US wine exports decline in 2017

U.S. wine exports decreased in 5.5 percent in value and 7.9 percent in volume in 2017, according to the Wine Institute, the state’s top wine industry trade group.

The trade group blamed the decrease on a strong dollar, the growth of subsidized foreign wine producers, and other countries striking trade deals with key export markets while the United States grew more isolationist.

“Free trade agreements that place the U.S. on equal footing with other wine producing countries are absolutely essential to growing U.S. wine exports,” said Charles Jefferson, vice president of the trade group, in a statement.

Californian wineries represented 97 percent of the $1.53 billion in exports last year.

The 28 countries of the European Union are the largest U.S. export market with $553 million in sales. It was followed by Canada at $444 million; Hong Kong at $119 million; Japan at $94 million; and China at $79 million.

Forum for female wine professionals

A panel discussion will be held April 17 on opportunities for women to advance their careers in the wine industry.

The forum is sponsored by Wine Women, a local nonprofit trade group. It will be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma.

The panelists will include Brian Kelleher, vice president of sales and marketing at Pahlmeyer Wines in St. Helena; Larry Smith, senior vice president of human resources at Jackson Family Wines of Santa Rosa; and Michael Silacci, winemaker at Opus One Winery in Oakville.

Joan Toth, former president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, will be the moderator.

Details and tickets are available online at

Folio Wine Partners hires new sales exec

Folio Wine Partners in Napa has hired Clint Wilsey as its vice president of sales for the wine company founded by Michael Mondavi and his family.

Wilsey spent the past 11 years at Silverado Vineyards, most recently as vice president of sales and marketing. He began his career at Robert Mondavi Winery as the liaison for grower relations and then into moved to sales positions for the Robert Mondavi Corp. He also worked at Wilson Daniels in St. Helena.

“I have known Clint for more than 20 years, and he brings tremendous experience to our Folio team, and we are confident he will lead our sales organization in the next phase of growth,” Mondavi said in a statement.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to