Vintage Finance

The success of a custom winemaker depends on long-term planning.
Marielle SegarraMay 15, 2012

Name: Lance Spears
Position: CFO, Wine by Joe, a 30-person custom-winemaking, bulk-wine, and control-label business in Oregon that specializes in Pinot Noir
Previous Positions: CFO and president of the North American division of Seguin Moreau, one of the world’s largest wine-barrel cooperages. VP of finance at SWF and Sonic Industries, two operating companies of the Dover Corp., a Fortune 500 multinational manufacturer.
Notable For: Being the CFO of one of the largest wine producers in Oregon. Thanks to a recent injection of capital financing, the company hopes to expand nationally.

His Take-Away: Wine by Joe is relatively small, which means the CFO can’t sit in the office and count dollars all day. During crush, I’m on the production floor, I’m in the tasting room, and if I go out to dinner, I bring the wine with me and I act as a salesman to the table next to me. This is one of the few industries that I’ve been involved in where it’s completely vertically integrated. We own the land and have to know how to farm it. And we have to know how to make the products and sell them to another business or a consumer. Planning is a huge part of my job. We generally deal in terms of five-to-seven-year plans. You plant seeds and it’s going to be two to three years before they produce any fruit. Then you have to age the wine in the tank and then the bottle. By the time it gets to the consumer, you’ve made a bet that you know where their desires are going to be five to seven years from now.

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