SAN FRANCISCO — Wine Institute announced today that Rick Slomka, Director of California Wines Canada will be retiring on June 30, 2020. He will leave behind a strong legacy after 26-plus years successfully representing Golden State wines.
In the coming months, Wine Institute will conduct a search for a new Director of California Wines Canada to be appointed Dec. 1, 2019 with Slomka supporting the transition during the first half of 2020.
Slomka has been a driving force in the growth of the California wine category in Canada. He joined Wine Institute in 1992 and, during his tenure, U.S. wine exports to Canada, 95 percent from California, have grown from 4.1 million cases to more than 8.3 million cases of bulk and bottled wine annually in 2018 with a retail value of more than $1 billion. In 2015, California became the #1 import category in Canada by volume and value, surpassing the historical category leaders, Italy and France. Additionally, Canada has been the #1 single country export market for California wines by value for the last decade.
“Rick has contributed more than two decades of outstanding work in building the reputation of California wines and winegrowing regions and we celebrate his achievements,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “Rick has provided strategic leadership, forged strong relationships with stakeholders across Canada and provided valuable counsel to all of our members. We thank him for his service and dedication.”
“It has been an honour to lead California Wines over the last 26 years,” said Slomka. “I have been humbled by the commitment and hard work of our vintners, agents and wine community, and their passion for creating incredible wines and an impeccable reputation for the California wine category in Canada. I am very grateful to them and many other stakeholders, especially liquor board partners and retailers, with whom we built long-term, sustainable relationships. I extend my gratitude to the Wine Institute team for their partnership and dedication and I look forward to working closely with them during the transition. And finally, a big thank-you to my Canadian team here whose inspiration and support have contributed to our great success.”
“Rick has been crucial to California wine’s growth and overall success in Canada,” said Honore Comfort, Wine Institute Vice President of International Marketing. “He is an outstanding leader who understands our business and the environment in Canada. Rick will be missed, but he has ensured that we will be well positioned for the future.”
California Wine Institute
Wine Institute is the public policy association of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization also works to enhance the economic and environmental health of California through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices and a strong partnership with Visit California to increase tourism to the state’s wine regions. U.S. wine exports, more than 95 percent from California, is supported by 13 global representative offices that conduct marketing programs, a consumer website discovercaliforniawines.com in nine languages, social media campaigns in 18 countries, and educational tools and videos.
The Canada office coordinates numerous promotional activities every year designed to educate and inform media, trade and consumers about the quality and diversity of wines available from the Golden State. U.S. wine exports were $1.46 billion in winery revenues in 2018, and Canada accounted for one-third of that total or $449 million.
–California Wine Institute
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