Jose Fernandez, chief executive officer of Constellation Wines North America (CWNA), Victor, N.Y., passed away on Jan. 1 after a battle with brain cancer. He was 54 years old.
A 30-year veteran of the wine industry, Fernandez built a career focused on brand development, sales growth and business leadership. He joined Constellation Brands in 2001 and played a key role in the rapid growth of the company's wine business, including the acquisition and integration of the Robert Mondavi Corp., Vincor USA and Beam Wine Estates. After serving in a number of leadership roles, Fernandez was named chief executive officer of CWNA in 2007.
"We are deeply saddened by Jose's death," said Rob Sands, Constellation Brands president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "Jose was an enthusiastic leader and an innovator whose vision played a significant role in the growth and direction of the company. A classically trained conductor from the Julliard School, Jose melded his artistic passion with clear business acumen. We extend our sincerest sympathies to the Fernandez family, particularly his wife and children, who meant the world to him. He was a wonderful person with great values and will be missed by everyone across our entire organization."
To ensure continuity of Constellation's North American wine business, Jay Wright, president of CWNA, will continue to lead the organization and report to Sands. Wright, who assumed his role on Dec. 1, was named executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Constellation Wines U.S. in March 2009. Prior to that, he served as president of Vincor Canada since Oct. 2001.