Duckhorn CEO Alex Ryan leaves

  • After almost 13 years in the position
  • Praise, thanks and good wishes for Ryan
  • Deirdre Mahlan taking over temporarily
  • Search for a successor

(exechange) — St. Helena, California, September 27, 2023 — Alex Ryan, chief executive of Duckhorn, leaves his position. As announced by Duckhorn Portfolio Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, Alex Ryan leaves his post as chief executive officer at the luxury wine company, after almost 13 years in the role, effective immediately.

Generally speaking, it raises questions when a CEO leaves his post abruptly.

Duckhorn will undertake a search for a successor.

Alex Ryan’s duties as CEO will be taken over temporarily by Deirdre Mahlan, a former President at Diageo North America, Inc., as interim Chief Executive Officer.

Already a director

Mahlan has already been a member of the board of directors of Duckhorn. Generally speaking, most director-turned-CEO appointments occur following a sudden resignation of the outgoing CEO and signal a lack of preparedness on the company’s part to groom internal talent. Directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Mahlan understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Duckhorn’s organization, risk-management practices and strategy.

“To focus on family and personal matters”

The management change is explained as follows. Duckhorn independent director, Michelle Gloeckler, who will chair the CEO search committee, stated: “Alex dedicated his professional life to growing our business, and he has now decided to step away to focus on family and personal matters, and offered to be available to the company to ensure a smooth transition.”

Precise information regarding Alex Ryan’s future plans was not immediately available.


Duckhorn said: “Alex Ryan is retiring from his role as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the company.”

Duckhorn further said: “On September 24, 2023, Alex Ryan notified The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc. (the “Company”) of his intention to retire from his positions as President, Chief Executive Officer and chairperson and member of the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of the Company, effective September 27, 2023.”

Share price decline since September 2021

The announcement follows a decline in Duckhorn Portfolio Inc.’s share price of 47% since September 2021.

In the position of CEO since 2011

Alex Ryan became CEO of the Company in 2011.

Ryan has served as the Company’s President since 2005 and the Company’s Chief Executive Officer since 2011.

He has served as Chairman of the Board since 2012.

He previously served as the Company’s General Manager and Chief Operating Officer beginning in 2000.

Ryan moved to St. Helena in 1976 and began working at Duckhorn part-time during high school and joined the Company full-time after earning his degree in viticulture from California State University at Fresno in 1988.

Ryan was the Vineyard Manager throughout the early 1990s, and later became the Vice President of Vineyard and Winery Operations.

Since he became President and Chief Executive Officer, Ryan successfully launched the Migration winery brand, featuring the first Chardonnay in the Company’s three-decade history, rolled out the expanded Decoy and Decoy Limited winery brand, established Canvasback in Washington State and Postmark in California’s Central Coast region and spearheaded the acquisitions of Calera Wine Company in 2017 and Kosta Browne in 2018.

Ryan was honored as the Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards Wine Executive of the Year in 2018.

No statement by Alex Ryan

In the release announcing his departure as CEO of Duckhorn Portfolio Inc., Alex Ryan received praise, thanks and good wishes.

The announcement of his departure as CEO does not include a statement by Alex Ryan.

Push-out Score for Alex Ryan’s move determined

The Push-out Score indicates on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely it is that Alex Ryan was pushed out or felt pressure to leave his position.

exechange reached out to Duckhorn and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 40.2023 ($).