Debbie Zachareas is the proprietor and managing partner at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco's restored Ferry Building and at the Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant in downtown Napa. She is a luminary for IfOnly and the consulting wine buyer for Boulibar in the Ferry Building. She is a well-known wine judge, lecturer, sommelier, and guest speaker throughout the country.
In Zachareas’ career, she has developed some of the most innovative wine programs that have helped to shape the city's wine culture. She was the founder of one of San Francisco’s most extensive wine programs at bacar restaurant, the wine buyer for the Ashbury Market, EOS Restaurant and Wine Bar, the opening sommelier at Rubicon Restaurant, and the opening wine director at Vertigo in the TransAmerica Building. She won the inaugural Wine Director of the year award for San Francisco Magazine and was the only sommelier ever to have won the award twice. Zachareas has been nationally recognized in many publications, including Food and Wine Magazine, Market Watch, Wine Spectator and Saveur magazines, Bloomberg, Women in Wine Leadership, The California Wine Institute, and was named a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier. She remains a renowned competition judge and brings passion and expertise wine to her profession.
Outside of the industry, Zachareas is a trustee for the French American International School and International High School, as well as Family House, San Francisco. She is involved in numerous fundraisers, including Family House, French American International, Make-a-Wish, and the Food Bank, just to name a few.
Allison Yoder is co-owner of Gemma – an iconic, seasonal, Dallas restaurant she and her chef-husband Stephen Rogers own and operate. Yoder’s emphasis on the wine, cocktails and hospitality program is what helped garner the much-deserved attention and highly acclaimed praise by critics, wine enthusiasts and diners alike. Just last month (December 2015) Gemma was named “10 Best Wine Lists in Dallas” via the Dallas Observer wine reporter, Brian Reinhart. The media has praised her wine list and tagged it as “exemplary”, “best in town” with “no shortage of delightful surprises”.
Gemma is one of Dallas’ most highly sought after dining destinations. Since opening December of 2013, the dynamic duo has received impressive accolades including but not limited to 100 Best Restaurants 2013, D Magazine; Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2013, Eater Dallas; Best New Restaurants 2014, D Magazine; Best of Big D (Best Service), D Magazine; Best of Big D (Best Places to Eat After Midnight), D Magazine; Best New Restaurant 2014, Dallas Morning News; Dallas’ 10 Best Restaurants, Zagat; 5 Most Exciting Restaurants in Dallas, Modern Luxury Magazine; highly sought after 4-star review by Leslie Brenner, Dallas Morning News; #3 of Top 10 Best Restaurants in Texas – Where to Eat Now 2015, Texas Monthly; Best New Restaurants in Three Cities, The Week; Dallas Goes Local, Travel & Leisure Magazine; Dallas’ Top 10 Must-Have Restaurant Reservations, USA Today; 10 Best Wine Lists in Dallas, Dallas Observer; and many more…
Yoder grew up in Reedsville, Pennsylvania, a small rural community 168 miles northwest of Philadelphia, where farm to table was the norm, not the exception. They picked their fruit and vegetables from her mother’s garden or her grandmother’s orchard - filled with apples and cherries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Her father was a dairy farmer, and she and her older sister and younger brother woke up at 4 a.m. to help milk the 200 head of Holstein milk cows before school each day.
In 1988, Yoder attended University of the Arts in Philadelphia to study vocal performance and opera while working as a server to pay the bills. After graduation, she worked with the Virginia Opera company’s young artists program. When her contract was up, she decided relocated to New York to pursue her dream of being an opera singer.
After 10 years in New York, Yoder moved to Miami with the goal of gaining managerial experience in restaurants. She worked as an assistant manager at Prime 112 - a celebrity hangout and one of the hottest restaurants in South Beach. Just two years later, Yoder was offered a job as general manager at PRESS in St. Helena, in the heart of Napa Valley. She helped develop one of the most extensive all Napa Valley wine lists, which, together with an updated menu using seasonal ingredients, helped PRESS become one of the top dining destinations in Napa Valley. The dynamic husband and wife team (Rogers was executive chef) attracted San Francisco’s esteemed food critic Michael Bauer who gave the restaurant three out of four stars – twice – and called it “...the perfect marriage between food and wine.”
For an encore, she and Rogers decided it was time to go solo, move to Dallas (Rogers’ hometown) and open their very own restaurant, Gemma. In Latin, gemma means the bud of a plant; in Italian, “the precious one.”
David has worked for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) for over 25 years in a number of roles. He is currently part of WSET’s international business development team, with responsibility for the important US market as well as WSET’s international PR effort. Over his time with WSET David has seen the organisation grow from a handful of people managing three qualifications to the scale it is today: over 80 employees offering 8 qualifications in 18 languages across 66 countries to over 60,000 candidates a year, an achievement which won WSET a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2015.
David is a qualified teacher and a Master of Wine. He represents WSET on the Institute of Masters of Wine’s Education and Examination Board, and is part of the faculty that delivers WSET’s Educator Training Program around the world. Outside WSET, David is a non-executive Director of the International Wine and Spirit Competition, and has judged in a number of other wine competitions from France to Japan. At home, David is a Director of a community interest company which manages a nature reserve close by. He also enjoys walking in the mountains and by the sea, travelling on Britain’s inland waterways, classical music and cooking.
Originally from Adelaide, South Australia Matt Wilkin Master Sommelier has travelled the globe for 27 years immersing himself in all facets of the wine industry. from humble beginnings in the McLaren Vale region, before venturing further afield to the UK in 1998 following a number of years working in restaurants and vineyards throughout Australia and France.
Matt has held a variety of prestigious roles including Executive Sommelier with Chef Eric Chavot at the Michelin two-starred Capital Restaurant and Hotel Group Knightsbridge London, where he oversaw wine purchasing, staff training, private client tastings and cellar management for 6 operations. He now jointly owns and runs London-based wine company H2Vin ltd specialising in the Loire, Burgundy and Rhône. Matt also consults several highly rated London restaurants, is proactively involved in the Court of Master Sommeliers as an Examiner and a regular Judge for the UK Sommelier of the Year Competition and Decanter World Wine Awards.
His dedication to his trade has been recognised through a number of high profile Awards and Academic achievements including: Champagne Trophée Ruinart UK Sommelier of the Year 2005, MS Diploma The Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide, WSET Diploma, The Dom Perignon Award of Excellence 2004, Wine International Sommelier of the Year 2002, Harpers & Queen / Moët & Chandon UK Sommelier of the Year 2002, Hunters & Frankau 2002 Cigar Travel Award Scholarship, The Gosset Champagne Trophée Cèlébris 2002 for Best Wine List UK and, most recently, Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK.
Away from wine Matt is an avid skier, canoeist, mountain trekker and sports motorcyclist.
Paul Wagner studied sociology and education at U. C. Santa Cruz and classical guitar at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Seville, Spain.
After several positions in Public Relations and Marketing in the wine industry in Napa Valley, Mr. Wagner formed Balzac Communications & Marketing on April 1, 1991. Current clients include Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, Wagner Family of Wines, Wente Vineyards, Mendocino Wine Company, Simply Italian, Sogevinus of Portugal, Bodegas Salentein, Villa Trasqua, Miner Wines, Rioja Alavesa, and a host of other wine and food specialists.
He has been an instructor for Napa Valley College's Viticulture and Enology department for the past twenty-one years. In addition he teaches at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, is a guest lecturer at many universities and has spoken at more than eighty conferences throughout the world on wine business, communications, wine tourism, public affairs, wine, and wine marketing.
With Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, he authored a book: Wine Marketing & Sales, Strategies for a Saturated Market by The Wine Appreciation Guild, which won the Gourmand International Award in 2008 for the best wine book of the year for professionals. A second edition of that work was published in 2011, and a third edition is underway. He was a columnist for Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine for ten years, contributes to Allexperts.com in the field of wine and food, and served on the board of directors of the Society of Wine Educators for many years. With Rick Kushman of Capital Public Radio, he hosts “Bottle Talk” at http://www.rickandpaulwine.com/ a weekly conversation about wine.
Paul Wagner has judged many international wine competitions, is a founding member of the Academy of Wine Communications, a member of the nominations committee of the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Spadarini della Castellania di Soave in 2005. In 2009 he was honored with a “Life Dedicated to Wine” award at the Feria Nacional del Vino (FENAVIN) in Spain.
Certified Master Sake & Shochu Sommelier, Jizake Educator. Born in Japan where his family has grown Japanese wine grape, Koshu, for generations, Toshio grew up helping the business from a young age. Following his college education in the US and employment at an international trading company in Tokyo, Toshio joined Chateraise, a pastry and wine company as Director of Sales. There, he was put in charge of overseeing the personal wine collection of the company's president, which intrigued him to enter the world of wine stewardship and research. Toshio joined Mutual Trading Company in 2002, where he is Manger of the Business Development Department in marketing Japanese foods, Jizake, and Shochu to the mainstream American trade. With his passion and expertise in Jizake, Shochu, and Wine, Toshio aims to further promote Japanese food and Sake cultures to new, international audiences. He has hosted "The Science of Sake" VIP Sake Pairing , "Mystery of Sake" VIP Sake Investigation Lecture,"LA Sake Festival" Sake Education Class, and "Japanese Food Festival" Sake Seminar in 2009. Since 2010, he has been Vice President & Executive Instructor at Sake School of America.
MARGUERITE THOMAS is an award-winning photo-journalist specializing in wine, food and travel. She is a columnist at Wine Review Online, and is a columnist at Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine. Her photos and articles have appeared in scores of publications, including Gourmet, Elle, Santé, The Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, and National Geographic Traveler. She has written a cookbook, and two books about wines of the Eastern United States. She has frequently served as a judge in wine competitions in the US and Europe. Professional organizations to which she belongs include the Wine Media Guild, New York Wine Press, IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), and Les Dames d’Escoffier, . She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband wine writer Paul Lukacs.
Dr. Liz Thach, MW (pronounced “tosh”) is a management and wine business professor at Sonoma State University in the Wine Business Institute where she teaches in both the undergraduate and Wine MBA programs. In addition, she has 10 years of executive and management level experience at Fortune 500 companies and has done consulting and research projects for more than 30 different wineries. Liz’s passion is wine, and she has visited most of the major wine regions of the world and more than 30 countries. In addition, she is an awarding winning author and has published over 120 articles and 8 wine books, including Wine – A Global Business and Wine Marketing & Sales. A fifth generation Californian, Liz finished her Ph.D. at Texas A&M and now lives on Sonoma Mountain where she tends a small hobby vineyard and makes pinot noir wine. She also works as a wine judge in various competitions, and has served on many non-profit wine boards. Liz obtained the distinction of Master of Wine (MW) in May of 2011.
Zachary Sussman is a Brooklyn-based wine writer, educator, and consultant. He is the New York wine columnist for PUNCH, and has written for Saveur, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Bon Appétit, Wine & Spirits Magazine, Beverage Media, Tasting Table, and Wine-Searcher.com, among many others. He was selected as the 2016 Emerging Wine Writer of the Year at the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards.
Guy is one of only 160 Master Sommelier (MS) in the world. He is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), Certified Spirits Specialist (CSS) and on the Executive Board of Directors of the Society of Wine Educators. He is a founding Board member of the Texas Sommelier Association, specializing in education for the hospitality industry in Texas. Guy has been recognized as a Houston Icon for his contribution to the Wine and Food Industry of Texas.
He is the Corporate Director of Beverage Education for The Glazer’s Family of Companies, covering 14 states.
Guy has been the guest featured “wine expert” on the PBS cooking series Cucina Amore with Damian Mandola and Johnny Carrabba, founders of the Carrabba’s Restaurant Chain. He has appeared on a number of radio and television talk shows covering wine and food. Most recently, Guy was a featured speaker at the Smithsonian Institute Folk Life Festival in Washington D.C. lecturing on the Texas wine industry’s current boom and the historical development of Texas wine.
Guy is a member of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and owner, with wife Kimberly, of Stout Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country AVA, producing Syrah grapes.
He is an active wine judge for a variety of national competitions; including the L. A. County Fair, Dallas Morning News, Jefferson Cup, Texas Open and Houston Rodeo Wine Competition.
He is also a graduate of the Wine and Spirits Management Institute at the University of Houston Hilton School for Hotel and Restaurant Management, and Honorary Alumni.
Guy is a member of the Houston Food and Beverage Managers Association, and an active spokesman for the adult beverage industry.
Joseph Spellman, MS is Winery Sommelier for JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery. He has worked with wine since 1979, principally as a sommelier, in Chicago’s top restaurant cellars, including Tango, Maxim’s, The Pump Room, The Park Hyatt Hotel, and Charlie Trotter’s. He has also had stints in wine retail, wholesale, and importing companies, as well as the Napa Valley producer Joseph Phelps. He has been a leading wine educator, writer, and consultant, and has led wine seminars in the US, UK, Japan, and Australia.
Joseph earned the prestigious Master Sommelier Diploma, the 29th American to do so, in 1996. He is a frequent instructor and examiner in the Court of Master Sommeliers, and in 2005 was elected Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court. He has also passed the difficult Certified Wine Educator Examination, in 2003, and has studied for the Master of Wine Diploma with its top instructors.
Another rare achievement was winning the 1997 French Sommelier Competition in Paris sponsored by SOPEXA, and the title “Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines and Spirits.” He is only the second American to have done so. In the following year (1998) he was named the Bon Appetit Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year.
Joseph is a major supporter of the arts, serving as an active member in the Lyric Opera Wine Auction Advisory Board. He has led seminars for the Chicago Humanities Festival, various educational and health-oriented charities, and numerous student groups. His donations of tastings for arts, education, and medical charities have consistently fetched high bids for these deserving organizations. A theatre lover, he consulted in 2003 on an original script by Sharon Evans, “Blind Tasting,” at Live Bait Theatre in Chicago.
Among his professional written works, he is most proud of his critically praised wine notes featured in the landmark series of recipe and photography books by Chef Charlie Trotter. He was the principal wine writer of the 2003, 2006, and 2009 Lyric Opera Auction Catalogues. He also has written grape descriptions for the Wine Grapes posters produced by Ten Speed Press; and over the years he has contributed to the magazines Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Santé, Decanter, and Appellation.
As a professional palate, he has tasted for Beverage Testing Institute, United Airlines, the Grand Jury Européen, the Oregon State Fair, StarWine, the Jefferson Cup, and the Detroit Wine Competition. He has coordinated several wine dinners for the James Beard Foundation and many of its chef-contributors, as well as promotional and charity wine dinners around the US. He has spoken at wine festivals in Aspen, Kohler, Kapalua, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Santa Fe, Taos, Telluride, San Diego, Carmel, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Pinehurst, the Mohegan Sun, Disney properties, and Chicago.
Born in 1968, Rod came to wine, as so many people in the UK trade, through a Christmas vacation job with Oddbins. In Rod’s case this was in 1987, whilst studying at Chelsea School of Art.
After completing his degree in illustration and graphic design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Rod found himself with a part-time job working for Oddbins in London whilst establishing himself as a freelance illustrator. An increasing love of wine won the day, however, and he followed a career path from Oddbins branches via its head office marketing department to the then owner Seagram. Here he worked as Brand Manager for a variety of wines as part of the wine team.
After the sale of Seagram, Rod worked in various positions and established a consultancy business involving wine education and marketing. During this time he studied for and passed the Master of Wine examinations, and took part in many wine tours, tastings and challenges. Rod has been a senior judge for the Decanter World Wine Awards, a Panel Chair for the International Wine Challenge, and has also judged for the Moscow Wine Fair, the Shanghai International Wine Challenge, and The Balkans International Wine Challenge.
In 2005 Rod returned to full-time employment when he joined the fine wine importer, Mentzendorff, a company largely owned by Champagne Bollinger, as its French Wines Manager. At this time he completed his Master of Wine dissertation, taking as its subject ‘Chenin Blanc in Anjou-Saumur’, partly as a result of dealing with the wines of the area on a daily basis. He was awarded this, the world’s most prestigious wine qualification, in November 2006, the 256th person to achieve it since 1953.
Rod moved to the South of France in 2007 to lead the wine team for Vins Sans Frontières, the leading supplier of wine to the superyacht industry. The idea for the Riviera Wine Academy was born when he started organising wine tastings, events and dinners for some of the most prestigious and discerning clients on earth as a result. Rod continues to enjoy living and working in the Côte d’Azur.
Rod is an enthusiastic and committed educator, marketer and public speaker on wine. His personal interests include cycling, running, travel, literature, card magic and film.
I was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire and have been involved in the wine business for nearly 20 years.
I am currently Head of Wine for 67 Pall Mall, a private members club for wine lovers. Additionally, I am developing my own business – The RS Wine Academy – which will manage private client portfolios, teach WSET and other wine training courses as well as being involved in wine events and PR.
I am also a Master Sommelier (one of only 214 in the world), previous winner of the UK Sommelier of the Year competition and twice a representative for the UK in the European Sommelier Competition. I am a regular judge for the Sommelier of the Year Competition and various tasting competitions (including the Decanter World Wine Awards) and an examiner for the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Formerly I worked for the Gordon Ramsay group as Executive Head Sommelier for 8 years, mainly in the 3 Michelin star Royal Hospital Road plus created the wine lists and trained wine service teams for Claridge’s, the Connaught, the Savoy, Boxwood Café, Maze and several overseas operations including Dubai, Tokyo and New York.
Other previous employers include Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, Pied à Terre, wine merchant OW Loeb and the Greenhouse Restaurant (which has the UK’s largest wines list of 3,400 bins) plus the Hotel du Vin group, a boutique, 14 hotel chain which is themed around wine as the Wine and Spirit Director. More recently as the Head of Wines for the Dorchester Collection UK – 3 luxury hotels (The Dorchester, 45 Park Lane and Coworth Park).
When not drinking wine I attempt to run marathons or can be found deep diving shipwrecks from the south coast of England
Sheri Sauter Morano is a Master of Wine and an independent wine consultant, educator, writer and judge. She also works for Strategic Insights, a full-service marketing research firm where she specializes in handling the firm's food and beverage research. Since 2004 Sheri has worked with Sopexa on the Wines of France campaign educating American consumers about French wines. She is in the process of establishing the Triangle Wine School in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area which will offer the Wine and Spirits Education Trust certifications to local trade professionals. An experienced wine judge, Sheri has judged at competitions in the US, the UK and Argentina. Sheri resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband, son, and an assortment of cats and dogs. In her spare time she enjoys running, gardening, traveling and cooking.
Lars Ryssdal was a fixture on the Northwest wine scene for over 25 years. Now in Northern California, he uses his deep background as a wine educator and twice- certified sommelier as Co-Publisher of Art Culinaire Magazine and also as General Manager for family-owned Ackerman Family Vineyards in Coombsville, California. As Lars puts it, “I’ve spent my entire life carrying a bag full of artistry.”
Among his many roles, he served as Brand Manager for Corliss Wine Estates and as a working sommelier for Seastar Restaurant, The Herbfarm, and Cascadia. Lars was the training manager for Young’s Market in Washington and Oregon.
Lars takes pride in his 10-year stint as Chef Sommelier for the Children’s Hospital Auction of Washington Wines, and as Service Director for Taste Washington. He proudly earned the appointment by the Washington Wine Commission as the state’s first and only “Ambassador of Wine.”
Lars has helped facilitate the careers of many aspiring sommeliers with his heartfelt involvement in the Court of Master Sommeliers and Society of Wine Educators. Before wine, Lars hustled records in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years. Gaining airplay for the early Huey Lewis and the News albums (among many others), Lars brought the first Hip Hop records to the West coast. You can occasionally hear him humming “hotel... motel.... Holiday Inn...” Lars held positions as a promotion manager with Motown and as a regional promotion manager with Elektra Records.
Lars chaired the Strategic Partner Committee and is on the Marketing & Promotions team for Napa Valley Vintners. He still listens to a lot of music.
Laura’s Sommelier career started in 2004. Her early career saw her train with some of the UK’s best Sommeliers including Claire Thevenot MS and Yohann Jousselin MS, before moving to Hotel TerraVina as Head Sommelier for Gerard Basset OBE; A Master Sommelier, Master of Wine and winner of the World’s Best Sommelier. Moving on to head up the wine team and oversee the wine list of Michelin Starred and award winning La Trompette in London.
In 2009 Laura won the prestigious UK Sommelier of the Year competition, the second of only three women in the last 30 years to take the title. In November 2010 she passed her final exams to attain the Master Sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe.
Based in London, Laura judges for Sommelier competitions, as well as Decanter Wine Awards, Imbibe Sommelier Wine Awards and International wine competitions such as Argentina Wine Awards and the Bacchus Wine Awards held in Madrid. She regularly hosts tastings and wine dinners, as well as official seminars. Laura has also hosted talks within schools, to discuss the role of a Sommelier as a career choice. Since gaining her Master Sommelier diploma, she has become an active member of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe and helps with courses, exams and administration.
Laura’s most recent appointment is as Prestige Development Manager with Gusbourne, the leading English wine estate. Her role as part of the management team sees her covering development both in UK and internationally.
Sean Razee is one of only 230 wine professionals worldwide who have achieved the title of Master Sommelier.
Sean's curiosity in wine was set in motion while studying food science for his under-graduate degree in college and through weekend trips to the Santa Barbera wine-country. Shortly before heading to U.C. Davis to pursue a graduate degree in wine-making, Sean was given the chance to run a wine and spirits program. This turned out to be a watershed moment in Sean's career which led him down the path toward becoming a Master Sommelier in 2008.
Sean’s wine career began in 2002, and since then he has developed award-winning wine and spirits programs for The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfgang Puck, and has consulted on numerous beverage programs. Currently he is working as the Corporate Beverage Director for Vail Resorts, overseeing beverage programs at all 10 of the company’s domestic ski resorts. When not lecturing, conducting staff trainings, or working with aspiring students, Sean also works as one of the teaching and examining Masters for the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Sean spends a portion of his free time organizing the wine service team for A Grateful Harvest, the signature fund-raising dinner at Roundup River Ranch in Colorado—a charitable organization that is dear to his heart.
Although he holds the industry's most prestigious academic titles, Sean maintains a down-to-earth approach to wine and food, and believes strongly in removing the formality and pretence surrounding wine. Striving to become a "highly-acclaimed" home chef, Sean spends much of his free-time cooking, exploring exotic markets, and working on innovative food and wine combinations.
Josh Raynolds is the Assistant Editor of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and a contributor to winophilia.com, Tanzer’s online wine magazine. For the last 9 years Josh has been responsible for the IWC’s annual reviews of the wines of Champagne, the Loire Valley, the Rhône Valley, the Mâconnais, the Beaujolais, Spain, Australia, Chile, Oregon and California's Central Coast and greater Sonoma/Mendocino, among others.
After graduating from Boston University in 1985, with a degree in English, he worked in wine retail in Washington D.C., followed by extensive travel, work, drinking and eating across Europe's wine regions in 1989 and 1990. He then traveled the country as sales representative of Rosenthal Wine Merchant from 1991 until 2005, when he left to join the IWC.
Rod Phillips’s career with wine began inauspiciously when, aged about seven, he won third prize in a New Zealand Temperance Society quiz. Whatever he learned to win the prize, it didn’t take: nine years later he was attracted to the idea of wine and figured out a way of buying it from a local wine merchant, even though the legal drinking age was 21. He started reading about wine, began collecting bottles and tasting, and at 17 became “wine steward” at one of Auckland’s few licensed restaurants (this was in the 1960s). He developed a small personal cellar, mainly of Australian reds and a couple of prized cru classés (including Château La Tour Carnet 1953). He and some friends consumed the cellar before he emigrated to Canada when he was 19.
Rod studied in Canada and back in New Zealand before doing his doctorate in French history at the University of Oxford (UK). He taught at universities in New Zealand and Canada, and along the way held teaching and research fellowships in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, France, and Sweden. He is now professor of history at Carleton University, in Ottawa, where he teaches a popular course on the history of alcohol and courses in European history.
In the 1990s Rod began to research the history of wine. He published A Short History of Wine (UK: Penguin, 2000; US: HarperCollins, 2001; six translations), and began to write for the wine media. He has published in Vines Magazine (Canada), Wine Spectator (US), and The World of Fine Wine (UK), on GuildSommm.com (US), and elsewhere. He wrote a weekly wine column for the main Ottawa daily newspaper for 15 years, and writes wine features for NUVO, Canada’s leading luxury lifestyle magazine. He also produces a monthly e-newsletter where he reviews new wines in the LCBO, Ontario’s liquor retailing system.
He has judged in wine competitions in Canada, France, Italy, Chile, and New Zealand, and he regularly travels to wine regions throughout the world. In 2016 he visited wine regions in France (five times), Germany, Spain, California, Australia, Turkey, and Ecuador, as well as in Canada.
Rod’s most recent books are Alcohol: A History, published by University of North Carolina Press in 2014, and French Wine: A History, published by University of California Press in 2016. The former was included in “Best Wine Books of the Year, 2014” on jancisrobinson.com. The latter was included in the “Best Books on Drink of 2016” in The Guardian (UK) and won “Best Wine History Book” (USA) in the Gourmand Awards 2017 (China). A new edition of A Short History of Wine (first published in 2000) will appear in 2017, with the title 9000 Years of Wine. Also to appear in 2017: The Wines of Canada, to be published in the “Classic Wine Library” series of Infinite Ideas Books (Oxford, UK).
Barbara Philip MW became the first Canadian woman to achieve the Master of Wine designation in 2007. Based in Vancouver, she is a Category Manager for BC Liquor Stores and responsible for buying all European wines in the retail chain. With her husband Iain, Barb runs Barbariain Wine Consulting and works as an international presenter, journalist and judge. She has contributed to Taste Magazine, Decanter and Gambero Rosso and has been the wine columnist on CBC Radio One’s “On The Coast” for 8 years.
A trained Chemist, Sofia went on to study in France, receiving degrees in Oenology and Wine Tasting from the University of Bordeaux. She has worked harvests for Château Magdelaine, Premier Grand Cru Classé de St Emilion and Domaine Hatzimichalis in Greece. In 1998 Sofia was hired by the Greek Wine Federation where she worked for the promotion of Greek wine at home and abroad, Greek wine legislation, the creation of educational programs for the wine sector and organization of intra-national activities between European winemaking countries. In 2003 Sofia founded All About Greek Wine (AAGW) the first company to create and manage a national promotional campaign for Greek wine in North America. AAGW now manages the Greek Wine Bureau in North America which organizes the promotional activities for New Wines of Greece on behalf of the National Inter-Professional Organization of Vine and Wine. In addition AAGW coordinates the promotional campaign for Wines from Santorini in the US. Sofia continues to consult for the Greek Wine Federation and participates in national advisory committees for the promotion of Greek wines.
In January 2012 and 2013 Sofia was included in the top 100 most influential people in the US wine industry by intowine.com.
In 2011 Sofia was voted Best Ambassador for Greek wine in a poll conducted by Wine Business International Magazine.
She also participates as a judge in international wine competitions and her articles have appeared in various Greek wine publications. She speaks English, French and Spanish. Sofia is married to George Athanas and they have one daughter.
Francis Percival is food editor and columnist for The World of Fine Wine. His work has been shortlisted at the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards for the last five years, winning Best International Wine Columnist in 2013 and Pio Cesare Food & Wine Writer of the Year in 2015.
Apart from The World of Fine Wine, his work has appeared in Decanter and the Financial Times in the UK and Culture, Saveur, and Gourmet in the US. He is the coauthor of Reinventing the Wheel, a forthcoming book on the history and science of cheese for the University of California Press.
Besides writing, Francis also teaches wine and cheese classes for Neal’s Yard Dairy and cofounded and hosts the London Gastronomy Seminars, a long-running series of lectures and talks in London dedicated to making the technical side of food and drink fun and accessible.
Together with his wife, Bronwen Percival, Francis is the author of Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese forthcoming from the University of California Press in autumn 2017.
Nicholas Paris is the Director of Global Sourcing for the E. & J. Gallo Winery, and holds the title of Master of Wine from London’s Institute of Masters of Wine. Additionally, Nicholas has been recognized as an Advanced Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and Certified Wine Educator and Certified Specialist of Spirits by the Society of Wine Educators.
Nicholas began his career as a fine wine retailer at Zachys in Scarsdale, New York, later assuming the role of auction coordinator for Zachys and wine specialist at its partner, Christie’s. Charged with bringing fine wines to auction, Nicholas sampled many of the finest and rarest wines in the world, some of which dated to the 19th century. It was an experience which piqued his interest in gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities of wine and eventually led him to pursue in-depth wine studies.
“I had the opportunity to regularly taste extraordinary wines,” said Nicholas. “Seeing how much there was to know, I was inspired to dedicate myself to learning more.”
In 2005, Nicholas became a distributor sales representative with Premier and later a manager at Peerless, today part of Empire Merchants, in New York. Two years later, he joined E&J Gallo Winery as an on-premise field marketing manager in the northeast, focusing on fine dining, and was soon promoted to manager of fine wine retail and later public relations for the region. Nicholas also continued his studies, along the way sharing his growing knowledge with audiences including distributors, retailers, restaurant staff and winery colleagues. Ultimately, after achieving success in numerous fields—from retail to auction to sales and PR—Nicholas found his niche in education.
In 2014 Nicholas’ dedication to his ongoing studies paid off when he became America’s 34th Master of Wine. As an influential educator for E&J Gallo Winery, Nicholas shares his knowledge with students from a variety of backgrounds and organizations. “While my early experience in the wine industry revolved around a very exclusive and rare set of fine wines, at Gallo I have the opportunity to distill what I’ve learned about a broad spectrum of wine for students of every knowledge level,” he said. “I really enjoy being a part of others’ ongoing wine journeys.”
Beyond these pursuits, Nicholas judges at prestigious regional and international wine competitions and travels widely to continue learning about the world’s classic and emerging wine regions.
Antony is the Director of Strategic Planning for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), where he has worked since 2004. His current role covers long-term business planning and advising on new product development. He oversaw the development of WSETs new Level 3 Award in Sake, and in 2014 was inaugurated as a Sake Samurai by the Sake and Shochu Makers Association in recognition of this work. Antony joined the wine industry in 1998 and completed his WSET Diploma in 2003 while working for Sainsbury's Supermarkets. He became a Master of Wine in 2011. Outside of work, Antony enjoys listening to and playing classical music, especially early 20th Century composers such as Schoenberg, Ives, Sibelius and Janacek. His next target is to learn to play Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit.
The McPhersons have been a pioneering family in grape growing and wine making in Texas for over 50 years. The family patriarch, Dr. Clinton A. “Doc” McPherson, was one of the “Fathers” of the modern Texas wine industry. In 1976 “Doc,” a Chemistry professor and Bob Reed, a Horticulture professor at Texas Tech University founded Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock, the first post-Prohibition Texas winery. Until his passing in January, 2014, “Doc” remained one of the state’s prime grape growers and was the first in Texas to plant Sangiovese in his Sagmor Vineyard. Kim’s mother, Clara, while a professor in Texas Tech’s Department of Food Nutrition Science, established the university’s Hotel Restaurant Management degree program. His younger brother, Jon, has been a winemaker in Temecula near San Diego, CA, for over twenty years and has twice won the prestigious “Golden Bear” award for the most medals won in a single year in CA. Kim graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in Food Nutrition Science and then completed the Enology and Viticulture program at the University of California at Davis. He worked at Trefethen in Napa Valley before returning to Lubbock as winemaker for Llano Estacado from 1979 until 1985 and for Cap*Rock Winery from 1990 until 2007 where he also made McPherson Cellars. Kim and Jon produced wines together in California under several labels including Il Fratello and Cucamonga Cellars. Kim’s Texas wines have won over 500 medals in state, national and international wine competitions including several Double Gold Medals at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition and numerous Best of Class awards. Kim and “Doc” were inducted into the Who’s Who in Food and Wine in Texas Hall of Fame in 1999 and Kim created the McPherson Cellars label in 2000 to honor his father. He converted the historic 1930’s era Coca Cola bottling plant in downtown Lubbock into a winery and McPherson Cellars opened in the fall of 2008. It is one of the most beautiful, modern and efficient wine facilities in Texas and one of the most unique wineries in the country. In 2013 Kim was ranked # 20 on a list of the Top 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers and McPherson Cellars was # 87 on the Top 101 Wineries for 2014 and moved up to # 83 in 2015. He continues to play an innovative and dynamic role in the development of the Texas wine industry.
Sharron McCarthy, VP of Wine Education at Banfi Vintners and Past President of the U.S. Society of Wine Educators, is a wine industry legend. Affectionately known as “America’s First Lady of Wine Ed,” Sharron has played an instrumental role in introducing Americans from all walks of life to a finer, more nuanced appreciation for the fruit of the vine.
Over the past two decades, this lively, engaging, articulate woman has traveled the 50 states, sharing with others her boundless knowledge and enthusiasm for the joy of wine. From wine clubs and consumer groups, to law firms and Fortune 500 companies, to hospitality and grad students at some of America’s most prestigious centers of learning, to floor staff at wine stores and restaurants, in addition to frequent appearances on radio and TV, Sharron is in constant demand as one of the wine industry’s most popular and effective guest speakers.
At the heart of her success is a refreshingly unpretentious, progressive approach, firmly aimed at demystifying wine.
Born and raised in Long Island, NY, Sharron McCarthy’s wine business career began in 1978 when she joined the Consumer Affairs Department at Banfi Vintners, one of America’s premier names in imported fine wines. Her ability to master the intricacies of wine and communicate that knowledge to others swiftly became apparent. Within a short space of time she was promoted to Executive Director for Riunite wines, helping to create an array of innovative sales and marketing strategies that propelled Riunite into becoming America’s most popular wine.
In 1986, Sharron went on to form her own consulting agency. A partnership with the Italian Trade Commission in New York is widely credited with playing a pivotal part in advancing Italy to its current status as America’s leading source of imported wines. Sharron subsequently returned to Banfi Vintners in the mid-1990s, to pursue a new and -- in terms of the industry at the time – pioneering role focused exclusively on developing wine education.
Sharron served a three-year term as president of the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) from 2007-2010. With over 2,000 members, the Society is North America’s foremost source of wine education, offering workshops and seminars for industry professionals and consumers alike. SWE also confers two levels of professional credentials, the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Certified Wine Educator (CWE). Both programs entail a rigorous course of study. Sharron was elected Director Emeritus of SWE in 2012.
Sharron lives in South Carolina. Though a hectic travel schedule allows for little time for extra-curricular activities, she does enjoy cooking and entertaining with friends.
Mary Margaret is one of only 40 Masters of Wine residing in the United States, of whom only 14 are women. She became a Master of Wine in 2016 and was awarded both the Bollinger Medal as the top taster as well as the Outstanding Achievement Award as the overall top-scorer on all sections of the MW exam.
In addition to being a Master of Wine, Mary Margaret has worked on nearly every side of the wine business, with experience in restaurant, wholesale, retail, and direct to consumer wine sales in key U.S. markets, including New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. These roles have allowed her to develop extensive experience in sales, marketing, teaching, and writing about wine. Among other positions, she has been the Cellar Master at New York City’s Balthazar as well as the Director of Retail Sales at North Berkeley Wine. She currently lives in Napa and is the Sales Manager at Screaming Eagle.
Mary Margaret holds the WSET Diploma and was awarded the Wine Australia Scholarship as the top overall performer in 2011. She is also a WSET Certified Educator, and teaches regularly at Napa Valley Wine Academy. Prior to her work in the wine industry, Mary Margaret graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned B.A. in English and an M.A. in Teaching.
Patrick is a wine industry veteran, spending all 13+ years working in the wholesale trade for Republic National Distributing Company in both on and off premise capacities. Patrick currently manages the retail chain business for two of RNDC’s fine wine divisions in the state of Texas. In addition to coordinating the retail business of RNDC’s importers and suppliers with the top retailers in the state, Patrick has pioneered RNDC’s education initiative as a WSET Accredited Program Provider. In the last 5 years, RNDC, under Patrick’s instruction, has certified over 1000 people in WSET programs.
Patrick holds a degree in Geology from the University of Texas as well as the WSET Diploma. When he is not working, teaching or studying wine, Patrick enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, swimming, cooking and playing the occasional game of chess.
Keith I. Marton, MD, is a seasoned internist and physician executive, but his friends and family know him as a wine geek. Whenever possible he has combined his love of medicine with his love of wine. In medical school his most frequent day trips were to the Napa valley wineries, where he began his education in all aspects of wine.
Over the last 45 years he has done almost everything involving wine except make money. He has been an avid winemaker and collector for 40 years, has regularly led wine tastings and has lectured extensively on the health effects of moderate wine consumption. He has been a leader of several physician based wine and health organizations and represented the US in an international organization (OIV) that develops standards for viticulture and winemaking. He has judged wine professionally for over 20 years and successfully passed the theory exam as a candidate the Master of Wine degree.
Peter Marks, Vice President of Wine Education for Constellation Brands, manages the Constellation Academy of Wine team, which is responsible for Constellation Brands’ diverse wine education programs.
Marks is one of only 40 Masters of Wine residing in the United States. The prestigious Master of Wine (MW) title is bestowed by the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) in London. The IMW promotes the highest level of educational achievement for the wine industry, which Marks received in 1995. That year he also became the first American to receive the Madame Bollinger Foundation Award, which is bestowed annually to the MW candidate with the highest blind tasting score.
Before joining Constellation Wines, he was the Senior Vice President of Wine at Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in Napa, where he was responsible for all wine sales and education programs. Previous to working at Copia Marks was the Chief Wine Merchant at Wine.com, a wine Internet retailer serving more than 40 states. For 15 years prior, Marks was Director of Wine for the upscale Draeger’s Supermarkets located in Northern California.
Marks graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1976 with a B.S. degree with highest honors in Food Service Management, and he attended a number of enology and viticulture classes that piqued his interest in the subject of wine and complemented his desire to work in the food service field. He held positions as a chef and manager with restaurants upon graduation until he entered the retail wine trade in 1981.
Marks is on the Education and Exam Board of the Institute of Masters of Wine, he is the Practical Chair for the Institute of Masters of Wine Education Committee and he judges many international wine competitions. He is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, teaches wine classes independently, and he assists with many charitable fundraisers throughout the year.
Paul Lukacs is a wine writer, educator, and advisor. Currently a columnist for an on-line wine site, he also is the author of three books: Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures (WW Norton 2012), The Great Wines of America: The Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages (WW Norton, 2005) and American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine (Houghton Mifflin, 2000).
American Vintage, a social history of wine in the United States, won the three major American wine “book of the year” awards in 2001—from the James Beard Foundation, Champagne Veuve Clicquot, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The Great Wines of America was awarded a Gourmand prize in 2006 and was featured as a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Inventing Wine, a history of wine’s changing role in Western culture, was just published in December. It already has garnered considerable acclaim in the press, on the web, and on both radio and television.
Linda Lawry is the Director of the International Wine Center in New York City where she teaches the two most advanced levels of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust classes. She has been with the International Wine Center since 1985.
Linda was the Director of the New York Office of Wine Institute, the trade organization that represents the wines of California. She has lectured widely and has been a judge in many wine competitions is also a trained chef, with a Certificate with Honors from the New York Restaurant School.
She is now President of Les Dames d'Escoffier New York, an organization of women it the wine and food worlds in 40 cities around the USA. She was an adjunct instructor at New York University, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, where she taught a Wine and Spirits classes for 19 years. Her other associations include serving on the Board of Directors of the Society of Wine Educators for 8 years.
Linda holds the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Advanced Certificate with Distinction, and earned the WSET Diploma in 1997. She is a Certified Wine Educator and a Certified Specialist of Spirits of the Society of Wine Educators.
Adam Lapierre has over 15 years experience in the wine business, working in various management capacities. He has held various national roles at the supplier tier and has also worked as an independent consultant. Currently, Adam is Director of Wine Purchasing for Lidl, a major international grocery retailer. Adam became a Master of Wine in 2013, he is currently one of thirty-eight Masters of Wine residing in the US.
Geoff Labitzke is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Kistler Vineyards. Kistler Vineyards is an artisan winery dedicated to producing world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using old world Burgundian techniques. Kistler has consistently produced some of the best California examples of these varieties for over 30 years.
Geoff began his career as a retailer in Southern California in 1978. Early on Geoff was a guest speaker conducting wine classes at Saddleback College and Orange Coast College. In the early 1980’s Geoff developed a wine appreciation course geared toward restaurant servers. In 1989, he achieved the Certified Wine Educator credential from the Society of Wine Educators. Geoff would later serve on the Society’s board of directors and was chairman of the annual conference held in Sonoma.
Geoff has spent 22 years in wholesale representing some of the finest wines in the world. He has personally visited top wine estates in Austria, France, Germany, Italy Spain, Australia and New Zealand. In 2006, Geoff was one of two Americans to pass the rigorous Master of Wine examination. Currently there are only 30 Masters of Wine in the United States.
Margie is a Professor at the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona. She is a certified wine educator (CWE), a certified sommelier (CS) and the The WSET® Level 3 Award in Wines. Margie has enjoyed judging at several international wine competition and is the steward to the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.
Laura Jewell took up the position of Head of Market for the UK and Europe at Wine Australia in February 2015, overseeing the marketing strategy for Australian wines. The focus is on trade education, tastings and exhibitions and consumer engagement through retailer promotions within the on and off-trade. Leading a team of 5, Laura has a programme of over 50 events across the UK and Europe to tell the stories behind premium Australian wines, and to increase the demand for Australian wines.
Laura joined the Product Development team at Tesco in September 2010, overseeing the development of the range in conjunction with the wine buying team, for all the markets Tesco trades in, including Central Europe and Asia. Tesco won the Wine Supermarket of the Year award at the IWC, and at the Decanter Wine Awards (for the first time in its 10 year history) following 2 years of dynamic development in store and on line, resulting in a better shopping experience for customers. Personally responsible for the Finest range of over 130 products, Laura led the development of own label and exclusive wines with her team, with over 300 new lines introduced in 12 months. She was also the Chairman of the board of Trustees of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, the leading educational body for the Drinks industry working in over 62 countries around the world. In recognition of this, Laura won the prestigious ‘Woman of the Year’ award at the Drinks Business Awards in 2013.
Laura was the Trading Controller for SPAR (UK) Ltd for the previous 14 months, with full responsibility for the wine portfolio, working closely with the regional wholesalers, and focused on ranging, merchandising, POS, a complete own label redevelopment and a full trade and consumer PR campaign, to ensure that everyone at SPAR is a wine enthusiast. She was awarded the title of ‘Retail Buyer of the Year’ at the 2010 Drinks Business awards in recognition of her work with SPAR (UK) Ltd.
Prior to this move in May 09, Laura was the Agency Director of HwCg, a major wine agency and importer in the UK, with strong representation in the UK Grocery and Independent trade. Chile and France were particularly prominent in the portfolio, including the very successful French brand Blason de Bourgogne. Laura was the main liaison with suppliers around the world, and headed up the winemaking and technical team.
Prior to her move to HwCg in late 05, Laura was a senior buyer at the UK Multiple Grocer, J Sainsbury’s. With a market share of 22% and a turnover in wine in excess of £650M, the main focus was on the customer, both interpreting and influencing their wine consumer habits. Within the five years spent at Sainsbury’s, Laura was responsible for the French, Iberian and Australasian portfolios, and she was awarded the title of UK Supermarket Buyer of the Year 2005 by Onivins at the French Wines Awards for Excellence.
Laura gained her Master of Wine in 1997 while working as the wine buyer at the Waverley Group, one of the UK’s largest wholesalers.
Eric Hemer began his career at Southern Wine & Spirits in 1988 as an On-Premise Wine Consultant in Palm Beach County, Florida. He went into management in 1990 and held various positions over the years, ultimately as General Manager for American Wine and Spirits of Florida. In 1998, he was appointed Educational Director for SWS of Florida, a return to his original interest in fine wine. He passed the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) examination in 1999, the Master Sommelier (MS) examination in 2003 and the Master of Wine (MW) examination in 2013. In 2014, he was promoted to his current position of Senior Vice President, Corporate Director of Wine Education for SGWS of America, overseeing wine educational endeavors in all markets across the US.
Eric is actively involved in wine education with numerous affiliated organizations as well, teaching at The Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University in Miami, acting as consulting sommelier and speaker for Chef Jean-Pierre’s Culinary School in Ft. Lauderdale, and is deeply involved in courses, lectures and examinations around the country with the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Institute of Masters of Wine, the Society of Wine Educators and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He resides in Lake Worth, Florida with wife Marianne and daughter Julia.
Greg Harrington is the owner of and winemaker of Gramercy Cellars, a boutique winery in Walla Walla, WA focusing on small lot, terroir based wines, primarily syrah. He also runs a beverage consulting company, Custom Crush Consulting, focusing on training as well as teaching operators to run profitable beverage programs. Prior to founding Gramercy, Harrington was a Partner and Director of Beverage for B.R. Guest and James Hotels, overseeing 15 restaurants and hotels in New York, Las Vegas, Scottsdale and Chicago. Previously, Harrington served as Wine Director and Associate Partner for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, as Wine Director for Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in New Orleans and Las Vegas and as sommelier for Joyce Goldstein’s Square One in San Francisco.
A 1992 graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Harrington is a nationally known wine personality. In 2004, Food and Wine Magazine featured him as one of the 35 Top Hospitality Professionals Under 35. Additionally, Wine Spectator honored Harrington’s wine program at Emeril’s with their coveted Grand Award. He is a regular speaker at wine festivals throughout the country and is frequently quoted by the world’s leading wine and lifestyle magazines. Harrington is often a guest on television and radio programs, having been featured recently as a wine expert on the hit TV show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Harrington has numerous times been the featured sommelier at the acclaimed James Beard House in New York City and is a regular educational guest lecturer for the American Sommelier Association as well as for undergraduate and graduate beverage management courses at the Cornell Hotel School and Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
In his more than 30 years in the wine business, Master Sommelier Peter Granoff has worn lots of hats. From schlepping boxes and busing tables to receiving the "Sommelier of the Year" award from the James Beard Foundation and launching Virtual Vineyards (the first U.S. entity to sell wine on the internet), Peter has traveled the world to immerse himself in almost all facets of the wine industry. He is an adjunct member of the faculty at the Culinary Institute of America's new Professional Wine Studies program, and is internationally known as a speaker, wine educator, wine competition judge, and provider of free wine insulting. His goofy sense of humor and unconventional approach to the business of wine bring a refreshing change of pace to San Francisco's wine shops.
Mary is a WSET Wine Educator at the International Wine Center, New York City, wine columnist for the highly popular blog and website www.thekitchn.com, freelance wine writer and wine judge.
Areas of specialization include Champagne & sparkling wine, Central & Eastern Europe, as well as the business and marketing of wine.
Prior to her life in wine, Mary held various senior marketing positions in Ireland and Paris, France including five years with the Irish Government trade agency helping Irish companies market themselves internationally, and three years with an internet consultancy helping clients build brands and business online. Mary also lectured in International Marketing Strategy at The UCD Graduate Business School, Dublin.
Mary has a BA (Honors) in Languages and International Marketing from Dublin City University and an MBS (First Class Honors) from the University College Dublin (UCD) Graduate School of Business, and was awarded both the Dean's List Award & the Sir Charles Harvey Award for academic excellence in post-graduate studies
Mary lived and worked in Paris for six years and speaks fluent French.
Mary is a member of the Society of Wine Educators in the US and a regular speaker at their annual conference. An avid food lover and cook, Mary spends many week-ends exploring the farmers' markets of New York with her husband and son, Luca.
An Irish national, Mary moved to the US in 2002.
In March 2001 Keith Goldston became America's 47th Master Sommelier. He is the proud recipient of the illustrious Krug Cup trophy, passing all three parts of the exam (theory, tasting and practical), on the first attempt. Although Keith is currently one of the world's youngest Master Sommeliers, he brings with him more than 19 years experience working for a variety of prestigious and award winning restaurants & wineries including Domaine Chandon, Masa's, Spago, and Picasso. Wine Spectator has called Keith “a wizard at matching food with interesting wines”.
Since passing the Masters Exam Keith has been involved in a variety of projects, many of them with star Chef Charlie Palmer. Keith has worked at Charlie’s Las Vegas restaurants; Charlie Palmer Steak and Aureole with its “wine tower” and digital wine list featuring over 4000 different wines. Keith was also hired to open Charlie Palmer Steak Washington D.C. For Charlie Palmer Steak DC, Keith created the “all-American wine list”; offering over 800 wines all exclusively produced in the U.S.A. Keith and Charlie also teamed up to produce a series of private-label wines, where Keith was able to craft the blends with top winemakers in Sonoma. Keith loves to educate and lecture and over the last two years he has had the privilege to teach over 1500 students. Keith has been lucky enough to return to his hometown Napa and teach classes at COPIA & the Culinary Institute of America plus travel to exotic locations such as Seoul where he lectured at the Korean Wine Academy and represented the U.S.A. as a wine judge in Korea’s first international wine competition. Recently Keith packed his bags for India to help with the opening of India’s first wine bar, “The Tasting Room” in Mumbai as well as providing staff training for India’s top two hotel groups, the Taj and Oberoi. Keith is a regular fixture at the Court of Master Sommeliers Courses, teaching and testing aspiring sommeliers in the ways and standards of the Court. In the past he has been seen spreading the word of wine at UNLV, Crystal Cruises and Celebrity Cruises. Keith has also formed Vino Monkey Productions, a production company with a focus on wine.
Nick Goldschmidt winemaker and consultant
First vintages and work status
New Zealand 83 - present, Australia 85 - present, Chile 89 - present, USA 89 - present, Argentina 93 - today, Italy 95 - 99 Portugal 95 - 99, Mexico 03 - 05, Spain 03 - present
Simi 1990 – 2003 (LVMH and Constellation)
Allied Domecq 2003 – 2008 (AD and Jim Beam)
Goldschmidt 2008 - present
Past Lead winemaking roles for
Simi, Blackstone, Ravenswood, Franciscan, Estancia, Clos Du Bois, Gary Farrell, Geyser Peak, Wild Horse , Atlas Peak, Callaway, Mumm Napa Valley, Buena Vista, Callaway, Spain - Ruffino, Ysios, Tarsus, Campo Viejo, Argentina - Graffigna, Balbi, Mumm Terrazas, New Zealand - Stoneleigh, Brancott, Cloudy Bay, Mexico - Domecq Mexico, Portugal - Roses, Australia - Green point,
Errazuriz, Arboleda, Sena, Chadwick, Calitera, Atlas Peak, Argento, Ehret Family, Blue Rock, GiaDomella, Don Sebastiani and sons, Columbia, Covey Run, Mission Hill, Finca Origion
More than 100 of his wines have received 90 pts and above from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Robert Parker. 20 of his wines have been included in the Wine Spectator Top 100
Nick Goldschmidt winemaker today
Goldschmidt, Forefathers, Boulder Bank, Goldschmidt daughters,
Five Gold Hands
Rendition, Pampano, Red Bone, Embankment, Estribo
Chacrus, Yardstick, Bush House Bay, Fidelity
Trig Point, NZ One, Paua Rock, Luna Rosa, Shoreline, Farmers Market
Forefathers 1998, Goldschmidt 1999
Australia – Forefathers
Argentina – Pampano, Chacras, Forefathers, Luna Rosa
New Zealand – Forefathers, Boulder Bank, Shoreline, NZ one, Farmers Market, Paua Rock, Bush House Bay
Alexander Valley – Forefathers, Goldschmidt, Goldschmidt Plus, Katherine Goldschmidt, Fidelity, Embankment, Trig Point,
Napa - Goldschmidt, Plus, Hilary Goldschmidt, Yardstick,
Dry Creek - Red Bone, Chelsea Goldschmidt
Antonio Gianola has had a significant impact on the wine industry in Houston by using his expertise and unique skill set to curate and educate in all aspects of the business. He’s operated some of the city’s best restaurants, worked as a wine broker and currently manages a wine shop—all the while maintaining a commitment to excellence, continuing education and charity.
Antonio spent a decade running the wine programs and front-of-the-house operations of top Houston restaurants. He served as Da Marco’s general manager and sommelier for five years and built the restaurant’s regional Italian wine program. He traveled to Italy each year to extensively study Italian food, wine and culture and is still considered one of the city’s preeminent Italian wine experts.
In 2006, he opened Catalan Food and Wine with Chef Chris Shepherd, where he ran all restaurant operations in addition to the wine program. He built a boutique international list with a near-retail pricing structure, which was named Best New Wine List by Food & Wine magazine in 2007, in addition to a slew of other local and national accolades.
Antonio stepped away from the life of a restaurateur in 2010 and began working as a wine broker at Mosaic Wine Group and represented the national portfolios of Kermit Lynch and Vias Imports as well as the wineries of Chateau Routas, Groom and Patz & Hall.
In 2013, Antonio accepted the position of general manager of Houston Wine Merchant, Houston's oldest independent, fine wine merchant.
Throughout his career, Antonio has been committed to the Houston community. He’s a longtime supporter of the Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and the Periwinkle Foundation’s Iron Sommelier fundraiser. He’s been a guest sommelier and lecturer at the University of Houston’s Conrad Hilton College and was a judge on the Italian panel at the TexSom International Wine Awards in both 2016 and 2017.
Antonio was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2014, which increased the scope of his charitable efforts. He’ll frequently build wine lists for small bars and restaurants in exchange for a donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Additionally, he is the honoree of Southern Smoke, an annual food and wine event in Houston that has raised nearly half a million dollars for the MS Society.
Tim Gaiser is a nationally renowned wine expert and Master Sommelier. He is the former Director of Education for the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas as well as an adjunct professor for the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley.
Sara Fasolino, Senior Manager of Alcohol Procurement for Brinker International, has the task of overseeing the alcohol innovation, procurement, inventory and distribution for all Chili's locations as well as the beverage programming for Maggiano's locations. A Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Cicerone and Advanced Mixologist wine and spirits are Fasolino’s passion and in her role at Brinker, she has truly found her home.
Originally from Buffalo, NY, Fasolino moved to Dallas on a whim and hasn’t looked back. “I am thankful and humbled every day I come to work and do my job,” says Fasolino. “I am extremely fortunate and grateful.”
Fasolino started working in the restaurant industry while waiting tables throughout college and that’s when she knew she was destined to be part of the restaurant and hospitality industry. After graduating from Marietta College, Fasolino was a sales representative for Glazer’s Distributors in Ohio and the Beverage Director for Morton’s The Steakhouse. Fasolino has also authored eight e books focusing on the basics of wine varietals. She now resides in Dallas with her family.
Dawnine spent 25 years as Winemaker at Domaine Chandon. A staunch Californian, and always a fan of the bubbly, her tenure at Chandon was marked by the introduction of many original sparkling wines and wine styles, taking the best of both a rich tradition and a promising appellation. She was instrumental in the construction of Sodaro Winery and made their first 8 vintages. Along with Bill, Dawnine is a partner in the award winning Meteor Vineyard. She is active in the Napa Valley Vintner's Association-and most importantly, works on Dyer Vineyard. Now both can frequently be found working in the vineyard, topping barrels and finally packing orders of Dyer Cab for shipment. Between the two they hold degrees in Philosophy, Biology, and Enology-all three come in handy from time to time.
Mike Dunne, retired food editor, restaurant critic and wine columnist for The Sacramento Bee, continues to write of wine and travel from homes in Sacramento, California, and San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur. He contributes a weekly wine column to The Sacramento Bee, freelances to other publications, and tends two blogs, A Year In Wine (www.ayearinwine.com) and Finding Los Cabos (www.findingloscabos.blogspot.com). He judges at about a dozen wine competitions a year, from the large (Dallas) to the small (Fiddletown).
In 2006, Maureen formed Chai Consulting where she and her team focus on the individual needs and interests of wine collectors. She is passionate about combating wine fraud as an internationally renowned expert in wine authentication and is actively working with collectors and authorities to prosecute counterfeiters and their vendors. She has recently been involved in the Bill Koch v. Greenberg and Charlie Trotter cases and has been critical to FBI investigations such as that of Rudy Kurniawan. She is also a recognized expert in fine and rare wine inventory management, appraisal, valuation and financial trends of global fine wine markets. She is frequently featured in international print and broadcast media, and is an active wine judge. In December 2012, Drinks Business listed Maureen as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in the World of Wine.
I’m New Zealand’s first and only Master Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers worldwide, and the South Pacific Director for the Global Guild of Sommeliers. My experience includes (but is not limited to) writing, commentating, and reviewing all things Beverage, including judging at Wine Award Shows. Recently enjoyed being Head Judge at China Sommelier of the Year in Shanghai. Seems I spend a lot of time speaking on wine, beverage and hospitality related issues, traveling regularly to present NZ Wines and Food to the world. Really enjoy my regular guest lecturer spot at the International Culinary Centres in California and NY. Much of my time is involved in education - am in charge of the Wine and Beverage Programme at AUT University in Auckland. Am involved in the establishment of the Master Sommelier qualification in New Zealand and Australia - am committed to and passionate about being an instructor and examiner for the MS programme.
Matt Deller MW is one of only 45 Masters of Wine in the North America. He is the Director of Fine Wine Development for Constellation Brands, involved in developing the sales strategy and transformation of Robert Mondavi Winery, The Prisoner Wine Company, Mount Veeder Winery and Ruffino Estates. Matt entered the wine industry in 1996 as Territory Manager - Fine Wine for Pernod Ricard. He then helped establish Bennett & Deller Wine, specialist importers of Spanish, Italian and South American wines, where he was Sales and Marketing Director for over a decade. Following that, he joined The Fine Wine Delivery Company as Wine Program Director, leading a dynamic buying and trade sales team and developing integrated sales and marketing programs. He is an Instructor on the faculty of the Napa Valley Wine Academy, has judged numerous international wine competitions, written articles for various wine publications and conducted hundreds of educational seminars. He lives in the San Francisco bay area with his wife and two sons.
In 2001 he was name Sommelier of the Year at the Vancouver Wine Festival and also won the Spirited Industry Professional in 2014. As a Department Head and instructor with the International Sommelier Guild he was instrumental in the on going development of the curriculum and has taught classes in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.
Mark is an annual judge at the TEXSOM International Wine Awards, Sunset Magazine, LA International wine competitions.
In addition he developed a wine education and restaurant etiquette course for Simon Fraser University Global Asset and Wealth Management MBA program and is currently studying for the theory section of the Master of Wine having passed the rigorous tasting examination.
Dame's ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine make him a natural teacher. One of just seventy-three Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time.
As Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years, Dame created a wine list which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award. With the many wine events held in the brick and wine lined Wine Cellar, Dame turned The Sardine Factory into a wine destination restaurant of world renown. He is also active in the culinary arts serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Careme Medal and was made a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000. He was elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates in 2004. In 2006 he received Sante Magazine’s Wine Professional of the Year as well as Starwine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Chefs Hall of Fame.
A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in journalism and communications. A European trip after high school piqued his curiosity about wine and food. Since then, he has applied his considerable persuasive skills to the service and appreciation of fine wine.
Since 1977, Bear Dalton has worked in some facet of the wine sales and distribution business. Since 1996, he has been the fine wine buyer for Spec’s Wines, Spirits, and Finer Foods, one of the largest wine and spirits retailers in the US with over 160 stores stocking well over 12,000 wine SKUs. At Spec’s, his responsibilities include wine buying, wine sales and marketing, and wine-related public relations as well as working with customers. He tastes in excess of 9,000 wines each year. He has traveled extensively in the wine country in the US, Europe, South America and Australia and has regular contact with winery owners and winemakers when they travel through Texas. Prior to Spec’s, Dalton worked in the industry in wholesale (Glazer’s, Quality Beverage, Prestige Wine Cellars), national distribution (Kobrand), and in restaurants and retail.
Dalton holds the Advanced Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is certified by the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) as an International Bordeaux Educator. In October 2008, he was honored with the Houston Legend Award at the My Table Houston Culinary Awards.
Dalton has taught, written, and consulted about wine since 1984. He has taught wine classes for the Rice University School of Continuing Studies 1988-2013 and sporadically for the Conrad Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston beginning in 2001. He also teaches regularly at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française. He has consulted and taught classes for numerous businesses including Pappas Restaurants, AIM, Backstreet Café, Continental Airlines, Fulbright & Jaworski, Accenture, Serono, UBS, and Merrill Lynch. Through his classes, thousands of Texans - both consumers and members of the wine trade - have learned more about wine.
From 1996 through 2013, Bear Dalton volunteered with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Dalton was instrumental in founding HLSR’s Wine Competition and Auction Committee, on which he served as chairman. He served on HLSR’s board of directors.
In 2007, Dalton was instrumental in starting-up a women's wine industry social and networking group – Women Of Wine (WOW) – which raises money for the Houston Area Women's Center. He continues to support WOW and would love to be a member but notes that he is “plumbed wrong.”
Dalton is a lay reader, lay Eucharistic minister, and has served on the vestry and as senior warden of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Houston.
An avid cook, Dalton enjoys entertaining. While he keeps some wine, he is much more a wine drinker than a wine collector. He is an avid reader (fiction, theology, philosophy, and economics) and a lover of music. He blogs about wine (BearOnWine.com) and faith (TheChaliceBearer.net). He and his wife Carol own and ride Quarter Horses. He is active in several riding and western culture organizations and serves on the board of directors of the Rancher’s Ride.
Charles Curtis MW is the founder of CurtisMW, a fine wine advisory serving private, trade and institutional clients with an interest in the market for fine and rare wine. Former Head of Wine for Christie’s in both Asia and the Americas and a Certified Member of the Appraiser's Association of America, Mr. Curtis has a wealth of experience with the world’s most luxurious wine, and deep contacts with the collectors who love them and the people who sell them.
Curtis joined Christie’s in 2008 from LVMH, where he had held the post of Director of Wine and Spirit Education for Moet Hennessy USA. He has held a variety of posts in the wine trade over the years, and his professional career began as a chef who trained at the Cordon Bleu Paris, working in restaurants around the world.
Curtis earned his Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust of London, and in October 2004 became the 22nd Master of Wine in the United States. Through the years, he has garnered a number of honors, including the prestigious “Bourse André Crispin” in 2002, presented by the Commanderie de Bordeaux aux Etats-Unis, of which he is now a member, along with the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. He is a member of the board of the Institute of Masters of Wine (North America) and continues to work on their behalf, speaking at their annual Education Seminar and helping to organize events such as the Institute’s Annual Champagne Tasting which he founded. Curtis has been a guest lecturer at a number of universities, and is presently a guest professor at the University of Jinan Quancheng College in Penglai, China.
Writing has also long been among Curtis’ interest. He writes a regular column for the Chinese version of La Revue du Vin de France and other magazines, and has been a contributing editor to trade and consumer works on wine. Curtis has worked as a wine consultant, wine and spirits judge, and featured speaker at dozens of wine and food festivals over the years. He is the creator of wine tasting website www.CurtisMW.com and a blog www.WineAlpha.com. In his free time, he loves to travel through Asia visiting culinary hot spots, museums, and sites of historic interest and natural beauty throughout the region.
Born and educated in Sydney, Australia, his wine career began in 1994, where he worked as a sales representative for a subsidiary of Marie Brizzard.
After a two-year stint, Miles left Australia and travelled to Yorkshire, England to fulfil a short-term contract to play professional cricket. Whilst in the UK the diversity of the wine offering and the opportunity to learn via WSET proved enticing and after a brief return to Australia, Miles moved to England to further a career in wine.
Whilst in the UK, and following a vintage at Tyrrells in 2001, Miles continued to travel back to the Hunter Valley (Australia) on a regular basis to work as an assistant winemaker. His passion for winemaking along with the generous assistance from family, friends and colleagues, enabled him to fulfil one of his dreams and become a wine brand owner.
Success at WSET Diploma, winning the Champagne Academy Golden Magnum award for best student, along with support from his partner Emma and two sons, proved sufficient encouragement to pursue a long held ambition to study for the Master of Wine. Happily this was successfully completed in 2015.
Jim Clarke is the Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa as well as a writer, contributing to both consumer and trade magazines including World of Fine Wine, Beverage Media, and Details magazine. Jim studied wine with the American Sommelier Association and worked as sommelier and wine director in New York for several years, initially at Megu, a high-end Japanese restaurant, and then at Armani Ristorante, inside the clothing company's flagship store on Fifth Avenue. In September 2013 he left the restaurant industry to join Wines of South Africa.
Leon Cikota has been in the industry for over 30 years. His qualifications include owning and operating a fine dining restaurant along with a catering company. He started an international wine and spirits importing company partnership that was represented in over 20 states.
Leon was the President of the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival and was awarded Who’s Who in Food and Wine for the Texas Department of Agriculture and Texas Monthly.
He is the appointed invigilator for The Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) for Republic National Distributing Company holding the Advanced Certificate and is recognized by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Based in Sonoma, California, Elaine Chukan Brown travels extensively keeping up with developments in wine, particularly in the United States. She serves as the American Specialist for JancisRobinson.com, is a contributing writer to Wine & Spirits, and a columnist for Wine Business Monthly. Her work has also been featured in The World of Fine Wine, MensHealth.com, San Francisco Magazine, among others, and appears on her own website, WakawakaWineReviews.com. Elaine is known for having created illustrated tasting notes, which have been described by @KermitLynchWine as "a new standard in wine reviews." Prior to her career in wine, Elaine served as a philosophy professor at Northern Arizona University. She was Dartmouth College's Charles A. Eastman Fellow, and a Tomlinson Fellow at McGill University, where she did her doctoral work. Prior to her career in philosophy, Elaine was a commercial salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, where the rest of her family still operate their businesses.
Rémy Charest has been writing about food and wine for nearly twenty years, for many publications in Canada and the United States, including Le Devoir, EnRoute, Cellier, Chacun son Vin/WineAlign, Punch Drink, Coup de Pouce and Palate Press. He has also appeared regularly on radio shows with CBC, Radio-Canada and CJAD in Montreal. He has also been a judge at several wine competitions, including WineAlign’s National Wine Awards of Canada and the Mondial du Pinot Noir in Sierre, Switzerland. He has also translated and written several books, and has extensive experience in web site creation and social media. Although he seems to be constantly traveling, he does live in Quebec City with his three children.
Alfonso Cevola is a third generation Italian American. He was born in a vineyard in California, raised in and around his grandfather’s vineyard, where he had first exposure to the grape and the vine. Living in Italy as a youth gave Alfonso the opportunity to work in his Italian relative’s vineyards in the summer and during selected harvests.
He conducts educational training sessions for the wine trade throughout the Southwest and lectures on his current area of research, “Italian wine, Ancient and Modern,” in the United States and Italy.
Alfonso currently offers his services to the Glazers Family of Companies as the Italian Wine Director. He is the “ambassador” who translates the Italian experience, its importance and helps define, communicate and reinforce the Italian wine message, both inside the company and in the community.
Alfonso is a Certified Specialist in Wine and a Special Contributor to the Dallas Morning News.
He also makes a mean Eggplant Parmigiano
Dilek Caner currently is the Director of Tasting World/Dallas Wine Center, an organization that educates the wine trade and the consumer since 2005. Prior to the formation of Tasting World, Dilek taught at other organizations such as Institute of Culinary Education and American Sommelier Association. Earlier in her career, she has worked at Wine & Spirits Magazine and has been a sommelière at Restaurants Bruno Jamais and Alain Ducasse. Dilek is a Master of Wine, a title which has been earned only by 312 people in the world to date. She also holds a Ph.D. in Economics from New York University.
I've been helping people find the right wine they've been looking for. I've been the manager and in the wine department at Pogo's Wine and Spirits in Dallas for the past 20 years. Like many people in our business I love wine. I enjoy the the creative aspects of wine and as well as the metaphoric aspects of transformation. I have also been in the local media over the 20 years as one of the Free Advice guys at White Rock Lake in Dallas. I am also currently building my practice as a Dream Therapist.
Every wine has a story, and Paul Botamer is an expert storyteller. For more than 25 years, he has been talking about wine, from its history to its complex flavors. He has also shared this knowledge in some of the nation’s top restaurants, including Fearing’s, where he currently serves as director of wine.
Botamer is recognized as an Advanced Sommelier by Court of Master Sommeliers and is a member of the Society of Wine Educators. He has been recognized as one of the Best Sommeliers in DFW by CBS DFW, and he has been featured in several renowned publications including Wine Enthusiast, D Magazine and Wine Spectator.
As Director of Wine for Fearing’s Restaurant, Botamer oversees the restaurant’s beverage program featuring an extensive wine and spirits menu which is served in all seven of the restaurant’s distinct atmospheres, including the private 6,000-bottle Wine Cellar. Botamer is responsible for the creation and execution of unique special event beverage menus, including wine dinners with some of the nation’s top wine makers; past participants include Kevin Buckler of Adobe Road and Randy Lewis of Lewis Cellars.
Fearing’s receipt of accolades from notable local, regional, national and international publications is in large part thanks to Botamer’s efforts. He joined the Fearing’s opening team in 2007 from The Mansion on Turtle Creek. He also has brought his talents to Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Throughout his career, Paul Botamer has been a member of teams which have been recognized with the Wine Spectator Grand Award, AAA Five-Diamond Award, nomination for the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Wine Service in the Country in 2001, 2003 and 2004, and a No. 1 Hotel Dining ranking for Fearing’s by the prestigious Zagat Survey.
An avid reader and history buff, Botamer enjoys traveling to vineyards across the world to continue sharpening his education in the field.
Originally trained as a geologist, Wayne Belding found his way from the oil fields to the vineyards. He began in the retail wine business, became an award-winning sommelier in Denver, and in 1990 became the 13th American to pass the Master Sommelier examination. He has served as Education Chairman and Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has been a wine teacher and competition judge both nationally and internationally for over 20 years. From 1986 - 2010, he was an owner of The Boulder Wine Merchant. He is the author of the recently-published book for wine consumers entitled “Diving Into Wine”.
Christopher Bates, MS, has spent over 15 years in all aspects of the hospitality industry, lending him a well-rounded perspective of all facets. Christopher and his wife Isabel own and operate F.L.X. Wienery (www.flxwienery.com) , Element Winery (www.elementwinery.com) , F.L.X. Table (www.flxtable.com) and F.L.X. Culture House in the Finger Lakes.
Previously as General Manager & Executive Chef of Hotel Fauchère, Relais & Chateaux Christopher over saw the 16 room hotel and four restaurants. Prior to his time at the Hotel Fauchère he spent four years at the Inn at Dos Brisas, Relais & Chateaux, where under his direction as General Manager and Sommelier they won numerous honors such as Mobil/Forbes 5 Stars, Relais & Chateaux, Relais Grands Chefs and were named one of the 100 most exciting wine programs in the US from Wine Enthusiast, an honor that he won again at the Hotel Fauchère in 2013.
In 2012 Christopher was named Best Young Sommelier in the World after winning Best Young Sommelier in America previously in the year. He went on to win TopSomm 2013, Americas most important sommelier competition, before passing his Master Sommelier Exam in May 2013, making him the 199th person in the world to do so, and the first to ever pass as a working Executive Chef. More recently, Christopher was included in Wine Enthusiasts Top 40 under 40 taste makers list.
Christopher and his wife Isabel have settled in the Finger Lakes region of New York with the intention to be a part of the growing hospitality industry, and be a part of the future growth of the Finger Lakes. Christopher Is an active member of the sommelier community and continues to educate as a lecturer at The International Culinary Center, and with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Brooks Anderson was raised in Plano, Texas, and significantly influenced by his French Grandmother who instilled in him a love of food, wine, literature, travel, and a deep sense of intellectual curiosity.
Brooks graduated from the University of Oklahoma. An involved student, his studies and experiences were wide-ranging. Brooks, several other students, and the late Professor J. Rufus Fears took 3-week driving tour of the American Civil War Battlefields in 1994. Also in 1994, Brooks delved into Journalism classes at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In 1995, Brooks had the great fortune to study at the Sorbonne in Paris.
In 1995, Brooks commenced his studies at the University of Houston Law Center. In 1997, Brooks attended a Summer Study Program in the Greek Isles through Tulane University’s Law School, with Justice Antonin Scalia as a course professor. In 1998, Brooks graduated with a JD from the University of Houston Law Center.
After his extensive studies and travels, both through school and with his brother Bradley, Brooks practiced law for 9 years. Most of this time was spent at Anderson & Anderson, LLP, the law firm he founded with his brother Bradley in October, 2002, which still operates today. He met his beautiful and amazingly talented wife Kate in court. She was opposing counsel. Brooks was smitten.
In 2008, life presented Brooks and Bradley the opportunity to sign a lease for a small wine bar they named Veritas Wine Room. Brooks left the practice of law to run Veritas’s day-to-day operations. Veritas opened to a deafening silence and for several years the business itself was day-to-day. However, persistence prevailed and Veritas developed a loyal following. Veritas Wine Room has won many national, state, and local awards including Best Wine Bar in Dallas from D Magazine for the years 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2015; Top 25 Wine Bars in America from Travel + Leisure; Ultimate Best Wine Bar in Dallas from Pegasus News; Best Wine List in Dallas 2009 and 2010 from the Dallas Observer; Top 10 Wine Bars in the US 2012 from Gayot.
In 2012, Brooks opened Boulevardier with his brother Bradley and their Chef Partners Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland. Boulevardier opened to great critical acclaim and fanfare. Boulevardier has won many national, state, and local awards including the following from D Magazine alone: Best Burgers 2015; 100 Best Restaurants in Dallas 2013; Best French Restaurant Readers’ Choice 2015; Best Bartender in Dallas Readers’ Choice 2015; Best French Restaurant in Dallas 2014 Editors’ Pick and Readers’ Choice; Best French Restaurant in Dallas 2013; Best Brunch in Dallas 2013; and Top 10 Best New Restaurants 2012. In addition, Texas Monthly listed Boulevardier as a Top 10 Best New Restaurant 2012 in the State of Texas and Dallas Observer listed Boulevardier as having one of the Top 10 Best Wine Lists in Dallas. Boulevardier has also been written up in the New York Times, Town & Country Magazine and many other publications too numerous to name here.
In 2015, Brooks opened Rapscallion with his brother Bradley and their Chef Partner Nathan Tate. Rapscallion opened to great critical acclaim and fanfare. Rapscallion has won many national, state, and local awards including Top 10 Best New Restaurants 2015 in the State of Texas by Texas Monthly; Top 10 Best New Restaurants in Dallas by D Magazine; Top 50 Best Restaurants in Dallas 2016 by D Magazine; Top 10 Best Wine Lists in Dallas by the Dallas Observer; Best Hot Chicken in the US from Food Republic; and many, many others.
Brooks and his Brother Bradley, along with key employees Eli Cohn, Eddie Eakin and Jay Stalnaker, are responsible for the wine lists at each of the 3 spots.
Brooks has had the great pleasure and distinct honor to spend thousands of hours drinking and learning from the greatest minds and palates in the international world of wine. Brooks’s extensive wine travels have taken him to Alsace, the Loire, Champagne, Chablis, Burgundy, the Northern Rhone, the Southern Rhone, Costières de Nîmes, Provence, the Willamette and its sub-appellations, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, California’s Central Valley, and Texas Wine Country. Brooks’s food travels extend quite a bit further than his wine travels.
Brooks hopes to continue his career in Food and Wine and really hopes he does not ever again have to practice law.