Chief Marketing Officer, Foley Family Wines
“I was fortunate to be exposed to the wine industry at a very young age,” says Gerard Thoukis. “My grandfather was a wine and spirits maker on the island of Cyprus. My father immigrated to the U.S. to study winemaking at [University of California,] Davis, and retired as the VP of winemaking for E. & J. Gallo.”
Thoukis followed familial footsteps, studying fermentation science at Davis and then working for 21 years at E. & J. Gallo, most recently as senior director of marketing, luxury and retail on premise.
He joined Foley Family Wines as senior vice president of marketing and commercial capability in 2017. Two years later, he assumed his current role as chief marketing officer.
“Foley Family Wines had intrigued me for many years,” he tells Wine Enthusiast. “I realized that the Foley family and Foley Family Wines organization was committed to investing in the business for the long-term and striving for success in the luxury wine market. I believed I could help that success.”
And, indeed, he has.
Over the past three years, Thoukis has assisted in the company’s various acquisitions, including Acrobat, Banshee and Ferrari-Carano. The scope of his work has also encompassed leading teams responsible for direct consumer communications, product development and branding, analytics, pricing and market-channel strategizing.
Though the last year has presented unique challenges, like navigating the effects of the fires, the pandemic and associated tasting room and winery closures, and the industry’s shift toward the direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketplace, Thoukis has taken them in stride. He says that he—along with Foley Family Wine’s executive leadership team, led by President Shawn Schiffer—has made the commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all employees a top priority.
“We understood that if our team members felt safe, secure and supported by the organization, we would be able to navigate through anything that occurred throughout the year,” he says.
From a business standpoint, Thoukis says Foley Family Wines already had a stronghold in the retail and DTC markets, including e-commerce. He points to the Foley Food & Wine Society, which he describes as celebrating three of life’s greatest passions: food, wine and consumer experiences.
“In hindsight, this effort positioned Foley Family Wines extremely well to help offset the challenges faced in the on-premise channel for our business,” he says.
Looking toward the future, Thoukis says his business mantra is, “Make Foley Family Wines a great place to work and get better every day.”
“We have no aspirations of becoming the largest wine company in the world,” he says. “However, we strive to become the most efficient and to ensure that our industry partners and customers view Foley Family Wines as the most prepared, innovative, focused and supportive luxury wine partner in the industry.”
And it is for that efficiency, innovation, focus and industry support that Wine Enthusiast is proud to honor Gerard Thoukis as its Wine Executive of the Year. —Stacy Briscoe