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.
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.
President, Sales and Marketing / Luxury Wine Partners
Jennifer Kelly is a wine and spirits executive, certified sommelier, entrepreneur, and wine judge with 15+ years of industry experience. As an experienced sales, marketing, and public relations professional she recently added assistant winemaking to her diverse repertoire.
Jennifer has represented some of the world’s most prominent wine and spirits organizations and held a variety of leadership roles, including famed wine and spirits importer, Wilson Daniels, specializing in French and Italian wines, based in St. Helena, California and Sonoma County-based, Jackson Family Wines working with both domestic and international portfolios. As founder and President of Luxury Wine Partners, a sales, marketing, and public relations agency located in Sonoma County, she focuses on start-ups, wineries, distilleries, and celebrity brands.
Looking to the future, Jennifer is an aspiring Master of Wine who is currently enrolled in the WSET certification program to earn her diploma. Jennifer’s drive to continue her education originates from the view of staying ahead of the curve in the ever-changing and competitive landscape of the wine and spirits industry.
Jennifer enjoys living in Petaluma, California with her husband Sean. They have three children —Hana, Michael, and Morgan— all living nearby. This adventurous and spontaneous duo enjoy making wine, experiencing local (and not so local) winery destinations, the food scene (near and far), traveling (at a moment’s notice), glamping, volunteering, and supporting local business whenever possible.
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 Buyer Bounty Hunter Wine Bar | Napa, CA.
Bill Hayes is the Wine Buyer for the well known Bounty Hunter Wine Bar and Smokin' BBQ. 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.
Assistant Winemaker, Flowers Winery | Healdsburg, CA
Lee grew up in East Tennessee and studied molecular biology at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Like any good molecular biologist, he took a job as a beer brewer out of college and learned about fermentation as a craft brewer. After a couple of years brewing, Lee enrolled into graduate school to study Food Microbiology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He fell in love with all things wine when he took a part-time job at a winery in Knoxville, TN and began making small batches. Around that same time, he started exploring wine tasting and judging as a graduate student volunteer at the annual Wines of the South competition hosted by the Food Science Department at UT. Upon completing his MS in 2011, he set off to travel and learn about winemaking around the world. After doing harvest in Oregon and New Zealand, he now calls Sonoma County home and is the Assistant Winemaker for Flowers Winery.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Winemaker, Dry Creek Vineyard | Healdsburg, CA
Tim Bell, Winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard, has worked with a wide range of grape varieties and wine styles over his near 30-year career in Napa Valley, Sonoma, and the Central Coast; still wine, sparkling, dessert, even Kosher. Tim graduated with honors in winemaking at University of California, Davis, learning the intricacies of wine chemistry and microbiology that would inform his stylistic choices in creating complex and nuanced blends. Hands-on cellar work at premium California wineries led Bell to the historic Freemark Abbey Winery for 10 years, and later to Kunde Family Estate. He joined Dry Creek Vineyard in 2011 and has elevated the winery’s robust program of award-winning Dry Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage blends, as well as a portfolio of single vineyard selections.
Director of Winemaking, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards | Windsor, CA
Mick’s wine background made him superbly qualified to serve as only the third head winemaker in the history of Sonoma-Cutrer. Starting out on his own as an oenologist at Kaiser Stuhl winery in Australia, Mick wanted to blaze his own trail and had no intentions of following in his father and uncle’s footsteps at the Penfold Winery. Then in 1982, Penfold bought Kaiser Stuhl and reunited Mick with his family in the business. Although Mick was already well-versed in winemaking, Penfold allowed him to continue his pursuit of total enlightenment, sponsoring his winemaking education at the famed Roseworthy College and providing him a scholarship to visit and study Chilean wine country. This was followed with a 6-month tour around the world with his wife and a stop in California to work the wine harvest. Mick rose rapidly through the Penfold system and had the privilege to be part of their red winemaking team, eventually working on Penfold’s legendary Grange Hermitage, the benchmark of Aussie Shiraz. From there, Mick accepted an invitation from Geyser Peak Winery in California to take over as Vice President of Winemaking and for 17 years was in charge of vineyard assessment, harvest scheduling, winemaking direction, budgeting and brand ambassadorship. It is his long track record of success and illustrious career in Australia and California, along with twice being named “Winemaker of the Year” at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, that gave Mick the encompassing experience to take the reins at Sonoma-Cutrer. He considers it one of the industry’s true dream jobs. He is honored to carry on the brand’s storied legacy but also eager to take it to new heights.
Executive Wine Director, Little Saint Healdsburg California
Alex Sarovich is an award winning Sommelier managing The New York Times Top 50 Best Restaurant, Little Saint. Prior to that Alex spent time working at two of the Worlds 50 best restaurants: Attica and SingleThread #21 & #37 at the time of her tenure. After years at three-Michelin starred SingleThread working with some of the best wines in the world Alex set off to build a wine program for a retail, restaurant, concert venue and event space where she could pass on her knowledge and experience to the next generation. Alex mentors her team at Little Saint, offering coveted wine positions and and daily coaching. Alex also is an active mentor with Bâtonnage a women in wine forum. In her free time, Alex loves hiking, cooking and spending time with loved ones. Alex and her wine program at Little has been featured in Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Somm Journal, Tasting Table, Sonoma Mag and our very own Press Democrat.
Wine Wall Supervisor, The Matheson
" I was born and raised in Windsor, CA with my father, older sister and younger brother. My father owned and operated a hummus company throughout my adolescence which helped develop my work ethic and love for the food industry. While working my way through college in restaurants, I was introduced to the wine industry, and I was hooked. I began at Hartford Court and 5 years later, I was running their downtown Healdsburg tasting room and head over heels for Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. It was through this job that I met Jon McCarthy, now The Matheson's beverage director, who invited me to explore job opportunities within the developing restaurant. Almost 2 years later, I happily manage The Matheson's wine wall, featuring 88 wines on tap from both local and international purveyors, as well as assisting in the increasing development of the Valette Wines wine brand. There is never too much to know about wine and I'm lucky enough to have an educational and professional experience in one."
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.”
Director of Winemaking, Foley Family Wines
Foley Johnson Director of Winemaking, Michael Beaulac, a Vermont native, joined the Foley Family Wines team in
2021, bringing over 30 years of experience working with premier luxury wineries.
Michael began his winemaking career when a chance opportunity presented itself while he was running a Portland,
Maine jazz dinner club. There, Beaulac’s career pivoted when Tim Murphy of Murphy-Goode offered him a job one
night, partly in jest. The opportunity was one that Beaulac was looking for, and he accepted his offer and moved to
Sonoma County, California to work as a Murphy-Goode Winery harvest intern in 1989.
Beaulac spent an interim period at Laurier Winery in Sonoma’s Carneros region working as a cellar master with
Merry Edwards from 1989 through 1991. This opportunity gave way to becoming assistant winemaker back at
Murphy-Goode, where he spent four years developing new varietal programs for Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. In 1997,
Michael Beaulac spent four years as winemaker for Markham Vineyards in St. Helena. Beaulac took his expertise to
the next level, becoming Vice President of St. Supéry Vineyards in Rutherford in 2001, working closely with Michel
Roland and Denis Dubourdieu. With years of experience and a deep understanding of the Napa Valley, Beaulac
became General Manager and winemaker at Napa’s Pine Ridge Vineyards in 2009 where he oversaw the estate’s 160 acres. Beaulac credits his development as a winemaker to working with Michel Roland and Pine Ridge’s high
standard for producing quality wines.
Michael’s winemaking philosophy starts in the vineyard. Truly knowing the land, soil, and climate allows him to
showcase the exceptionally pure qualities of the diverse vineyard sites and AVAs throughout the Napa Valley. He
says of his philosophy for winemaking, “Be proactive in the vineyards. Let the fruit find its balance. Do not force the
wine to be anything it’s not. Let it express its typicity. Once in the winery the wine should be touched as little as
possible, in a perfect vintage, we really shouldn’t have to do anything.”
Beaulac currently resides outside of Santa Rosa. When he is not in the vineyards, he enjoys hikes with his wife Cathy
and their German Shepherd. He also loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen with different recipes
Director of Beverage at the Montage Resort in Healdsburg
Paul Coker has been in the wine industry for over fifteen years as a Wine Director and Sommelier.
He began his career in retail as a buyer for Amazing Grapes Wine Store before moving to the
restaurant side holding leadership roles at The Cellar, Studio at Montage, Michael Mina’s Stonehill
Tavern, St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach Resort, SRC Restaurant Group and Canlis. Paul has been a
part of seven Wine Spectator Grand Awards and three James Beard Awards. Additionally, he holds a
Diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust and is an Advanced Sommelier through the Court
of Master Sommeliers. He was a finalist in the Best USA Sommelier competition in 2019 and won
the Guild of Sommeliers Online Wine Knowledge Competition in 2020. Currently Paul, his wife
Emily, and their dog Freddy live in Sonoma County wine country where he is the Director of
Beverage at the Montage Resort in Healdsburg.
President & Founder, Charles Communications Associates
Kimberly Charles’ name is synonymous with wine marketing at its best level. Over her 35+ year career she has, through her creative marketing efforts helped brands such as Taittinger Champagne, Domaine Carneros, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Square One Organic Vodka, Cakebread Cellars, Wente Vineyards, the region of Lodi, E. & J. Gallo among many others attain a level of recognition and draw in the marketplace. She possesses a natural gift of storytelling and helps her clients develop highly tailored messages, strategies and audiences to convey their brand essence and truly stand out. Additionally, her holistic approach to marketing from packaging to messaging coupled with strategic communications planning has helped her company Charles Communications Associates excel in its field. Charles Communications Associates celebrates 20th years in 2023 and specializes in strategic branding, and corporate social responsibility with a focus on launching, reinvigorating and repositioning of brands. Learn more at www.charlescomm.com follow on Twitter @CharlesComm and Instagram and Facebook @AlltheSwirl
Wine Buyer, Willibees Wines & Spirits
After many years in food and wine, I have been the wine buyer here at Wilibees Wines & Spirits for over 5 years. As a buyer for two very busy wine shops I taste 30-50 wines per week. I have been certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
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