Last Friday I was fortunate to attend a session in the Berkeley-Columbia guest speaker series – with the esteemed Michael Mondavi. The Berkeley-Columbia students were in session at Haas this week, and as I work a 9-day fortnight I have every other Friday – luckily this Friday was my day off so I could take advantage of one of the many invitations we get at Haas to listen to great speakers.
Michael discussed the history and changes in the wine industry over the past 40 years, beginning with the foundation of the Robert Mondavi winery and its public listing, and then eventual sale by the Mondavi family. He then told us about his new venture – Folio wines, bringing together a number of highly esteemed family wineries around the world to take advantage of size to compete in the market and obtain economies of scale in purchasing, yet still maintain that small family passion that makes great wine.
Michael talked about his views on public companies vs. family companies, and the steps he is taking to ensure that his family business is as successful as possible. Since the introduction of Sarbanes-Oxley he felt there are some real niches in business which private enterprises can fill which just aren’t possible for public companies. Michael had some fabulous insights into the wine industry and also into structuring private companies and establishing relationships in business.
I’ll be toasting to that as I enjoy some of his wine next time…