Terry Wheatley, who has spent her entire career in the wine industry, recently achieved a new milestone when she became the first woman president of a wine company to take that business public. In June, 2021, Vintage Wine Estates became listed on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol VWE. This achievement could rightfully be considered the apex moment of a career, but Wheatley considers herself just getting started.
She began her wine journey in the executive suite of E. & J. Gallo as a young administrative assistant on a bet. Her husband, a professional rodeo cowboy on his way to a weekend of rodeos, wagered she couldn’t find a job by the time he returned. She did, and he lost the bet.
Wheatley’s competitive spirit was sparked on a ranch in Red Bluff, Calif., in the company of tough cowboys and tougher women. As a competitive trick rider, Wheatley learned to love winning, an attitude that has defined her successful sales, marketing and brand creation career. At Sutter Home/ Trinchero Family Estates, Wheatley was instrumental as a supplier partner launching Target’s hugely successful wine and spirits category. Her signature innovation was the Wine Cube.
After Trinchero, Wheatley started her own wine company, called Canopy Management, with clever and accessible wine brands such as Middle Sister and Purple Cowboy. In 2014, Canopy was acquired by Vintage Wine Estates, where she and CEO/Founder Pat Roney embarked on one of the most successful acquisition, direct-to-consumer, e-commerce, business-to-business and wholesale strategies in the wine industry. The market took notice last June and Vintage Wine Estates became a public company.
With a unique combination of creativity and business savvy, Wheatley has forged the way for women in the wine industry. Mentorship of the next generation of young female wine leaders and entrepreneurs is a top priority for her. A breast cancer survivor, she cofounded Tough Enough to Wear Pink™, the Western community’s campaign to help families facing breast cancer. The campaign started in 2004 when she convinced the cowboys at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to wear pink one night to raise awareness. To date, the campaign, supported by her brand creation Purple Cowboy among others, has raised awareness and funds at rodeos and Western events around the country. Wheatley also chairs the Board of Directors at CannaCraft, Inc., California’s second-largest cannabis company.