PRESIDENT & CEO
We believe the chemistry of the people around the wine is just as important as the chemistry that goes into it. To make Llano Estacado into what it is today, Mark Hyman put his faith in three people in particular: Greg Bruni, V.P. Executive Winemaker; Bill Freidhof, V.P. Sales & Marketing; and Pegi Saran, V.P. Finance & Administration. Mark firmly believes that Llano has the finest, most experienced winery management team in the state. Which is why the winery continues to shine.
Mark cut his teeth in the wine industry in the ‘80s with The Seagram Wine Company, Vintners International, and the Heublein Fine Wine Group. He joined Llano in 1994 as V.P. of Sales & Marketing. As time progressed, so did he, becoming Executive V.P. in 1999, then President/ COO in January 2001, and finally President/ CEO in 2008.
Since Mark joined the team in 1994, sales have more than tripled and the reputation of the winery has soared. He knows the future at Llano Estacado to be brighter than a West Texas sunrise. “We will be faced with significant challenges and worldwide competition, but bottom line is we will continue to grow by creating new product innovation and catering to what the consumer wants.”
Mark’s role in this future will be critical. His position at Llano Estacado and his industry knowledge and experience make him a key figure in the Texas wine industry. He attends or sits on various industry groups, advisory councils, and boards where he proudly represents the state’s largest premium winery.
As an established California winemaker, Greg Bruni made a bold choice to uproot and start over at a winery in West Texas. But that’s exactly what he did. In 1993, he followed his viticultural bliss from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the High Plains to become Llano’s V.P. of Winemaking.
Greg’s family founded the San Martin Winery where he began working at the age of 12, the third generation in the wine industry. But upon graduation from high school, Greg had no plans to enter the family business. Luckily for us, California’s premium wine boom drew Greg back to wine and off to UC Davis for a B.S. in Winemaking.
Returning to the San Martin Winery then moving on to the Bandiera Winery, Arciero Winery, and Byington Winery, Greg garnered extensive recognition in the U.S. and internationally. His arrival at Llano Estacado in 1993 marked a turning point for the winemaker and the winery.
“When I first visited Llano Estacado Winery,” said Bruni, “I found everything that had first inspired me to fall in love with winemaking: challenge, enthusiasm and an industry just bursting with potential. They wanted me for my winemaking knowledge. That allowed me to be, for the first time in my career, focused exclusively on what I loved: the artistic side of winemaking.”
Working with the extraordinary team at Llano, Greg has vastly improved the quality of the wines, instilled a new sense of urgency in the winery’s grower team, and become a major figure in the Texas wine industry.
SALES & MARKETING
Not satisfied with just one dream, Bill Freidhof strove for two. He made a name for himself in the world of sports long before making his mark in the world of wine. Bill came to Llano wines after fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a professional baseball player for the Kansas City Royals.
Getting his start in the industry at The Gallo Wine Company, Bill settled at Republic National Distributing in the ‘90s. There he discovered the marketing end of the business and in turn met Mark Hyman.
After 22 years on the distributor side, Bill was elated when Mark asked him to join the Llano team on the other side of the bottle. “I’m glad he did,” Bill said. “It was a great move for me. Llano is a company that’s on the upswing. We are doing many exciting things that continue to grow our business and keep it exciting for everyone involved, including the consumer.”
With more than 20 years as a wine and spirits distributor, he was a natural fit for V.P. of Sales & Marketing—the person to communicate and market Llano wine.
Today, Bill is in charge of sales and marketing for Texas and bordering states. He works closely with distributors to strengthen the presence of Llano wines in the marketplace. A born people-person, Bill loves the daily interaction with others on the job. He describes the “thrill of the sale” with the same zeal he once spoke about turning triple plays.
In line with his new dream, Bill wants to keep the winery in the forefront of what’s happening in the market. And with his help, we will expand the reach of Llano wines farther than it has ever been before.