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May 24th Women for WineSense Winemaking Roundtable Will Present Entrepreneurial Skills and Thinking at Liana Estate


NAPA, CALIFORNIA | May 23, 2017:  The Napa | Sonoma chapter of Women for WineSense’s (WWS) Winemaking & Viticultural Roundtable will host Art Boni, distinguished professor of entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, and a panel of proven wine entrepreneurs, Cindy Cosco, Kent Rosenblum and Michaela Rodeno, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at one of the Carneros’  newest scenic wineries, Liana Estates  located at 2750 Las Amigas Road, Napa, CA, 94559.   Our host Sara Fowler is noted winemaker of both the family’s Napa Valley wineries, Liana Estates and  Peju.  

ABOUT THE EVENT:   The roundtable will open at 3:00 p.m. with wines, fellowship and networking followed by a 3:30 p.m. behind-the-scenes winemaker tour with Ms.  Fowler.   At 3:50 p.m., the group will gather for announcements then enjoy the speaker’s and industry panel’s program, Entrepreneurial Skills and Thinking,” with interactive questions and answers.  Attendees are encouraged to bring a bottle of their wine to thank the host and speaker.

Roundtable chair Julie Lumgair noted, Our roundtable is a unique chance to interact in a friendly forum with a group of diverse experts to ask candid questions about what it specifically takes to be successful starting a new business or bringing change to existing ones. Change is constant. You can successfully apply these key skills to navigate risks and create opportunities no matter where you’re working, and you’ll absolutely need them if you’re weighing, or already building your own business. 

RSVP DETAILS:  Please, all attendees must be pre-approved; no walk-ins.  Qualified attendees are women currently in winemaking and viticultural professionals roles.  To RSVP, or for any questions on this event or future WWS Winemaking Roundtable events, please contact the chair ( [email protected] | 415-786-3415).

ABOUT THE HOST:   Winemaker Sara Fowler joined Liana Estates with decades of experience, pouring her knowledge and passion into paying homage to the Carneros region’s noted Pinots and Chardonnays while also cultivating and creativity blending “lost grape” varietals.  Concurrently, in her role as winemaker for Peju since 2006, her focus shines through in rich Napa single varietal and blended reds, complimented by a full portfolio of elegant white and dessert wines.  Her passion for farming developed early on her family’s historic 400-acre organic ranch.  She got her start on Kendall-Jackson’s harvest team, followed by a year living on a Mexican sailboat, a degree from California State University, Fresno, and more than seven years as associate winemaker at Franciscan and Mt. Veeder Winery.  Through her Franciscan tenure, Ms. Fowler also worked harvest in Chile for Veramonte and played a role in Quintessa and Estancia from 1999 to 2002.  In 2007, she headed Peju’s efforts to gain organic certification in the Rutherford Vineyard and is overseeing their sustainable farming and expanding organic efforts.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:   Arthur Boni (Art) holds the John R. Thorne Chair of Entrepreneurship and Associate Teaching Professor Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University.  He was the first in his Italian / American family to get a college degree.  He credits perseverance, intellectual curiosity, and integrity as well as good mentoring and leadership skills learned early in scouting and to develop his skills.  He has decades of experience in funding and managing successful start-ups in the biomedical industry and numerous publications. He has extensive management, fund raising, investment, and technology development and commercialization experience in life science that includes biotechnology, biomedical, pharmaceutical, and high-technology, industrial markets, food/beverage, language learning and fashion.  He founded and/or held senior executive operating positions in eight successful entrepreneurial companies (including growth to over 20,000 employees).  Dr. Boni keeps a fast pace sharing this skill set through teaching, guest lectures and service as a Director / Advisor to several companies and foundations.


Cindy Cosco is owner and winemaker of Passaggio Wines which has a Sonoma winery and new tasting room noted for Sonoma Square’s largest selection of white wines, complimented by fine reds. Her story is a concrete recent example of how to work hard in your day job and bootstrap in time to build a successful winery.  She left Northern Virginia and her 15 year law enforcement career in 2004 to pursue the dream.  Building knowledge, connections and resources took her path through wine retail at BevMo, harvest then full time lab work at Chateau St. Jean, and Napa Valley College’s enology program.  In 2007, she launched her brand with 50 cases of unoaked Chardonnay, while working at Crushpad custom crush in San Francisco.  She was hired as lab manager and promoted to head winemaker for white wines in 2010.  In 2011,  Ms. Cosco took the leap to dedicate all her time to Passaggio.  Six years later, growth is brisk in her consumer-direct business model, up to over 1700 cases with strong velocity.

Kent Rosenblum, often called “The King of Zinfandel,” is currently CEO of Rock Wall Wine Company and is head winemaker for the Rosenblum Cellars brand of wines.  He brings decades of hands-on entrepreneurial leadership experience  to the panel, having built his family’s first urban winery from humble beginnings to a category leader, selling it, then turning around to start yet another successful family winery.  

Mr. Rosenblum graduated from University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Medicine School in 1968, eventually operating 2 successful Alameda veterinary hospitals. He and his wife Kathy became enamored with wine, and the science and art behind it.  

Extensive home winemaking with friends paved the way to opening Rosenblum Cellars in 1978 with 400 cases which eventually grew to 220,000 cases a year across 60 wines, specializing in 26 historic vineyard designated Zinfandels plus Rhone varieties.  The brand had an extensive club / DTC base, representation in 50 states and 16 foreign countries. In 2008 Rosenblum Cellars was sold to Diageo.  The same year, Kent, Kathy and daughter Shauna stared a new small urban winery, Rock Wall Wine, at Alameda’s former naval air base, which has grown to over 25,000 cases

emphasizing not only single vineyard Zinfandels, but exotic red wine varietals and sparkling wines.  In 2016 Kent was also retained by the current brand owner of Rosenblum Cellars, Bronco Wine Co. to help rebuild the brand to its former luster.

Michaela Rodeno brings perspective from building two significant Napa Valley wineries from inception to profitability and numerous other industry roles.  After 21 years as its first CEO, Ms. Rodeno retired mid-2009 from St. Supéry, which has since been sold to Chanel.  She had previously been VP/Marketing for Domaine Chandon, joining as its second employee in 1973.  She holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and was named to the Haas Hall of Fame in 2009.  She is considered one of the leading women in the California wine industry, a strong advocate for wine related issues.  

Rodeno has served on public and private boards and advisory boards continuously since 1994, including Napa Valley Vintners, California’s Wine Institute, St. Supery, Silicon Valley Bank, Bank of Marin, Wine Market Council (founding director), Women for WineSense (co-founder), Meritage Association (Chairman), and has twice chaired the multi-million dollar charity Napa Valley Wine Auction.  She speaks at conferences and guest lectures at Berkeley/Haas, UC Davis, and Stanford and manages the Rodeno family’s artisan winery, Villa Ragazzi.  Her memoir, Bubbles to Boardrooms, is a favorite of entrepreneurs and lifelong learners.  

ABOUT THE WWS WINEMAKING & VITICULTURAL ROUNDTABLE:  The WWS Winemaking & Viticultural Roundtable meets six times a year, taking a harvest break.  It is a great time to expand important skills while reconnecting and meeting new industry professionals.

The free roundtable is open to members and interested women winemakers and viticulturists who have emailed and received RSVP guest confirmations through the roundtable chair.  Guests may attend up to two roundtables before deciding to join.

Ms. Lumgair commented “The Winemaking Roundtable’s past meeting topics have focused upon the skills women winemakers need but aren’t always easy to get in the daily winemaking environment.” She further explained that, “Held at some of the region’s finest host wineries, these programs have been a fantastic opportunity for women winemakers to connect directly, in a welcoming forum, with experts that they otherwise wouldn’t get to meet for personal advice and questions.  Some of our recent speaker shave included noted wine critics, sommeliers and key wine publication editors, industry leadership, global sensory consultants, media trainers, CFO’s and GM’s in panel discussions and leading recruiters.”

ABOUT WWS ROUNDTABLES:  WWS’ eight current professional roundtables serve to provide a welcoming, confidential environment to meet in peer groups on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis. Members network, provide advice and support for one another, as well as foster educational occasions by inviting guest speakers in their fields and discussing ‘hot issues’ facing members in their day-to-day work. Multiple Roundtables have developed for WWS industry members in finance, accounting, human resources, winemaking/viticulture and marketing/direct-to-consumer fields.

Napa/Sonoma Chapter currently has more than 350 members of which 70% are wine industry professionals. To join or learn more about WWS’ roundtables, please visit http://www.womenforwinesense.org/.  For inquiries about other WWS roundtables for additional functions besides winemaking / viticulture, contact the Chapter’s Roundtables Director, Lisa Bishop Forbes, [email protected]  

ABOUT WOMEN FOR WINESENSE:  WWS is a not-for-profit organization 501(c)6.   The Napa| Sonoma Chapter founded in 1990 is the founding chapter of this national organization which provides outstanding educational and networking opportunities to both wine industry professionals and wine enthusiasts by presenting educational, insightful and stimulating events in a welcoming, fun environment.  Both men and women of legal drinking age are welcome to join.  There is an exciting line-up of events planned for 2017.  To join or learn more about the various WWS roundtables and general events, please visit www.womenforwinesense.org.  

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