Owner/Winemaker, Groom Wines | Healdsburg, CA
Daryl Groom is the recipient of 8 Winemaker of the Year awards. He has judged in over 100 wine competitions across the USA. While he resides in Healdsburg California he is also 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 recently launched his most rewarding wine project ever, Colby Red Wine. This wine from California was initiated by his 13-year old son Colby who recently underwent back-to-back heart surgeries. Profits from Colby Red Wine go to heart related charities across the USA. Daryl's previous experience includes winemaking and operational management at Penfolds, Geyser Peak Winery, and Beam Wine Estates.
DEBRA Del Fiorentino
Director of Wine Competitions, Wine Competitions Management + Productions | Sonoma County, CA
International Wine Judge, Sommelier, Certified Wine Professional and Certified Specialist of Wine, Debra Del Fiorentino is a consummate wine professional who brings a dynamic energy and expertise to every endeavor she undertakes. Debra is a familiar face at numerous prestigious wine competitions. She currently holds the esteemed position of Director of Wine Competitions for Wine Competitions Management + Productions, a producer of wine competitions for eight unique craft beverage competitions. Born and raised in San Francisco, Debra is a second generation Italian from a large family that originally settled in the Napa Valley. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the University of California at Berkeley, Debra opened two gourmet food stores in Marin before venturing into the wine industry. Debra also serves as an independent wine educator and partner at Russian River Vineyards.
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Spirited Magazine, Wine Industry Network, Los Gatos Magazine, The San Jose Mercury News and Edible:Monterey. She loves sharing stories about wine with character and the characters who make them. The Girl Scout in her keeps a corkscrew in every purse, although she adores screwcaps.
Winemaker, Barrett & Barrett Wines | Napa Valley, CA
Heidi Peterson Barrett grew up in the Napa Valley in a winemaking family and was destined to become one of the world’s foremost winemakers. It is said that winemaking is a combination of science and art. With her father a scientist-winemaker and her mother an artist, it’s no surprise that Heidi’s natural born talents led her to the wine industry. With great enthusiasm, a love for what she does, and an abundance of experience, Heidi’s instinctive gift of integrating the art and science of winemaking is unparalleled.
Winemaker, Trione Vineyards and Winery | Geyserville, CA
In 2005, when the Trione family decided to build their legacy winery on their Home Ranch in Alexander Valley, they searched for a winemaker with design, construction and wine production experience – a tall order that Scot Covington filled. The family appointed him winemaker in 2005. “The Triones basically gave me a blank piece of paper and said ‘Design your winery’.” Scot envisioned a straightforward facility, customized to accommodate small lots and hands-on winemaking. Scot brought years of relevant experience to the project. After graduating from California State University, Fresno in 1990 with a B. S. degree in Agricultural Science, Enology, he enhanced his knowledge working on three continents — in North America here in Sonoma County, South Africa and Australia. Scot’s mentors are legendary; his winemaking is influenced by years of training under such icons as Bill Bonnetti and Merry Edwards. Living a winemaker’s dream, Scot has his choice of the finest grapes grown on the Trione family’s vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Coast AVAs. He selects the top three percent of grapes from more than 650 acres of vineyards. Scot’s goal: make wines that express the highest level of quality across all varieties produced from estate grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel.
Senior Buyer, Adult Beverages Team, Target | Pleasanton, CA
Elsie Wolfe is a Senior Buyer on the Adult Beverages team at Target. Elsie has over 30 years of experience within the Supermarket Industry and joined Target in January 2022. She joins Target after her career at Albertson's/Safeway where she was the Alcohol Beverages Sales Manager managing the strategy, sales, and profits for total alcohol—wine, spirits, and beer for Safeway Northern California Division, one of the largest divisions of Albertson’s Companies. Prior to this role, Elsie was the VP of Meals & Ingredients for the Safeway enterprise consisting of 8 divisions before the 2015 merger with Albertson’s Companies, the nation’s second-largest supermarket operator. Elsie spent the majority of her career with Safeway–starting as a retail Courtesy Clerk and working her way up to a corporate Vice President. As a California native, Elsie is passionate about leveraging local partnerships and inspired to bring wine, beer & spirits history to life at retail. In 2017, under her leadership, Safeway was recognized by the Wine Enthusiast as the Retailer of the Year and just recently Albertsons Companies was awarded the 2020 Retailer of the Year. Elsie has been judging wine professionally since 2015 at many local competitions such as the North Coast Wine Challenge, Sunset International Wine Competition, and the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Elsie is WSET II certified and is working on attaining additional certifications. Elsie holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing from Santa Clara University and a Master of Business Administration from St. Mary’s College of California. She was recognized in 2014 and 2019 by Progressive Grocer as one of the Top Women in Grocery.
Elsie lives in Pleasanton, CA. She is married to her husband Keith and together they have 2 children--Brianna & Bryan. Outside of work, Elsie enjoys time with family, traveling, sports, outdoor adventures and is an avid foodie always looking for new places to try new foods & drinks!
Educator, Sommelier, Wine & Beverage Judge - Public Wine and Beverage Studies, CIA | Napa County, CA
Traci Dutton is a sommelier, a wine judge, and the manager of public wine and beverage studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. She joined the CIA in 1998 as beverage manager and sommelier for the college’s Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant. Over the course of more than 30 years in the wine world, Ms. Dutton has worked in high-end establishments such as Montrachet, The Striped Bass, and 231 Ellsworth, and has served luminaries as varied as Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Bacon, and Chef Paul Bocuse. She has studied and tasted great wines at vineyards around the world, from Portugal and Austria to Argentina and the United States. Her writing on wines and beverages has appeared in Kitchen & Cook, the St. Helena Star, iSanté.com, and many other publications. In 2011, she was named one of the top wine country sommeliers by Tasting Panel magazine.
Radio and TV Personality, Wine Blogger ZiggyTheWineGal.com | Sonoma County, CA
Ziggy Eschliman, known to most simply as The Wine Gal or The Contessa of Cocktails, is among America's most enthusiastic, authoritative and entertaining libation experts. For over 20 years, Ziggy has set and reported trends in all things to imbibe. Her radio shows are broadcast throughout wine country and are available on the internet. As a leading American speaker, consultant, and wine writer, with personal experience extending from the hills of Tuscany to the streets of New Orleans, Ziggy is a driving force behind a national movement toward making wine hip, fun and accessible. As Ziggy plainly puts it, "...wine has been around for centuries; the mystery is so over. It's time to get past the stuffiness and clichés. They're simply a turn off to many would-be wine drinkers."
LIZ Thach MW
Dr. Elizabeth "Liz" Thach, MW, Professor of Wine, Professor of Management, Author,
Dr. Elizabeth “Liz” Thach, MW is the Distinguished Professor of Wine and a Professor of Management. Her areas of expertise include Wine Business Strategy, Human Resource Management, and Leadership Development. In May of 2011 she was awarded the title of Master of Wine from the Institute of Masters of Wine in London, making her the first female MW on the West Coast and the 7th woman in the US to achieve this honor. Liz’s passion is wine, and she has visited most of the major wine regions of the world and more than 50 countries.. She is an award winning author who has published over 130 articles and 8 wine books, including Call of the Vine, Wine – A Global Business and Wine Marketing & Sales. She is an active member in community organizations, and has held positions with the Board of Directors for Women for Wine Sense, Petaluma Gap WineGrowers Alliance, PASCO and many others. She is on the Editorial boards for International Journal of Wine Business Research and Wine Economics & Policy. In addition, Liz serves as a professional wine judge at many prestigious wine judging competitions.
Winemaker and Consultant, Goldschmidt Vineyards | Healdsburg, CA
Mr. Nick Goldschmidt co-founded Goldschmidt Vineyards in 1998. Mr. Goldschmidt served as an Executive Winemaker of Beam Wine Estates, Inc. Mr. Goldschmidt began his career in 1982 winemaking journey in New Zealand Lincoln University before setting off on an 18-month journey to explore winegrowing throughout the world's best viticultural areas. In 1990, he settled down in Healdsburg, California, as Simi's Associate Winemaker. He was promoted to Chief Winemaker 1991 and became Vice President and Chief Winemaker in 1996. He settled in Northern California as Simi's Associate Winemaker. During a number of acquisitions Nick became Vice President and Executive Domestic Winemaker for Beam Estates wine portfolio. He soon became Winemaker, and eventually, Vice President, Winemaker. During this period, he also started several brands of his own - including Forefathers Winery, Goldschmidt vineyards and Boulder Bank. In 2003, he became Executive Vice President, Winemaker at Allied Domecq Wines USA - overseeing the California portfolio of wines. He serves as a Member of Board of Advisors at Zero Link Markets, Inc. Mr. Goldschmidt originally studied civil engineering before his enduring love affair with viticulture and winemaking began in the vineyards of the South Island. After graduating with distinction in horticulture, Mr. Goldschmidt continued his studies in viticultural studies in Wagga Wagga, Australia at Charles Stuart University, and completed his postgraduate studies in enology at Roseworth Agricultural College in Australia. He graduated with Distinction in Horticulture from New Zealand Lincoln University.
Wine Category Manager, BevMo! | US West Coast
Bill Hayes is the Wine Category Manager for the growing BevMo! Retail chain of 163 Stores throughout California, Arizona and Washington. With over 33 years of career experience in the Wine Retail industry, Bill has developed key relationships with winery Owners, Winemakers, Growers as well as other industry partners that have cultivated his vast knowledge of and passion for Wines around the world. Bill’s career in the Wine business began as a Buyer with the Liquor Barn stores. Bill was also a part of the Kendall-Jackson Family Wine organization where he managed the Distributor portfolio that included Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Cambria and Stonestreet Wines. In 1994 Bill joined BevMo! as one of its very first employees as the Corporate Wine Buyer. He has played key roles in the development, launching and fostering of BevMo!’s iconic 5₵ Wine Sale that has grown from one Wine to now over two-hundred. As part of the BevMo! Private Label/Exclusive Wine program, Bill has traveled throughout Europe and South America to work with Wineries and industry partners to blend and bottle Import Wines such as Zolo and Tapiz, and has blended and developed varietal extensions of the Unruly , Shiloh Road and Stateland Cellars brands. Bill’s current focus with BevMo! is sourcing and developing the premium selection of wines from around the world and promote the local brands for the next-generation BevMo! Consumer. The Hayes family has had deep roots in the Russian River Valley and its Wine industry for over 50 years. Bill continues that heritage and tradition through his love and passion of Wine, whether it be an approachable bottle or a rare bottle for his cellar. If you know Bill, you have been fortunate enough to share in a great bottle of Wine along with a story that truly captures the spirit of the Wine, its origins and the people who made it.
Wine Director, Bottle Barn Liquors | Santa Rosa, CA
Barry has more than three decades of experience in the wine industry, ranging from sommelier and wine shop owner to high-level retail and private cellar acquisitions. He was raised in Southern California, where he earned his stripes in some of LA’s most celebrated restaurants, among them Chinois on Main and Osteria Angelini. Most recently, Barry was General Manager of the Rare Wine Company in Sonoma, as well as working with Soutirage and Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits in Napa Valley. Currently, he is the wine buyer for Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA, a 15,000 square foot superstore and arguably has the largest and finest selection of fine wines north of San Francisco. Barry blames a bottle of 1980 Jayer Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux for having sent him down the rabbit hole many years ago. Today, he lives in Petaluma, CA with his wife, two children and Australian Shepherd, Elvis, to whom he happily dedicates every spare moment outside of work.
Winemaker, Aperture and Devil Proof Vineyards | Healdsburg, CA
Jesse Katz's winemaking experience ranges from working at legionary wineries like Screaming Eagle in Napa Valley and Petrus in Bordeaux. He spent the last five years of his career as the head winemaker for Lancaster Estate where the wines received the highest ratings in their histroy and he grew the Roth brand over 800% in that time. Jesse now focuses on his flagship brand, Devil Proof, a single vineyard, dry farmed Malbec from Alexander Valley which was recently described by Robert Parker as ''the finest Malbec ever made in California'' and was named Cult Wine of the Year by The Tasting Panel. Jesse also crafts the wines for his brand Aperture, a collaborative project with his father and famous photographer Andy Katz that concentrates on high quality, small production wines from meticulously curated vineyards in Alexander Valley. Jesse consults on a few select brands locally and internationally as well.
Ellen is a published Wine Writer, Certified Sommelier, Certified Wine Specialist, Wine Educator and Professional Wine Judge. She is the author of the blog EllenOnWine.com and writes for the AWS Wine Journal (AmericanWineSociety.org) among other publications. Ellen is a moderator for the highly acclaimed Vintner’s Holidays annual event at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, and participates as a key speaker, moderator and panelist at various other wine events. For the past sixteen plus years, she and husband Ken co-owned award winning Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn where Ellen served as Wine Director and Sommelier. They recently sold their Inn to devote more time to the world of wine. Ellen was also a Sommelier at the Ritz Carlton for several years. Ellen has traveled many wine regions throughout North America including California, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, New Mexico, Arizona, New York and Canada, and several international wine regions including Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, Rhone, Tuscany, and wine regions throughout Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. In addition to an MBA, Ellen’s wine education includes UC Davis viticulture course work, CSW certification from the Society of Wine Educators program, and holds the credential of Certified Sommelier (CS) from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Ellen serves as a judge at numerous national and international wine competitions including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, Mid-American Wine Competition, California State Fair Wine Competition, American Fine Wine Competition, Amador County Fair Wine Competition, Sonoma Harvest Fair Wine Competition, West Coast Wine Competition, Grand Harvest International Wine Competition, Grand Cru International Wine Competition, Riverside International Wine Competition, Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition, Mendocino County Wine Competition, Monterey Wine Competition, Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging, and the Central Coast Wine Competition.
Wine Critic/Blogger and Writer, The Press Democrat | Sonoma County, CA
Peg Melnik is the wine critic, blogger and writer at The Press Democrat..Melnik is also the lead author of the Explorer’s Guide Napa & Sonoma published by W.W.Norton, now in its 10th edition. She has written for publications such as Sonoma magazine, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Melnik has also traveled extensively through the wine regions of Europe.
Director of Winemaking, E&J Gallo Winery | Sonoma County, CA
As Director of Winemaking for Gallo’s Premium Business Unit, Chris oversees the Winery’s Premium Wine programs across a range of California appellations. He has been instrumental in creating new wines for Gallo, leveraging the Winery’s premier vineyard properties in the Sonoma County and the Central Coast. After honing his craft at some of the industry’s top wineries, including Geyser Peak and Domaine Chandon, Chris Munsell arrived at Gallo with more than 19 vintages behind him. “My job is to help our winemakers achieve their ultimate vision for each wine,” says Chris. “I really enjoy the depth of talent we have at Gallo. It allows us to marry traditional approaches with cutting edge winemaking.”
Contributing Writer, Sonoma Magazine | Healdsburg, CA
Linda Murphy is a former San Diego sportswriter who upgraded her drinking habits by moving to Sonoma County in 1990 and insinuating herself into the wine business. After eight years learning the industry as a cellar worker, vineyard sampler and communications director, she shifted her knowledge back to the journalism side, first as managing editor of the New York Times' wine website, WineToday.com, and then to the San Francisco Chronicle, where she was its first wine section editor and won two James Beard Awards. Linda now writes for numerous publications and websites, including JancisRobison.com, Decanter magazine, WineReviewOnline and Sonoma magazine. In March 2013, she and Jancis Robinson published the book " American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wine and Wineries of the United States" (University of California Press) - a celebration of the winemaking efforts in all 50 states.
General Manager, Clos du Bois Winery | Geyserville, CA
Erik joined Constellation in 2007 during the acquisition of Beam Wine Estates where he served as Vice President of Winemaking for Clos du Bois for seven years. Previously Erik spent 10 years at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington State as Head Winemaker, and was an enologist for Simi Winery. He received his B.S. in fermentation science from UC Davis and an M.S. in food science specializing in enology from Cornell and holds an MBA from the University of Washington. In his career, Erik has produced over 30 wines rated 90+ and is a published author and speaker at consumer and industry events.
Wine Expert, International Judge, and Lecturer | Napa County, CA
Debbie is a highly regarded wine expert, international judge, and lecturer. Her passion is on display at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and Napa’s Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant, where she is both owner and managing partner. Over her career, she has helped shape San Francisco’s wine culture through innovative wine programs, emphasizing small-production and sustainably farmed wines. She has developed wine programs at bacar, Ashbury Market, and EOS. Her expertise has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Food & Wine and Saveur. Debbie works closely with Family House and Make a Wish Foundation and consults with organizations to help fundraise for local and national institutions.
Wine Writer and “Sommelier to the Stars” | Sonoma, CA
Christopher Sawyer is an internationally-renowned sommelier, wine educator, journalist, consultant, critic and public speaker: He travels the world following trends in wine and participating as a VIP judge in the world’s top wine competitions, and has been featured in a wide range of national media, including USAToday, MSN, NBC, ABC, CBS, Redbook, The Hollywood Reporter, Maxim, National Geographic Traveler, CNN and Esquire. Already legendary in the industry for his encyclopedic wine knowledge and rich wine industry relationships around the globe, Sawyer has been a personal sommelier for an array of luminaries and aficionados, from the Getty Family to the Gorbachevs, as well as for Oscar-winning director and chief creative officer of Pixar-Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter. Christopher has also become renowned for his unusual and entertaining ability to pair wines with just about any pop cultural experience. His wine pairings for movies are already celebrated, and have been featured in major national media. Sawyer is the recipient of many prestigious awards and industry honors. Most recently he was voted 2014 Best Sommelier in Sonoma County by readers in The Bohemian’s Best of the North Bay issue.
LARRY Van Aalst
Radio Host of "The Sonoma Wine Report", CRN Digital Talk Radio | Santa Rosa, CA
As Sommelier, Larry selected wines for Equus for over a decade. Larry has been judging at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair/San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for over a decade likewise, an opportunity for Larry to keep abreast of fine wines from California.
Winemaker | Calistoga, CA
Chelsea Barrett grew up in Calistoga in a winemaking family and began working in wineries at a young age.
After graduating from UC Davis and working harvests at Weingut Mayer am Pfarplaz, Two Hands, and Opus One, she
started as enologist at Joel Gott wines in 2012. She was promoted to assistant winemaker a year later, and further
promoted to winemaker in 2017. Chelsea enjoys the challenge of working with a broad variety of regions and varietals
with Joel Gott, and particularly loves making Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2017, she also joined her mother, winemaker Heidi Barrett, as co-winemaker for Amuse Bouche and Au Sommet. At the same time, she, Heidi, and Remi Barrett (Chelsea's sister) launched the collaborative brand Aviatrix.
Chief Storyteller, Wine.com
Wilfred Wong, Chief Storyteller and in-house wine critic for Wine.com is a approaching his 50th year in the wine industry. Each year Wilfred tastes, scores, and reviews thousands of wines to help Wine.com customers choose their next bottle with confidence. He is an extreme researcher and a taster of wines and employs his photography and storytelling skills across the Wine.com site, blog, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). As a wine judge, Wilfred has participated domestically (Los Angeles International, San Francisco International, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, and many others) and internationally (competitions in Spain, France, New Zealand and Australia). He lives in San Francisco with his wife Alice and dog Kaili.
Dan Berger, former full-time wine columnist for The Los Angeles Times, earned a degree in Journalism in 1967 and spent ten years as a reporter/editor for The Associated Press. He began writing about wine in 1976 and has been nationally syndicated since 1979. His private weekly wine newsletter, Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences, began in 1996. He also teaches wine courses at Santa Rosa Junior College, hosts a radio show, California Wine Country, every Wednesday on KSRO, and is an international wine judge, having judged throughout North America, in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His books include The Readers’ Digest’s “Wine Routes of North America”; “Beyond the Grapes: An Inside Look at Napa Valley” and “Beyond the Grapes: An Inside Look at Sonoma County.” In 2010, he was inducted into the Wine Media Guild’s Hall of Fame in New York and is vice president of the International Riesling Foundation.
Head of Wine Buying, Naked Wines US – Wine consultant and winemaker - Napa, CA
Hady Kahale is the Head of Wine Buying at Naked Wines US, connecting everyday wine drinkers to the world’s best winemakers. Before joining Naked Wines, he was a serial entrepreneur with many hats: winemaker, wine-estate manager, and wine consultant.
He succumbed in 2006 to his passion: wine. He moved to Bordeaux and got a Master degree in enology and wine estates management Bordeaux Sciences Agro under the mentorship of Professor Denis Dubourdieu, one of the most famous French winemakers and wine academicians in the world.
He founded in 2008 the IXSIR winery, a love project he ran for 10 years. He also worked as a consultant for several wineries in the Mediterranean region.
He has an MBA from ESA – ESCP, and is a soon to be DipWSET.
Wine consultant and winemaker - Geyserville, CA
Kerry Damskey holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fermentation Sciences, from the University of California, Davis. He also graduated from the Intensive Program for Small Business, at the Stanford University School of Business. And, he is a candidate with the Institute of the Masters of Wine.
Kerry's characterization·is that he is a trailblazing and renowned, international consulting winemaker. Breaking boundaries in familiar and uncharted territories, besides being a stellar winemaker in California, Kerry is known for achieving that character in god-forsaken territories, with absolutely no pre-defined, distinct differentiation yet to have been established. This is why Kerry Darnskey has called a "Wandering Winemaker" and the "Indiana Jones of Winemaking."
Kerry's company TERROIRS, INC. is his ground-breaking brainchild and passion. With more than 30 years of wine and wine business experience, he is recognized internationally for his acuity and focus in creating brilliant wines.
His firm Ten-oirs Artisan Wines provides custom winegrowing and winemaking expertise plus vineyard and acquisition services. Terroirs Artisan Wines: Damskey and Company also advises on business practices, strategic management, and operational development. These skills coupled with winemaking expertise translate to a fully integrated dynamic.
Wine Director - Dry Creek Kitchen - Head of Best of Award of Excellence Wine List - Wine Spectator - Sonoma County, CA
Erin Miller is a restless explorer at heart. She typically describes herself as “from” Sonoma County, Calif., but she has lived in several U.S. states and regularly traveled abroad. For the short gap between college and the Peace Corps, her winemaker cousin had an idea: Why not work a harvest to help pay off some student loans?
She worked her first harvest at Napa’s Trinchero, and was intrigued by winemaking’s intersection of art, science and nature.
She studied viticulture in a post-bacc program at U.C. Davis, then working harvests in France. Miller moved back to Sonoma in 2006, where she worked for Kendall-Jackson and Hartford Family before heading to Oregon for stints at Evening Land vineyards and Twomey. She also managed four wine brands in a position at Provingage Wine Associates.
In July 2021, Miller once again returned to Sonoma to become wine director at chef Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, a restaurant in downtown Healdsburg. “There’s the art and the science sides, but then there’s also the educational side—sharing what you're doing and why you’re doing it,” she says.” Miller now oversees a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list of about 600 selections, all from Sonoma County.
Winemaker, proprietor, salesman, cellar rat - Miro Cellars & Trentadue Winery - Geyserville - Sonoma County, CA
Miro Tcholakov Is owner of Miro Cellars, and Vice President and Director of Winemaking Operations for Trentadue Winery LLC in Geyserville, Sonoma County, overseeing all aspects of winemaking;
Born and raised in northern Bulgaria, a region with many millennia of winemaking history, Miro (Miroslav) Tcholakov was exposed to wine and winemaking at a very early age.
After completing his mandatory military service, he attended the Higher Institute of Agriculture in Plovdiv where he studied viticulture and enology. Soon after graduation, he was chosen from hundreds of candidates to participate in an international exchange program in agriculture set up by The Future Farmers of America. After a few months in Napa, he was taken on as harvest intern at Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Vineyard. What was supposed to be a temporary harvest job turned into a nine-year position moving through the ranks from Cellar Master to Assistant Winemaker in 1997. “It was during this time that I fell in love with two distinctively California varietals; Zinfandel and especially Petite Sirah.”
“My passionate love affair with Zin and Petite Sirah lead to my election to the Board of Directors of ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) and also to the Board of Directors of PS, (Petite Sirah), I Love you, -a nonprofit organization I helped establish over 20 years ago.”
Beverage Manager-Sommelier - Montage Healdsburg - Sonoma County, CA
Petra Polakovicova brings two decades of experience to her position as Beverage Manager at Montage Healdsburg. Prior to taking this role, Polakovicova held numerous hospitality positions at Bay Area Restaurants and Hotels including Epic Steak, The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay and San Francisco, W San Francisco and The Palace Hotel, where she began her career.
Polakovicova has passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Exam. She also holds certification from Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She was listed as one of FSR Magazine’s 40 under 40 Rising Stars in 2018 and the same year was awarded The Best Sommelier of the Slovakia by Gurman Magazine.
Assistant Editor of the California Grapevine wine newsletter
Assistant Editor of the California Grapevine wine newsletter, Bob Foster has been a wine judge for over 30 years in California, Oregon, Iowa, Missouri, Virginia and even Baja California. He is the Director of the Mid-American Wine Competition (held in Iowa and open only to the wines of the Midwest). Bob is also a retired prosecutor, retiring after 33 years of service with the California Attorney General’s Office. During his career he twice argued (and won) cases at the Supreme Court of the United States.
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