PAUL DRAPER RIDGE CEO AND WINEMAKER TO RETIRE
MARK VERNON TO BECOME CEO—DRAPER TO REMAIN AS CHAIRMAN
Ridge Vineyards has announced a succession plan effective July 1, 2016, that has been carefully thought through in consultation with Paul Draper to ensure the continued long term success of the company. The focus of the plan is to maintain continuity in all aspects of operations including the company’s long-term strategy of adhering to its traditional approach to producing some of the world’s most highly acclaimed fine wine.
Chief Executive Officer Paul Draper, who joined Ridge as Winemaker in 1969, celebrated his 80th birthday in March and decided it was the perfect time to step back and pass the responsibilities for day-to-day management of the company to 17-year Ridge veteran Mark Vernon. Mr. Vernon joined Ridge as General Manager in 1998, and has been Ridge’s President & Chief Operating Officer for the past seven years. He will become Ridge’s Chief Executive Officer. “Mark has contributed tremendously to the smooth operation and success of Ridge as a business and deeply understands and supports our approach of making single vineyard, traditionally made fine wine.” said Mr. Draper. “I have full confidence in Mark’s ability to keep Ridge moving forward with the core values that have brought us so much success in our first fifty years” continued Mr. Draper. Although retiring, Mr. Draper will ensure a smooth transition while he continues in his role as Chairman of the Board.
Eric Baugher, who joined Ridge in 1994 and has been Vice President and Winemaker of the Monte Bello Winery since 2001 will be promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Winemaker for the Monte Bello Winery. John Olney, who joined Ridge in 1996 and has been Vice President and Winemaker of the Lytton Springs Winery since 2001 will be promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Winemaker for the Lytton Springs Winery. “Eric and John have been running their respective wineries with my guidance for many years and though we have made the major tasting decisions together, they have been the ones managing all of the day to day winemaking decisions for the past decade. These are their wines, not mine, and these wines have achieved the most consistent high quality of any decade of our 50 year history. “When it comes to decisions about Ridge’s wines, going forward Eric and John will have the ultimate authority to decide which vineyards we work with, our wine making approach as well as decisions about quality and quantity of production” continued Mr. Draper.
David Amadia who joined Ridge in 2005 and has been Vice President of Sales & Marketing since 2009, will be promoted to President. In addition to Sales & Marketing, Mr. Amadia will be responsible for managing Ridge’s Finance, IT, Customer Service, Warehousing/Fulfilment, and Administration functions. David will have primary responsibility for managing the company’s budget process and monitoring its P&L results. “David has built a highly regarded and successful sales and marketing team at Ridge and has proven himself to be a tremendously skilled manager. Under David’s leadership the company has enjoyed growth and sales success in direct to consumer, domestic wholesale, as well as in over 40 international markets” explained Mr. Draper.
David Gates, who joined Ridge in 1989 as Vineyard Manager and who has been Vice President of Vineyard Operations since 2001 will be promoted to Senior Vice President of Vineyard Operations. “David is one of the most knowledgeable and respected vineyardists in California. To attempt great wine you must start with the highest quality grapes. David first mastered the approach necessary to grow the finest Bordeaux varietals at Monte Bello and went on to become the leading expert in growing the fine Zinfandel. Since the early nineties David’s expertise has led to a long series of great vintages” said Mr. Draper.
Nicole Buttitta will be promoted to Senior Vice President of Human Resources and is also Ridge’s Corporate Secretary. Ms. Buttitta joined Ridge in 2002 as Director of Human Resources and has been Vice President of Human resources since 2006. “Nicole has done an outstanding job ensuring that we have one of the most highly skilled and motivated workforces in the wine industry and has brilliantly championed our humanistic approach to employee relations,” commented Mr. Vernon.
Ryan Moore, who joined Ridge in 2010 as Director of Direct to Consumer Sales will be promoted to Vice President of Consumer Sales. Ryan oversees all aspects of Ridge’s direct to consumer sales including our two tasting rooms, our wine clubs, consumer events, and telephone and web sales. “Since Ryan’s arrival at Ridge our direct to consumer revenue has grown by 74% which is among the highest rates of growth in the industry” said David Amadia. “He is one of the most knowledgeable, capable and respected direct to consumer marketers in the industry” added Mr. Amadia.
Michael Torino, with eight exceptional years with Ridge as Eastern Regional Sales Manager for the wholesale channel will be promoted to Vice President of US Wholesale Sales. “Mike is the consummate sales professional” said David Amadia. “He has built strong relationships with distributors, restaurants, and retail accounts and is highly regarded among his peers” continued Mr. Amadia.
“Ridge has worked hard to successfully attract and develop a strong group of talented individuals that are passionate about fine wine and the philosophy of Ridge. I am confident the time is right to step back from day to day management of the company knowing that Ridge is in such good hands. As Board Chairman I will insure that the new leadership team has the resources and support they need to carry our success far into the future” concluded Mr. Draper.
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