Foster's has appointed Pernod Ricard USA's general manager for wine and Champagne, Stephen Brauer, as its new managing director of Foster's Americas.

Foster's announced today (24 March) that Brauer will take up his new role on 13 April, in what is likely to be seen as something of a coup for the Australian beer and wine group.

Brauer will replace Scott Weiss, who has led Foster's Americas wine business since the firm bought Southcorp in 2005.

Last month, Foster's announced in the conclusion of its strategic wine business review that Weiss would leave the firm.

Foster's was forced to report a US$730m write-down charge for its wine business in the 12 months to the end of June 2008, largely due to poor sales in North America. CEO Ian Johnston said last month that the wine review had identified "poor execution and an ineffective organisational structure and culture".

Brauer has more than 20 years experience in the global wine and spirits sector, having worked for Beam Global Spirits & Wine prior to his role at Pernod.

Foster's CEO Johnston said: ""With over twenty years of US drinks industry experience, including 14 years in the Napa, Stephen is a proven performer.

"He has led the recent turnaround of the Pernod Ricard USA wine and Champagne business. I look forward to Stephen making a significant contribution as part of the Foster's leadership team."

Foster's said last month that it planned to sell off 36 non-core vineyards and close, reconfigure or consolidate three wineries in Australia and California, following an eight-month review of its wine operations.