society of Wine Educators since 2005 and passed with distinction the WSET Level 2 certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust in 2015. Dave received a master of science degree from the University of Wyoming, and a bachelor of science degree from UC Davis. When he’s not leading sales teams, he spends his time playing baseball, golfing, and fly-fishing. Dave lives in Sonoma County, the heart of wine country, with his wife and two daughters.
Over the last 20 years the number of U.S. wineries has more than quadrupled. There are now over 9,000 wineries across the country. California is ...READ MORE.
"Our objective is to build a national brand. We have a high enough capacity we would like to be a household name and I think we can do that with the notoriety and the press that Lodi is getting [about its rising prominence as an excellent wine region], the story of Van Ruiten and the quality of the wine. I was hired to build out our national distribution network. So before I started there was just a hodgepodge of distribution and I have strengthened current distributor ties, I have made changes in states with new distributors and I have found new distributors. That was really my role and our objective is to continue to grow through the 3-tier network. If we want to make the milestone of 30, 40, 50 thousand cases we are going to need a fairly robust distribution network to make that happen."
"I would say for the winery be committed to having enough runway to see it happen. I’d say that it is a slow process introducing a new brand to a new market. You know a great score or great media attention can help, but most wineries don’t fall into that category. So, I’d say that the sales cycle is long, the launch and market introduction process can be expensive and that is the biggest hurdle. For a winery or a brand committed to growing you have to make the commitment, the financial commitment, and the time commitment, to see it happen. At some point, the vision--and the key to building a national brand, I believe--is having regional managers that have exceptional relationships with their distributors. We aren’t large enough yet to have those regional managers in place but speaking with friends and colleges that have built national brands it seems that is a formula and it definitely makes sense because having distributor relations are key to building a brand to scale."
"So as it pertains to distributor relations, and what that word “relationships” means is, trust, follow through, and commitment. I have always looked at inventory with a distributor as “shared inventory,” that is, my inventory with them. I take just as much responsibility in helping my distributor move those cases, as much as they do. So, anything I can do to assist in that process. The more brands are turning, the more confidence it builds with your distributor. The more I can stay in communication with them about accolades, scores or press… anything I can do to show them that I am just working as hard as I can on my end as a supplier, as a winery, to help them move through their product. That can mean market visits. I don’t do a ton of market visits so I try to make them strategic. The goal for me is to see if I can get my distributors to think of me, pull my samples, and present my wine when I am not there when I have left. That residual lasting effect. I could keep going specifically on just the relationship, but to build a relationship takes conversation and it takes communication outside of just the deal. Rapport, commitment, follow-up, and availability."
Jim Sweeney has extensive experience driving sales success in the Wines & Spirits industry through both the three-tier distribution as well as Direct-to-Consumer. He has successfully managed the National Sales teams for several beverage alcohol industry leaders including Constellation, Huneeus Vintners, Vintage Wine Estates, was the General Sales Manager for two distributors in Texas and brings both production and direct-to-consumer experience as the General Manager for Quixote Winery in Napa Valley. Jim brings an in-depth understanding of field marketing visits as well as brand building to deliver successful distribution and sales through distributor and field efforts.
Currently, as the Sales & Marketing Director for Humboldt Distillery in Humboldt California, Jim is helping to build a craft spirit from the ‘the heart’ of likely the largest cannabis growing area in the Country. Additionally, Humboldt Distillery produces and distributes ‘Humboldt’s Finest’, a cannabis-infused vodka. Jim now uses his extensive sales & marketing experience, is building a brand distilled and bottled in Humboldt County with a product that is cannabis-infused.
Jim is a graduate of the University of Texas, holds an MBA from National University, and resides in St. Helena, California.
Laura has nearly 20 years of business management and execution experience, working in strategy, marketing, and innovation within the B2B and B2C sectors. For a decade she led marketing strategy and execution for several branded portfolios and managed global innovation for Brown-Forman’s $3 billion business.
As founder of Webb Brand Consulting and partner at Okos Partners, she has worked with multitudes of start-ups, private equity portfolio companies, and some of the best known Fortune 500 brands in the world. In a consulting capacity, she helps CEO’s, leadership teams and their organizations craft effective, measurable business and marketing strategies for growth, develop robust product portfolios through innovation, and help leadership teams gain greater alignment and engage their organizations more effectively for growth and productivity.
Laura holds a BA from Colgate University, and a MBA from Vanderbilt University. She is on the board of Mentis, River Charter School and also serves her community by assisting non-profit firms with strategic planning and marketing.
"I had written a couple of articles for George and we had been bouncing some ideas around… around needs, opportunities & challenges facing the wine industry, particularly for small and mid-sized players. In the course of these interactions, it became very clear that we both shared a perspective around the need for suppliers to rethink their relationship with their distributors. We both felt that it was a key channel of growth for wineries of all sizes and it is one that seems to have been somewhat neglected in recent years, particular around the growth of DTC. The more we talked about this need, the more we realized there was an abundance of content we could provide on this topic and from there, the full-day conference took shape. "
"One of the things that George and I talked about early on was the desire to not just execute another typical conference. Many conferences are built on the premise of interesting and relevant content that is shared in a one-to-many format. The problem is engagement diminishes as the day goes on, and ultimately attendees return to their day jobs from these conferences. For this conference really wanted to change the flow of the day and the dynamic of the actual conference. Most conference attendees leave with very little in the way of new approaches and actions to improving how they operate. We wanted to figure out how to shift the day in a way that activated audience members to not only think about but start managing, their businesses differently.
The whole day is structured so that each topic builds on itself, hence why we are keeping the whole group together in one room. The design of the day will help the audience members hone-in on new insights, convert those insights into new ideas for their business and then convert those ideas into action. So that they can walk out with the start of a game plan to move their business forward coming out of these sessions."
"I think there has been so much conversation in recent years around DTC. While small, DTC is increasing in importance and there are great insights and opportunities to be leveraged in that channel. Unfortunately though I have seen many wineries turn their backs on the 3-Tier channel as they focus more on DTC. This should not be an either-or choice for a winery that wants to grow. Those with significant growth aspirations have to succeed in both channels and both have to be managed and developed uniquely. While I expect DTC will continue to grow in importance, 3-tier is where scale can truly be achieved. Yes it is a challenging channel and requires investment of time and money. But I think in coming years we will see the emergence of select small to medium sized wineries ratcheting up their growth objectives and in turn shifting to a more balanced approach of growth through DTC and the 3-tier channel."