US: Ex Beringer boss starts new wine company
A new wine company has been created in California. Axiom Wine Company, formed by wine industry executives Dan Leese and Doug Walker, started life last week by acquiring the Red Truck and White Truck Wine brands from Fred and Nancy Cline of Cline Cellars. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Axiom is owned and managed by Leese and Walker, both formerly of Foster's Wine Estates Americas, in partnership with a small group of investors including the Clines, who will remain active investors in Axiom and Red Truck.
"We see an opportunity to take a non-traditional approach to an 8,000 year-old industry," said Leese late last week. "Our aim is to create a focused, flexible, and innovative wine company that can anticipate and respond to the consumer's desire for interesting, high quality brands. Red Truck is an excellent example of a brand that strikes an emotional chord with consumers; it's the perfect entrée for Axiom.
"As our cornerstone brand, Red Truck not only has a great track record, but it's got enormous growth potential in the marketplace," he added. "Red Truck jumpstarts our brand portfolio and provides the leverage for future super premium and luxury wine acquisitions."
Leese, president of Axiom, has over 24 years experience in the beverage alcohol industry, and most recently was managing director of Beringer Blass Wine Estates (now Foster's Wine Estates Americas) in North America. Prior to Beringer Blass, Leese held executive vice president, managing director and general management roles at the Brown-Forman Wine Group and its Fetzer Vineyards subsidiary.
Walker, Axiom's COO, also has over 18 years in the wine industry. In the past nine years, Walker has held a number of senior finance positions at Foster's Wine Estates; most recently he was senior vice president, finance and business development. Prior to Foster's, Walker was president of Chateau St. Jean, which Beringer Blass acquired in 1996.
Robert Nicholson of International Wine Associates in Healdsburg, California served as the strategic advisor to Cline in the transaction.
Cline Cellars branded wines and the company's new ventures, Oakley Wines and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, will continue to be wholly-owned and marketed by the Clines.
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