Case Study

Search Details

Job Title: Director of Winemaking
Seniority: Director level
Search Type: Retained search
Job Location: Napa Valley, CA, USA
Link to job description
Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa Valley, CA

Our Client

Company: Robert Mondavi Winery
Ownership: Constellation Brands
Company Industry: Wines & Spirits (Fine Wine)
Company Type: Public Company
Client contacts: SVP of Winemaking, VP of Luxury Winemaking and HR Director of Operations Services

Company Description

Our client for this Director of Winemaking search is a leading publicly traded group in the wine, spirits, and beer categories. Through their Wine division, they own wineries around the world, including some of the most famous ones in the Napa Valley area, California.

Search Overview

This position oversees all winemaking operations at one of the most renowned wineries in Napa Valley. It also works closely with Grower Relations and the Viticulture Department to select outside grower vineyards for specific programs, as well as to maintain and enhance the wine quality of both outside and estate vineyards.

Search Challenges

There were three main challenges in this recruitment process. The first was finding a Senior Winemaker or Director of Winemaking with extensive experience in top-rated wines, who would not be deterred by the large volume produced by this globally renowned winery. This also meant we had to find someone from the Napa Valley itself, as this is where the vast majority of the top rated wines are from in the US. The second challenge involved focusing on diversity candidates in a role and industry traditionally lacking in diversity, without compromising on skills and experience. The last challenge stemmed from the fact that many winemakers are not connected to the same corporate networks as other executives. Identifying them meant implementing more creative solutions to create a “long list” of candidates.

Our Executive Search Strategy

  • Prior experience in the Napa Valley or Sonoma area
  • A strong focus on quality and a successful track record with top-rated wines, regularly scoring over 95 points
  • A candidate with diverse background, considering aspects of gender, ethnicity, LGBT+, etc.

Our Executive Search Process

This process was coordinated by the Talent Acquisition team and involved the SVP of Winemaking, the VP of Luxury Winemaking, and the HR Director for Operations Services. The search began with a kick-off meeting that included everyone, outlining all specific expectations and challenges. On ACCUR’s side, the team comprised the Managing Partner, a Senior Recruitment Consultant, and a Research Manager. We kept track of all identified, contacted, interviewed, and presented candidates in our Progress Report and organized a weekly progress call with the client team. This allowed us to calibrate the search during weeks one and two and ensured efficient discussions about our questions and the client’s feedback in a timely manner.

Our search began by mapping all the top-rated wineries in the country. We then identified key winemakers in various ways:

  • Referrals from our extensive network of Wine & Spirits Executives
  • A proactive direct approach on LinkedIn
  • Connecting to associations and clubs of winemakers
  • Browsing wineries’ websites
  • Sourcing from winemaking articles

Final Outcome

  • List of over 400 Senior Winemakers.
  • 40 screened,
  • 28 candidates interviewed,
  • 15 candidates presented to the employer including 7 “diversity candidates”

-> The hired candidate came from a smaller, high-end winery, which helps our client achieve its goal of elevating their wine production to a premium level.

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