Duckhorn’s Alex Ryan On The Napa Winery’s Move To Go PublicOctober 21, 2021
Speaking recently at the 45th Annual Impact Marketing Seminar, Duckhorn president and CEO Alex Ryan delivered an address on “Becoming a Publicly Traded Company.” Ryan and company founder Dan Duckhorn rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on March 18 of this year to herald Duckhorn’s inauguration as a publicly traded company. In his speech, he took a long view of the company’s progress, leading from its inception in 1976 up through this year’s public offering.
Ryan described the first pivotal decision Dan and Margaret Duckhorn made that set them up for future success: reacting to the growing sophistication of the U.S. wine consumer in the late 70s, they took a cue from Bordeaux and championed Napa Valley Merlot, which had up to that point been used as a blending grape.
Another crucial moment was the launch of Decoy by Duckhorn. Spurred by the disruptive effects the Great Recession had on wine consumption, the company saw an opportunity to introduce an affordable luxury option. It was a huge success—rather than cannibalizing sales from the company’s other wines, instead Decoy served as a calling card to bring new consumers and trade accounts into the overall portfolio, and is now above 1 million cases in annual volume, according to Impact Databank.
That legacy of daring to try what others wouldn’t continued with the decision to launch an IPO during a pandemic. “Some of our most significant accomplishments have been achieved during the most trying of times,” Ryan said. “During periods of market adversity, we created or sought out new opportunities. When others were cautious, we were unafraid to take intelligent risk, making us stronger, more dynamic and more profitable. The mark of a great winery isn’t what you can achieve in a perfect vintage, it’s what you can achieve in the most challenging ones.”—Danny SullivanSubscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.