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Winebow Group and Brown-Forman name new CEOs, and More News

Appointments and Announcements 

Richmond, Virginia: The Winebow Group, has just promoted Dean Ferrell to president and CEO, and Ian Downey has been appointed to the newly created position of executive vice president of Winebow Imports.

Ferrell, who was the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Winebow Group, succeeds David Townsend.

Louisville, Kentucky: Paul C. Varga, the CEO of Brown-Forman Corp., will retire on December 31, the company said. Varga, who has been with the company for 31 years, will be succeeded by Lawson E. Whiting, the current EVP and chief operating officer. Whiting will be the tenth executive leader of Brown-Forman since its founding in 1870 by George Garvin Brown.

Miami, Florida and Dallas, Texas: The summer school bell is set to ring at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the largest North American wine and spirits distribution company.

The company’s education programs are ramping up, and now include Italian Wine Professional, French Wine Scholar and Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 in Spirits. An Introduction to Sake course is upcoming. With increased education offerings, Southern Glazer’s sales force has gained more than 2,000 new certifications over the past two years.

“Our mission is to have the best-educated sales force on earth,” said Eric Hemer, senior vice president and director of Wine Education.

The programs, open to any employee, start with introductory courses in wine, spirits and sake on the company’s online learning portal, Southern Glazer’s University (SGU).

The learning continues via online and classroom instruction for certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and the Society of Wine Educators (SWE), as well as other advanced education and certifications.

Sydney, Australia: Global private equity firm The Carlyle Group said its acquisition of 100% of Australian vintner Accolade Wines, one of the world’s largest wine companies, is complete. Ari Mervis, former chief executive officer of Murray Goulburn and previously regional managing director for Asia Pacific of SABMiller, will take up the role of executive chairman in August.

Published reports price the deal at 1 billion Australian dollars ($772 million).

Accolade Wines owns a portfolio of more than 50 brands and has 1,550 employees globally. The company’s labels include premium wines Geyser Peak, Atlas Peak and XYZin.