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Stephen Rust To Lead Diageo Chateau & Estate; Schubert To Head Up New Canada-Control State Division

March 7, 2014

Diageo North America has tapped senior executive Stephen Rust to become president of its Diageo Chateau & Estate (DC&E) wine unit. Rust replaces current DC&E president Claudia Schubert, who will lead a new Diageo division that combines its Canadian business and U.S. control state operations.

Rust told SND that his first priority at DC&E is to continue the strategies that saw a return to growth under Schubert’s leadership. The longer-range goal will be to significantly increase DC&E’s scale. “Our objective is to more than double the size of this business, and we’ll be looking at a variety of ways to construct that,” Rust added. “Now that DC&E is in a very healthy state, we’re very bullish on wine.”

DC&E’s California properties include Beaulieu Vineyard, Sterling, Provenance, Acacia and Rosenblum Cellars in the Napa Valley as well as Chalone Estate in the Central Coast. Its import business features an extensive Burgundy lineup that includes Domaines Pierre Gelin, Georges Roumier, Jean Grivot, Anne Gros, Aurelian Verdet, Tollot-Beaut, Courcel, Pierre Matrot, Blain-Gagnard, Jacques Gagnard-Delagrange, Michel Niellon, Bruno Colin, Philippe Colin, Alain Chavy, Jean-Louis Chavy, Laurent Cognard, Auvigue and Vocoret. DC&E also recently added Campo Eliseo and Campo Alegre wines from Spain. Its other imports include Chilean label Almaviva (a joint venture between Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA and Viña Concha y Toro) and owned brand Navarro Correas from Argentina.

“Over and above the brands that we own, we have some very dynamic partnerships in Spain and France,” Rust said. “We’ll be looking to strengthen those relationships, and we’ll also be looking to add new ones.”

Another DC&E asset is a new array of “lifestyle” wines including Butterfly Kiss, Rose’n’blum and Stark Raving, an initiative launched in 2012. Those wines are mainly Millennial-focused and retail in the $10-$15 range.

While taking on his new wine assignment, Rust also will retain some of his previous responsibilities on the spirits side. His full title in this new move is President, Reserve and DC&E. The Diageo Reserve business, comprising the company’s most luxurious spirits products, has been growing at double-digit rates. New initiatives include its Orphan Barrel project, which locates rare whiskies from around the world for bottling and marketing.

While Rust has long been focused on spirits at Diageo, he’s very familiar with the wine world, having spent a dozen years at Schieffelin & Somerset, where he served as executive vice president of national sales. “Part of the reason I was chosen for the DC&E role is because I have a background in wine as well as spirits,” Rust noted. “I have an affinity for the wine culture, and that dates back to my days at Schieffelin.”

Rust will be based in Diageo’s headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut. As part of these new appointments, Aren Korte, currently senior vice president of Supply Finance & Category Management, will become general manager of DC&E. He’ll be based in Napa and report directly to Rust.

Schubert, whose new title is president, Control States and Canada, rejoins the control state business, where she had served as general manager for its western division earlier in her career. She takes over the control state piece from long-time Diageo executive Greg Armstrong, who will retire early next year. Meanwhile, Diageo Canada’s newly appointed president Jakob Ripshtein will report directly to Schubert. Diageo recently shifted from a direct sales model to a broker model in Canada, appointing Wirtz Beverage Group as its exclusive broker for the market.

All the new appointments are effective July 1.

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