Route to Market: Options & Opportunities for 2021 & Beyond

Sonoma Wine Business Institute

Vinexpo America | Drinks America and the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, a global leader in wine business education and research, present: Growing Brands in the US Market.

This 6-webinar series explores topics critical to brands looking to enter or expand in the US. The goal of the education series is to help producers navigate and better understand the complexities of working in the US market. Each webinar features industry experts discussing the latest developments in the industry, beverage alcohol laws and regulations, opportunities for market entry and expansion, and case studies of successful brands.

Route to Market: Options & Opportunities for 2021 & Beyond


This webinar assesses the current market situation to help brands plan for 2021.

Stephen Rannekleiv, Global Sector Strategist Beverages at RaboResearch, discusses how route to market been affected in the US and provide insights and examples of how companies can envision their access to the consumer by rethinking their digital paths and e-commerce strategies.

Steve Melchiskey, President of USA Wine West, LLC, presents top importing strategies into the US, how producers can get to know their competition and do research on different regions and states in the US to determine the right channel and geographic market strategy for their brand.


steve melchiskeySteve Melchiskey, President, USA Wine West, LLC

Steve founded USA Wine West in 1996 and has been the driving force behind successfully growing the company without compromising its personable character and high standard of service.

He began his foray into the business of wine while working the grape harvest in the Rhinegau in 1976. Since then, he has worked in vineyards and wineries in California, Hungary, France and New York. His work experience extends to virtually every level of the wine industry, as a retail wine buyer and bottle duster, a wholesale/import operations manager, a wholesale sales representative in San Francisco Bay Area for six years, and in winery sales and marketing. Steve is also a licensed attorney and specializes in wine law, assisting wineries, retailers and importers in their contractual, regulatory and licensing issues. Steve is owner/winemaker at Maine Coast Vineyards, LLC, a bonded winery with a two-acre estate vineyard in Falmouth, Maine. He brings all of these experiences into play as director of USA Wine West.

He currently focuses on compliance and business development, and assists and advises portfolios in developing their U.S. distribution and marketing strategies. Speaking French and German well enough to tell bad jokes, Steve’s infectious enthusiasm and larger than life personality are intrinsic to the spirit of the company.

Steve RannekleivStephen Rannekleiv, Global Sector Strategist Beverages, RaboResearch

Stephen Rannekleiv works closely with the global sector head beverages to support the Rabobank’s franchise in the beverage sectors and further strengthen its long-standing relationships with major beverage clients around the world. He leads the beverage research team and provides colleagues involved in the beverage industry, in the front office, in risk, and otherwise with thought provoking ideas and analytics and executes the agenda that is with the various business heads.
Before joining Rabobank in 2006, Stephen worked for eight years in Latin America supporting agricultural development projects. His understanding of agricultural dynamics and his training in value chain analysis have provided an ideal background for understanding issues facing the wine industry in particular.
Stephen holds an undergraduate degree from Houghton College and an MBA from Eastern University in Pennsylvania.


Geralyn BrostromGeralyn Brostrom, Wine Business Instructor – Wine Business Institute, Sonoma State University
Principal, Italian Wine Central

Geralyn has held positions in multiple channels: winery, import, distribution, retail, and the non-profit wine education sector. She teaches in the MBA program at Sonoma State University and has taught wine business at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Her published books include Into Italian Wine and The Business of Wine, which was nominated for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

As co-founder of the Italian Wine Central (IWC) website, Geralyn is involved in developing an international network for wine professionals wanting to learn and teach about Italian wines. Prior to starting IWC, she was Vice President of education for Winebow. Geralyn holds a BS in Management and an MBA in Marketing. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in innovation and business studies at Bocconi University in Milan. A dual citizen of the United States and the Italian Republic, her professional wine credentials include the VIA Italian Wine Expert, the Italian Wine Professional (IWP), the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) from SWE and WSET’s Level III Award in Wines and Spirits.


Ray JohnsonRay Johnson, Executive Director, Wine Business Institute – Sonoma State University

Ray is executive director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State, the first university in the United States to offer a BS in Wine Business in 1998, the first to offer a Wine MBA in 2008 and the first in the world to offer an Executive Wine MBA in 2012.

Johnson joined the wine business in 1986 at the Christian Brothers’ Greystone Cellars in Saint Helena, California. He went on to sell wine, first on the supplier side, and later in retail, working directly with consumers. He earned his Master’s in Wine Business from the University of Adelaide in South Australia and taught for fourteen years.

Johnson’s work has been published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, the International Journal of Wine Business Research, Vineyard & Winery Management, and in reviews for consumers and the primer The Good Life Guide to Enjoying Wine.

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