The Wine Group Founder Art Ciocca Dies at 84

Arthur “Art” Ciocca, founder of The Wine Group, has passed away at the age of 84. Known for his vision, entrepreneurial spirit, integrity, and deep-rooted values, Art was the founder of The Wine Group and its CEO for 26 years.  

A successful entrepreneur, Art was passionate about the subject and generously invested his time supporting other entrepreneurs. He formed The Wine Group in 1981 when he and his associates purchased the wine assets of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York, then a minor player in the wine industry. Today, The Wine Group is the second largest wine company in the United States.

“Art Ciocca is the heart and soul of this company,” said Cate Hardy, CEO of The Wine Group. “He built its foundation, and his legacy lives on in the entrepreneurial spirt, passion, and determination of everyone in this organization. Art’s vision will continue to inspire us for generations to come.”


In 2006, Ciocca reflected on his career in the book, Thinking Outside the Box: The Wine Group Story, in which he commented:

“I’m proud and thankful for what I’ve accomplished. I feel blessed that we had the opportunity to build a company and contribute to the development of this extraordinary industry. I feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time with exactly the skill set that was needed. This was the perfect opportunity for a young entrepreneur who was looking for a place to make his mark.”

Art attended College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he enrolled in a four-year U.S. Navy ROTC program. Following graduation in 1959, he entered the Navy where he performed his naval duties during the day and attended graduate school at night, earning his MBA. Art then worked for General Foods, E. & J. Gallo Winery, and the wine division of Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York before forming his own company – The Wine Group.


He is survived by his wife Carlyse, with whom he has developed numerous philanthropic foundations, beginning with the Ciocca Foundation in 1996 focused on education. In recent years, the couple created the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship at Catholic University, the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, and the Carlyse and Arthur A. Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics and Society at Arthur’s alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross.


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