Team Biographies

Instructor Biographies

Kathie Barclay
Principal, Barclay Marketing Solutions

Kathie Barclay is a marketing consultant with 25 years of wine industry experience. She specializes in direct-to-consumer marketing for wineries and is also an instructor for the WISE Academy. She launched one of the country’s first major loyalty marketing programs for California retailer BevMo. She grew their list from zero to 500,000 members in 4 years, and increased member sales and tenure by applying CRM contact strategies to target offers to appropriate consumers.

After launching marketing and merchandising programs for a number of California retailers, Kathie was the Senior Director of Marketing for Windsor Vineyards, whose wine was sold 98% direct to consumer. She led the direct marketing practice for Benson Marketing Group, where she created and managed client campaigns that increased revenue and profit in direct-to-consumer sales channels. These campaigns included programs to increase wine club membership and retention, using print and email campaigns as well as savvy data mining and customer segmentation.

Kathie loves a good challenge and a tough puzzle. Nothing gives her greater satisfaction than uncovering hidden opportunities, creating strategies to increase sales, and solving problems. Give Kathie a DTC puzzle requiring analytics, strategy, planning, and execution and she will give you a dashboard and actionable solutions that will revolutionize your business.

As the founder of Barclay Marketing Solutions, Kathie’s creativity, keen eye for numbers, and overall good business sense help her clients achieve their goals by focusing on the strategies and tactics that deliver results.

Kathie graduated with honors from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She lives in Sonoma County with her two exuberant Labrador Retrievers.

 

Lesley Berglund
Co-Founder & Chairman, WISE Academy

Lesley is an accomplished wine industry entrepreneur and CEO with a focus on change management. Over the past 27 years in the wine industry she has started up the equivalent of nine new businesses, acquired and integrated four companies and led during periods of dramatic change. As co-founder and former CEO of the Ambrosia Wine Catalogue/the Winetasting Network (which she sold in 2004) she has deep experience in consumer direct marketing of fine wines. Lesley has served on the board of eleven wine-related companies and trade associations. In 2008, she co-founded the WISE Academy, which provides education, training and certification for winery consumer direct professionals across wine regions throughout the United States and in New Zealand. In 2014 she co-founded SOLVE Services which provides financial analysis, planning and decision support services for wineries. Today she spends most of her time coaching winery leaders through growth related challenges and opportunities. Beyond wine, Lesley is a member of the YPO where she has held numerous local, regional and international board and leadership positions. Lesley is also a third generation Napa Valley native from a grape growing family, with a BA from Wesleyan University and a MBA from Harvard Business School.

 

Susan Cole
Susan Cole Direct

Susan has more than 18 years of wine marketing experience, all in the direct-to-consumer arena. Her industry knowledge, sales expertise, and ability to build relationships have proven instrumental in helping both large and small wineries achieve and surpass their revenue goals. During her time at Windsor Vineyards, Treasury Wine Estates, and Pezzi King Vineyards she has managed inbound and outbound call centers, wine clubs, and customer service organizations, resulting in revenue growth, club membership, and sales that consistently exceeded projections. For the tasting rooms of Beringer Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean, Stags’ Leap, St. Clement, Etude, Souverain, Meridian and Cellar 360 she had led dynamic and successful training sessions in retail sales and wine club membership that resulted in improved sales revenue and increased club conversion. Susan holds a diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust in London.

 

Sonyia Grabski
DTC Consultant; VP, Sales & Marketing, Cornerstone Cellars

With more than 15 years of experience in direct-to-consumers wine sales, Sonyia Grabski is a prime thought leader and amplifier in identifying market trends, innovative DTC approaches in the wine industry, which includes wine sales programs and consumer targeting, acquisition and retention.  Her programs are supported by effective and thorough marketing tactics to support long-term growth and profitability, for the company and brand’s essential messaging.   Over the course of Ms. Grabski’s career she has over seen DTC sales and marketing for Constellation Wines, Terlato Wine Group, Visit Napa Valley and is currently the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Cornerstone Cellars as well as managing her own consulting business which provides DTC strategies for companies including Iron Horse, Bonny Doon, Highway 12 and VinoPro.

 

David Johnson
Wine Industry DTC Professional

David Johnson brings extensive experience in assessment, development, and education in all aspects of Guest Services and Facility Operations. He has conducted audits of guest services and facility operations for numerous wineries to offer recommendations on how to improve efficiencies, enhance guest’s experiences, and increase overall profitability. He has designed, produced, and facilitated training experiences that provide practical application and immediate transferability in the work environment.

David has a successful career working in the wine industry for over 20 years. He is currently the Hospitality Director at Quixote Winery with general management responsibilities for overseeing overall winery operations. He worked as the Hospitality Director at Larson Family Winery and with his success creation of marketing strategies, cost controls, and organizational development the winery experienced an immediate increase in its profits. As the Consumer Direct Manager he breathed new life into the consumer direct functions at The Hess Collection Winery, and before that he was the Visitor Center Manager at Domaine Carneros Winery for a number of years.

David’s accolades include: 2010 Best Places Northern California Guide Book, 2009 Fodor’s Travel Guides ‘Top Picks Napa Valley’, 2009 Frommer’s Travel Guides ‘Top Picks Napa Valley’, 2009 Great Wine Capitals Bay Area Award for ‘Most Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences’, and 2009 North Bay Business Journal Book of Lists, ‘Who’s Who in Wine Hospitality.

 

Rob Lorenz
Director of Winery Sales, VinoPro

Rob possesses a wealth of experience working on the consumer direct side of the wine business. He has worked for over 15 years in winery direct to consumer, with a particular expertise in tasting room and wine club management. He built multi-million dollar businesses at wineries such as Sterling Vineyards and Mumm Napa Valley, and has also turned around flagging tasting room and wine club businesses at Geyser Peak and Canyon Road. He launched the Chalk Hill Estate DTC program from virtual scratch, and has also worked as a DTC consultant for numerous wineries in both Napa and Sonoma County.

More recently, Rob worked as the Director of Tasting Rooms for Vintage Wine Estates, with tasting room and wine club management responsibilities at Girard, Cosentino, Kunde and Windsor Vineyards. Rob currently works as the Director of Winery Sales for VinoPro.

 

Liz Mercer
Mercer Hospitality Consulting; WISE Academy Instructor & Content Developer

Having grown up in the Napa Valley, Liz always knew it would be her forever home. She spent eight years in the mid west (Detroit), before coming home to roost. With a unique background having a degree in Finance & Business Management, and 18 years’ experience in Direct to Consumer Experience marketing, she approaches the multiple needs of the business balancing the business and guest needs. Her career includes time with Diageo and Pernod Ricard, followed by nearly six years with Gallo, and to a small family owned luxury brand. Liz is now the General Manager of Bluxome Street Winery, an urban winery located in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco. Liz can relate to the challenges faced by large, publicly traded wineries, corporate family owned wineries, and to smaller family owned brands. That breadth of experience has allowed Liz to see how different strategies work for different brands and implement the right solution. She is also an active contributor and instructor for the WISE Academy, which seeks to grow the skills of DTC professionals and managers at all levels across the country.

 

Geni Whitehouse
CPA, CITP, CSPM, Brotemarkle, Davis and Company

Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM is the Countess of Communication at Brotemarkle, Davis and Company, where she helps make accounting and business concepts understandable. She is a contributing columnist for for www.theprogressiveaccountant.com and a frequent speaker at events around the country. She is a former software company executive and software industry analyst and a two-time graduate of the Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe. As a CPA, she is passionate about finding interesting ways to explain accounting concepts and has discovered an endless supply of formerly boring material. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC.

She is the author of How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 ways even a nerd can be heard, which offers presentation help to her fellow nerds.