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Michael Jordan, MS, Wine Competition Honorary Chairman
Michael A. Jordan, MS, CWE, "Sommelier for the People" and veteran restaurateur, Jordan is one of only fifteen in the world to hold both the Master Sommelier and the Certified Wine Educator Diplomas. Jordan is currently Vice President of Food and Beverage for The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon – an entertainment and dining complex in Anaheim, CA. The Ranch includes a wine destination restaurant next door to a saloon with live country music and dancing. Jordan is also the host of the syndicated weekly “What’s Cooking With Wine” Radio Talk Show featuring Wine, Food and Travel. It is broadcast LIVE in several major AM Radio markets across the US including New York, Boston, Charlotte, Detroit and Chicago. The show also airs Live on CRN Digital Talk Radio (internet).Prior to joining The Ranch team,Jordan had a nine year stint as Global Manager of Wine Sales and Standards and Wine Educator for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts® Worldwide. Jordan left Disney to create WORD VINEYARDS with his wife Teresa. WORD is a small production line of high quality, hand crafted artisan wines. Before that Jordan opened Pinot Provence, Pavilion and Bella Teresa - three top restaurants in So. Cal. The California Restaurant Writers Association (CRWA), a journalist organization, named Jordan “2001 and 2002 Sommelier of the Year,” The STARWINE International Wine Competition Board named Michael “Wine Educator of the Year 2003” and in 2005 Orange Coast Magazine named Michael “General Manager of the Year 2006” and also voted him “Restaurant Professional of the Year 2005.” Additionally, in 2008, the Southern California Restaurant Writers (SCRW) voted him “2008 General Manager of the Year” and later that year the Whitefish Food & Wine Summit honored Jordan as “Sommelier of the Year 2008.”
Chris Bradford is Wine Director for Four Seasons Beverly Hills. He created multiple award-winning wine programs and has received the Sante Award for Outstanding Wine Program – Western USA. He has been featured in Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast and the Tasting Panel.
Chris Braun was born and raised in California. After playing professional volleyball for three years, he received an MS in Wine and Spirits from ESC in Dijon. Chris then started working in Bordeaux and later moved to the Languedoc region in southern France where he was Managing Director of Ciatti Europe in Montpellier. He received the Chevalier de l’Ordre de Merite Agricole medal for his service to the French wine industry. Chris now runs Advinture, a wine import consultancy, and is based in Southern California.
Greg Burns of Lodi, California is a fifth generation descendent of Jessie’s Grove Vineyards & Winery. Greg is the director and head winemaker for Jessie’ Grove Winery as well as Vineyard Manager for his family’s vineyards. His family has been in Lodi since the 1850’s and has been growing grapes in the Lodi area since the 1880’s. He continues that legacy today having returned to manage his family vineyards in 1994. With 280 acres of grapes in full production, his selections for Jessie’s Grove Winery have been carefully hand selected. He is a fifth generation grower; a first generation winemaker and has been actively producing commercial wines for the last 18 years. As Greg puts it, “Lodi’s AVA has a rich heritage and history and its ability to produce high quality grapes makes my life as a winemaker very rewarding.”
Bernard Burtschy is a wine columnist in Le Figaro (a French newspaper, every Thursday) and in several magazines in the French press (Amateur de Bordeaux, GaultMillau, La Revue du Vin de France) and abroad (Wands in Japan, Feinschmecker Germany). He is also first vice-president of the French Wine Press and permanent member of the Grand Jury Européan (the leading European wine tasting group).
Mark Chandler is a 30 year veteran of the wine business and currently consults in wine marketing and association management. He has been a winemaker, marketer, general manager and CEO. He is well known for his 20 years at the helm of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, a time during which Lodi was transformed from an anonymous winegrape region to one the most vibrant, innovative and rapidly growing appellations in North America. Mark is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) by the Society of Wine Educators, of which he is past president. For his industry leadership he has received many accolades, including being named Wine Professional of the Year by Sunset Magazine, and ranked among the Top 100 Most Influential People in US Wine by INTOWINE.com. Mark and his wife Jan, farm 100 acres of vines in the Lodi appellation.
Rebecca Chapa is a Certified Wine Educator and holds the Diploma Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in London. Chapa is the Beverage Manager for SF Chefs a food, wine and spirits festival in San Francisco. Chapa also writes freelance for Sante Magazine and her own blog www.rebeccachapa.com. Chapa owns Tannin Management, a wine consulting company that works with hotels, restaurants, wineries, and trade organizations.
Kimberly Charles, DWS of San Francisco, California, owns Charles Communications Associates, a national public relations firm specializing in wine, spirits, food, travel, and environmental arenas. She has been a wine industry professional for over 26 years; her wine industry career has included positions as public relations director at Kobrand Corporation in New York, Communications Director Gallo Winery for the Gallo of Sonoma launch campaign, and Senior VP at Magnet Communications. She has held the WSET Diploma since 1997. She judges in five competitions annually. www.charlescomm.com
Rene Chazottes of Newport Beach, California, is the Director of Wine at The Pacific Club and formerly director for the tasting panel from the Underground Wine Journal. Rene also holds the title of "Maitre Sommelier." He was named "Best Sommelier" in 1988, and carries the title of "Commandeur" in the International Association of Masters Counsel in French Gastronomies. Rene conducts wine and gastronomic tours in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, California, Oregon, Washington, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, and Chile.
Patrick Comiskey is a freelance wine writer and editor living in Los Angeles with years of wine competition experience. He contributes regularly to the Los Angeles Times Food Section, as well as Bon Appetit Magazine, Zester Daily, and Wine & Spirits.
Mitch Cosentino is known for his innovative and artistic approach to winemaking. He has founded, developed and/or created numerous wineries and brands including his own pureCru Napa Valley Winery where he produces wines by hand in small, individual lots, using the old Burgundian method of punched cap fermentation for all red varietals. Mitch still consults for others including his original namesaké winery. He has an exceptional talent for identifying fruit sources while crafting and designing the final blends. He takes great pride in each and every wine regardless of where the grapes are from and for whom the wines are made.
Joy Cushing, Advanced Sommelier of Southern California began working with wine at the Disneyland Resort, as a manager before becoming the wine educator. She has attainted the Advanced Sommelier in 2008 and is currently serving as The Carthay Circle Restaurant Manager and Wine Educator for the Disneyland Resort.
Fred Dame, MS, is the President of The Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation, the scholarship arm of Master Sommeliers America. He received his MS Diploma in the UK in 1984 becoming the first American to win the prestigious Krug Cup of the British Court of Master Sommeliers. He is also heavily involved in the culinary arts as he is an Honorary Trustee of the American Academy of Chefs and a holder of the Antonin Careme Medal.
Sammie Daniels has extensive experience in the wine and food world includes living and working for the past 26 years at various Tuscan wineries where she conducts tastings and acts as a private wine tour guide. She has more than 20 years’ employment with Youngs-Columbia importers, where she is a wine consultant and liaison to the Italian wine market. She currently lives between Tuscany and Northern California.
Gillian Dodd is the Director of Sales and National Accounts for Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners, a unique collection of traditional and contemporary wine brands from some of the world's most coveted wine regions. Gillian has over 25 years’ experience in the wine industry. Her career began with Heublein Spirits (now Diageo) followed by Beaulieu Vineyard, where she had the opportunity to taste with the great Andre Tchelistcheff. Gillian was instrumental to the growth and success of Australia’s famed Rosemount Estate, where she was Vice President of Sales, West, and then went on to create and lead their first national accounts team through the Southcorp merger. As a founding member of Cumulus Wines in 2006 alongside Philip Shaw (original Rosemount Estate Winemaker), Gillian achieved national distribution and growth in quick secession which positioned Cumulus for an attractive acquisition by Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners where she works today, especially enjoying her time with Argyle’s famed winemaker, Rollin Soles. Residing in Southern California, Gillian’s passion for wine sends her globetrotting to various wine regions around the world, working alongside and being mentored by some of the industries most awarded winemakers.
Maureen Downey, DWS, CWE is the owner of Chai Consulting, a private wine collection management firm based in San Francisco, providing services to clients around the globe. After working in some of NYC’s top restaurants, she worked at brick-and-mortar wine auction houses as a fine & rare wine auction specialist, completing appraisals, inspecting tens of millions of dollars in inventories including authenticating old and rare bottles, and consulting on buying and selling to many of the world's top collectors for over six years. In 2006, she formed Chai Consulting. She and her team are now able to focus on the individual needs and interests of wine collectors and work exclusively on their behalf. 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 is also a recognized expert in fine and rare wine inventory management, appraisal, valuation and financial trends of global fine wine markets. In December 2012, Drinks Business listed Maureen as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in the World of Wine.
Mike Dunne is a freelance wine writer who divides his time between Sacramento, California, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California, and Sur, Mexico. The retired food editor, wine columnist and restaurant critic of The Sacramento Bee, he continues to contribute a weekly wine column to The Bee. He also writes for other publications and in his spare time tends to his wine blog A Year in Wine (www.ayearinwine.com). He judges around 12 wine competitions a year, and recently was named one of the two new chief judges for the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.
Traci Dutton of Calistoga, California, is currently Sommelier and Beverage Manager for the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone for the past 15 years where she oversees all beverage programs in the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant and for all special events. She is also responsible for selection and purchasing wine, inventory control, wine list development, menuing, food and wine pairings, and staff training. The 35,000-bottle cellar at Greystone, which she manages, also supplies wine to the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies, a state of the art sensory facility recently completed at the Napa Valley Campus.
Gary Eberle, began his 40 year career in winemaking in the 1970’s. After achieving academic and athletic success at Penn State University and while pursuing his doctorate in zoology at LSU, Eberle met a professor who introduced him to the world of wine and soon changed his life. In 1973, Eberle made his first trip to Napa and entered the UC Davis winemaking doctoral program. Four years later, Eberle was heading his family’s Estrella River Winery. In 1980, he co-founded the Paso Robles Appellation and in 1983, Gary opened the doors to his own Eberle Winery. Today, Eberle handcrafts 30,000 cases of wine each year and consistently remains one of the highest award-winning wineries in the United States.
Stephen Eliot is writer/editor for Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wines for the last 30 years. He was a Senior Wine Instructor at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco from 1989 until 2011. He has been professionally involved with wines since the early 1970s having worked in management both in retail and in restaurants. Stephen began writing for Vintage magazine in 1978 and has contributed to various magazines and newspapers over the years in addition to his full-time endeavors with Connoisseurs' Guide.
Tim Gaiser, MS is a nationally renowned wine expert and Master Sommelier. He is the former Education Chair for the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a contributing editor for Fine Cooking Magazine and an adjunct professor for the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley.
Don Galleano is the President of The Historic Galleano Winery, which makes it a third generation of wine growers in the Cucamonga Valley. Galleano Winery produces Old Vine Zinfandel and world class Ports, Sherries and Angelica.
Nick Goldschmidt was born in Auckland, New Zealand. Nick began his career in viticulture whilst taking a research position at Lincoln University in 1982. After completing his Bachelor of Science at Canterbury and a diploma in horticulture at Lincoln, he went to Charles Sturt University in Australia to study viticulture. Then after three vintages back in New Zealand, he returned to Australia to complete his postgraduate in Winemaking. Chile was his next stop and then in 1990 he became the VP winemaker for Simi Winery in California. During his time there he began his own brands; Forefathers, Goldschmidt Vineyards, Boulder Bank, and Pampano. In 2003 Nick became Senior VP winemaker for Allied Domecq where he oversaw winemaking in California, Argentina, Mexico, New Zealand, and Spain. While still working in many countries internationally, in the same role Nick moved over to Beam Wine Estates overseeing all California winemaking. As of March 2008 he went out on his own and now works in four areas; consulting in four countries, branded wines, exclusive wine brands, and high tech and new developments for the wine industry. Biodynamic and organic vineyards are a large part of what he does.
Lucio Gomiero of Venice, Italy, planted his first vineyard in 1980 in the Colli Euganei (Veneto) and founded “Vignalta” winery with partner Franco Zanolvello. In 1993, Lucio started a second winery, “La Fiorita,” in Montalcino (Tuscany) with his partner Roberto Cipresso. Lucio resides in California with his family, taking care of the U.S. market for his wines, as well as other agricultural projects.
John Gorman has 20 years experience in the industry as an importer and online retailer of Southern Hemisphere wine exclusively.
Daryl Groom is the Owner and Winemaker for Groom Wines from Australia. This highly acclaimed Australian Winery focuses on three varietals; Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. In addition to Groom Wines, Daryl is involved in many other wine projects. These are: Colby Red, a wine launched nationally in partnership with Walgreens that raises money for heart research. The wine was inspired by and named after his 13-year-old son Colby who recently underwent back-to-back heart surgeries. You can check out the story through a video at www.colbyred.com. DXG, which is a limited release range of wines from premium wine growing areas of California. SocialGrapes, a newly launched socially driven and revolutionary mobile engagement platform that allows every day wine lovers to share and discover wines with their friends. Daryl's previous experience includes winemaking and operational management at Penfolds, Geyser Peak Winery, and Beam Wine Estates.
Joe Hart has owned, and made wine for, Hart Winery in the Temecula Valley since 1980. He is a resident of Carlsbad and the tiny eastern Sierra community of Aspendell, near Bishop. He is a professional member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Southern California regional director of Family Winemakers of California, and past president of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. He owns a classic Cessna Taildragger, drives a recently restored 1960 Alfa Romeo, and is an avid catch-and-release fly fisherman, pursuing, and occasionally catching, the wily trout of California’s eastern Sierra. He has been a wine judge since 1982.
Laely Heron's unconventional upbringing in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the US may explain the wanderlust, which has led to her passion for international wine studies and winemaking. She began at the Institute of Enology in Bordeaux, and worked with wines in the US, Australia, and Scandinavia before starting Heron Wines 16 years ago. Today she makes wine in France, Spain, and California.
Daniel Hoffman, Corporate Director of Equipment & Beverage Specifications for Marriott International Inc.’s Global Operations Services, researches, reviews, documents and sustains beverage alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) and non-alcoholic beverage specifications for six hotel brands: The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Gaylord Hotels and Courtyard by Marriott. He has worked for hospitality companies for over 30 years and has been involved in beverage alcohol for 30 years. Dan currently serves on the editorial advisory board for Cheers Magazine, a leading on-premise industry publication, and on the advisory board for VIBE, a leading on-premise beverage conference. In late 2012, Dan received the Fred Tibbitts & Associates Hospitality Award for Excellence as an Operator – North America.
Stacie Hunt, Certified Sommelier and Co-founder of SPLASH (www.splashpros.com), producers of Wine, Cuisine & Art exhibitions and video productions/documentaries, television/digital publicity and marketing for wineries and regions. Stacie is NPR's on-air wine reporter and a blogger for "Good Food" on KCRW-FM, Los Angeles flagship station. Stacie writes a wine column on the award-winning MY LA Lifestyle (www.mylalifestyle.com) and National Wine Examiner (www.examiner.com). She is producer of the anniversary documentary for Wine Spectator magazine; Emmy Award winning journalist; Product/brand spokesperson. Stacie is a partner in Du Vin Wine & Spirits in West Hollywood, specializing in the wines of Italy and Latin America; Board Member, North American Sommelier Association (www.nasommelier.com) and NAWR (National Association of Wine Retailers).
James Parker Huston, is an owner and wine director for Wine Gallery in Corona del Mar, CA. James consistently maintains a wine list of over 700 bottle selections to pair with the Wine Gallery's world inspired small plate cuisine. The Wine Gallery has won Wine Spectator's Best Award of Excellence three years running. James is an Advanced Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine. He is studying diligently for the Master Sommelier Diploma and the Certified Wine Educator Diploma. James also works as a floor Sommelier for Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's and is the consulting Sommelier for Crow Bar and Kitchen in Corona del Mar, CA. In addition, James is the lead wine consultant for the Pacific Coast Wine Festival, a charity event that benefits the youth music programs of Orange County's Pacific Symphony.
Linda Noel Kawabata is a certified Saké Specialist holding a Level II certificate from The Saké Education Council, Tokyo, Japan. She is fluent in both the language and customs of Japan, having owned and operated a business there for more than 25 years. Linda is President of Ai Saké Solutions a company that explores marketing potential and provides representation to Japanese saké brewers; as well as educational courses, restaurant consultation and saké presentations for individuals, and corporations in the United States. She has planned saké dinners for award winning chefs across America. Linda makes Saké understandable and enjoyable for the western chef, restaurateur, wine specialist and consumer. “My goal is to slide open the paper doors and welcome everyone to the world of saké enjoyment.”
Chuck Keagle of Upland, California, is founder, owner, and CEO of Cask & Cleaver restaurants and the Sycamore Inn. Chuck is a former board member of the Collins School of Hospitality Management, Cal Poly Pomona, and the California Avocado Commission and the California Restaurant Association. Chuck is an avocado grower and former wine grape grower.
Wesley Kollar's professional journey began as a student at Sonoma State University, earning extra money working in his first job in the wine industry. He subsequently worked with over a dozen wineries throughout Northern and Central California where he gained experience with vineyard management and laboratory analysis. This foundation led to tasting room experience, working in Barrel Rooms, and hands-on experience making wine. He has held almost every position possible in his 20 years in the wine industry, where he now enjoys a 360-degree viewpoint of the industry, with knowledge of wines from vineyard to table and all points in between. He has traveled to wine regions in Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and North America to sample wines and work one-on-one with vineyards in vineyard design and consulting. He has hosted hundreds of Wine Events throughout California, specializing in Wine Pairing Dinners. Currently, he works in wine sales, distribution and brokering.
Adam LaZarre is the proprietor and winemaker for LaZarre Wine Company. He is a veteran winemaker with nearly 20 years of experience behind him. Most recently, he was the mind behind the successful Villa San-Juliette and Fat Monk line of wines in Paso Robles producing wines for the creative geniuses Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe, the Executive Producers of such shows as American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and America’s Got Talent. Adam is one of the most accoladed winemakers in California, with Best-of-Show wins at the most prestigious wine competitions in the world including the L.A. International Wine Competition where he is the only three time winner of this respected wine competition. In 2005, Adam was named “Winemaker of the Year” in the Sacramento Bee and was also named “One of the Top Five Winemakers” in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2006. Earlier in 2012, Adam was ranked #69 on IntoWine.com’s “100 Most Influential People in the US Wine Industry”. Adam and his wife Angie are completely committed to providing the very best possible wines at any price and will continue to do so until he departs this earth.
Sonja Magdevski is owner/winemaker of Casa Dumetz Wines, her goal is to create vibrant, balanced and approachable wines using the basic ingredients of premium Santa Ynez Valley fruit and hard work. Sonja’s limited wine production portfolio (just over 1,000 cases) is focused towards Rhone varietals. The current line-up includes syrah rose, viognier, syrah, grenache, sparkling syrah rose and gewürztraminer. For more information, please visit www.casadumetzwines.com
Brian Maloney is the winemaker at DeLoach Vineyards. Brian was born and raised on a ranch in the Sonoma Coast. He pursued a degree in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis and has worked at DeLoach Vineyards since the 2003 harvest and has been the winemaker since 2007.
Peter Marks, MW, is the Vice President of Education for Constellation Wines in St. Helena, California. Before joining Constellation, Peter was the Senior Vice President of Wine for COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in Napa, CA. Peter has also been the Chief Wine Merchant at Wine.com, a wine Internet retailer, and Director of Wine for Draeger's Supermarkets located in San Mateo, Menlo Park, and Los Altos, California. Peter is one of 26 members of the Institute of Masters of Wine residing in America, and the first American to receive the Madame Bollinger Foundation Award awarded each year to the MW candidate with the highest blind tasting score. Peter also consults for restaurants and private clients, and teaches wine classes through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He is the Education Coordinator for the Institute of Masters of Wine tasting exam in the United States, is on the Wine Education Committee of the Napa Valley Vintners, judges at many international wine competitions and is a member of the Society of Wine Educators.
Dennis Martin is vice president and director of winemaking at Fetzer Vineyards. Martin and his winemaking staff are dedicated to working with individual grape growers and are committed to the concept that winemaking is an integrated team effort. Martin is involved in all major winemaking decisions in creating the Fetzer Vineyards line of wines, from premium varietals to the Fetzer Luxury collection and selects the finest varietal fruit available from vineyards throughout California. One of Fetzer’s major strengths as a winery is the ability to blend consistently, vintage after vintage. Martin has been with Fetzer Vineyards for 28 years.
Sharron McCarthy is the Vice President of Wine Education for Banfi Vintners, the U.S. leading wine importer and a major producer of premium offerings from Italy. Throughout her career, she has conducted food and beverage management courses at the Culinary Inst. Of America, Cal Poly, UNLV, University of Denver, University of Houston, Cornell University, Johnson and Wales and the Smithsonian, among others. She is past President of the Society of Wine Educators and has been associated with the American Inst. Of Wine and Food, American Wine Society, Sommelier Society of America, New York Women’s Culinary Alliance just to name a few. She is also an associate member of the Cornell Hotel Society.
Tim McDonald of Napa, California is a thirty year veteran in the wine industry and founded Wine Spoken Here, a reputation engineering company for wine brands, including Canopy Management, Fetzer Vineyards, Robert Oatley, Bonterra Vineyards and Reata Winery. He has judged at dozens of international wine competitions and enjoys life with his beautiful wife Lisa and 19 year old son Angus who all love food, friends and family.
Neil McNally, CWE has dedicated his life to the wine trade and fine wines, professionally and personally. From his position as Vice-President for Rosenthal - The Malibu Estate Wines, back to his start in the wine business over 28 years ago, Neil is involved in all aspects of the profession, including wine production, distribution, education, and account and media relations. He also teaches wine education/appreciation for airline, hotel and restaurant staffs. He is a Certified Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educators, and teaches wine classes at UCLA Extension School of Business, Management, and Legal.
Philip Scott MacConnell has been haunted by wine since he visited Italian Swiss Colony at the age of eight. He has worked in the Imports Department of the California Distributor Wine Warehouse since 2000. Scott is a trained Archivist and works to restore the legacy of the 19th century Los Angeles pioneers of the California Wine Industry.
Jon C. McPherson is the Director of Winemaking at South Coast Winery, Resort and Spa, in Temecula, California, “The oldest winemaking frontier in California that isn’t yet on any map.” He has over thirty years of winemaking experience, starting with his tenure at Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock, Texas. He moved to California in 1985 to pursue sparkling wine production at Culbertson Winery, and later Thornton Winery.
Harry McWatters has been a driving force in the development of the British Columbia’s wine industry for 40 years. He is founder and former President of Sumac Ridge Estate Winery and See Ya Later Ranch and is President of SunDial Vineyard, Okanagan Wine Academy, and the Vintage Consulting Group Inc. Harry is instrumental in the founding of VQA Canada, a trade association that spearheaded the development of national wine standards for Canadian vintners. He lives in the town of Summerland, British Columbia in the heart of the Okanagan Valley.
Ann Miller is the Marketing Manager at St. James Winery in Missouri, the state's largest winery. A graduate of the University of California Davis, Miller began in the wine industry working in a vineyard. She has been an active force in the Missouri wine industry for more than 10 years. She most recently worked as an independent consultant for the 100 member Missouri Wine & Grape Board, which promotes Missouri wines and the unique varietals grown there. Miller’s experience also extends to the field of wine judging, where she has served as a wine judge for national and international wine competitions including the Florida State Fair International Wine Competition, the New York Wine and Food Classic, and the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.
Sally Mohr, MS, earned the title of Master Sommelier in 1995 and was the second woman in the United States to achieve that distinction. She enjoys passing the wonders of the wine world to aspiring Master Sommeliers through the courses sponsored by the Court of Master Sommeliers. She began her wine career as an employee at The Boulder Wine Merchant in 1983 and became a co-owner of this prestigious specialty retail wine shop in 1986. In August of 2010, The Boulder Wine Merchant was sold allowing Sally to pursue other avenues in the beverage trade. In 2009, Sally passed the Advanced Saké Specialist course in Japan. She is a board member of the Saké Education Council, whose mission is to spread the word of the joys of Saké. Kanpai! She continues to put her palate to the test by judging in various wine competitions. Besides wine, Sally enjoys spending time with her husband and two grown children in the wonderful outdoors of Colorado and the tropical beaches of the Caribbean. Her travels have taken her too many wine regions around the world and her long-term goal is to feel the dirt between her toes in all of them.
Eiji Mori is the General Manager of Katana Restaurant in West Hollywood California. Katana is one of the restaurants in the Innovative Dining Group, which also includes Sushi Roku, Boa Steakhouse, Delphine, Soleto and the newest restaurant RivaBella. Eiji is originally from Gifu in Japan where he was surrounded by Sake brewing culture. He came to the U.S. when he was 20 years old unable to speak any English but with a passion for the restaurant business. He started with IDG practically at the beginning of the company and as the company has grown so has Eiji’s career progressed. Not only is Eiji General Manager of one of IDG’s most successful restaurants he is also Sake Sommelier for all of the restaurants in the group. He is responsible for selecting the company’s extensive sake list and educating all of the new members of staff on the rich cultural history of sake as well as regular tastings and seminars.
Mark A. Newman of Studio City, California has been Chairman and CEO of three wine & spirits industry companies, and has spent a lifetime in the industry. Mark is currently consulting for wineries in the south of France, Bordeaux, Italy, Spain and California. In his over 35 years in the wine industry he has owned the largest per unit wine & spirits retail chain in Arizona, held key California winery positions as well as senior level executive positions in the wine distributing business. Mark has also produced wine in both California and France. He received his education at the University of Southern California in Business (Marketing & Finance) and is a member of several wine industry trade groups. Mark was inducted into the prestigious Commanderie de Bontemps du Medoc et Graves recognizing his years of dedication to the wine industry, and is Maitre Consiels of Gastronomy, an honor bestowed by the French Minister of Agriculture, and he has previously had his palate insured for one million dollars.
Deborah Parker Wong, AIWS is Northern California editor for The Tasting Panel magazine where she reports on the global wine and spirits industries with an emphasis on domestic trends. She holds the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Diploma and is a certified WSET educator. In addition, Deborah contributes frequently to Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine and writes a lively consumer drinks column for Examiner.com. As a professional wine judge, she juries several regional, national and international wine competitions each year.
Steve Pepe the co-owner of Clos Pepe Vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills of California. Clos Pepe sustainably farms 25 acres of Pinot Noir and 4 acres of Chardonnay; most of the grapes are sold to other wineries. Clos Pepe also produces 1000 cases of Pinot Noir and 450 cases of Chardonnay under its own label and 300 cases of Syrah under the Axis Mundi label. He is a member of several food and wine societies. He has made homemade wines and received gold medals in both the L.A. County Fair and Orange County Fair wine competitions. Clos Pepe has 650 Italian Tuscan Olive trees and produces extra virgin olive oil which won a Gold Medal, Best of Class and Best of Show at the 2007 Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition. Carneros Press has published Steve’s memoir “Clos Pepe- A Vigneron ‘s Quest for Great Dirt” about changing careers from an attorney to a grape grower.
Eric V. Orange, Founder/CEO of LocalWineEvents.com, began his wine career nearly 30 years ago learning to grow grapes and make wine at Millbrook vineyards in New York. Since then his wine career has spanned virtually every segment of the industry, from Wine Steward in Fine Dining to Retail to Wholesale Wine Rep and District Manager of Colorado for Paterno Imports (now Terlato Wines) and Regional Manager for the short lived WineShopper.com. Thirteen years ago, Eric developed and launched LocalWineEvents.com, the world’s largest calendar of Food and Wine events by city and publisher of The Juice, a weekly event notification e-mail with over 212,000 subscribers.
Leslie Sbrocco is an award-winning author, television host and in-demand speaker, her approach to wine, food and travel is both entertaining and educational. Known for her humorous musings and energetic style, Leslie takes her subject seriously, but not herself. Leslie's PBS television show "Check Please" has garnered three Emmy awards and a James Beard Award and her first book, Wine for Women, won the Georges DuBoeuf Best Wine Book of the year. Leslie is a regular guest on NBC's Today show and many other national programs and has been named as one of America’s top 100 most influential people in wine. Sbrocco has consulted for companies such as Kimpton Hotels, Harry & David, Virgin America Airlines and is a judge at numerous national and international wine competitions. As founder of the multimedia company, ThirstyGirl.com, Leslie reaches thousands and spreads her message, Life...Drink it Up!
Diana Schweiger Isdahl began her career in the wine industry before graduating from middle school. A Napa native, Diana helped her family clear 35 acres of forested land and plant vineyards in the 1980’s. The Schweiger family sold grapes for 10 years and began making wine in 1994 under the direction of Diana’s brother, UC Davis graduate, Andrew Schweiger. Diana graduated from CSU Chico with a degree in PR/Marketing and began her career in 1991 at Heublein. From there she served in other sales positions for Paterno Imports, Rosemount Estate and Southcorp Wines. In addition to her current V.P. Sales/Owner position at the winery, Diana sits on the board of directors for Schweiger Vineyards. Diana also serves on the 2013 steering committee for Auction Napa Valley and has served on the Spring Mountain District Association board of directors. There are a number of other work experiences that have shaped Diana’s career including; competitive figure skating, interning at Disneyland in the guest relations department, and as a constituent representative for the 1st district Congressman of California in Washington D.C.
Howard Soon was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has 33 years experience in the British Columbia Wine Industry, including the past 23 years as Senior Winemaker for Sandhill Wines /Calona Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley. Also, Howard is a Certified Wine Educator and teaches at Okanagan College. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the WineGen Research Project under Genome Canada. Recently Howard was inducted into the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservice Association (BCRFA) Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Industry.
Nina Sventitsky is the official California Regional Specialist for Vibrant Rioja, representing the Rioja DOCa region. She has a background in marketing and wine sales. She has the following wine certifications; WSET Advanced, Court of Master Sommeliers Level 1, Italian Wine Specialist North American Sommelier Association (NASA), she also is on the board of the North American Sommelier Association, managing all social media and administration. She lives in Los Angeles, with her husband Alex and pointer Taylor.
Mark Tarbell is the owner of Tarbell’s in Phoenix (a 16 year recipient of Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence") and co-owner of The Oven in Lakewood Colorado. He earned his culinary degree at La Varenne Ecole Des Cuisine and studied wine at l'Academie du Vin. Nominated "Best Chef - Southwest" by the James Beard Foundation, Mark and his restaurants have earned more than fifty awards in the past 17 years. He serves on many advisory councils and boards, from the Arizona Department of Education to the Phoenix Theatre. He has appeared on “Good Morning America”, the “Today Show”, and several Food Network programs, including his triumphant "Battle Apple" against Iron Chef Cat Cora on "Iron Chef America" in 2007. Mark is the weekly wine columnist for The Arizona Republic and has been published in numerous magazinesincluding Wine & Spirits and Food Arts.
Chef David Teig’s cooking career began at an upstate New York Buddhist ashram, giving him an early appreciation for fresh products and organic foods before it became mainstream. Further experiences lead him to France, working at the Michelin three-star, Maison de Bricourt, followed by a number of private and hotel restaurants, throughout Europe and United States. Prior to settling at the Sheraton Fairplex, he traveled for Starwood Hotels, leading hotel openings and providing operational support. At McKinley’s Grill, the focus is on fresh market cuisine, using local and sustainable food sources. The menu revolves around seasonality and the Fairplex Fairview Farms, where the hotel organically grows produce ranging from stone fruits to citrus to herbs and vegetables.
Maria Terry, La Sommelier, is the author of “Pair Up,” a wine and food pairing article published in the Community Focus in Contra Costa County and online at http://lasommelierre.tumblr.com/. Maria provides wine education and consulting services to businesses and individuals in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to being a Certified Sommelier, Maria holds degrees in Oenology, Chemistry and has earned a master's degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing.
Hugh Thacher founded The San Francisco Wine Exchange in 1975, the oldest US based, independent wine marketing company.
Andrea Francesco Torelli-Lesky, VP at CT Imports, a Tuscany/California based producer, importer, and distributor of authentic European wines; specializing in the classic wines of Italy. Vested in several wineries in Italy; producing well known varietals and wines from throughout the country, Andrea manages product development, import selection, and marketing. Outside of a select portfolio offering selections from Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Germany, CT Imports specializes in producer direct “control-brand” and “private-label” wine imports.
Jim Trezise, the "New York Wine Guy," lives on Keuka Lake, in the heart of New York's Finger Lakes wine country. Jim has been President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation since its creation in 1985. He has received several national awards for contributions to the American wine industry, and serves on the Boards of national and international organizations like Wine America (public policy), FIVS (international trade), Wine Market Council (marketing), and the National Grape and Wine Initiative (research). He is also President of the International Riesling Foundation, a new trade organization he created with Dan Berger and Coke Roth, which has a Board of Directors comprised of 30 of the world’s top Riesling producers. He judges in numerous competitions around the country and world.
Toshio Ueno is a Master Sake Sommelier, Shochu Advisor and Jizake Educator. Born in Japan where his family has grown wine grapes for generations, Toshio grew up helping the business from a young age. Following his education in the US and employment at an international trading company in Tokyo, he joined Chateraise, a pastry and wine company as Director of Sales. In 2002, he joined Mutual Trading Company where he is Manager of the Business Development Department in marketing Japanese foods, Jizake and Shochu to the mainstream American trade. With his passion and expertise, he aims to further promote Japanese food and Sake cultures to new international audiences.
Matt Viotto is a 22-year industry veteran. He started out with a small broker in Southern California working with top end producers. Graduated to working as California Manager with Chalone Wine Group, managing the purchase by Diageo for the state. Matt currently is with Talbott Vineyards running Global Sales and Marketing.
Roger Voss, born in London, has been writing about wine for over 25 years. He is the European Editor of Wine Enthusiast magazine and has been a wine correspondent for many British newspapers. He has written books: Guides to the Wines of the Lorie, Alsace and Rhône, to Port and Sherry, to the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, an in-depth guide to the Wines of the Loire, and a full colour illustrated book on French food and wine – Wine and Food of France. Now based in the Bordeaux region of France, he travels widely through Europe and other wine regions of the world, meeting and writing about the fascinating people who make up the world of wine, and tasting their wines.
Paul Wagner formed Balzac Communications & Marketing on April 1, 1991. Current clients include Diageo Chateau and Estates Wine Company, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, DO Navarra, Don Sebastiani & Sons, the Rutherford Dust Society, and a host of other wine and food specialists. Paul Wagner is an instructor for Napa Valley College's Viticulture and Enology department, and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. He is a guest lecturer for UC Davis, Grayson College, Sonoma State University, MIB School of Management in Trieste, the University of Dijon, and UC Berkeley extension. He has lectured throughout the world on communications, public affairs, wine and wine marketing. With Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, he has published 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 for professionals. He is director of the Society of Wine Educators, and in 2009, he was honored with a “Life Dedicated to Wine” award at the Feria Nacional del Vino (FENAVIN) in Spain.
Wilfred Wong, a 30 year-plus veteran of the wine industry is both a wine buyer and a wine writer. A retailer at heart, Wilfred is based in the San Francisco store Beverages and More! As one of the company’s wine buyers, he tastes over 8,000 wines annually and travels abroad to get an early look at wines. Many of the company’s chain-wide POS are drawn from notes and ratings that Wong sends to the corporate headquarters. As a writer, he is currently contributing to Vineyard & Winery Management, Beverage Industry News, Epicurean and Beverage Industry News, and Wines & Vines as a regular columnist. Wilfred resides in San Francisco with his wife, Alice and dog, Cody.
Debbie Zachareas is the Managing Partner and Wine Buyer at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco's restored Ferry Building, and at the Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant in downtown Napa. Both locations offer and international wine selection with an emphasis on small-production and sustainably farmed wines. Zachareas hosts weekly wine tastings in her San Francisco wine bar. Great winemakers, importers, and winery owners educate and entertain her clientele by featuring their wines at the bar. Debbie teaches wine classes both at her own business as well the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California. She is a well-known wine judge, lecturer, sommelier, and guest speaker for a number of wine events throughout the country.
Marvin Zeidler of Los Angeles, California, is President and CFO of Broadway MMM, Inc., and the Broadway Deli in Santa Monica, California. He is a general partner of Cora’s, Brentwood Restaurant and Capo Ristorante located in Santa Monica. He was founder and general partner of Citrus Restaurant and was President and CEO of Zeidler & Zeidler Ltd., a chain of men’s clothing stores. He is an active member and past chairman of the Wine & Food Society of Hollywood and serves on the Executive Advisory Council of the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Cal Poly Pomona, among other organizations.
Robin Kelley O’Connor enjoys 30 years of experience in the wine trade and a stellar reputation as a leading wine educator, international wine judge, wine writer and sommelier. Robin recently joined Italian Wine Merchants (IWM) and its dynamic team. IWM is the leading purveyor of fine Italian wines in the country, as well as a specialist in providing great, rare and collectable wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, California and Rioja. In his new role at IWM, he’ll have the occasion to offer an unparalledeled spectrum of wine and collector services such as cellar management, IWM’s proprietary online wine cellar tracking tool, wine appraisal and consignment assistance and more. A native of Maryland, Robin began studying wine at the University of Maryland. He was the second American to earn a diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (DWS) and holds Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Certified Wine Educator (CWE) and passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam.
Rebecca Murphy, risen from being the first female wine steward in Texas, to forming her own consulting firm, Vintage Productions, to becoming an accredited writer of wine related articles. She is the founder and producer of The Dallas Morning News and TexSom Wine Competition. Murphy is also handling the operations for the newly established Sunset International Wine Competition which took place for the first time in July 2012. In addition to her competition interests and weekly feature in the Dallas Morning News, Murphy recently became a reviewer for winereviewonline.com. Other writing assignments have included articles for, Wine Business Monthly, and Wines & Vines. She has also contributed to the third edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine and the sixth edition of The World Atlas of Wine. Murphy is a sought after professional wine judge herself and, in addition to the Virginia Governor's Cup Wine Competition, has judged at the Decanter World Wine Awards and International Wine Challenge in London, Concours Mondial, Los Angeles International Wine Competition, Critics Challenge in San Diego.
Steven G. Poe, MS of Southern California got his start in wine working at Napa Rose Restaurant, Disneyland Resort, as a server before becoming a wine captain and assistant wine educator. He attainted the distinguished Master Sommelier Diploma in 2008 and is currently serving as Beverage Director at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach.
Michael Horn is President/CEO of CRN Digital Talk Radio, the nation’s largest radio syndicator in all mediums (AM/FM Radio, Cable TV, Internet, Cell phone Aps, I Tunes etc.) . He is also the host of the “Whats Cookin” food and wine show and “The Whats Cookin On Wine” show, both daily wine shows on radio. Michael has reported and covered major wine events around the world including Auction Napa Valley ,The Sonoma Showcase Of Wine and Food , Kaanapali Fresh and many more. He currently produces “Brown Bag Wine Tasting” with William Shatner.