Providing Value and Connecting with Customers in 2023

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: 

Market Entry Strategies for 2023: Seizing Opportunity

This year’s series builds on last year’s ‘Deep Dive’ series with an emphasis on practical strategies for growth in the current market. Topics include the latest developments in the industry, an overview of the US import & distribution landscape, production and marketing cycles, geographic assessment of markets, understanding consumer preferences, and best practices for working with distribution partners. Each live session features a group of industry experts discussing challenges and opportunities, sharing ideas, and addressing questions from participants in an open dialogue.

Providing Value and Connecting with Wine & Spirits Consumers

Now Available on Demand

The consumer is at the heart of the buying experience, and with seemingly endless reach through the digital world, connecting with consumers should be easy. But is it, really?

As 2023 unfolds and economic conditions remain uncertain, our panel of experts will provide insights into top line trends and consumer behavior patterns in the context of wine and spirits purchases. The speakers will share strategies for providing value to consumers, for both emerging and growing brands. Central to creating strong relationships with customers out in the market as well as digitally is managing communications. The panel will also discuss consumer considerations during wine & spirits purchases and how addressing these in communication initiatives can successfully enhance bottom line business strategies.


Jay Johnson, President, RNDC West Region, Republic National Distributing Company

Jay Johnson has been in the wine and spirits industry for more than 30 years. He joined Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) in 1991 as the Executive Vice President of South Texas and held a number of progressive career roles until being appointed to the position of President of the west region in 2011. Recognized for his leadership in developing top talent, achieving strong business results, and establishing successful standardized infrastructures for new markets, he began his career in the supplier tier working with E & J Gallo. Jay is an active member of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University.

Caroline Shaw, Senior Director Marketing and Communications, E & J Gallo Winery

As head of communications for E & J Gallo Winery, Caroline Shaw oversees multiple facets of the winery’s communication team to include corporate communications, community relations, trade media and scoring, and category & lifestyle marketing. This latter discipline includes influencers, partnerships, experiential, and multicultural marketing. Caroline is an experienced communications leader with a successful track record of building and managing corporate and brand reputations through innovative storytelling and digital strategies. Prior to joining E & J Gallo, she was Chief Communications Officer at Jackson Family Wines (JFW) where she oversaw 50 premium brands and created the “Really Goode Job” campaign. She has also led communications and media relations outreach across multiple industries including the NBA, the Olympic Games, and the United Nations. Currently she serves on the Board of Directors for Sonoma County Tourism and the American Red Cross.

Dale Stratton, President, Wine Market Council

Dale Stratton brings almost 40 years of experience in the Beverage Alcohol Industry to his role as an industry consultant. Until 2019, Dale was the Vice President, Commercial Insights at Constellation Brands where he oversaw consumer and shopper insights, business analytics, market research, and category management initiatives. Dale’s extensive work linking consumer, shopper, and market analysis with business objectives and strategies enable him to translate insights into revenue generating actions. Dale is currently President of the Wine Market Council, a leader in forward looking market research on U.S. wine consumer buying habits, attitudes, and trends. He is also Managing Director for Azur Associates and works with the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s on their SipSource report. Prior to joining Constellation Brands in 2006, Dale spent 22 years working at E & J Gallo where he began his career.


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. Most recently she completed her Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) 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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