Stephen started working in the wine industry at Groot Constantia Winery, the oldest winery in South Africa, as a pourer and tour guide. Through various courses of events he managed to find a position in the cellar as a cellar worker and then eventually became the assistant winemaker there. He studied Enology and Viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural College. Upon completion of his studies Stephen became the assistant winemaker at Flagstone Winery where he worked exclusively with red wines.
Through the Ohio State Internship program he came to Virginia in 2002 and joined Keswick Vineyards as an intern and held that position until May 2004 when he took the position of Winemaker at Rappahannock Cellars. In June of 2006 he rejoined Keswick Vineyards as the Winemaker and General Manager.
Stephen’s philosophy for winemaking is minimal intervention. He prefers to focus on the vineyard to produce optimal fruit for winemaking. Keswick Vineyards is one of the few wineries that ferments most of its wines without the addition of yeast and do not fine or filter any of their reds since the 2006 harvest. Keswick Vineyards is committed to producing worldclass wines and are now seeing the potential Virginia, as well as Keswick Vineyards, has to offer.
Andy has always had an interest in how things taste. After working his way through local restaurants, Andy headed straight for the CIA to round out his education in the culinary arts and restaurant management. After a stint at Little Nell, Andy found his true interest in the front of house. He graduated from the CIA in 2001 and moved to Walland and began his career with Blackberry Farm in 2002. He soon became involved in the young wine program. In less than 6 years, Blackberry's wine cellar grew from 17,000 bottles to 166,000. With Proprietor Sam Beall's enthusiasm and passion and Andy Chabot's talent on the floor, the wine program has become synonymous with the success of Blackberry Farm. In 2014 The Barn at Blackberry Farm, under direction of Andy, received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program.
Andy has proceeded past the second tier of the Court of Master Sommeliers Exam and was the recipient of the Michael Biccorsani Scholarship. Today, Andy is responsible for all aspects of managing Blackberry Farm's Grand Award winning wine program.
Julie Dalton discovered her passion for wine while waiting tables during college at Texas A&M University. Although her education is in the life sciences, wine was something that grabbed hold and would not let go. She nurtured this passion for twelve years while holding a full-time job in the Biotech industry and while getting her MS in Biotechnology and MBA from Johns Hopkins University. During this time she was also moonlighting as a sommelier at her neighborhood tapas and wine bistro, Ranazul, as well as Bryan Voltaggio’s Volt Restaurant in Frederick.
Before she left biotech to go into wine full time, she collected her Sommelier Certifications through the Court of Master Sommeliers up through the Advanced Level, as well as her Certified Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educators. After a year representing Terry Theise for Skurnik Wine & Spirits, she realized hospitality was where she belonged so she returned to Baltimore help Michael Mina open Wit & Wisdom in the Four Seasons Hotel.
Julie has been on the staff of TexSom since 2010 and she has judged numerous wine competitions for Virginia and Maryland Governors Cups. She has represented the Mid-Atlantic Sommelier community for several competitions including the Chaîne de Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier in 2010, the ICC StarChefs SommSlam in 2012 and 2013, the Guild of Sommeliers’ Ruinart Challenge in 2012, and the Wines of Chile competition in 2013. She has presented at conferences for the Society of Wine Educators, StarChefs and Atlanta Food & Wine.
For over 20 years Julie DeFriend has been the graciousand talented manager and sommelier who has delighted inoverseeing some the most recognized dining rooms in Louisville.
After a successful tenure as Wine Director of the Oakroom at the Seelbach Hotel, in 2015 DeFriend was tapped for the position as General Manager and Sommelier of 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen, Louisville’s popular - and first - roof-top bar and restaurant. 8UP has gained numerous kudos, including being named "best new bar," under her stewardship.
Julie is renowned for her passion for wine and is currently an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and will sit for her Master exam next year. She is also a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators.
Fred Dexheimer is one of only 145 Master Sommeliers in North America and only one currently living in the Carolina’s. He is the owner of Fred Dex MS/Juiceman Consulting, and partner in the Rx Wine Lab Group which plans to open it’s first restaurant Allier in downtown Raleigh. A supporter of unusual, discovery wines and under-appreciated wine regions, Fred is always searching for equilibrium and balance in the wine world, he believes that “everything of quality should be loved.”
Fred’s sommelier experience in many of New York City’s top Michelin * restaurants Restaurant Daniel, Gramercy Tavern and Jean Georges, and as the National Wine and Beverage Director for Chef Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Restaurant Group, have given him a very well rounded understanding of the wine and beverage industry. Fred left BLT restaurants in 2009 to open his own business, Juiceman Consulting, and since that time has launched over fifteen restaurant wine and beverage programs throughout the world.
Fred is one of the countries top wine educators. With an energetic and entertaining approach to wine education he has worked with a myriad of global wine organizations. He currently represents Wines of Chile USA & Wines of Southwest France as their Spokesperson and Brand Ambassador. Other speaking clients include DO Toro, Wines of Macedonia, Wines of Campania and Vias Imports. In addition to large-scale regional campaigns, Fred has also consulted and developed impressive beverage programs for prestigious establishments such as Omni Hotels, Standard Foods, L’Amico, The Arlington Club, Grand Hyatt NYC, Max Brenner Chocolate, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, Motorino Pizza Napoletana and has served as advisor to winery, industry and media clients such as Viña DeMartino, Producteurs Plaimont, Full Circle Wine Solutions, Athletes Quarterly and Sommelier Journal.
Fred supports many charitable organizations that include St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Frankie Lemmon School, Duke Cancer Center and is a co-founder of Glass by Glass NYC for The NYU Catherine B. Reynolds “Be a Changemaker Challenge” to support Social Entrepreneurs.
It is said that the passion that Doug Fabbioli has for making quality wines has been passed down from his paternal grandfather, Leone Fabbioli. When Leone made his wine in the basement of his Elmira home in the 1940s and 50s he would take special care to sort the fruit, keep the lots of wine separate, and get to know the growers of the fruit before deciding to buy. Doug employs these time honored traditions of constant care and evaluation of quality along with the modern scientific techniques to both grow the grapes and make the wine at his winery.
Doug was employed in the wine cellar at Buena Vista Winery in the Carneros district of California. Over the ten years of his employment, Doug had a chance to work with many fine winemakers including the legendary Andre Tchelicheff. He continued his education in both enology and viticulture at U.C. Davis and Santa Rosa Junior College. Doug was becoming an accomplished home winemaker while he continued to work and learn as a professional. He had been the assistant winemaker for 3 years when he heard the calling to return to the East Coast.
After serving as winemaker for Loudoun's Tarara and Windham (now Doukenie) wineries, Doug’s passion for wine brought him to his latest endeavor of owning his own winery, Fabbioli Cellars, with his wife Colleen. They own a 6 acre vineyard and are growing and building their business everyday. They are well known for their red wines and have received numerous awards. They continue to put forth their love and passion for wine into their own business as well as the Virginia Wine industry as a whole.
Mark and Vicki have been part of the winemaking and grape growing scene in Virginia since 2002. Together, they established North Gate Vineyard on their 26 acre farm, just north of Purcellville, in Loudoun County, Virginia. The first grapes were planted in 2002, and the winery was licensed in 2007. Currently, Mark and Vicki run North Gate in their LEED Gold certified Tasting Room and production facility, the first of its kind in Loudoun, and the second in Virginia. They have received numerous awards and accolades for their wines and approachable style.
Prior to starting North Gate, Mark and Vicki were cowinemakers at Corcoran Vineyards from its inception (as Waterford Vineyards) until 2007. Before adventuring into winemaking, Mark was a data communications and network engineer where he was one of the early pioneers in developing the network technology which formed today’s Internet. Vicki was a systems programmer at Syracuse University, and then Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, working with supercomputers. Mark and Vicki received BS degrees in Computer Science from the State University of New York, College at Oswego.
Matthieu was born in Crozes Hermitage in the Rhone Valley of France. Coming from a family of viticulturists and wine lovers, Matthieu was predisposed to continue his family's pursuit of making and enjoying wine. He first studied viticulture and oenology at Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy. After graduating in 1995, Matthieu worked in many different wine regions around France including Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, and Jura. He then worked in Italy and South Africa to gain experience around the world before settling in Virginia. Since arriving in 2003, Matthieu has worked with wineries throughout the state. He enjoys working in the Monticello Appellation most because he likes the excitement of the region’s growth and being close to Charlottesville. When not at the winery, or with his lovely wife Erin, son Gabin and daughter Tessa, Matthieu likes to play rugby, snow board, rock climb, cook, and drink wine with friends.
Doug Flemer, Ingleside Vineyards Proprietor: As a young man, Doug left home to study horticulture at North Carolina State University so he could prepare himself to help with the family business of Ingleside Nursery.
As a graduation gift for hard work, Doug’s parents gave him a trip to Europe. While traveling through the renowned regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy he was able to experience firsthand centuryold vineyards and wineries. His zest for winemaking and viticulture was ignited. Also traveling through Europe at the same time was distinguished east coast viticulturalist Lucie Morton, who opened doors for Doug at the most esteemed vineyards and wineries in France. With Lucie’s help, Doug immersed himself in the grape growing and winemaking processes as he developed a refined palate.
Doug is a leader in the Virginia wine industry. He served as a past president of the Virginia Wineries Association and as founding member of the Virginia Winegrower’s Advisory Board where he served as chairman. Doug has previously served on the board of directors and as treasurer of Wine America (formerly the American Vintners Association) as well as serving as a member of the American Society of Enology & Viticulture (ASEV) and the American Wine Alliance of Research and Education (AWARE).
Today, Doug resides with his wife Nancy and two children on the Ingleside Plantation in Roxbury, one of the historic homes located on the property.
Anthony Giglio is one of the most entertaining wine and spirits authorities on the planet. He is a writer, educator and raconteur who motivates countless imbibers to trust their own tastes and relax the rules. Giglio's witty, unpretentious style can be discerned in the weekly column he writes for Details Magazine's "Food + Drinks" section. Anthony is also the Wine Director for The Centurion Lounge, a groundbreaking network of premium airport lounges by American Express. Giglio has written ten books, including three editions of the annual FOOD & WINE MAGAZINE Wine Guide review of 1,000+ wines; five editions of the enormously popular Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide, and his highly-regarded first book, Cocktails in New York.
Giglio is currently a wine reporter for CBS News Radio, as well as the longtime "Online Sommelier" for the FOOD & WINE Magazine's Connoisseur Club, as well as for Departures Magazine's Reserve Wine Club. Anthony is also the "Resident Sensualist" blogger at TheImprovisedLife.com, as well as the "Official Vino Blogger" for ItalianMade.com. Giglio has written for numerous publications, including Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, New York, Esquire, Details, The New York Observer, Robb Report, Worth, Every Day with Rachael Ray and Parade. He has appeared on NBC's Today Show, Food Network, CNBC, and FOX Business News. He is also an occasional guest on American Public Media's "The Splendid Table" with Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Last year, Giglio was invited to speak twice at The Moth, a Peabody Award-winning not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling.
Although time spent living abroad in France and Germany during his formative years certainly influenced his deep appreciation of fine wines and food, Tim Gorman proudly claims his spot as one of the few Virginiaborn and educated winemakers in our area. Tim started tending the family vineyard in 1986, shortly after graduating from James Madison University. In 1991, he enrolled at Virginia Tech to learn more about the science of growing grapes used for winemaking. He received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture, cum laude, in 1993.
After his time at Tech, Tim returned to the vineyard and began experimenting with trellising systems, as well as adding acreage and more varietals to the Cardinal Point estate. Over the next ten years, Tim gained a reputation as an expert and innovator in his field. He served as president of the Virginia Vineyards Association from 2000 to 2002, and was appointed to the Governor’s Wine Study Commission.
In 2002, the Gorman family decided to open their own winery. Tim’s years in the vineyard as a respected grape producer have served him well as Winemaker at Cardinal Point. The quality of the grapes has everything to do with the quality of the wine, and his awardwinning vintages are evidence of his skill both as a grower and as a vintner. He looks forward to discussing his wines and answering your questions when you visit.
Steven Grubbs is Wine Director and Sommelier for both Empire State South in Atlanta, GA and Five & Ten in Athens, GA. He began working for Chef Hugh Acheson as a bus boy at the Five & Ten at its inception back in 2000, where he soon became a wine-interested waiter. Eventually Acheson--who had been pulling triple duty as chef, handyman, and beverage director--handed the wine reins over to Grubbs. In 2010 they partnered in opening Empire State South, a glorified haberdashery of sorts that hopes to rethink modern southern cuisine while also cultivating serious wine, cocktail, and coffee programs. When Grubbs isn't decanting he is likely to be found playing music, sailing, or breaking something on his car. He is also a writer, and has been published by Food & Wine Magazine and Time.
Lee Hartman accidentally fell into the world of wine at the age of 23 but has since intentionally made it his life's work. Beginning with planting Bluestone's 11 acres in 2008, he worked with his parents to build the winery in 2010, and opened the tasting room in 2011. Their first year open he won one of seven gold medals in the Governor's Cup White Competition with his Blue Ice Dessert Wine (made from frozen Traminette) and followed it up the next year with another gold for his 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. That Cab was in the inaugural Governor's Case and was also named one of "37 Great American Wines" by Saveur magazine.
Studying under Michael Shaps, Lee has continued to produce excellent wines through both good and difficult vintages, from Chardonnay to Merlot to Sauvignon Blanc, totaling over 15 wines in the tasting list at any given time. He is also building a reputation for making great, unique single barrel blends released exclusively to his Press Club every year.
On top of growing and caring for wines, Lee has also become an advocate for Virginia wine, now serving as an elected board member on the Virginia Wine Council. Whether getting to know legislatures on a first name basis at the annual Wine and Vine Day in Richmond or reminding restaurateurs in Harrisonburg that local wine is local food, he is always looking for a way to promote Virginia wine. As one of only two winemakers in Rockingham County (the most agricultural county in the state), one of Lee's main directives is to show the public how similar he and his team are to the other surrounding farms. Welcoming everyone to the family's home, Lee's goal is to show that Virginia Wine can be world class but still inviting to everyone.
Helen was born in New York City. She started working in restaurants in Madison, WI while she was finishing school. She worked at a place called L’Etoile and the fine dining and farm to table driven experience inspired her to follow her dreams of working with food and wine. She moved to Los Angeles and worked at Craft as a manager for two years before signing on with Jon and Vinny in July of 2009. She currently oversees the operations and beverage programs at animal, Son of a Gun, Petit Trois, Trois familia & Trois mec. In April 2015 she partnered with Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo to open Jon & Vinny’s where she has a retail wine store called helen’s.
Michael Kimball became the Marketing Director of The Williamsburg Winery in 2013 at the age of 26. Prior to assuming the responsibilities of the marketing department, Michael served as the Winery's Wine Club Director, Social Media Director, and Wine Festival Manager. Michael currently serves on the marketing advisory group for the Williamsburg Area Destination Marketing Committee and on the board of the Colonial Virginia Wine Trail. Michael was recently elected to the Virginia Wineries Association Board of Directors. Prior to joining the Winery, Michael worked as a Brand Ambassador for CIP Marketing, a European based retail and event marketing agency, with a specific focus on the sporting goods company, Adidas. While with CIP Marketing, Michael learned innovativenontraditional branding strategies and, most importantly, developed a passion for marketing and branding. Michael fell in love with Virginia wine and food while working at the Eat Good Food Group in Alexandria, VA.
Jennifer Knowles studied chemistry at Syracuse University before moving to California and gaining a foothold in the in the retail beverage industry. Knowles was named the New World Rising Star Sommelier by StarChefs for her work at Rubicon in San Francisco before eventually finding herself on the east coast. Knowles has worked in several positions within the industry and is currently the Wine Director for The Jefferson Hotel, and Plume in Washington DC.
Jim is the owner/winemaker of Linden Vineyards and winegrower of Hardscrabble. An Ohio native, he was raised in the 1960’s and 1970’s by parents who loved to share their passion for food and wine. Study in Europe and two years’ teaching of agriculture as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire (Congo) led to the desire to grow grapes. Jim’s first vineyard job was in Indiana where he traded work for a place to live. He then got a real job in Ohio at Chalet Debonne where he learned the nuts and bolts of grape growing and cellar work. In 1981 Jim was hired to start a winery in the Shenandoah Valley where he fell in love with the area and viticultural possibilities. In the mid 1980’s, while establishing Linden Vineyards, he consulted for other wineries and taught winegrowing at local community colleges. He is currently obsessed with growing great wine and happiest in the vineyard. When not amongst the vines he enjoys cooking, eating (especially in France), and writing for trade publications.
Richard Leahy is a wine professional based in Charlottesville, Virginia and coordinates the conference program for the Eastern Winery Exposition, the largest wine industry trade show east of the Rockies. He has been writing about wines of Virginia and the East since 1986, and in May 2012 his book Beyond Jefferson’s Vines was published to high praise from reviewers. Due to the many changes on the Virginia wine scene, he published a second, expanded edition in 2014.
Richard has judged wine competitions since 1998 and for the last three years has judged in the final round of the Virginia Wine Governor’s Cup competition. In 2007 he organized the Virginia Wine Experience in London which brought the top 64 Virginia wines there for leading British wine media and trade to taste. He was a regional editor for Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide, and was Mid-Atlantic and Southern Editor for the Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America. He is a member of the American Wine Society and the Circle of Wine Writers, and also has a website and blog focused on wines of the East at www.richardleahy.com.
Sommelier and author David Lynch is the owner and wine director of San Francisco's acclaimed St. Vincent Tavern & Wine Merchant. Prior to venturing out on his own, he ran the wine programs at San Francisco's Michelin-starred Quince and New York City's iconic Babbo Ristorante. While at Babbo, he was honored with a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service (2004).
David didn't start out in restaurants: He was previously a James Beard Award-winning writer at Wine & Spirits Magazine, and his writing has appeared in publications including GQ and Food & Wine. He is also the co-author of several books, including Vino Italiano (with Joseph Bastianich) and The Wine Snob's Dictionary (with David Kamp). Still active as a writer, David currently pens the Wine Insider column for Bon Appetit. He lives in San Anselmo, CA with his wife, Josie, and son, Ellis.
Rachel Elizabeth Martin
Rachel Martin, Executive Vice President of Winery Operations of Boxwood Winery in Middleburg, Virginia, manages all aspects of production, distribution and branding. Martin is devoted to producing premium wines in the Bordeaux tradition with their own unique Boxwood terroir expression. Martin is a native Virginian and takes “great pride in having an influential role in elevating both the American wine industry, and Virginia in particular, to international recognition.” Martin has single handedly grown Boxwood Winery from scratch to a brand internationally recognized for its dedication to quality and consistency. A pioneer of out‐of‐state distribution of Virginia wine, Martin expanded the sale of Boxwood wines to 8 domestic markets and 3 export markets within the first 5 years of production. Always seeking new opportunities, in 2012 Martin singlehandedly established Middleburg Virginia as a new American Viticultural Area (AVA) the 7th in Virginia and the 192nd in the country.
Born in Biloxi, Mississippi and raised in College Station, Texas, Jack Mason began working in local restaurants at a young age and pursued a culinary degree at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Midway through his studies, while fulfilling a wine education requirement, Jack’s interest was sparked and he decided to continue his education with a degree in Hospitality Management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. There, he met Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars, who would become a mentor to him as he became a Teaching Assistant in a wine course and spent summers furthering his education by working in wine shops and restaurants back home.
Upon graduating and returning to Texas, Jack spent over two years working as a Sommelier at the Grand Award-winning Pappas Brothers Steakhouse in Houston, while simultaneously studying for and passing the Advanced Exam of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He moved to New York City in 2013, where he honed his knowledge and love of Italian wine as a Sommelier at several of Michael White’s Italian restaurants, including Ai Fiori and Marea. In 2014, Jack joined the opening team of Marta as Wine Director, in which capacity he enjoys focusing on wines of southern Italy to complement Chef Nick Anderer’s Roman-influenced menu, and furthering the team’s beverage education. In 2015, Jack passed his final exam and was inducted into the Court of Master Sommeliers. In the same year, he was featured in Forbes’s annual 30 Under 30 list of outstanding young professionals nationwide, Zagat’s 30 Under 30 New York City as well as Wine & Spirits Best New Sommelier 2015.
Jennifer Lynn McCloud came to Virginia in 1997 to grow Norton, Virginia’s native grape. Her stated goal is “To proudly restore Virginia wines to world renown, and celebrate the homecoming of Norton, The Real American Grape! NOT out of the question...she has already successfully established three hitech companies and built each to multimillion dollar sales status.” In 1987, she was recognized as a national “Top 100 Young Entrepreneur” by the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, and was honored as a semifinalist in the 1987 Chivas Regal Young Entrepreneur Awards.
The profits made by selling her companies have enabled her to do what so many of us dream about...working in a chosen domain out of love, not obligation and necessity. Rather than “following the pack” and growing more of the currently popular varieties of grapes, she has determined to concentrate on growing varietals that perform best in Virginia soils, which will naturally result in wines of the very highest quality.
The first Chrysalis Vineyards labeled wine was her 1997 Viognier, made in association with winemaker Alan Kinne. With the acquisition of her winemaking license in 1999, Jennifer’s Chrysalis Vineyards has set the new standard of excellence for Virginia wines. Her outstanding Viognier has won 4 backtoback Best of Shows, one of which is arguably the highest award of merit available to an American wine: Best in Show – White Wine at the San Diego National Wine Competition, where over 2000 American wines were submitted for judging. Her mission is well on its way to being realized!
A Virginia native, Frank Morgan works in the Legal and Data Privacy group of a global aerospace company by day. He is the author of the DrinkWhatYouLike wine blog, started six years ago to chronicle his wine experiences from the perspective of an avid wine consumer and to share stories of the wines, wineries, and winegrowers of Virginia. His site was recently named one of the top wine news blogs by Millesima. Morgan is also a contributor for local public broadcasting station, the wine site Snooth, writes a regular column for the Virginia Vineyards Association newsletter, and is the contributing editor of Virginia Wine Lover Magazine, the only print magazine exclusively focused on the Virginia wine industry.
When not writing to raise awareness of the local wine industry or taking Wine & Spirit Education Trust classes, he can be found playing at the park with his daughter or reading his way through every published work of David Foster Wallace. He lives in Chesapeake, VA.
Kathy Morgan is a Washington D.C. based Master Sommelier, wine educator and consultant. In 2010, she passed the rigorous Master Sommelier examination, becoming the 106th person in North America to earn that distinction. She has 15 years of experience as an acclaimed sommelier and wine director, having gained a diverse scope of experience in restaurants such as Michel Richard's Citronelle, Bryan Voltaggio's RANGE and Aggio, and Ristorante Tosca. Kathy has also lent her expertise to many local and national publications, and is a frequent wine judge and speaker at food and wine festivals. These days, she spends most of her time doing her time traveling the wine world, teaching classes for wine professionals and consumers, consulting on restaurant wine programs, and developing corporate wine events.
One of her favorite roles is as a mentor and an educational leader in her community. She regularly assists others in their endeavors to pass wine exams; she is an instructor at the Capital Wine School and the New York's International Culinary Center, and a member of the DC chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier.
There are now 145 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 122 are men and 23 are women. There are 219 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam in 1969.
Andy Myers has been in and around restaurants for the last 26 years; apparently he's hooked. He found his love of wine when working at the Inn at Little Washington and never looked back. For many years he was the Sommelier for Chef Eric Ziebold at CityZen Restaurant in Washington, DC. At this moment he is the Wine Director for Jose Andres' ThinkFoodGroup. He is covered in tattoos, practices yoga, plays drums in the heavy metal band 'fuchida' and spends all of his extra cash scuba diving any and everywhere he can.
He doesn't like it when you mispronounce his title and call him a “Somalia”, but finds it funny when you call him a “Smelly-Air”. He's a freak for German Riesling, but he will drink great Burgundy if you let him.
Oh yeah, he passed the Master Sommelier exam in May of 2014. If asked he would tell you that the experience was awesome.
A native Chilean raised in the outskirts of Philadelphia, Gonzalo developed the foundation of this knowledge while working alongside his father, a formally trained enologist and viticulturist working in the East Coast. His father taught him how to tailor viticultural and winemaking practices to individual vintages in order to properly reflect the terroir and vintage strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
With over twenty years of experience working in the highly variable and unpredictable environment of the Mid-Atlantic, he has learned to adapt to each uniquely challenging growing season. He specializes in recuperating established vinifera vineyards and producing the highest quality grapes. He does this without adding additional stress to the vines, an important skill in regions which are inherently stressful for vines. This will be his third season as Vineyard Manager at Breaux Vineyards where he has shown his understanding, dedication, and passion for quality wine grape production.
Luca Paschina is the general manager and winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards. He is a third generation winemaker, from Piedmont Italy who studied enology at Istituto Umberto Primo in Alba, Italy. Asked by Gianni Zonin to study his winery operations in a year's consultancy at Barboursville in 1990, he returned to Zonin's headquarters north of Venice with an irresistibly audacious suggestion - if you will systematically re-invest in ideal trellising systems and techniques for this terroir, you will have the finest wines that can be grown on the East Coast. When he arrived at Barboursville in 1990, the winery had 38 acres under vine. Since that time, it has expanded to over 180 planted acres under vines as well as an inn and 5 star restaurant on the property. Luca is a former member of the Governor-appointed Virginia Wine Board (appointed by 4 different Governors). His wines have won accolades in competitions in San Francisco, New York, Dallas, London and more. Luca enjoys cooking, hiking, fishing, and raising his 3 children with his wife in his home, in Orange, Virginia.
Dr. Sudha Patil
Dr. Sudha Patil’s extraordinary palate and BS in chemistry go hand in hand in producing Narmada Winery’s elegant wines. In the short time since the winery opened its doors, her skills in both the art and the science of winemaking have brought national and international recognition and more than forty gold medals.
Sudha’s focus is to create graceful wines that preserve the true character of the fruit. She became interested in fine wine during extensive US and international travel with her husband Pandit Patil. She has observed winery operations and discussed winemaking techniques with vintners in the US and abroad.
Dr. Patil’s formal study of winemaking began with Jim Law of Linden Vineyards who she calls the “guru” of Virginia wine. At the winery, she works closely with consultant Tom Payette to finetune her approach to producing the best quality wines from the best Virginiagrown fruit. Sudha remarks, “Not enough can be said about these wonderful people in my life of winemaking.”
Pandit and Sudha Patil have been married for over forty years and have two children who live in Maryland and four lively grandsons. In her free time, Sudha enjoys travel and spending time with her family.
Benoit Pineau, Winemaker at Pollak Vineyards, directs all aspects of vineyard management and wine production. He has broad education and experience in the field having degrees in oenology from Blanquefort in Bordeaux and viticulture and oenology from the University of Toulouse. His extensive cellar experience includes work in France, Australia, California and Virginia.
Originally from Virginia’s wine country, Scala’s earliest memories of wine include picking and crushing grapes as a child. As a teenager, she played the drums and travelled around the world with various bands. But after some tenure at Fleurie French Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, Scala’s interest in fine dining and wine blossomed, and that’s something we can all drink to!
Scala moved to Manhattan in 2008 and had fun working at PUBLIC, a one-Michelin star restaurant in Nolita, and their adjacent bar, The Daily. She was inspired by the restaurant’s Australian and New Zealand-focused wine list, and in 2013, was honored by Wine Enthusiast in their “40 Under 40” feature for the depth of her selections from the region. Most recently, Scala moved to The Musket Room, which opened in Nolita in May 2013. She guides guests through the wine list and manages the cocktail, soda, and tea programs, which feature herbs from the restaurant’s outdoor garden.
When she’s not working on a funny Warm Up for the podcast, Scala is off in search of a vineyard, drumming, or writing her blog www.Thinking-Drinking.com. You can also follow her on Instagram.
Erik has worked in the restaurant industry for over 20 years. He began his fine dining experience as a chef in Toronto, Canada. While there, he worked in some of Canada’s most illustrious restaurants. Erik relocated to Philadelphia to attend Drexel University, where he completed a double major in Culinary Arts and Business with minors in Hospitality Management and Nutrition Food Science. He spent nearly 3 years as the Chef de Cuisine for the restaurant at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia. Erik then moved to South Beach Miami to help lead the opening team for the Hotel Victor, a luxury boutique hotel on Ocean Drive. It was there that he fully transitioned to front of the house as the dining room supervisor. Shortly thereafter Erik passed his introductory Sommelier exam. He was quickly promoted through the ranks to become the hotel’s Wine Director after less than six months. Following the Hotel Victor, Erik was the Wine Director for Johnny V, the restaurant of celebrity chef Johnny Vinczencz. Erik also worked as the Head Sommelier for famed New York chef David Bouley’s Evolution at the Ritz Carlton South Beach. After four years in Miami, Erik relocated to Seattle Washington to take the helm of Corporate Wine Director for Schwartz Brothers Restaurants (a preeminent upscale restaurant company). As their Corporate Wine Director, Erik managed the aggregate wine program for five restaurants. Following 6 years with Schwartz Brothers, Erik became the Head Sommelier of MV The World. The ultimate in luxury, The World is a 665 foot yacht with 165 privately owned residences onboard. She has been circumnavigating the globe for over a decade, offering the best of the best to its residents. After a year at sea, Erik regained his “land legs” and is currently the wine director for Starr Restaurants (Stephen Starr’s east coast restaurant empire).
Erik is an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, representing one of under 600 people in the world that currently hold this level of certification. Additionally, he is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) through the Society of Wine Educators and a Wine and Spirits Locations Specialist (with distinction) for both Port and Champagne. Within the coming years Erik aspires to be added to the ranks of the fewer than 250 Master Sommeliers worldwide.
Michael has been making wine in central Virginia since 1995. He previously worked with two highly regarded central Virginia wineries – Jefferson Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards. He currently works as a consultant to wineries in several states and has been involved in the startup of more than ten wineries.
He was the winner of the Virginia Governor’s Cup Wine Competition in 2004 and has been mentioned in numerous wine publications such as Saveur, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Washingtonian, and The Washington Post. Michael is also a partner in Maison Shaps Winery in Meursault, France. Michael oversees all Michael Shaps Wineworks operations. He holds a BPA (Brevet Professionnel Agricole) in Enology and Viticulture from Lycée Viticole de Beaune, France. In addition, he has a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Skidmore College.
Chris Tanghe has worked in hospitality for over 20 years in various roles starting with dishwashing as a teenager. While attending the Culinary Institute of America he discovered that wine could elevate food and a whole new world opened up that would eventually lead him to pursue and achieve the Master Sommelier certification in 2013. Most recently Chris as taken a position as educator and wine portfolio manager for Vinum Importing in Seattle, WA.
Nate oversees all winegrowing and wine production at Sunset Hills. He has worked for vineyards and wineries in Central Virginia, the Willamette Valley, Oregon, Central Otago, New Zealand, and now Loudoun County, Virginia. At Sunset Hills he handcrafts a variety of wines made in different styles and has quickly established a reputation for quality and excellence, winning major awards in local, national and international wine competitions.
Neal Wavra is the founder of FABLE Hospitality, a hospitality consulting and event planning company based in Virginia. In addition, he and his wife are presently working towards opening a farm-to-table community restaurant and a Chicago-style hot sandwich shop in the town of Marshall, VA, which are projected to open later this year. Wavra was the former General Manager and Sommelier for The Ashby Inn & Restaurant in Paris, VA where the wine list was recognized by various publications for its vast and careful selections, with particular focus paid to the wines of Virginia. In addition, Neal has judged for a couple of wine competitions.
Prior to working in Virginia, Wavra was the Dining Room Manager for Charlie Trotter in Chicago and the Dining Room and Farmstead Manager at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. He holds degrees from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington; the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California; and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Wavra is the recipient of the Commanderie de Bordeaux Wine Scholarship and the Kopf Foundation Wine Excellence Scholarship.
Andy Wedge likes to think his father’s career as a music teacher drove him to a future in wine and beverage education. After attending the University of Arizona in Tucson for a few years, he left college and took his first restaurant job, falling in love with beverage while studying tequila. Wedge went on to become Sommelier and Captain at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort where he learned about scotch and wine while studying for the Certified Sommelier exam. In 2008, he passed his exam and headed to Wyoming to serve as Sommelier at Jenny Lake Lodge where he perfected his beverage knowledge.
In 2011, Wedge moved to Nashville, TN and worked as the Assistant General Manager for Etch before becoming Beverage Director at Merchants. Three years later, he joined the esteemed team at Husk where he curates and maintains the restaurant’s beverage program, including a global wine list that incorporates both major and lesser-known regions, grapes, and wines. Wedge also manages beverage education and training for the restaurant staff. His favorite part of the job is introducing guests to new wines or drinks they would not have otherwise tried. The ultimate goal, he says, is to listen to what guests already like to drink and find a selection that is new and enjoyable for their palate.
When not in the restaurant, Wedge sharpens his own taste for wine and knowledge of the beverage industry while preparing for his Advanced Sommelier exam. He is enthusiastic about new experiences and is always expanding his palate through dining, drinking, and traveling. A self-proclaimed “beer nerd”, Wedge loves trying new brews, and enjoys music and sports – both playing and spectating.
Jon is a full-time, independent winegrower who chose to leave a career in the Washington DC area to create and operate a commercial vineyard at his family’s farm on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in 1999. He is a second generation Virginia winegrower whose family has been growing wine grapes in the state for more than 43 years. Encouraged by the viticultural potential of Virginia’s Eastern Shore (AVA), Jon and his wife, Mills, quickly expanded the operation with a winery and wholesale distribution. They are responsible for general operations, winemaking, sales and distribution. Working closely with partners in aquaculture on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the Wehners are passionate about cultivating the area’s unique wine & seafood experience.
Chatham Vineyards were first planted in 1999 and consist of more than 20 acres of European-style, high-density plantings in the French vinifera varieties Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The vineyards annual production is 75 tons. Most of this is used for the estate-bottled wines, but some fruit is still sold to other wineries in the mid-Atlantic region. The winery was constructed in 2005 and currently has a production capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 cases annually.
The land at Chatham, which overlooks Church Creek, was patented in 1640. The Federal-period brick house, Chatham, was built in 1818 by Major Scarborough Pitts and named for William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham and friend of the American Revolution. Chatham Farm has been a working farm for four centuries.
Jay Youmans owns the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC, www.capitalwineschool.com; and Rock Creek Wine Merchants, a sales & marketing consultancy. He is a partner in Manse Field, a pinot noir vineyard in Martinborough, New Zealand. He has judged for numerous wine competitions including The Dallas Morning News, and the California State Fair. He runs the Virginia Governor’s Cup Wine Competition. He is an Advanced Level Sommelier, a Certified Wine Educator exam (CWE), and Washington, DC’s only Master of Wine (MW).