Tuesday, May 11 – Keynote Presenter
Randall Grahm – Founder, Bonny Doon Vineyard (CA); owner Popelouchum Vineyard (CA)
Randall was born in Los Angeles in 1953 and attended the University of California at Santa Cruz where he was a permanent Liberal Arts major. Some time later he found himself working at the Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills sweeping floors. He returned to the University of California at Davis to complete a degree in Plant Sciences in 1979. With his family’s assistance, Randall purchased property in the Santa Cruz Mountains in a quaint eponymous hamlet known as Bonny Doon, intent on producing the Great American Pinot Noir. In 2010, he was able to purchase an extraordinary 400-acre property near San Juan Bautista, which he calls “Popelouchum,” (the Mutsun word for “paradise”), and has very ambitious plans to breed 10,000 new grape varieties there and perhaps produce a true vin de terroir in the New World. He lives in Santa Cruz with his muse Chinshu, their daughter, Amélie, and his thesaurus.
Wednesday, May 12th – Keynote Presenter
Luis Osorio – Wine Intelligence
Luis joined Wine Intelligence in October 2014 after working as a consultant in an auditing and consulting firm, where he developed strategy related projects in Portuguese-speaking countries in industries such as oil & gas, banking, media and retail. Prior to this, he spent two years developing entrepreneurial projects, including start-ups and an NGO. He also did a six-month internship with a major Portuguese wine producer. Luis graduated from Lisbon Technical University with a BA in architecture / civil engineering and later with a master’s degree in business administration majoring in strategy from the Catholic University of Portugal. He also holds the WSET Level 2 qualification in wines and spirits. Luis’ passion for wine started early within his family of wine producers; he then went on to launch a wine bar and in one year he opened five more wine bars in Lisbon, later selling the company and making a valuable profit.
Pierre Costa – SommDigital
Pierre is based in Napa Valley, California and has an exotic mix of digital marketing and wine experience. He founded SommDigital a consulting firm that develops and implements innovative digital marketing strategies specializing in wineries. He also lectures at Sonoma State University in Sonoma, California focused on Wine E-commerce and Digital Marketing. Before he moved to Napa, he spent over five years working with Digital Media Agencies in London (England) and Dublin (Ireland) managing the digital marketing of large corporate accounts including Bank of Ireland and eircom (telecom). He spent 10 years working in the wine industry in high knowledge positions including head sommelier for star Michelin restaurant Bon Appetit in Dublin (Ireland) and Café Journal in Brazil along with finance and marketing roles with Inglenook winery, Delicato Family Wines, and Naked Wines. He is known for having a fantastic palate which was proven when he won the 2014 Top Taster blind wine tasting competition at Flavor! Napa Valley. He holds a Masters degree in Electronic-Business from University College Dublin and an Honors degree in Mathematics from UNESP (Brazil). Pierre is a passionate Star Wars fan and enjoys archery and meditation.
Suzanne Janke – Stratus Vineyards
Born and raised in the Niagara Peninsula, Suzanne’s passion for agritourism ignited with her first summer job at a prominent Niagara-on-the-Lake market that focused on selling local farm products to international visitors. There, her intrigue with clients from Asia propelled her to spend three years working in Japan and Korea after completing her degree in Business Communications. Excited about the evolution of Niagara’s culinary and wine potential, she returned home and has dedicated her career to the growth of Niagara’s wine industry from a visitor, cultural and consumer perspective – first as the Director of Tourism Marketing at Chateau des Charmes where she developed the wineries visitor and events program; and since at Stratus Vineyards where she was recruited in 2005 to be part of the opening management team. In her current role as Estate Director of Stratus, she is responsible for the retail, digital, hospitality programs and revenue, media and public relations as well as product, packaging sustainability and partnership initiatives. Known for her thorough understanding of Niagara’s wine evolution, progressive thinking and global vision, Suzanne actively participates on numerous industry committees and boards and has served as Board Chair for Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership, Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration. Beyond work, she is happily sharing life’s adventures, delicious, cultural and otherwise, with her two young sons, Ellis and Félix.
Paul Leary – Assemblage Consulting Group
Paul Leary is the founder of Assemblage Consulting Group, a firm focused on optimizing the profits of consumer-packaged goods businesses in California. As a leading Northern California entrepreneur and senior executive, Mr. Leary brings more than 20 years of business leadership, brand marketing, sales and operations expertise to his roles. Leary’s continual business concern is to build a company’s brand equity and financial returns by ensuring product and service quality while spearheading niche sales & marketing strategies that create consumer demand in the direct and wholesale distribution channels. During his tenure at St. Helena-based Duckhorn Wine Company, Leary oversaw the marketing and consumer sales for three distinct wine brands including Duckhorn, Paraduxx and Goldeneye. “Over the last decade, the premium sector of the consumer-packaged goods industry has become increasingly fragmented and competitive. The focus is on niche marketing, establishing direct relationships with clients, and maximizing the chain of influencers and peer-to-peer referrals. It’s up to the company to create the brand and then to let customers tell the story,” Leary says. Leary earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, a Certificate in eBusiness Strategy and Management from U.C. Davis Extension and a Certificate in Business Administration from U.C. Berkeley Extension. Paul and his wife live in the Napa Valley with their son and daughter where he is a proud husband, father and member of the Napa community.
Scott Morrison – Ontario Craft Distillers Association
Having left a three decade career in Design and Advertising Scott decided it was time to take his abundant enthusiasm and energy on a whole new adventure… making alcohol! After three years of dedication and hard work Heretic Spirits is producing and in the LCBO. With the second phase build out of a 40,000 square foot facility underway in Collingwood, Heretic Spirits is actively working with our fellow distillers to help make long term changes (for the better) to the distilling industry. His areas of interest are advocacy, branding and happily crafting new products on the still whenever he can. Scott is the CEO Heretic Spirits Inc., VP of Communications Ontario Craft Distillers Association.
Shiraz Mottiar – Malivoire Wine Co.
Born and raised in Fergus, Ontario, Shiraz entered the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University and was a member of its first graduating class in 2000. In the fall of that year, Shiraz joined the staff of the Malivoire Wine Company, a new winery on the Beamsville Bench recognized for raising the bar of Ontario wine with innovative methods, as Assistant Winemaker. He became Winemaker in 2005 and has embraced Malivoire’s founding philosophy: a winery’s excellence begins with healthy soil and vines. Shiraz continues to design and identify sustainable wine growing practices in Ontario, respecting each vintage as a unique event. Shiraz believes that the Niagara Peninsula is still defining its terroir, and he is determined, with each succeeding vintage, to contribute to that definition. Shiraz also owns a small Beamsville Bench vineyard, purchased in 2003, where he and his wife Isa live and farm three hectares of chardonnay, melon de Bourgogne and pinot noir.
Joe Pillitteri – Lakeview Vineyard Equipment
Joe Pillitteri grew up with his parents and two sisters on a peach farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Always the class clown, Joe had passion for very few things outside of comedy – tractors. He considered following in his father’s footsteps to be able to work the land and drive tractors. As he grew up, Joe pursued a Business Marketing degree from McMaster University and following graduation joined John Deere Company as a Territory Manager and eventually Dealer Development Manager. Along the way, Joe married his wife Rebecca Hagman and they had three beautiful children. When news of a fourth child came, Joe decided to leave corporate life to pursue a livelihood that would allow him to spend more time with his family. He also began performing as a comedian for charitable causes and eventually became an in demand emcee and corporate comedian for large scale events. Giving back to the community is a pillar not only of Lakeview Vineyard Equipment but of Joe and his family as well. Using his comedic talents to help build a better Niagara is a huge privilege for Joe and one that he takes very seriously. He has been recognized with awards for his work with charity but ultimately he’s a firm believer that praise matters as much as criticism and that, in the words of his mom, “It’s best just to get up in the morning and try to do good work.”
Scott Simmons – Ontario Craft Brewers
Scott Simmons has been the President of the Ontario Craft Brewers Association since August 2017. Prior to that he spent 33 years in the packaged goods, retail, agency, and sport administration industries, most recently as CEO of Golf Canada (2007 – 2017), the governing body of golf in Canada. Simmons also has a deep interest and knowledge of the brewing industry, having previously worked as vice president, marketing and business development for The Beer Store (2001 – 2007), where he led the development of a long range strategic plan to guide the organizational retail renewal program. He has lived in Mississauga for the last 18 years, and he and his wife are the proud parents of four daughters.
Julia Sousa – LCBO
Julia has been developing engaging and award-winning marketing campaigns for over 18 years. As a retail and brand marketing expert, she is a passionate believer in the vital role that communications plays in delivering engaging and memorable customer experiences that build customer loyalty. She is currently the Director of Category Marketing at the LCBO. She’s an Ontario Wines enthusiast. Her favourite style? A fresh flute of sparkling from our local regions.
Sandra Tavares – Tavares Group Consulting Inc. / Staarsoft®
Sandra, an approved Ontario Viticulture and Winery Sustainability Auditor and certified Sustainability Professional, was introduced to Sustainability in her global Environment and Health & Safety (EHS) role for UK-based Marconi plc. In 2005, Sandra established Tavares Group Consulting Inc., a firm that emphasizes the process approach to sustainability. This approach has been formalized via the Sustainability Toolkit and its associated Staarsoft® software, which incorporates risk assessment and stakeholder concerns to ensure successful implementation of sustainability programs and meaningful reporting on material environmental and social issues. The approach has been successful in a number of sectors and presented at a number of national and international conferences, including Canect 2019, Automotive Industry Action Group’s 2015-2018 Corporate Responsibility Summits, 2016 World Ethical Apparel Roundtable, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s 2015 Annual Conference & Expo, and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering’s 2015 Professional Development Conference.
Darren Ward – Vineland Research Innovation Centre
Darren Ward is the Manager of Business Planning and Commercialization at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. Darren works with Vineland’s research teams providing support with commercial aspects and mapping the pathways to market for Vineland’s technologies. With a focus on the application of automation, machine vision and Artificial Intelligence technologies, he works directly with Vineland’s partners to ensure successful commercialization and the creation of impact in the horticultural sector. Darren’s past experience includes over fifteen years of product management, successfully managing and growing portfolios of high-technology products from initial customer need to launch and onwards. Darren holds an MBA and B.Eng in Electrical Engineering from McMaster University.
Dr. Jim Willwerth – Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute
Dr. Jim Willwerth is the Senior Staff Scientist in Viticulture in the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University where he focuses on applied research and outreach for the Canadian grape and wine industry. The major component of his research program is focused on grapevine cold hardiness physiology and understanding how to maximize cold hardiness in V. vinifera. Other projects include grapevine clone and rootstock evaluations to see how clone and rootstock selection can impact performance, including cold tolerance and wine quality in cool climate regions; novel freeze and crop production strategies and; viticultural practices to improve sparkling and still wine production. Dr. Willwerth has outreach responsibilities to provide effective technology transfer to the grape grower community across Canada to improve grape production and quality across the sector. He works very closely with industry on their priorities and provides knowledge transfer through workshops, seminars and research demonstrations. One of the major outreach initiatives includes spearheading the VineAlert cold hardiness risk management program, an interactive web-based grapevine management program and early warning system for cold injury used by grape growers to mitigate the impact of cold weather events (www.ccovi.ca/vine-alert). Dr. Willwerth collaborates with researchers within CCOVI, across Canada and the US on both research and outreach activities.
Rick Wismer – MNP LLP
Rick Wismer, P.Ag, CAFA, CPA, CA, LPA, is a Partner in MNP’s St. Catharines office and Leader of the Agri-food and Beverage team for South Central Ontario. Rick delivers a broad range of services to businesses in the primary agriculture and food and beverage industries, such as wineries, craft breweries, cideries and distilleries, greenhouses and viticulture and horticulture operations. For 35 years, Rick has owned and operated commercial farm operations specializing in viticulture, cash crops, fruit and farm management services. This has given him real-life understanding of the challenges his clients face and the opportunities that can help them thrive. As a result, Rick is able to devise creative solutions to difficult problems. Rick has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph, where he majored in business and economics. He is a Professional Agrologist (P.Ag.) and a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), qualifying as a Chartered Accountant (CA). Rick is also a member of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors (CAFA) and a Licenced Public Accountant (LPA).
TUESDAY, MAY 11TH & WEDNESDAY, MAY 12TH, 2021
9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
A virtual conference hosted on the WHOVA App
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