California wine industry unveils "dream team" to represent it in the UK

A new team featuring Justin Knock MW, Damien Jackman, Rosamund Barton, Rupert Ponsonby and Sue Glasgow has been assembled to promote Californian wines in the UK.

Business partners Knock and Jackman, owners of London independent wine merchant Philglass & Swiggot, will manage trade representation and serve as brand ambassadors.

They have created a new group called Golden State Wines UK through which they will champion wines from California.

R&R Teamwork, a seven-strong PR agency whose clients include Hatch Mansfield and Gonzalez Byass, will provide PR and media relations, while Glasgow’s Spear Communications will manage an annual UK tasting event.

Linsey Gallagher, vice president for international marketing at the Wine Institute of California in San Francisco, said: “California vintners are committed to our largest wine export market in Europe and one of the largest export markets for us worldwide.

“We are so excited to have this dream team come together to support our category-building efforts in the very important UK market. We have a strong California Wines brand in the UK with positive trends, and we have ambitious plans to accelerate our sales to the UK in the future.”

In 2015, California wine sales in the UK reached $284 million, according to export figures. California Wine Institute plans to increase sales to the UK to $400 million by the end of the decade. 

The Wine Institute said Knock has “extensive experience” in California wine production and in wine ambassador work across the UK and Europe. He is a former winemaker, a wine judge and winemaking consultant to Encirc.  

Jackman is a lawyer and was was part of the executive leadership team for Treasury Wine Estates in the UK and Europe. As general counsel for TWE, Jackman had responsibility for government and regulatory issues across all UK and European markets, including labelling, excise and importation issues. 

The Wine Institute said: “Jackman and Knock’s prior experience will allow them to develop strategies for individual and chain-based retail promotions as well as promotions in restaurants and hotels supporting California Wines. In addition to focusing on London, California Wines programming will be expanded throughout the country.”

John McLaren and Venla Freeman, who headed up the Wine Institute of California in London for many years, have left their roles. 

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