People News

News and job changes from around the drinks business. Submit yours at

October 28, 2021

Jack Robertiello, longtime wine and spirits writer and SevenFifty Daily/Beverage Media contributor, has died

A writer, consultant, judge, and expert in wine, spirits, and mixology, Jack Robertiello died on October 22 at the age of 70. Jack wrote about wine and spirits for most of his adult life, for Food Network, Metropolitan Home, New York Daily News, Washington Post, Beverage Dynamics, Cheers, Santé, and Nation’s Restaurant News. He was a contributor to Beverage Media publications for 18 years, and to SevenFifty Daily for two years. 

He was also a judge at numerous competitions, including the Spirits of Mexico and Spirits of the Americas competitions, and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Most recently, he was a contributor to the just-published Oxford Companion to Spirits and Wine. Jack is survived by his wife of 36 years, Andrea Mohin; sister Eileen R. Caito, and four nieces and nephews. Jack was not only a valued contributing editor and colleague, but a dear friend to many members of our team, and he will be dearly missed.

Johnnie Walker announces retirement of Jim Beveridge, Ph.D., OBE and appointment of Emma Walker, Ph.D. as master blender

Dr. Beveridge will retire at the end of the year after more than 40 years with Diageo; he has been the master blender of Johnnie Walker for two decades. Dr. Walker joined Diageo 13 years ago and has been working on Johnnie Walker for six years. She will be the first woman to hold the master blender position in the company’s 200-year history. (Press release)

Beck Family Estates names John Kochis as president

Kochis has over 25 years of executive wine sales and management experience to Beck Family Estates, most recently as the founder and president of Gemini Consulting and owner of Ground Effect Wine Co. Prior to this, he worked with E. & J. Gallo Winery, finishing his career with them as national sales director for their on-premise channel. Beck Family Estates’ portfolio includes South Africa’s Graham Beck and Steenberg Vineyards and Oregon’s Abbott Claim and Angela Vineyards. (Press release)

Patrick Carroll promoted to distiller of Black Button Distilling

Carroll began working at Black Button in 2017 as a production assistant and has quickly risen through the ranks, becoming an assistant distiller and receiving mentorship and education from master distillers Jason Barrett and Jeff Fairbrother. He will manage the barrel warehouses and oversee all mashing, fermentation and primary distillation for the distillery. (Press release)

Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards promotes winemaker Kristin Bryden to general manager

Bryden joined the Santa Barbara winery in 2011 as assistant winemaker and was promoted to head winemaker in 2016, most recently helping to launch Tread, a line of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Former general manager Paul Pease will now be Zaca Mesa’s director of sales. (Press release)

Chris Langan named national sales manager for Dalla Terra Winery Direct

Langan has over two decades of experience in fine wine sales and management, having worked in Dallas restaurants, at Crawford Malone Fine Wine & Spirits, and on the supplier side at Terlato and K Vintners/Wines of Substance. Most recently, he was the vice president of sales for Sokol Blosser. In his new role, Langan will oversee all aspects of national sales, working with Dalla Terra’s 10 regional managers. (Press release)

Jean-Baptiste Rivail appointed CEO of Ponzi Vineyards

The Bollinger family purchased Ponzi Vineyards last year. In addition to leading Ponzi Vineyards, Rivail will be the executive vice president of the Bollingers’ SJB USA and will further develop Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Ayala, Domaine Chanson, and Langlois-Chateau in the U.S. market. Most recently, Rivail was the general manager of Newton Vineyards in Napa Valley.

Laura-Kate Morgan named winemaker of New Zealand’s Brancott Estate

Morgan was raised in Marlborough, New Zealand on a farm, where her parents established a vineyard, and she studied viticulture and enology at Lincoln University in Canterbury, New Zealand. She is the first woman to hold the position of winemaker at Brancott Estate. (Press release)

John Sellar named executive vice president for Independence Wine & Spirits

Sellar is an experienced leader with 25 years of industry experience and a decades-long career with Frederick Wildman & Sons. He most recently held the position of SVP general manager of the wholesale division, and he previously served as president of the company as well. In his new role, he will oversee strategic development and build upon the operational practices and customer service that Independence Wine & Spirits is known for. (Press release)

Riboli Family Wines names Susan Doyle as vice president of vineyards and winemaking

Doyle will be responsible for overseeing vineyard and winemaking planning, implementation, and winemaking and vineyard operations for Riboli’s estate vineyards and all brands produced in California. She has more than 30 years of experience, including positions at MacMurray Ranch, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Diageo Chateau & Estates Wines, Quails Gate Winery, and West Coast Partners. (Press release)

New Zealand’s Invivo & Co. appoints Bernard Budel as global sales director

Budel began his career at Villa Maria, where he worked with both the domestic and export teams, and he was most recently the sales director at Red Bull NZ. In the U.S., Budel will work with Taub Family Selections, which imports the Invivo X, SJP wines. (Press release)

Rick Durette named vice president of national sales for European Cellars

Durette has over 30 years of experience in the wine industry and has held senior executive positions at Jackson Enterprises, Wilson Daniels, Union Wine Company, and Pacific Highway Wines. He will be the first vice president of national sales for the company. (Press release)

Joe Elchik named vice president of sales, eastern division, for Cline Family Cellars

Most recently, Elchick was the eastern division vice president of sales for the Family Coppola, and he spent 15 years working in sales management with the company. He also held roles with Banfi Vintners and McKenzie & Company. Elchik will oversee the New England, Northeast, Great Lakes, Midwest, and Great Plains regions.

Vintage Wine Estates names Russell Joy as COO

Joy brings over 20 years of industry experience, specializing in finance and operations, to Vintage Wine Estates as current COO Jeff Nicholson retires. Joy was most recently the general manager of Napa Wine Company and has held roles with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Patz & Hall Wine Company, Viansa Winery, Sebastiani Vineyards, and Allied Domecq Wines.

Richard Booth named president of Drake’s Organic Spirits

Booth had been working with Drake’s for nearly two years, first on the senior advisory board, then running the state of Florida, then the entire East Coast. Booth had previously been running a consulting company after retiring from a 35-year career as a VP general manager. (Press release)

Greg Urmini named director of winemaking and vineyards for Willamette Valley Vineyards

Most recently, Urmini was with Paul Hobbs Winery in Sonoma, where he worked for 14 years while making his way from intern to cellar worker and eventually to director of winemaking. His passion for Oregon Pinot Noirs brought him to Willamette Valley Vineyards, where he will lead the winery, estate vineyards, and the development of a new winery in Dundee Hills. (Press release)

Scott Ehrlich and Jerred Wolff appointed to leadership roles at Wilson Daniels

Ehrlich will be the vice president of marketing while Wolff will be the senior vice president and general manager of Galaxy Wine Company, which is based in Oregon. Ehrlich was most recently the vice president of marketing for Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits, and he has held leadership roles at Constellation Brands and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates as well. Wolff was most recently the vice president of sales and marketing for Vehrs Distributing and director of trade development for Southern Glazers, and he also held sales roles with Palm Bay International. (Press release)

Tracey Prever named senior digital marketing and ecommerce manager for Scheid Family Wines

Prever was most recently the direct-to-consumer marketing manager for Rombauer Vineyards, where she developed its ecommerce marketing site and digital marketing and email campaign strategy and content. She has also held positions with Give Back Goods, Tayjoley Design, and Diamond Resorts International. (Press release)

Barron Beltz and Emily Zegar appointed to sales director roles for Sokol Blosser

Beltz will be the director of sales, Central division, and Zegar has been promoted to director of sales, Western division. Beltz has held sales roles with Republic National Distributing Company, Hess Collection, and Folio Fine Wine Partners and will lead sales efforts in 15 states. Zegar began her career in the wine industry at Sokol Blosser and returned in 2019; she was most recently the northwest and export sales and brand manager. She will lead sales efforts in 11 states and continue to lead export sales in 16 countries. (Press release)

Tom Bené appointed president and CEO of Breakthru Beverage Group

Bené has more than 30 years of leadership experience, most recently as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. He was also previously the chairman, president, and CEO of Sysco Corporation and the president of PepsiCo’s food service business. Outgoing president and CEO Greg Baird will serve as an advisor to Breakthru Beverage through the end of the year to support the leadership transition. (Press release)

Jennifer Thomas named vice president of sales, national accounts, for Opici Wines & Spirits

Thomas was most recently the senior national account executive for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, overseeing both on- and off-premise accounts. She has also held senior sales positions with J. Vineyards & Winery and Henry Wine Group. (Press release)

Rajat Parr joins Stolo Vineyards team as winemaking consultant

Parr will direct and oversee Stolo Vineyards’ winemaking operations in Cambria, California, following the departure of winemaker Nicole Pope. Parr’s experience with cool-climate, well-balanced, mineral-driven wines will help guide the Stolo winemaking team as they craft Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. (Press release)

Aaron Thompson and Jessica ‘Rabbit’ King open Brother Wolf, an aperitivo bar, in Knoxville, Tenn.

The local hospitality “power couple” also runs Osteria Stella, a northern Italian restaurant located next door to Brother Wolf, and Sapphire, which is temporarily closed for building renovations. The aperitivo bar specializes in the Negroni cocktail, with 11 Negronis and Negroni variations on the menu, a favorite of the couple after a trip to Italy. (Press release)

Melissa Shea and Hristo Zisovski named New York sales managers for Wilson Daniels Wholesale

Both of the new sales managers have extensive restaurant experience, and together they will oversee the New York wholesale team. Shea was formerly a senior luxury portfolio consultant for the New York metro area for E. & J. Gallo, and she was the beverage director for the Tao Restaurant Group. Zisovski was formerly the corporate beverage director for the Altamarea Group and has held numerous restaurant industry positions. In their new roles, Shea and Zisovski will manage account relationships, implement new programming initiatives, and achieve supplier sales goals. (Press release)

Jancis Robinson agrees to terms for Recurrent Ventures to acquire

The British wine journalist and author will remain editor-in-chief of her eponymous publication and will continue to oversee her team of contributors. “I’m extremely proud of all that has grown into,” Robinson said in a press release. “We’re now at the point where we need a bigger platform to see the site reach its full potential. This partnership will allow me to focus on what I enjoy most: tasting and writing about wine.” will continue to be subscription-based and will expand its digital initiatives in 2022. Recurrent Ventures is a digital media company that includes publications like Saveur, Domino, Popular Science, Outdoor Life, and more. (Press release)

Mark Fine appointed president of Ogden’s Own Distillery

The Utah-based craft spirits distiller, which makes Madam Pattirini Gin, Five Wives Vodka, Five Husbands Vodka, Underground Herbal Spirit, and the Porter’s Whiskeys, has named Fine as the successor to retiring cofounder and president Steve Conlin. In his new role, Fine will oversee the distillery’s operations, sales and marketing strategy, interstate and intrastate distribution, and expanding distribution across the U.S. Fine has nearly 30 years of leadership experience across the beverage industry, most recently working as the director of beverage at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. He has also worked with many distributors, importers, and suppliers, and he launched the Gérard Bertrand wine portfolio in the U.S. (Press release)

Bryan Babcock, owner of Babcock Winery & Vineyards, named vintner of the year by Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance

Babcock and his family established their winery in the early 1980s, and Babcock was key in the official formulation of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in 2001. Known for his Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, as well as Rhône and Bordeaux-style wines, he was honored with the Vintner of the Year Award by the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance at the AVA’s 20th anniversary celebration. (Press release)

Hae Un Lee, founder of Lee’s Discount Liquor in Nevada, has died

Lee’s Discount Liquor shared the news of the passing of their founder (known to most simply as “Mr. Lee”) on Saturday; Mr. Lee suffered from pancreatic cancer and died on August 27. Mr. Lee became a beverage retail legend after emigrating from South Korea in 1980 and opening his first Lee’s Discount Liquor store the following year. He grew Lee’s Discount Liquor into the largest liquor retailer in Nevada, with 22 stores across the state, and started Lee’s Helping Hand, a non-profit benefiting organizations across Nevada, almost 20 years ago. He is survived by his wife, Sun Lee, their three children, and their eight grandchildren.

Becky Wasserman, Burgundy champion, pioneer, and entrepreneur, has died

Known for her unfailing support and advocacy of Burgundy’s small producers, Wasserman died on August 20 at the age of 84. Born in New York City in 1937, Wasserman moved to Burgundy in 1968; after selling French oak barrels to American winemakers, she founded Le Serbet (now Becky Wasserman & Co.) in 1979, an export company representing small Burgundy wineries in the U.S. market. Wasserman is credited with bringing many of the region’s best-known producers to the U.S., including Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier, Domaine Michel Lafarge, and Domaine des Comtes Lafon.

Wasserman was also a mentor and supporter of many aspiring professionals across the wine industry, particularly young women. Upon hearing the news of her passing, tributes to Wasserman were shared on social media from around the world, with many speaking not only of her determination, influence, and legacy, but also her compassion, spirit, humility, warmth, humor, and kindness. She is survived by her husband, Russell Hone, and her sons Peter and Paul.

Dawn Marie Hilkin named sales team member for Grapes & Greens

Hilkin has over 10 years of sales and marketing experience and joined the sales team full-time in June. The New York-based importer and distributor works in NYC, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester, Rockland, and the Hudson Valley. (Press release)

Christopher Struck named beverage director at ilili in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Struck has worked in front- and back-of-house positions at eight restaurants, including Union Square Café and Racines. He also teaches beverage and marketing classes at the College of Technology at the City University of New York. As beverage director, Struck will manage all beverage purchasing and education, manage the bar team, and serve as the floor sommelier during service.

Aaron Sherman and Gianfranco Verga, cofounders of SevenFifty, named as Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers by Wine Enthusiast

Recognized as “industry disruptors” who are “taming the three-tier system,” Sherman and Verga were highlighted for their work in founding and growing SevenFifty Technologies (the parent company of SevenFifty Daily), which announced $23 million in Series B funding earlier this year. SevenFifty Daily contributors Shakera Jones and Shanika Hillocks were also among the 40 Under 40 Tastemakers this year.

Liam Odien named bar manager at Playa Provisions in Los Angeles

Odien is introducing a revamped, elevated cocktail program at the beachside restaurant, including rotating options with seasonal ingredients. He has over a decade of experience and previously worked at The Corner Door and Bucato. (Press release)

Tony Baldini promotes three winemaking team members at Cliff Lede Vineyards

Christopher Tynan, who has been the winemaker at Cliff Lede Vineyards since 2012, will be the director of winemaking. Associate winemaker Travis Bullard will take over Tynan’s role as winemaker after joining the company in 2010, and Anna Compton, previously the enologist, will be the new assistant winemaker, having joined the company in 2017. (Press release)

Lou Nole named chain director, East, for Winesellers, Ltd.

This is a newly created position that marks the expansion of Winesellers, Ltd.’s national accounts division. Nole is a 30-year veteran of the wine and spirits industry who has held positions with Republic National Distributing Company, Frederick Wildman & Sons, William Grant & Sons, Pacific Highway, Admiral Imports, and Vision Wine & Spirits. (Press release)

Kathy Reilly named vice president of marketing and innovation for Prestige Beverage Group

Most recently, Reilly was the category marketing director for food, beverage, and essentials at Target. In her new role, she will lead all aspects of marketing for Prestige as well as brand and product innovations. (Press release)

DAOU Family Estates announces three new appointments to leadership and hospitality teams

Maeve Pesquera has been promoted to senior vice president, strategy and business development after working with the company for five years. Elise Spangenberg has been promoted to vice president, people and culture, after joining the company in 2013. Marino Monferrato has joined DAOU as the vice president of hospitality operations, having been a general manager for top restaurants across the U.S. and starred as the maître d’ on Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. (Press release)

Kari Brandt named wholesale vice president and general manager of Frederick Wildman and Sons

Brandt joined Frederick Wildman in 2013 as a sales representative and was previously promoted to domestic sales manager and director of sales and portfolio development. In her new role, she will be responsible for Frederick Wildman’s wholesale business, including expanding the company’s restaurant and retail footprint in the New York and New Jersey markets. (Press release)

Avery Heelan named winemaker for Larkmead Vineyards as Dan Petroski departs

Heelan has been working under Petroski for two years and previously held positions at Screaming Eagle Vineyards, Domaine Yves Boyer Martenot, and Capel Vale Winery. She will oversee all winemaking and vineyards, lead climate action and research initiatives with the Larkmead Research Bock, and work with viticulturist Kelly Maher and vineyard manager Nabor Camarena to manage the 150-acre estate. Petroski, who has been with Larkmead since 2006, is leaving to focus on his personal brand, Massican Wines. (Press release)

Beringer Vineyards names Ryan Rech chief winemaker

Rech joined the Beringer team in 2016 and has been working with Treasury Wine Estates for more than a decade, working with Souverain and Chateau St. Jean before becoming Beringer’s luxury red winemaker. (Press release)

Mike Keyes, president and CEO of Proximo Spirits, to retire

Keyes joined Proximo in 2019 following a long tenure at Brown-Forman; he will depart the company by end-of-year. Luis Félix, Group Cuervo’s managing director for Mexico and Latin America, will take over Keyes’ role.

Michael Martignetti appointed senior vice president, wine of Martignetti Companies

Martignetti is a fourth-generation family member who gained experience working at E. & J. Gallo, Trinchero Family Estates, and Maisons Marques & Domaines prior to joining Martignetti Companies in 2016. Most recently, he was the assistant vice president, sales, connoisseur wine division; he will succeed Chris Conrad, Martignetti’s new president of sales and marketing. (Press release)

Becky George named associate winemaker for Brandlin Estate

George was most recently the winemaker for Kelly Fleming Wines in Calistoga and previously held positions with Schramsberg Vineyards and Marcassin. She brings 15 years of winemaking experience to the Brandlin Estate team. (Press release)

Kory Kemp named executive director of national sales, USA for Banfi

Most recently, Kemp was the senior sales director for Santa Margherita USA. In his new role, Kemp will lead sales in the U.S., strengthening on- and off-premise distribution for Banfi’s luxury portfolio and working with distributor partners. (Press release)

Newton Vineyard names Andrew Holve head of winemaking

2021 will mark Holve’s seventh vintage with Newton Vineyard, since he joined the winemaking team in 2015. Previously, he worked at wineries including MacRostie Winery, California icon Ridge Vineyards, Church Road Winery, and Cloudy Bay. (Press release)

Hans Hartjens named chief financial officer at Wente Family Estates

Hartjens spent 18 years at E. & J. Gallo Winery, where he gained a wealth of experience in winery financial oversight. Most recently, he led the business and operation teams for the Asia region. As chief financial officer, Hartjens will oversee the financial success of the business and support Wente’s drive for long-term growth. (Press release)

Scott Diaz named senior vice president of global brand strategy and marketing at Demeine Estates

Diaz was the vice president of marketing and brand management for Wilson Daniels for 13 years, where he developed strategic marketing and budget plans for some of the world’s top wineries. He will work closely with Demeine Estates president Philana Bouvier and the estates’ direct-to-guest programs, and he will lead brand management, price positioning, trade marketing, recruitment of new producers, business strategy, and more. Diaz’s appointment comes just after the Napa Valley-based négociant hired a full sales team to propel growth. (Press release)

Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, hires Julie Cohen Theobald as executive director

After the 2018 Master Sommelier exam invalidation and a reckoning over sexual harassment and racial equity, the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas has hired an executive director from outside the organization. Theobald has experience in both nonprofit and corporate leadership, most recently as the first female executive director and CEO of nonprofit arts organization Educational Theatre Association. She was also the marketing director at Procter & Gamble, where she oversaw the international launch of Febreze and drove growth for Tide.

Theobald’s appointment marks the first time that Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas has had an all-female leadership team. Along with chair Emily Wines, MS, vice-chair Kathryn Morgan, MS, and director of operations Kathleen Lewis, Theobald will work to create a more equitable space for wine education. She will also be responsible for selecting candidates for four non-Master Sommelier board seats. (Press release)

Ted Henry joins Groth Vineyards & Winery as director of winegrowing

Most recently, Henry was the director of winemaking at Clos du Val, a company he had been with for five years. He has also held positions at Jarvis Estate and Artesa Winery and Vineyards. As director of winegrowing, Henry will oversee all aspects of wine production, from vineyard to winery. (Press release)

Ingrid Best promoted to executive vice president, head of global spirits marketing, at Combs Enterprises

Best was formerly a vice president at Combs Enterprises, where she built a strong team by hiring seven top Black marketing executives to drive growth for Cîroc and DeLéon while leading by example in a predominately white male dominated spirits industry. She joined the team in March 2020 and has driven double digit growth for both brands. Best formerly held positions at Bacardi and Moët Hennessy. (Press release)

Michael David Winery in Lodi names Larry Holman as president

Holman has over 40 years of experience in the wine industry, including executive roles at Cline Cellars, Constellation Brands, and E. & J. Gallo. He will report to co-owners Michael and David Phillips and will oversee all facets of the winery, increasing production and achieving sales goals. (Press release)

Franck Bijon named president of Crus Bourgeois du Médoc

Bijon was elected on June 15 after former president Olivier Cuvelier’s five-year tenure came to an end. Bijon has worked within the Allianz wine estates (which include Château Larose Trintaudon, Château Larose Perganson, Château Arnauld, and Château Tour de Pez) since 1989 and has been the managing director since 2016. Bijon will oversee the continued deployment of the 2020 classification, which includes 249 châteaux. (Press release)

Matt McHargue promoted to senior vice president, fine wine and craft spirits division, for Constellation Brands

McHargue has been with Constellation Brands for more than 11 years, most recently leading wine and spirits sales for the Mid-Atlantic region. The promotion is part of Constellation’s recently created, standalone fine wine and craft spirits business unit; McHargue will be responsible for driving the unit’s vision and strategy, including brand building, management, and commercial capabilities across DTC ecommerce, DTC hospitality, and 3-tier ecommerce and wholesale sales. (Press release)

Leonardo Bellaccini named president of Castelnuovo Berardenga subzone of Chianti Classico

Bellaccini is the winemaker and estate director for top Chianti Classico producer San Felice. The news comes as the Chianti Classico Consortium announces the approval of new regulations that will recognize 11 subzones, or Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive, within the region.

Jaimee Anderson named national sales manager for Mayacamas Vineyards

Anderson was most recently the western regional sales manager for Heitz Cellar, a position she took on after leaving the restaurant floor in 2019. She held positions as the beverage director at Wolfgang Puck’s CUT in Beverly Hills, California and as the wine director for Le Gabriel in Paris. Anderson will manage markets within the U.S., with a focus on California, the South and the Midwest. (Press release)

Quintessential hires Gianni Acireale as vice president, national accounts, and Joanna Plakopitas and Hannah Michael as marketing specialists

Acireale has more than 20 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry and will manage on-premise national accounts business while working with the off-premise national accounts team to grow distribution. Plakopitas was most recently a digital marketing specialist for a boutique wine and spirits importer, and she will specialize in Quintessential’s Old World wineries. Michael will be the content manager for the company, working to streamline current digital content and create new content for the website and social media platforms. (Press release)

Bobby Richards named head winemaker for Seven Hills Winery as cofounder Casey McClellan retires

Richards joined the Walla Walla winery in 2013 as an intern and has studied under McClellan to learn every role in the cellar and vineyard. He has also interned at Tranche Cellars in Washington State and Benton-Lane in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. McClellan will remain with the winery in a consulting role post-retirement. (Press release)

Lauren Van Ness named director of sales for Memento Mori

The boutique Napa Valley winery appointed Van Ness as their first director of sales to further curate guest experiences at Memento Mori’s downtown Napa tasting salon. Van Ness was most recently the general manager for ACME Fine Wines in St. Helena, and was formerly the maître d’ and director of private events for the French Laundry. (Press Release)

Demeine Estates hires 10 fine wine industry leaders to its team

The Napa Valley-based négociant has undergone exceptional growth recently. Its new hires include: Leila Pearson as senior vice president of sales; Matt Adler as director of wholesale operations; Patrick Hakes as sales operations manager, John Vidal as regional sales director, West; Moxy Castro as regional sales director, Central; Scott Leverenz as regional sales director, East; Joanne Schmidt as regional manager, Upper Midwest; Jennifer Sollinger as regional manager, Southeast; Mariana Larsen as western regional manager; and Heidi Van de Ryt as executive assistant and office manager. (Press release)

Jessica Koga named winemaker for Schramsberg Vineyards

Koga has been the associate winemaker at Davies Vineyards, overseeing red wine production for the Davies family (owners of Schramsberg Vineyards), since 2015. She initially joined the Schramsberg team in 2003 as a lab intern and was a full-time enologist from 2004 to 2007. Koga has also held positions at Gundlach Bundschu Winery and Vineyard 29, and she has worked harvests at Cloudy Bay Vineyards in New Zealand and Bedell Cellars in New York. (Press release)

Chris Conrad named president of sales and marketing for Martignetti Companies

Conrad joined the New England wine and spirits distributor in 1995 as wine manager, northern New England division, having started his food and beverage career working for the Marriott Corporation and Sky Meadow Country Club. Through the years he has been promoted to general sales manager, vice president of sales, and, most recently, senior vice president of wine for all Martignetti divisions. Conrad is succeeding Mark Fisher in this role, who previously announced his retirement. (Press release)

Olivier Lemasson, winemaker behind Les Vins Contés in the Loire Valley, has died

The young winemaker, known for his natural “vins de soif,” passed away last week. A sommelier who developed a passion for natural wines while working in Brittany, Lemasson worked and studied with Marcel Lapierre before settling in Touraine, where he teamed up with Hervé Villemade for the négociant project Les Vins Contés in 2002. Lemasson took over Les Vins Contés in 2006, expanding the project and purchasing his own vineyards in 2016. He won over wine lovers around the world with his vibrant, playful, nuanced wines.

Lede Family Wines names Dina Clark as senior director of national sales

Chicago-based Clark brings nearly 25 years of industry experience to Lede Family Wines, having most recently served as the Midwest regional director of sales for the Boisset Collection. She also spent nearly a decade working with Terlato Wines International. In her new role, Clark will oversee national sales and distribution for Cliff Lede Vineyards in Napa Valley and FEL Wines in the Anderson Valley. (Press release)

Pedro Pascal named spokesperson and ambassador for Casillero del Diablo

The Chilean-American actor will appear in Casillero del Diablo’s global Wine Legend campaign, starring in new advertising programming which will appear across television, video, and social media. Pascal will also serve as the Chilean brand’s first global brand ambassador. (Press release)

Merryvale announces Steele Cooper as director of sales, central/east region

Based in Dallas, Texas, Cooper will oversee sales and brand engagement for the Napa Valley-based Merryvale Family of Wines, parent company of Merryvale Vineyards and Starmont Wines, working in conjunction with the Pacific Highway Wines team. Cooper most recently served as vice president, sales, at Rémy Cointreau for LOUIS XIII and previously worked at RNDC as director of supplier business management, and as a region manager for The Plumpjack Group.

Alejandro Fernández, founder of Pesquera de Duero, passed away at age 88

Fernández was the driving force behind Spain’s Ribera del Duero, and helped the region achieve Designation of Origin status in 1982. In 1972, Fernández purchased a 16th century stone wine press with his wife, Esperanza  Rivera, and began producing wine under his Tinto Pesquera label, a tribute to his hometown, Pesquera de Duero. Alongside his wife and daughters, Alejandro founded wineries in different areas: Condado de Haza, also in Ribera del Duero; Dehesa La  Granja in Zamora; and El Vínculo, the latter in the La Mancha area of Ciudad Real. The wines of Bodega Pesquera are considered among the most renowned in all of Spain. 

Bacardi names A-K Hada as national brand ambassador

Based in New York City, Hada has served as the creative force behind some of hospitality’s biggest names, including New York’s iconic PDT and, most recently, at Dante where she oversaw the beverage programs for their partnerships with Jean-Georges at The Greens and with The Snow Lodge in Aspen. Beyond the bar, Hada has also held leadership positions at Existing Conditions and led the apprenticeship program at Tales of the Cocktail for the last five years. She was a two-time national finalist in the USBG World Class competition, and a Spirited Award finalist. 

21Seeds appoints Pierrick Bouquet vice president of marketing

A 14-year industry veteran, Bouquet most recently led growth for Provence’s Château d’Esclans brands, Whispering Angel and Rock Angel. Prior to that, he served as cofounder and CEO of Rosé Lifestyle, where he developed lifestyle events including Pinknic, La Nuit en Rosé, and The Great Gatsby Party.

In his new role, Bouquet will work alongside co-founder and CEO Kat Hantas to further grow and expand awareness for 21Seeds among consumers, retailers, and distributors nationally. Founded by three women in pursuit of an approachable, flavorful tequila that is as drinkable as a glass of wine, 21Seeds is infused with real fruit and bottled at 35 percent ABV.

Fetzer elevates Margaret Leonardi to winemaker

The first woman to lead winemaking for the 50 year-plus old producer, Leonardi has overseen flagship label Fetzer’s white wines in recent years, garnering more than 20 “Best Buy” commendations. She takes the reins as the sustainability leader unveils new packaging which elevates its commitment to do right by the planet. 

A California native, Leonardi studied winemaking and agribusiness at California Polytechnic State University. She joined the Fetzer Vineyards winemaking team in 2015, before which she ran a pilot program experimenting with unique grape varieties and made wine for an array of brands.

Demeine Estates names Philana Bouvier as president

Bouvier has nearly two decades of wine industry leadership experience, most recently as vice president of fine wine, supplier business development at RNDC. Prior to that, she led new business development at Young’s Market Company (now known as RNDC) and served as executive vice president, general manager Young’s Hawaii.

Bouvier served chair of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), and is one of the founding members of the Advisory Board. She also cofounded Be the Change, with the mission to create a diverse beverage industry through facilitating job placement with drinks companies. In 2019, SevenFifty Daily named her a Drink Innovator of the Year for her efforts.

At Demeine Estates, a Napa Valley-based négociant of fine wines founded by the Lawrence family and sommelier Carlton McCoy, Jr., Bouvier will be responsible for overseeing all brands and distribution channels.

Jim Clendenen, founder of Santa Barbara’s Au Bon Climat, dies at age 68

Clendenen launched the pioneering Au Bon Climat winery in 1982 in California’s Central Coast when the region was under-the-radar compared to Napa and Sonoma. Inspired by the style of Burgundy, his Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs became renowned for their delicacy, restraint, and ageability. His style inspired countless others in decades to follow, and he was an inaugural member of California’s In Pursuit of Balance movement, founded in 2011 to champion winemaking that aims for lower alcohol and less overtly ripe fruit flavors. 

Peter Willmert appointed CEO of Hudson Ranch in Napa Valley

With over 20 years of experience in wine and luxury goods, Willmert will be responsible for Hudson’s vineyards, wines, ranch, and grocery. Willmert most recently served as vice president at Estates & Wines, North America for LVMH Moët Hennessy, responsible for the development of their international wine portfolio in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Founders and owners Lee Hudson and Cristina SP Hudson will continue to be active and engaged in Hudson Napa Valley.

Folio appoints new sales executive leadership

The Napa Valley-based Folio Fine Wine Partners has named Thomas Vogele as vice president, national sales, and Ludovic Panciera as vice president, business development. Both roles report to CEO Paolo Battegazzore.

Following roles at Robert Mondavi Winery, Trinchero Family Estates, and E and J Gallo Winery, Vogele joined Folio Fine Wine Partners in 2005 and held various sales roles until 2014 when he left to pursue his own business. He returned to Folio in March 2020 as director of national accounts, off-premise. 

Panciera joins Folio in the newly created role of vice president business development for luxury channels and private client business. A 20-year veteran of the fine wine business, he joined Groupe EPI (the majority shareholder in Folio) in 2011 and transitioned to the Folio team in early 2021.

Julka Villa named head of Campari’s new RARE division in New York City

Campari Group, the world’s sixth leading spirits company, has created this new incubator division to focus on its super-premium and above offerings with a new route-to-market architecture. Villa, who will retain her role as global strategic marketing spirits managing director, will operate RARE distinct from Campari America under the direct aegis of the Group CMO.  

In June 2021, the division will kick-off with the relaunch of the iconic cognac, Bisquit & Dubouché, and later in the year, the group’s first French champagne acquisition, Lallier fine champagne. In the first year, the RARE division will concentrate on California, Texas, and Florida.

Neal Rosenthal announces partnership with Incline Equity

After four decades of organic growth, legendary importer Rosenthal Wine Merchant (RWM) will collaborate with Incline Equity in order to expand its portfolio of artisan growers, refine its internal operations, and grow its distribution footprint in the US. David Townsend, former CEO of The Country Vintner, will join the board to assist with growth and strategic direction. Neal Rosenthal will continue running day-to-day operations and making all decisions regarding portfolio development as CEO of the Mad Rose Group, the holding company for importer & distributor Rosenthal Wine Merchant New York, distributor Rosenthal Wine Merchant California, and Mad Rose Specialty Foods (Rosenthal’s gourmet food line). 

Martha Sheldon named Central Coast regional manager for Alma Rosa Winery

Sheldon will manage direct sales in Santa Barbara County for the premium Sta. Rita Hills producer. Previously, she spent six years with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits after spending 17 years honing customer service skills at Nordstrom. (Press release)

Bâtonnage partners with Kristin Olszewski, founder and CEO of Nomadica, on limited-edition canned wine with label designed by Alisha Sommer

100 percent of proceeds from the sparkling rosé, made from Monterey County Pinot Noir, will benefit the mentorship program for Bâtonnage, an organization dedicated to stirring up questions about women in wine and promoting equity in the industry. The can’s label artwork is a self-portrait by Sommer, a freelance writer and photographer, and Olszewski will also be a mentor for the Bâtonnage mentorship program.

Winebow promotes Marie Flatau to vice president of wholesale sales in Georgia

Flatau joined Winebow in 2015 and has more than 20 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry, working at companies like Vias Imports, Georgia Crown Distributing Company, and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. She is also an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. (Press release)

Greg Freeman named winemaker for Chalone Vineyard in Monterey County

Freeman has held winemaking positions for nearly two decades, serving as the winemaker for Messina Hof Winery in Texas and Georis/Cowgirl Winery in Carmel Valley, California. He also worked as the winemaker at Hahn Family Wines, where he worked with a range of the company’s brands. (Press release)

Tomas Estes, tequila legend and cofounder of Tequila Ocho, has died

Estes passed away at his home in Ashland, Oregon on April 25. He was 75. Known as one of tequila’s fiercest champions, the southern California native first brought a passion for tequila to Amsterdam through his Mexican restaurant Café Pacifico. Estes became the official tequila ambassador for the EU in 2003, and in 2008, he cofounded Tequila Ocho with distiller Carlos Camarena.

Gable Erenzo, cofounder of Tuthilltown Spirits and owner of Gardiner Liquid Mercantile, has died

Gable unexpectedly passed away in his sleep last week, as confirmed by his father Ralph Erenzo in an April 26 Facebook post. He was 41. Gable and Ralph, along with co-owner Brian Lee, founded New York’s Tuthilltown Spirits in 2003, which was best known for producing Hudson Whiskey. After both ventures were sold to William Grant and Sons, Gable created the distillery, retail shop, and tasting room Gardiner Liquid Mercantile, which has become a Hudson Valley destination. He leaves behind his wife, Cathy, and two young sons.

Scheid Family Wines promotes Casey Di Cesare to winemaker for Sunny with a Chance of Flowers, Metz Road, and Grandeur

Di Cesare has been the enologist and assistant winemaker at Scheid Family Wines for more than four years, where he helped spearhead the creation and launch of low-alcohol brand Sunny with a Chance of Flowers. He has also held positions with Cinquain Cellars, Ithaca Beer Co., and South Hill Cider. (Press release)

Joshua Mendoza-Widaman named estate winemaker for Pine Ridge Vineyards

The 20-year winemaking veteran was most recently the winemaker at Lewis Cellars, and he has also held winemaking positions with Chimney Rock Winery and Pahlmeyer. As estate winemaker for Pine Ridge, Mendoza-Widaman will oversee all estate vineyards, with a special focus on producing Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District, Howell Mountain, Oakville, Rutherford, and Carneros. (Press release)

George Staikos launches education and consulting firm The Educated Grape

Over the past two decades, Staikos has held senior sales and marketing positions with top luxury wineries, including Jordan Vineyard and Winery, Huneeus Vintners, and Ramey Wine Cellars. He is also an experienced educator, heading the wine program at the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. The Educated Grape will harness this experience to provide sales, marketing, and branding consulting for small wineries and virtual educational programs for wine enthusiasts. (Press release)

Lani Montoya appointed chief human resources officer for Pernod Ricard North America

Montoya has been with Pernod Ricard for 15 years, most recently leading global talent management and diversity and inclusion for the company, where she worked to achieve Pernod Ricard’s goal of Better Balance. She is succeeding Paul Holub, who is retiring after a 25-year career with Pernod Ricard North America, Corby Spirit and Wine, and Hiram Walker & Sons. (Press release)

Bill Harlan appoints his son, Will Harlan, as managing director of Harlan Estate and family domain

Will will now oversee Harlan Estate, BOND, Promontory, and The Mascot, while Bill will hold the role of founder and chairman. Will officially entered into the family business with The Mascot, founded in 2012 and introduced in 2013, and in 2017, he took over leadership for Promontory. Cory Empting has also been promoted to managing director of winegrowing for the domain. Empting joined the company in 2001 and was promoted to winemaker in 2007. (Press release)

Matthew Johnson named executive vice president of sales for Winesellers, Ltd.

Johnson was most recently the senior vice president of national sales for Opici Wines & Spirits, and he has also held positions with major suppliers like Palm Bay International and Frederick Wildman & Sons. In this newly created position, Johnson will lead the entire sales team while strengthening and expanding the wholesaler network and attracting revenue-generating brands and suppliers. (Press release)

Ravi DeRossi and chef Shenarri Freeman open Cadence in New York City’s East Village

Cadence will reimage southern and soul food at this plant-based restaurant as Freeman reimagines family recipes from her Virginia upbringing. The restaurant’s wine list will also spotlight Black-owned wineries in the U.S., France, and South Africa. Cadence is located at 122 E. 7th St in New York City. (Press release)

Chris Underwood named chairman of the board for WSWA

Underwood, who is on the board of managers for RNDC-West, will hold the chairman of the board position for 12 months. In his acceptance speech, he challenged the WSWA board of directors to “shape the change for wholesalers today and tomorrow” by “adapt[ing] to ensure our tier is providing value to [the] future marketplace.” (Press release)

Megan and Hilary Cline of Cline Family Cellars launch Gust Wines from the Petaluma Gap AVA

The second generation of Cline Family Cellars, Megan and Hilary created Gust in 2017 to celebrate the cool-climate fruit from their family’s Petaluma Gap vineyards. Winemaker Tom Gendall is crafting a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah under the new Gust label. (Press release)

Marty Collins named vice president of ecommerce and digital marketing for Winebow

Collins has over 15 years of digital marketing experience, most recently as the head of revenue and strategy at Zillow Group. In her new role, Collins will oversee all digital sales aspects of Winebow, including developing the company’s B2B ecommerce platform and expanding its data capabilities to create an excellent customer experience. (Press release)

Register for Porto Protocol’s “Climate in a Bottle” discussion with Jancis Robinson

Hosted by Martin R. Reyes, MW, the panel will feature Jancis Robinson, Charles Bieler, and Laura Varpasuo in a discussion about the carbon footprint of the wine bottle. The panelists will explore what is happening in the industry to address this issue, alternatives in the market, consumer and trade perspectives, and producers’ willingness to address the wine bottle’s impact on the climate. Register using the link above.

Bollinger CEO Etienne Bizot announces acquisition of Ponzi Vineyards in Oregon

The acquisition marks the Bollinger family’s first purchase outside of France and cements the Ponzi family’s legacy as champions of the Willamette Valley and its excellent Pinot Noirs. In addition to Champagne Bollinger, the Bollinger family also owns Champagne Ayala, Domaine Chanson in Burgundy, Delamain in Cognac, and Langlois-Chateau in the Loire Valley. The purchase includes Ponzi’s winery and hospitality facilities, as well as 35 acres of vineyard land; current president Anna Maria Ponzi will lead sales and marketing while the company recruits a new CEO, and Luisa Ponzi will remain as director of viticulture and winemaking. The Ponzi family will retain 100 acres of vineyard land and will grow and sell the grapes to Ponzi Vineyards under a long-term contract. (Press release)

Crystal McIntyre named national sales manager for Miller Family Wine Company

Most recently, McIntyre was the vice president and national sales manager for Wente Family Estates, and she has also held sales positions with Fetzer Vineyards/Concha y Toro and Jackson Family Wines/Regal Wine Company. In her new role, McIntyre will spearhead wholesale efforts for both Miller Family Wine Company and Bien Nacido Estates, overseeing regional sales and national accounts, managing the sales team, and handling export and private label businesses. (Press release)

Neal Rosenthal moves headquarters of Rosenthal Wine Merchant to Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Rosenthal Wine Merchant (RWM) will move into the 22nd floor of Ten Grand Street in September, which will not only serve as the offices for the import business, but as an event space as well. Rosenthal plans to use the space as an opportunity to connect wine with food, design, travel, and the arts, and he plans to expand the RWM sales team in the coming years as well. (Press release)

Adam Krieger and Micaela Tuttle named regional sales managers for North Berkeley Imports

To expand the sales network for their portfolio of fine French and Italian wines, North Berkeley Imports has hired new regional sales managers for California and the Midwest. Krieger will represent the portfolio in southern California, joining the company from Lyra Wines, where he was the key accounts sales manager. Based in Nashville, Tuttle will represent the portfolio in the Midwest and South, covering Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Michigan. (Press release)

Three winemakers promoted within the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates team

Within the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (SMWE) portfolio, Katie Nelson will oversee winemaking for the company’s flagship brand, Chateau Ste. Michelle. She joined the company in 1999 and most recently oversaw winemaking for Columbia Crest and ēlicit Wine Project. Will Wiles will replace Nelson as the winemaker for Columbia Crest and ēlicit Wine Project, having worked with both brands in the past; he has been part of SMWE since 2010. Leah Adint will join the winemaking team at Erath Winery alongside winemaker Gary Horner, having previously served as red winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle. Chief winemaker Juan Muñoz-Oca will oversee all of SMWE’s newly appointed winemakers. (Press release)

Vianney Gravereaux named sales and marketing director for Ornellaia and Masseto in Tuscany

Gravereaux will work alongside estate director Axel Heinz, taking over for Tim Banks, who held the position for nine years. Most recently the international sales manager for Masseto, Gravereaux has also formerly worked with renowned brands like Philipponnat, Salon and Peugeot Saveurs. (Press release)

Tara Hannaford named chief operating officer of canned wine brand Nomadica

A beverage industry veteran, Hannaford was most recently consulting for a variety of beverage alcohol brands after previously serving as the vice president of sales for Casamigos. She has also held positions with Stoli Group USA, DeLeon Tequila, Peligroso Spirits, and Hawaii Sea Spirits. Hannaford joins an all-women executive team at Nomadica. (Press release)

Frédéric Drouhin appointed president of the Bourgogne Wine Board

Drouhin, fourth-generation family member and CEO of Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune, will serve as the Bourgogne Wine Board’s (BIVB) president until December 2021; the BIVB’s former president, Louis-Fabrice Latour previously resigned from his position for personal reasons. (Press release)

O’Neill Vintners & Distillers recognizes new Master of Wine Kryss Speegle

Speegle, who leads corporate wine and spirit sales for O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, was recently inducted into the Institute of Masters of Wine. Prior to spending the last decade with the company, she worked in winemaking positions at some of California’s top wineries. Speegle joins nine other new Masters of Wine from around the world: Álvaro Ribalta Millán, MW, Tze Sam, MW, Susan Lin, MW, Melissa Saunders, MW, Clare Tooley, MW, Moritz Nikolaus Lueke, MW, James Doidge, MW, Gabriele Gorelli, MW, and Sophie Parker-Thomson, MW. (Press release)

Katherine Tai unanimously confirmed as U.S. Trade Ambassador

Tai, who was sworn in as U.S. Trade Ambassador on March 18, had previously expressed the need to rebuild trade relationships between the U.S. and its allies. Her confirmation gives hope that the temporary suspension of tariffs on wine and spirits products from the EU and the U.K. will become permanent when the four-month suspension period has ended. Organizations like the Wine Origins Alliance have applauded Tai’s confirmation, calling on her to resolve the ongoing aircraft dispute and better protect wine place names in the U.S. market.

Chris Luke named vice president of wholesale sales, broad market in Washington State for Winebow

A sign of Winebow’s commitment to Washington’s wine industry, Luke will lead the company’s sales growth in the state after holding the same role in Georgia since 2015. Winebow will also expand its warehouse capacity in Washington by moving to a new distribution center. (Press release)

Nancy Chira-Garcia and Anthony Marzella join national sales team for Scheid Family Wines

Chira-Garcia will join the national sales team as the sales representative for Monterey after seven years of working with Scheid Family Wines in various capacities. She has held positions in the tasting room and on the hospitality team. Marzella, a 30-year veteran of the industry, will join the team as northeast regional sales manager. Marzella most recently worked as the northeast division manager for Quintessential Wines and also spent 16 years working with The Winebow Group. (Press release)

Giovan Battista Basile named chairman of the board for Montecucco consortium in Tuscany

The owner of Basile Winery, Battista Basile moved to Cinigiano (Province of Grosseto) with his family in the late ‘90s, arriving in the heart of the Montecucco region right when the DOC denomination was being established. He purchased raw land and began farming organically. In his new role, Battista Basile will help promote the region’s commitment to sustainability; nearly 70 percent of Montecucco’s DOC and DOCG production is organically certified. 

Pop-up holiday cocktail bar Miracle names Nick Nemeth as director of operations

Nemeth, who most recently held the position of senior manager at Boston Pizza International, brings 16 years of hospitality and service industry experience to Miracle, as well as a specialty in beverage program and training development. In his new role, Nemeth will focus on standardizing training and operating procedures across Miracle’s many pop-ups, developing an intranet to house all operational resources, and more as the company continues to expand. (Press release)

Michael Beaulac appointed senior winemaker at Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards and Winery in Russian River Valley

Beaulac joins the Chalk Hill team from Pine Ridge Vineyards, where he oversaw the winery estate as general manager and winemaker for more than a decade, and he also served as vice president at St. Supéry Vineyards for eight years. During his decades-long career, Beaulac has also held winemaking positions at Markham Vineyards, Murphy-Goode, Merry Edwards, and Laurier Winery. (Press release)


Steven Spurrier, legendary British wine figure, has died

Spurrier died on March 9, 2021 at his home, the Bride Valley Vineyard estate in Dorset, England, surrounded by family. He was 79. Perhaps most famously known for staging the 1976 Judgment of Paris wine tasting, which pitted Napa Valley wines against top Bordeaux and Burgundy and subsequently elevated the status of California wine worldwide, Spurrier has had a hand in numerous parts of the wine industry. After joining London wine merchant Christopher and Co in 1964, Spurrier moved to Paris and opened wine shop Les Caves de la Madeleine and wine school L’Academie du Vin in the 1970s. In more recent years, Spurrier worked as a wine consultant and journalist, and he planted a vineyard at his wife’s Bride Valley estate in southern England in 2009.

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announces suspension of EU alcohol tariffs

On Friday, March 5, the U.S. and EU mutually agreed to suspend aircraft and non-aircraft products (including alcohol and food) related to the World Trade Organization aircraft dispute for a period of four months, temporarily ending the immense burden levied on the American wine and spirits industries. “We believe the U.S. and EU would not have chosen a four month time frame if they did not have good reason to believe they were far enough along in negotiations to resolve the Large Civil Aircraft case permanently, and quickly,” says Ben Aneff, president of U.S. Wine Trade Alliance. The day prior, the U.S. and U.K. had agreed to mutually suspend beverage alcohol tariffs for the same four-month period.

Archer Roose appoints Alicia Towns Franken as vice president of their wine portfolio

Towns Franken brings over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry to her new role, including an 11-year tenure as wine director of Boston’s Grill 23 & Bar. Through her consulting firm, Towns Franken Consulting, she has also launched successful wine programs, taught educational seminars, and participated in tastings and panels nationwide. An advocate for diversity in the wine industry, she is a board member of Wine Unify. In her new role, Towns Franken will lead product and innovation in Archer Roose’s wine portfolio.

Randy Lewis, cofounder of Lewis Cellars, seeks applicants for Debbie Lewis Women in Wine Scholarship

Sponsored by Lewis Cellars, the $5,000 scholarship is awarded in honor of Debbie Lewis, who cofounded Lewis Cellars with her husband Randy in 1992. Women pursuing upper-level professional wine studies—including Master of Wine Stage 2, the Master Sommelier exam, and any accredited college or university program in viticulture, enology/winemaking, or wine business/marketing—are eligible. Applications are due March 28, 2021, by 11 pm Pacific time.

Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative nominee, gives hope for suspension of wine and spirits tariffs

In her Senate confirmation hearing, Tai expressed the need to rebuild trade relationships between the U.S. and its allies, giving hope that her confirmation could signal an end to tariffs on wine and spirits products from the E.U. and U.K. In a statement, the Distilled Spirits Council said they were encouraged by these comments, urging immediate suspension of the tariffs while underlying disputes are resolved. (Press statement)

Fetzer Vineyards appoints Chris McFerran senior vice president, sales

A 20-year industry veteran, McFerran will be responsible for strategic national sales for the company’s portfolio of wines from California, Chile, and Argentina, as well as whiskeys from Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. McFerran has led strategic national accounts for some of the nation’s largest portfolio beverage alcohol companies, most recently as vice president, alcohol, for the Beyond Beer Business Unit at Anheuser-Busch InBev. His other roles include leadership sales positions at Treasury Wine Estates and Delicato Family Vineyards. (Press release)

Teresa Heuzenroeder named senior winemaker and manager for Accolade Wines’ Tintara facility in McLaren Vale 

Huezenroeder will also be the senior winemaker for the company’s Petaluma and Croser brands, following Mike Mudge’s decision to step down as senior winemaker and manager for Petaluma. Huezenroeder joins Accolade after a 26-year career at Yalumba, where she held senior winemaking positions at many Yalumba and Hill-Smith Family Vineyards brands. (Press release)

Harry Bigelow named president, North America of Stoli Group

Bigelow is an experienced consumer brand leader in the beverage space, having held executive positions at companies like Diageo, Guinness USA, and E. & J. Gallo. As the company works to accelerate growth, CEO Damian McKinney points to Bigelow as a “transformational leader.” (Press release)

Wente Family Estates in Livermore Valley promotes winemakers Elizabeth Kester and Andy Lynch

Kester has been promoted to head of winemaking, while Lynch has been promoted to head of quality; both were already winemakers with the company. Kester has worked with Wente Family Estates since 2010, where she oversaw all wine production activity and developed Wente’s phenolics program. She will now add strategic alignment between viticulture, marketing, and sales to her responsibilities. Lynch will ensure all systems and resources address all aspects of quality from the winemaking process through to the consumer. He joined the Wente team in 2005 in the lab and became the enologist and winemaker in 2014. (Press release)

Nick Africano launches sherry brand Buelan Compañía de Sacas

A Brooklyn-based sherry specialist and songwriter, Africano is working with forward-thinking sherry innovators Willy Perez of Bodegas Luis Perez and Ramiro Ibañez of Cota 45. Africano is also the founder of En Rama Sherry Co., a pop-up bar, wine club, and event company. The new sherry brand will feature barrel-selected sherries and launch with the release of Las Canciones No. 1 Mirador Manzanilla. (Press release)

Chad Webb named COO of Island Brands USA

As COO, Webb will direct all facets of the Island Brands business as the company grows, including partners, vendors, operations, and sales. The industry veteran joins the premium beer brand after serving as vice president and general manager for KW Beverage d.b.a. Budweiser of Greenville, and he has also held management positions at Bealer Wholesale and Anheuser-Busch. “Chad knows the beer industry inside and out and comes to the table with a long and proven track record for scaling business operations,” says co-founder/CEO and CRO Scott Hansen. (Press release)

Riccardo Cotarella appointed lead winemaker for Italy’s Venturini Baldini

Cotarella, a renowned winemaker with more than 50 years of winemaking experience in wineries across all Italian regions and around the world, will take on the role previously held by Carlo Ferrini. Cotarella and his team will work alongside the longstanding team at Venturini Baldini to produce the winery’s organic Lambrusco wines in the Emilia-Romagna region. Over the past five years, the 321-acre estate has been elevated to new heights through the ownership of Julia and Giuseppe Prestia. (Press release)

Freixenet Mionetto USA promotes Joseph LoSardo and Robert Kiernan as sales executives

LoSardo, formerly the senior vice president of sales, has been promoted to chief sales and operations officer, where he will oversee sales, logistics, and commercial finance, as well as route-to-market optimizations, forecasting, planning, and sales training. He previously held senior leadership positions at Santa Margherita, Domaine Select Wine Estates, and Frederick Wildman & Sons. Kiernan, a 36-year industry veteran, has been promoted to vice president of sales and will be responsible for managing the national sales team. (Press release)

Byron Elmendorf named head winemaker at Macari Vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork

Elmendorf joined the Macari team in the fall of 2020 after spending five years as a winemaker at Boeger Winery in the Sierra Foothills of California. Together with his wife, he is also the founder of boutique Sierra Foothills winery Clime Wines, which specializes in Italian varieties. Elmendorf will work with the Macari family to push innovation in the estate’s winemaking and champion the region and its wines. (Press release)

Denver Beer Co. hires Andy Parker as director of innovation

Parker previously worked at Avery Brewing Company, where he spent 18 years developing nearly every beer the brewery produced during that time. As director of innovation, Parker will lead the Denver Beer Co. and Cerveceria Colorado brewing teams in recipe formulation, manage the barrel aging program, and act as creative lead for beverage production. (Press release)

Vintage Imports expands into New York State with Bill Sciambi as lead consultant

Vintage Imports, Inc, has formed a wholesale fine wine and spirits division in New York State and began operations on December 1, 2020. The company already has wholesale operations in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and it has nearly 100 wine and spirits brands already distributed in New York. Previously, Sciambi was chairman of the board for Verity Wine Partners after serving as president and CEO for four years. Prior to that he worked for nearly 25 years at Lauber Imports. (Press release)

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Women’s Leadership Council announces advisory board and officers

As WSWA chair Philana Bouvier of Young’s Market departs, the organization names Jessica Cyr of Martignetti Companies as chair and Hillary Wirtz of Breakthru Beverage as vice chair. Jenn Engel of Republic National Distributing Company will be a new advisory board member for the WSWA WLC. (Press release)

Todd Nelson named vice president, marketing and public relations, of Winesellers, Ltd.

In his new role, Nelson will build and manage brand launches, cultivate relationships with lifestyle and wine media, and be responsible for repositioning and growing established brands. Nelson has been part of the Winesellers, Ltd. team for nine years, most recently as the director of marketing and public relations. (Press release)

Second-generation vintner Maya Dalla Valle named winemaker at Napa’s Dalla Valle Vineyards

Having joined the winery as director of the estate in 2017, Maya will now succeed her mother, Naoko Dalla Valle, as winemaker. Naoko, who founded Dalla Valle Vineyards in 1986, will continue to consult and oversee other aspects of the winery. Prior to joining her family’s winery, Maya gained international winemaking experience at Ornellaia e Masseto, Bodegas Rolland, Château Pétrus, and Château Latour. (Press release)

International Wine Center announces its WSET Diploma graduating class

In a recent virtual celebration, the International Wine Center (IWC) celebrated seven new WSET Level 4 Diploma graduates: Teresa Eiland, Kara Joseph, Cara Patteson, Matthew Rossiter, Christopher Sachs, Courtney Schiessl, and Ashley Sherman. The 25th graduating class joins a group of 363 graduates who earned their WSET Diploma through the IWC.

Anne Amie Vineyards in Willamette Valley names Gabriela Vignes as winemaker

Vignes will oversee all production and winemaking operations for Anne Amie Vineyards. Originally from Chile, she has worked in cellars and vineyards in Chile, France, New Zealand, Australia, and California. Vignes made her home in Oregon in 2016.

Alfredo Climaco, owner of Portland cocktail bar Tropicale, has died

Climaco, who opened Tropicale in the summer of 2020, has died of complications from COVID-19. He was 32 years old. After years of running a thriving mobile bar business in Portland, the Mexico native opened his first brick-and-mortar bar last year, which was quickly embraced for its vibrant cocktails and Climaco’s welcoming spirit. SevenFifty Daily spoke to Climaco in November about his dream of sharing and celebrating Latin traditions through food and drink. (GoFundMe)

Quintessential grows sales team in four key markets

Steve and Dennis Kreps, owners of Napa-based fine wine import, sales, and marketing company Quintessential have named Stephen Buckmore southwest regional sales manager, covering Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. Timothy Gorton is appointed Illinois district manager. Prior to joining Quintessential, Gorton was a key account manager for a number of off- and on-premise chains. Two sales managers have joined Quintessential’s Florida team: Ed Blakely is district sales manager in South Florida, and Justin “Chip” Matthews is district sales manager in Central and Northern Florida. Blakely has worked as a manager for two of the state’s largest grocery chains. Matthews past experience includes roles at both importer and distributor companies. (Press release)

Four Gramercy Tavern alums open Rolo’s in Queens

Howard Kalachnikoff, Rafiq Salim, and Paul Wetzel are collaborating on the food, while partner Ben Howell oversees the beverage program at Rolo’s, a new neighborhood restaurant, cafe, and grocery shop in Ridgewood, Queens. Highlighting seasonal ingredient-driven cooking in a wood-burning oven, the restaurant opens for take-out and delivery with a rotating pre-set weekly dinner menu. Additionally, Rolo’s opens their cafe and grocery shop, which offers freshly prepared and frozen foods, meats butchered in-house, to-go cocktails, and wines, as well as locally sourced produce and provisions. Later this year, Rolo’s will open for indoor and outdoor dining with an expanded menu. (Press release)

Heaven Hill Brands appoints Andy Shapira vice president, external business development

Shapira will be responsible for pursuing strategic acquisitions and providing the Louisville-based company with insight about emerging market conditions. With two decades of experience in investment banking and in the distilled spirits industry, he will help “ensure that Heaven Hill remains an enduring, family-owned company for generations ahead,” says Max L. Shapira, president of Heaven Hill Brands. (Press release)

NEFT Vodka Fills Five Senior Management Roles

Tom Wilen will serve as global strategic advisor responsible for the growth of NEFT’s global presence. With over 40 years’ experience in spirits, including serving as the president of Allied Domecq North America and as the chief operating officer for Jim Beam Brands. 

Robert Sylvia is named vp of sales, western division. Sylvia spent 13 years as a division manager for Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits. 

Adam Opalek, one of the first employees at Utah’s High West Distillery and western states sales manager when Constellation acquired that brand, has been appointed vp of business development.

Kieran Walsh will serve as senior advisor sales and marketing. Also part of the High West Distillery team, Walsh has worked at Laws Whiskey House and PorchJam Distillery. 

Kevin Alfaro has been appointed chief financial officer. Alfaro has nearly 30 years’ experience as a CPA, primarily within the wine industry. (Press release)

Leonid Yangarber, former Russian Standard CEO, launches Coalition Whiskey

Partnering with Steve Thompson, owner of Kentucky Artisan Distillery, and Ludwig Vanneron, a 20+ year veteran winemaker and global wine consultant, Yangarber has launched Coalition Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, the first 100 percent rye whiskey finished in Bordeaux wine barrels. Coalition’s whiskey comes in three expressions, Margaux Barriques, Pauillac Barriques, and Sauternes Barriques ($90), as well as a barrel proof base rye ($130). 

Lavanya Chandrashekar named Diageo North America chief financial officer

Effective July 1, Chandrashekar will succeed Kathryn Milkells to direct financial operations for North America, the company’s largest division. She joined Diageo in July 2018 from snack-food giant Mondelez International Inc. and was given additional responsibility for investor relations in October. Before Mondelez, Ms. Chandrashekar worked for over 18 years at Procter & Gamble Co. (Press release)

Brianna Pachmayer hired as vice president, national sales manager at ASV Wines

Pachmayer, in this newly created position, will direct sales across the business while driving growth of the Delano, California-based company’s more than 15 brands. Now based in Denver, she has worked in sales and marketing at Don Sebastiani & Sons, Beam Global Spirits & Wine/Future Brands, and most recently at Crimson Wine Group. (Press release)

Trinitas Cellars, Napa, names Kale Anderson as consulting winemaker

With 20 years of experience crafting wine in Napa and Sonoma, Anderson has worked at many top wineries, including Colgin Cellars, Cliff Lede Vineyards, and Pahlmeyer Winery, where he was director of winemaking. He began working at Trinitas just before the 2020 harvest and will be responsible for continuing the estate’s bold, rich, approachable style, says proprietor and CEO Garrett Busch. (Press release)

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits appoints Jamie Gruwer to vice president, supplier and customer collaboration

Gruwer will report to Mark Chaplin, vice president, sales & marketing, and will be responsible for creating new efficiencies and additional revenue opportunities, as well as create value for the company’s supplier and customer partners. Prior to this role, she was senior director, supply chain and operations strategy. She joined the company in 2016 after several years at Pricewaterhouse Coopers Advisory, where she worked on the 2016 merger of Southern Wine and Glazer’s, Inc. (Press release)

Peter Devison named consulting winemaker for Goose Ridge Estate in Washington

A 16-year veteran of Washington state winemaking, Devison joins the team for the g3, Cascadian, and Goose Ridge Estate wine programs and will work closely with the Monson family and Andrew Wilson, director of winemaking. Born and raised in Halifax, Canada, Davison worked his way through the University of British Columbia running wine programs and stocking wine shelves then studying winemaking and working harvests in New Zealand and Australia. He arrived in eastern Washington for the 2004 harvest.

Vivino appoints Andrew Perroy to general manager for the Americas

Perroy will be based in San Francisco and collaborate with the Americas leadership team to focus on continued growth and profitability. The Americas is the largest regional market for the ten-year-old app, which sold nearly $150 million of wine globally in 2019 and is on track to do more than double that in 2020. Perroy’s previous experience in the industry includes a stint at before it was acquired by Majestic Wines in 2017.

Marc Sachs to succeed Alan Dreeben on the RNDC board of directors

Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) announced on January 2, 2021 that partner Alan Dreeben officially has stepped down from his role as board member, with son-in-law Marc Sachs taking his place. Beginning his career path in 1966, working for the Gallo Winery, Dreeben has been a vital part of RNDC’s growth for nearly two decades. He served as vice chairman and director of Block Distributing and continued in this role after the merger with Republic, culminating in his current position as a partner of RNDC. Marc Sachs is a 25-year sales and marketing professional. In 2005 he joined Block Distributing; through its growth as RNDC, Sachs has managed and led multiple sales, marketing, and organizational development strategic initiatives.

Chappellet in Napa Valley appoints Leslie Sullivan as marketing director

Sullivan comes to Chappellet from Huneeus Vintners, where she spent the past five years as the winery’s portfolio marketing director. She began her career in wine at Treasury Wine Estates, beginning as marketing assistant and ultimately becoming trade marketing manager for the company’s luxury portfolio. (Press release)

Breakthru Beverage Group appoints Julian Burzynski to east U.S. region president

Burzynski will be responsible for all market execution in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., as well as Bacchus Imports, the company’s fine wine specialty business. He will also serve as the primary point of contact for Breakthru’s Connecticut affiliate, CDI. Burzynski has over three decades of experience across the supplier and wholesale tiers, and most recently served as Breakthru’s Canada president.

Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas announces Kathryn Morgan as vice chair

Morgan’s selection, through a ranked-choice survey of the full CMSA membership, was announced by Emily Wines, chair of the organization. This is the first time in the organization’s history that two women have concurrently led the organization. Morgan’s platform for the election focused on creative ways to make the organization’s environment more hospitable for those who have felt unwelcome in the past; another major point of her platform focused on exam transparency and modernization of programmings. For 15 years, Morgan worked as a sommelier in Washington, D.C., before relocating in 2016 to New York and taking on the role of director of wine education for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of New York. (Press release)



Audrey Frick to join covering the wines of Italy

Frick honed her knowledge of Italian wine at Frasca in Boulder, Colorado, working her way from the office and polishing room to the wine team, later joining Frasca’s sister restaurant Tavernetta, in Denver, and moving up to become lead sommelier. Based in New York City, Frick will cover Italy while Jeb Dunnuck will continue to focus on the wines from California, Washington, Southern France, and Bordeaux. is a subscription-based, bi-monthly publication.

Gérard Bertrand named ‘Green Personality of the Year’ by Drinks Business

The Drinks Business Green Awards are selected annually by a jury of sustainability experts chaired by Patrick Schmitt, MW. Gérard Bertrand began converting his 16 estates in the South of France to biodynamics early in 2002, covering a diversity of terroirs over 880 hectares. Bertrand and his teams have become an international benchmark, sharing their research across the region and industry, notably for partnerships supporting growers shifting from traditional methods to those more harmonious with nature. (Press release)

Hotaling & Co. in San Francisco appoints Eric Gilliland to vice president of operations

In this new position, Gilliland will oversee the importer and distiller’s supply chain, encompassing processes, workflow, and strategic planning. Gilliland joins Hotaling & Co. from Purple Brands, where he served as vice presidnet of operations; he began his career in wine in 2008 at Chateau St. Jean, followed by Beringer. (Press release) 

Erik Olsen named chief operating officer for Fetzer Vineyards in Hopland, California

Olsen succeeds Cindy DeVries, who is retiring after nearly 28 years; over that time she helped steward Fetzer through two ownership transitions, and oversaw a renaissance in sustainability (Fetzer achieved B Corporation certification in 2015). Erik Olsen was most recently vice president/general manager for Constellation Brands’ Clos du Bois Winery; he also spent 10 years as winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington State. (Press release)

Vara Winery in New Mexico announces collaboration with winemaker Laurent Gruet

Gruet, who came to the U.S. at age 18 and helped his family introduce méthode Champenoise winemaking to New Mexico via their eponymous winery in Albuquerque,  joins current winemaking team of Louisa and Bob Lindquist, and winery cofounders Doug Diefenthaler and Xavier Zamarripa. Vara celebrates the historical connection between Spain and New Mexico, and acquires fruit from the high-quality growers of Spanish grape varieties in the U.S. then produces the final cuvées in Albuquerque. (Press release)

Heaven Hill Brands and name 2020 Bartenders of the Year

At the culmination of the 2020 Bartender of the Year program, the full class of finalists was honored. The final competition was originally structured to take place in June; however, the pandemic forced the organizers to pivot midway through the regional semifinals to a virtual format. The eight bartenders, each awarded $5,000, are: Arthur Boothe, Sanford, FL; Michael Buonocore, Denver; Christopher Lemperle, New York City; Justin Levaughn, Orlando; David Mor, Chicago; Anton Nguyen, Wailuku, HI; Michelle Salgado, El Paso; and May Su, Los Angeles. 

Court of Master Sommeliers names Emily Wines as chair and announces new board of directors

Along with a statement asserting that it “welcomes its membership’s and larger community’s ideas, tough conversations, and willingness to hold the organization accountable as it fundamentally transforms for the better,” the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas (CMS-A) announced 11 newly elected members of its board, effective December 2, 2020: Christopher Bates, MS; Robert Bigelow, MS; Brahm Callahan, MS; Keith Goldston, MS; Michael Meagher, MS; Kathryn Morgan, MS; Joshua Nadel, MS; Sabato Sagaria, MS; Mia Van de Water, MS; Emily Wines, MS; and David Yoshida, MS. Subsequently, the new board of directors unanimously selected Emily Wines for a one-year term as chair, beginning December 4. 

The United States Bartenders’ Guild announces return of its board of directors

Kim Haasarud (Phoenix), Bobby Dagostino (Cleveland), and Ingrid Rodriguez (Tampa) will each return for another two-year term. USBG executive director Aaron Gregory Smith, noted, “By returning for another term, Kim, Ingrid, and Bobby bring continuity and a level of stability to the board that is perhaps more valuable now than ever before.”

Breakthru Beverage Group promotes Julian Burzynski to East U.S. region president

Burzynski will work to implement the distributor’s long-term strategic initiatives, oversee the company’s cross-functional alignment in the region, and optimize sales performance. Burzynski will report directly to chief commercial officer E. Lloyd Sobel and assume his new role on January 1, 2021 when industry veteran Kevin Dunn retires. (Press release)

Wente Family Estates promotes Tyson Overton and Aly Wente in sales and marketing

Overton, named chief sales and marketing officer, has been with Wente Family Estates since 2014, most recently as executive vice president and chief sales officer. His prior wine industry background includes 10 years at E.. & J. Gallo Winery in both domestic and export markets. Fifth-generation family member Aly Wente has been promoted to director of marketing after joining the winery in 2019 following four years with Constellation Brands, where she managed a portfolio of luxury wines. (Press release)

Alex Schrecengost launches new event platform, Virtual With Us

Schrecengost, founder and chief executive officer of Virtual With Us, was formerly the head of communications and digital at Wilson Daniels. The new company utilizes a network of sommeliers and beverage professionals to curate and lead virtual tastings and events for businesses, organizations, trade, and consumers.

Mack Hoehner and Catherine Jamison join Grounded Wine Co. sales team

A 30-year veteran in wine sales, Hoehner began his career with E. & J. Gallo and most recently was senior vice president, national sales manager for Vintage Wine Estates. Catherine Jamison brings 20 years of retail experience, most recently as director of sales, strategic retail for California-based Young’s Market Company. Grounded Wine Co., founded in 2019 by Napa Valley winemaker Josh Phelps, produces California, Oregon, and Washington wines. (Press release)

Casa Komos Beverage Group adds Jay Brown and Rudy Ruiz to board of directors

Casa Komos Beverage Group (CKBG), founded in 2019 by Richard Betts and Joe Marchese, produces Superbird canned cocktails and Komos Tequila. Jay Brown is a 20-year-plus veteran of the music industry and the co-founder of Roc Nation. Rudy Ruiz has worked in the beverage alcohol industry for four decades, most recently serving as executive vice president at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits; prior to that he was president and CEO of Bacardi USA.

Eric Hund named senior vice president of U.S. sales for Heaven Hill Brands in Bardstown, Kentucky

In his new role, Hund will lead sales activities for the diverse Heaven Hill spirits portfolio. Hund brings with him 25 years of spirits industry experience, having joined Heaven Hill in 2016 as Vice President of Sales for the Deep Eddy Vodka division. Prior to joining the company, Hund was a vice president of sales at Republic National Distributing Company in Texas. (Press release)

Bacardi appoints of Mauricio Vergara as president and chief operating officer of Patrón Tequila

A seven-year Bacardi veteran, Vergara has held positions across marketing and management in both mature and emerging markets. Most recently he served as managing director for Bacardi-Martini Australia and New Zealand, while also leading the international integration of Patrón Spirits following its acquisition by Bacardi in 2018. (Press release)

David Dearie named president and chief executive officer at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington

The announcement coincides with Jim Mortensen retiring on November 1, 2020. Dearie previously held leadership positions at Treasury Wine Estates where he served as CEO, as well as at Fosters Wine Group and at Brown-Forman Corporation, where he was president and COO. (Press release)

Jane Lopes and Jonathan Ross launch Legend Australian Wine Imports in the U.S.

The wife and husband team are U.S.-born sommeliers who met at New York’s Eleven Madison Park and moved to Australia in 2017. Their new wine import and wholesale company will focus on boutique Australian wine producers. Legend aims to educate wine trade professionals and build enthusiasm for Australian wine in the U.S. market. (Press release)

Wine Spectator names Jeffery Lindenmuth as executive editor

Lindenmuth, who will assume the role at the end of 2020, joined M. Shanken Communications as a contributing editor to Food Arts magazine in 2000, and has served as the executive editor of sister publication Whisky Advocate since 2016. He takes the helm from Thomas Matthews, who is stepping down after a 33-year career at Wine Spectator.

Danny Brager joins Customer Vineyard’s board of directors in Santa Rosa, California

Danny Brager’s role will be to provide guidance and insight as Customer Vineyard brings its data-driven marketing services to market. Brager was most recently the senior vice president of Nielsen’s beverage alcohol practice area, where he supported relationships with Nielsen’s clients in the beer, wine, and spirits industry, as well as with key industry groups and media. (Press release)

Monterey-based Scheid Family Wines appoints two to sales force

Joanne Schmidt, based in Milwaukee, becomes the area sales manager covering Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Patrick Baker joins the production sales team, based at Scheid’s winery campus in Greenfield, California. Schmidt previously held similar positions with Gerard Bertrand, Sokol Blosser Winery, and Huneeus Vintners. Baker brings 17 years of experience in winemaking, viticulture, and winery management. (Press release)

Simon Hunt steps down as chief executive officer at William Grant & Sons

Hunt stepped down on October 22, after almost five years in the position and 13 years at the global company. Previously Hunt had worked for Diageo and was CEO of Malibu Kahlua International, part of Pernod Ricard. A successor has not yet been named; in the interim, William Grant & Sons chairman Glenn Gordon and CFO Giles Wilson will assume Hunt’s responsibilities.

Libby Waghorn Levett promoted to general manager at Astrolabe Wines in Marlborough, New Zealand

Succeeding her mother, Astrolabe’s cofounder Jane Forrest-Waghorn, Libby and her husband Peter Levett moved home to Marlborough to take a more hands-on role in the company in August 2019. The brand also launched new packaging with their 2019 vintage wines released in Spring 2020. (Press release)

A to Z Wineworks in Dundee, Oregon, appoints Leslie Kruempel as director of marketing

Kruempel will manage creative initiatives that elevate the brand’s consumer connection, entering the wine industry after holding positions of marketing and mission leadership at Organic Valley, the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic cooperative and one of the world’s largest organic consumer brands. (Press release)

Séverine Frerson becomes 8th cellar master at Perrier-Jouët in Champagne, France

Succeeding esteemed cellar master Hervé Deschamps, Séverine Frerson was inducted on October 15 as Maison Perrier-Jouët’s eighth cellar master—and the first woman to hold this position. (Press release)

Caine Thompson named managing director of Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles, California

Thompson joins Robert Hall Winery after three years as president of Rabble Wine Co. and has over 15 years of industry experience. Founded in 1999, Robert Hall Winery was purchased by Larkspur-based O’Neill Vintners & Distillers in 2016. (Press release)

Stoli Group appoints Damian McKinney to global chief executive officer in New York

McKinney will build on his success as a military leader in the Royal Marine Commandos, where he earned numerous awards for courage and distinguished service on active duty, and his experience building a global consultancy, McKinney Rogers, which he founded in 1999 and sold in 2017.  (Press release)

Caroline Begley named vice president of marketing for wine at Corby Spirit and Wine in Toronto

Begley, most recently vice president of marketing for wine and Champagne at Pernod Ricard USA in New York City, will oversee Corby’s owned brands such as J.P. Wiser’s and Pike Creek Canadian whiskies, Ungava Gin and Polar Ice Vodka, while working to increase the Canadian market share of leading Pernod Ricard brands such as Absolut, The Glenlivet, and Jameson. (Press release)

Disaronno appoints Ignacio Llaneza to vice president of brand & trade marketing for the U.S.

Llaneza joins Disaronno International with over 20 years experience in the industry, at firms including Moët Hennessy, Diageo, Heineken USA, and Coca-Cola. He will oversee Disaronno International’s brand and trade marketing, including media and public relations strategy for the growing wine and spirits portfolio. (Press release)

3 Badge adds east and west managers to mixology sales team

3 Badge Beverage Corporation, a wine and spirits négociant headquartered in Sonoma, California, has added Amanda Goggin as the east market manager, based in Boston; and Andrei Kissin as the west market manager, based in Los Angeles. (Press release)

Bill O’Neill named tri-state director for Napa-based Quintessential Wines

Wine importing, marketing and sales company Quintessential has appointed O’Neill to oversee sales and operations in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Most recently with Opici Wines, he began his career on-premise as a sommelier and bar manager for an independent restaurant group in New York. (Press release)

Ido Lewinsohn, head winemaker at Barkan in Israel, becomes Master of Wine

Lewinsohn is only the second Israeli to join the elite group of 408 Masters of Wine in the world, as well as one of the fewer than 100 winemakers to hold the title and one of only two Israeli MWs making kosher wine, at Barkan, Israel’s largest Israeli winery. (Press release)

Institute of Masters of Wine elects Neil Hadley as new chair

Hadley, the 55th chair of the Institute, is general manager, export for family-owned Taylors/Wakefield Wines of the Clare Valley, South Australia. He has been an MW over half his life, passing the exam in 1993; at the time, he was the youngest MW at just 26 years of age. His career in wine started in the UK wine trade, joining retailers Lay & Wheeler in 1984, after which he spent time traveling and working through the vineyards of Australia, moving there permanently a few years later. (Press release)

Christopher Lynch named chief executive officer for Opus One Winery in Napa Valley

Lynch succeeds David Pearson, and brings more than 30 years of global wine industry experience to the role at Opus One, having served serving in a variety of leadership capacities at companies including E. & J. Gallo, LVMH’s Chandon Estates, Pernod Ricard, Beam Wine Estates and Terlato Wine Group. (Press release)

Bogle Vineyards expands national sales team with three new hires

Bogle Vineyards and Winery has announced the hiring of three wine industry veterans in expanding its nationwide sales team. Matt Mitchell, formerly with Jackson Family Wines, becomes east/southeastern sales director. Heather Peterson, also most recently at Jackson Family Wines, is now northeast/midwest sales director. Robin Parranto, who has held roles at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Diageo, is now key accounts manager-central region. Current Bogle director of national accounts, James Eichel, 12 years with Bogle, adds the duties and title of director of sales-west. (Press release)

Matthieu Perrin named president of Primum Familiae Vini

Perrin follows his cousin Marc Perrin, also of Famille Perrin in the Rhône Valley, to lead this association of 12 historic, family-owned wine producers. Traditionally the PFV presidency passes from one family to another at the annual summer conference, but the global pandemic forced the postponement of the gathering until 2021. (Press release)

Gaspar Roby promoted to vice president, winemaking and viticulture, for Terlato Wine Group in Napa

Roby, a native of Argentina, was previously Terlato’s director of viticulture, responsible for all aspects of more than 350 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley and Red Mountain, Washington. (Press release)

Ian Downey named to oversee new leadership team for Winebow Imports in New York

Beginning October 1, Downey will oversee a new sales and marketing platform for Winebow Imports, comprising two external sales divisions, Heritage and Pioneer, and three centralized support divisions: marketing & global brands, portfolio management, and national accounts. The new role appointments are: Ted Campbell, senior vice president of Heritage; Kathy Marlin, senior vice president of Pioneer; Liz Mathews, senior vice president of portfolio management; and Diego Lo Prete, senior vice president of marketing & global brands. (Press release)

Andrea Sengara appointed to vice president, marketing for Campari America in New York

Sengara joins Campari America with more than 20 years of experience in the alcohol beverage industry and will lead all facets of marketing for Campari Group’s premium portfolio of brands, from innovation to digital transformation. (Press release)

Ken Fredrickson assumes managing partner role at Connoisseur Wines Limited in Niles, Illinois

The announcement coincides with the sale of Connoisseur Wines, a 30-year-old fine wine distributor, to Fredrickson and partners. The founder of craft spirits importer High Road Spirits, Fredrickson has a history in the distribution world, most recently as the founder of Tenzing Wine & Spirits, which was sold to Breakthru Beverage Group in 2017. (Press release)

Pernod Ricard USA names John Barrett and Vincent Turpin to its executive committee

John Barrett is named senior vice president, chief commercial officer, effective September 14. Vincent Turpin, currently director/chief finance officer, Pernod Ricard Chivas Brothers, is named senior vice president, finance, Pernod Ricard North America, effective October 1. (Press release)

Steve Lauth is promoted to president and chief executive officer of Tequila Partida

Lauth most recently served as chief operating officer of the company, headquartered in San Francisco, and started his career with Partida in 2009 as the director of finance and operations. (Press release)

Julio Alonso is appointed executive director for Wines of Chile USA in New York

Alonso comes to the U.S. following a successful tenure as Wines of Chile’s executive director, Asia, during which time China surpassed the U.S. as Chile’s biggest export market and Japan became the third. Currently, Chile is the seventh largest source of U.S. wine imports. (Press release)

Oak Ridge Winery in Lodi names Jason Dodge winemaker and general manager

Dodge joins Oak Ridge, Lodi’s oldest operating winery, as general manager and chief winemaker. He was most recently with Constellation Brands as the senior director of winemaking and general manager of Central Coast winemaking and operations. (Press release)

Quintessential Wines expands regional sales team

Napa-based wine importing, marketing, and sales company Quintessential has announced the hiring of four industry veterans to its growing sales team. John Marshall joins Quintessential as New England regional manager, David Strathy as northwest division manager, Chris Hayes as regional manager in charge of the Columbia, Oregon territory, and Andrea Rogers as Colorado state manager. (Press release)

New leadership at Diamond Creek Vineyards

Following the Napa Valley acquisition of Diamond Creek Vineyards, Maison Louis Roederer has appointed Nicole Carter as president and Graham Wehmeier as winemaker. Carter also became president at Merry Edwards Winery in October 2019; Wehmeier joins Diamond Creek with a rich background at well-known wineries in Napa and Sonoma such as Futo, Cornell, and Merryvale. (Press release)

J. Lohr Vineyards & Winery names co-owner Lawrence T. Lohr chief operating officer

The second-generation co-owner first began working for J. Lohr in the 1980s on the bottling line. Since 2014, Lohr has spent his career on the vineyards side. In his new role, Lohr will continue working directly with J. Lohr Vineyards staff and will work alongside his father, Jerry, on the day-to-day operational oversight of the company. 

Ryan Schnall takes new finance role at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits has appointed Ryan Schnall to the role of senior vice president, Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), to lead the continued development of the FP&A Center of Excellence, as well as to institute financial reporting tools. (Press release)

Rodney Strong Wine Estates in Sonoma promotes national sales team

The has promoted Anthony Capobianco to vice president, national sales, and Jenny Sage to vice president, national accounts. (Press release)

Wilson Daniels names three national accounts directors

Wilson Daniels has relaunched its national accounts division with three new additions. Chris Pedersen, now national accounts director (Western U.S.), was most recently with Young’s Market Company as director of national accounts. Tom Galli, national accounts director (Eastern U.S.) has held positions in marketing, regional sales, and national accounts for Banfi VIntners, Santa Margherita, Deutsch Family. Brian Phillips, national accounts director (Central U.S.), was most recently with Darden Restaurant Brands; he has held numerous positions in the hospitality sector in Texas and Florida and is an advanced sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. (Press release)

Copalli Rum appoints Elayne Duff and Julie Reiner as global ambassadors

Reiner and Duff are widely recognized for their work in reshaping the cocktail landscape. They will lead training and education programs for trade and consumers, while partnering with bartenders to drive support for Belize-based Copalli’s zero impact operation. (Press release)

Napa’s Cakebread Cellars names Aaron Fishleder vice president of operations

In the newly created role, Fishleder will oversee all operations, including viticulture, winemaking, and facilities. He comes to Cakebread from Far Niente, where he progressed to president of their farming operation over his 20+ years there. (Press release)

Chronic Cellars in Paso Robles welcomes winemaker Kip Lorenzetti

During Lorenzetti’s decade-long winemaking career he has specialized in California’s Central Coast, most recently at Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards. (Press release)

Hahn Family Wines promotes Thomas Duhameau to president

Duhameau joined the Santa Lucia Highlands-based producer in 2012 as chief financial officer, and in 2015 was named “CFO of the Year” by the North Bay Business Journal. (Press release)

Napa’s Lede Family Wines appoints Tony Baldini as president and chief operating officer

Baldini, most recently at Hahn Family WInes, will oversee Cliff Lede Vineyards with its flagship wine Poetry, located in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, and FEL Wines, based in Anderson Valley. (Press release)

Brad Vassar named strategic advisor to chief executive officer of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

In the new role of strategic advisor to the chief executive officer of SGWS, Vassar will also become a member of the Company’s Board of Managers, effective September 8, 2020. He will continue to report to chief executive officer Wayne Chaplin, as well as continue oversight of the company’s Exceptional Leaders Program. Vassar first joined the company in 1991; his most recent role was executive vice president and chief operating officer. (Press release)

The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) elects board of directors

Jake Holshue of Rogue Ales & Spirits (OR) and Colin Keegan of Santa Fe Spirits (NM) were re-elected. Gina Holman of J. Carver Distillery (MN), Jessica J. Lemmon, of Cart/Horse Distilling (PA), and Tom Potter of New York Distilling Co. (NY) were elected this year. The installation follows a digital election, with voting participation from nearly 70 percent of the ACSA’s membership. (Press release)

Mary Melton joins Napa-based Trellis Wine Group as “czar of the bar”

Melton has 30 years experience in the on-premise, including 15 as vice president of beverage and bar hospitality at P.F. Chang’s. Based in Phoenix, she will focus on national and key on-premise accounts for Trellis in this newly created position. (Press release)

Breakthru Beverage Group appoints Cristina Desmond to executive vice president, Pennsylvania

Desmond, who has been with the company for nearly two decades, will be responsible for leading all aspects of Breakthru Beverage Pennsylvania’s business operations. Her most recent role at the company was vice president, national accounts retail. (Press release)

Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) presents its annual Grande Dame Award to Carolyn Wente, CEO of Livermore, California-based Wente Family Estates

Over four decades, Wente has guided America’s longest continuously operated family-owned winery and developed the Wente family’s lifestyle businesses. A co-founder of LDEI’s San Francisco Chapter, she also has served on the national Board of Directors. (Press release)

Winebow promotes Jessica Partington to vice president of wholesale spirits, sales, and Monique Huston to vice president of wholesale spirits, portfolio

Each moves up from within, and will continue reporting to Richard Driscoll, who is leading Winebow’s spirits initiative. Partington joined Winebow in 2019, and currently serves as vice president, wholesale spirits east. Huston joined Winebow in 2015 and currently serves as vice president, wholesale spirits west. (Press release)

Constellation Brands names Kate Voyten senior vice president, brand management for the company’s wine and spirits portfolio, based in San Francisco

Voyten will lead the development and execution of Constellation’s wine and spirits portfolio vision and brand marketing strategies; she was most recently with Hertz Global Holdings Inc., where she led the digital transformation for the company’s loyalty programs, and previously served over 17 years at Procter & Gamble across brand management roles. (Press release)

Remi Cohen appointed chief executive officer of Carneros-based sparkling specialist Domaine Carneros

Cohen succeeds Eileen Crane, founding winemaker and CEO, retiring after a 33-year career at Domaine Carneros. Cohen most recently was COO at Lede Family Wines, and holds master’s degrees in both viticulture and business administration. (Press release)

PJ Horgan has been named executive vice president of Breakthru Beverage Delaware in New Castle, Delaware

Horgan will lead all aspects of the company’s Delaware business. He succeeds Bob Trostel, who becomes vice president, state industry relations, working to advocate state issues, social responsibility, and the three-tier system. (Press release)

Demeine Estates, a new négociant of fine wines based in Napa Valley, has appointed its inaugural executive team

Christopher Avery will serve as president, Nick Holmes vice president of sales, and Drew Ross executive director of marketing. Demeine was created by the Lawrence family, owners of Napa Valley’s Heitz Cellar, and Carlton McCoy, Jr, CEO, as a curated portfolio of wine brands. (Press release)

Scott Nava has joined WX Brands of Novato, California as trade marketing manager

He will be responsible for initiatives in both the retail and restaurant environments. In his 20-year career, Nava previously held positions at Jackson Family Wines, Treasury Wine Estates, and E. & J. Gallo Winery where he supported sales teams in landing key national accounts and created new trade processes and practices. (Press release)

Russell Joy has been named general manager of Napa Wine Company in Oakville, California

He brings over 30 years of industry experience to the company, which specializes in custom crush operations, most recently as director of California strategy for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. (Press release)

Dorian Sowell has been named vice president of sales – U.S. division for Western Spirits Beverage Company in Bowling Green, Kentucky

He was previously vice president of sales for the central division. Prior to his tenure at Western Spirits, at White Rock Distilleries Sowell managed 17 distributors in over 11 states, and spent over eight years with Pernod Ricard. (Press release)

Eastside Distilling in Portland, Oregon, appoints Paul Block chief executive officer

Block initially joined Eastside as chairman in April 2020. He has held various positions at different companies including Miller Brewing Company, Guinness Import Company, and Allied Domecq’s Premium USA Spirits Division. He also served as chief executive officer at Sara Lee Coffee and Tea USA, Merisant Worldwide, and SVP Worldwide. (Press release)

Stoli Group names Dave McNulty global chief marketing officer

McNulty previously served as vice president of marketing and communications, and brings 20 years of experience in senior roles involving brand management, public relations, and more. (Press release)

The Cooper Spirits Co. in New York names Bryan Townsend vice president of sales

Townsend has returned to the company after serving as vice president of sales for The 86 Co. He is responsible for driving sales and business development. (Press release)

Breakthru Beverage Group appoints Brian Albenze to executive vice president, United Division

Albenze will assume responsibility of Breakthru’s Diageo and Moët Hennessy USA business, leading national strategies and long-term planning efforts on behalf of the brands. He will also manage the United Division team and support Diageo and Moët Hennessy USA’s initiatives. (Press release)

Peachy Canyon Winery in Paso Robles announces Josh Beckett as head winemaker

Beckett, a 20-year industry veteran who owns the winery with his brother Jake, is returning to reprise his role as winemaker. (Press release)

Raventós Codorníu in Spain appoints Sergio Fuster chief executive officer

Fuster is joining Raventós Codorníu and will focus on raising brand awareness globally. (Press release)

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits names Carlos Ferrandiz executive vice president and general manager of Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits of New York

Ferrandiz has more than 25 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry, having held leadership roles in Empire Merchants North and Allied Beverage Group. He also held sales and management positions with Moet Hennessy, Peerless Importers, Trinchero Family Estates, R&R Marketing, and Gallo Wine Sales of New Jersey. (Press release)

Delphine Nathalie Gardère to lead Société du Rhum Barbancourt in Haiti

Delphine Gardère is the 5th generation in the Gardère family. She will work to raise awareness for Rhum Barbancourt internationally as well as launch new products. (Press release)

Winebow in New York announces key leadership positions

Theo Koebel will now serve as executive vice president of portfolio management, Arjun Dewan will serve as executive vice president of wholesale sales, and Erle Martin will serve as executive vice president of business development, effective July 1. (Press release)

Spanish wine company Raventós Codorníu appoints Mike Jackson president, North America

Jackson previously worked at companies including E&J Gallo, Summerland Wine Brands, and Delicato Family Vineyards, where he served in numerous executive leadership positions in sales and marketing. (Press release)

Distill Ventures in New York names Heidi Dillon Otto managing director

In her new role, she will oversee the direction and operations of Distill Ventures North America, replacing founding member Gonzalo de la Pezuela.  She previously served as portfolio manager since 2018. (Press release)

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America announces key leadership personnel

Catherine McDaniel, formerly vice president of federal affairs, is now senior vice president; Kari Langerman has been named vice president, meetings and conventions; and Dawson Hobbs and Jo Moak were also named executive vice president but will continue their focus on government regulations. (Press release)

Balletto Vineyards in Sonoma names Maureen McElroy director of events

McElroy, who previously served as executive director of the Santa Rosa Convention and Visitors Bureau, is now responsible for future events at the winery’s new, state-of-the-art events center, and winery activities in the community.  (Press release)

Toast Distillers in Miami, Florida names David Garretson chief financial officer

Garretson previously served as chief financial officer for Invest Hospitality and senior vice president of finance for The ONE Group Hospitality. (Press release)

Joseph Phelps Vineyards in St. Helena appoints Kim Beto vice president of sales

Prior to this appointment, Beto served as president of key accounts in Northern California for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. (Press release)

Henry Kotzé to lead winemaking team for Mulderbosch Vineyards in South Africa

Kotze, who has over 20 years of vineyard experience, has worked at other Stellenbosch wineries including Morgenster, Eikendal, and Neil Ellis Wines. He transitions to his new role in June. (Press release)

Breakthru Beverage Group names Sean O’Connor executive vice president, Florida

O’Connor will be responsible for leading the organization’s business operations, including growth strategies for suppliers and customers. (Press release)

Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America bring on Danny Wirtz as chairman of the board

Wirtz, who is the vice-chairman of Breakthru Beverage Group, will serve 12 months in this leadership role. (Press release)

Beck Family Estates in McMinnville, Oregon, appoints Heath Payne viticulturist

Payne now works closely with winemaker Alban Debeaulieu on vineyard management, regenerative agriculture, and grape sourcing for the Angela Estate. In his previous role, he served as assistant winemaker at Bethel Heights. (Press release)

The Sorting Table in Napa appoints Catherine Miles vice president, business development

Miles, who previously served as chief marketing officer for Broadbent Selections, is now responsible for leading business development and will work in tandem with The Sorting Table’s executive team. (Press release)

Victory Wine Group in Texas names John Samuels general manager

Samuels, who has over two decades of hospitality and wholesale experience, is now responsible for overseeing sales, brand, and operation teams and improving company processes and procedures. (Press Release)

Cristina Diezhandino to become Diageo chief marketing officer

Diezhandino will serve as chief marketing officer after current chief marketing officer Syl Saller steps down in July. Diezhandino held the role of global category director for Scotch and of managing director for Reserve. Some of her notable accomplishments include the Johnnie Walker flagship center in Edinburgh.

Larkmead Vineyards in Napa Valley names Master Sommelier Jay James vice president and general manager

James will be responsible for overseeing Larkmead’s operations, using his experience in wholesale growth, distribution, wine education, and hospitality. (Press release)

Frank Family Vineyards in Napa Valley names Tory Britton Sims as chief financial officer

Sims has been in the industry for over 25 years, and worked for companies such as Silver Oak Wine Cellars, Rombauer Vineyards, and Seghesio Vineyards, among others. (Press release)

Gary’s Wine & Marketplace names Chris Poulous beverage purchasing and sales manager for Gary’s Napa Valley

Poulos, an industry veteran, is now responsible for devising and leading new business offerings, such as custom consumer tastings. (Press release)

Archer Roose in Boston appoints Bill Dillon and Aaron Moore to its sales team

Dillon is now vice president of sales and marketing, and has recently served in the same role for Lord Hobo. Moore is now the national accounts director, and previously served as vice president of sales for Pampellone Sparkling Wines. (Press release)

Nicolas-Jay in Willamette Valley appoints Kevin Schlachter as national sales director

Shlachter was most recently the regional sales manager at Kobrand, and prior to that, he served in various roles for companies including Wine Group LLC and Young’s Market Company. He also holds certifications from the Wine Educators and the Court of Master Sommeliers. (Press release)

Hall Family Wines in St. Helena appoints Megan Gunderson director of winemaking

Gunderson will be responsible for the production and direction of all wines produced under the Hall, Walt, and Baca brands. Gunderson brings over 19 years in the winemaking business, and most recently served as head winemaker for Walt Wines since 2010. (Press release)

PT and Leti Lovern open Line 51 brewery in Oakland

The couple that started out as homebrewers who distributed their brew to local bars has now opened their own 7,500-square-foot brewery and bar. They currently offer a limited selection of their pale ales, IPAs, and red ales, but plan to add more of their beers at a later date. 

Lindsey Johnson and Nick Morris open Expo cocktail bar in Louisville, Kentucky

The industry veterans intend to make sustainability and ethical practices a focal point for their bar by implementing hospitality best practices in regards to kitchen waste, appropriate wages, and community education. The pair created a cocktail list that features innovative interpretations on classic cocktails, and plan to have special events throughout the year.

Anthony Giglio to lead the Beverage Studies wine course of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York

Giglio, a 25-year industry veteran, will educate students in a 16-lesson course on the fundamentals of wine service beginning in February. (Press release)

New York City bar icon Matty Maher, of McSorley’s Old Ale House, dies at 80

Maher, who started out as a bartender and eventually became the owner of McSorley’s Old Ale House in the East Village, was highly regarded for evolving his traditional bar through the changing social norms of the decades. He inadvertently helped admit women into bars, banned smoking, and aided in the continued relevance of the East Side’s bar scene.

Josiah Knutsen named CEO for BevMo

Knutsen joined BevMo in 2018 and most recently served as head of merchandising, where he ran all aspects of BevMo’s merchandising for its beer, wine, and spirits business lines.

Brockmans Gin names Guy Lawrence managing director

Lawrence, previously the CEO of Mast-Jägermeister U.K., will focus on international expansion as the company begins its plan to double sales within five years. His main focus will be expanding the presence of Brockmans Gin within the U.S. (Press release)

Traverse City Whiskey Co. in Michigan appoints Andrea K. Yorgy as chief financial officer

Yorgy, the company’s first CFO, brings over 20 years of experience. She is known for leading finance for Angel’s Envy Bourbon from its startup phase through theacquisition by Bacardi. (Press release)

Siduri in Sonoma names Matt Revelette winemaker

Revelette will take over all winemaking responsibilities as founding winemaker Adam Lee switches to consulting for Jackson Family Wines’s Pinot Noir programs. Revelette, who joined the team in May 2019, previously held winemaking roles with Sojourn Cellars, Williams Selyem, and Kosta Browne.

Lambert Bridge Winery in Healdsburg, California announces two key leadership hires

Lambert Bridge Winery has promoted Katie Fay, formerly the retail sales and hospitality manager, to director of marketing. Nicole Penney has been hired as hospitality manager, having served in the role for various wineries including Wren Hop Vineyards. They are both responsible for growing the company through its direct-to-consumer-only business model.

Natalie Johnson named beverage director of newly opened Anton’s restaurant in New York City

The “old-school” European restaurant comes from Maialino and Marta chef Nick Anderer. The menu comes from Anderer’s interpretations of older recipes, including those from Charles Ranhofer. Johnson, who is also the general manager, created a drinks menu that focuses on classic cocktails, which includes pre-batched martinis and manhattans, over 500 wine bottles on offer, and 22 by-the-glass options. 

Emeritus Vineyards names Mari Jones president

After serving 7 years as the winery’s chief operating officer, Jones has been promoted to president. She will lead winemaker David Lattin and vineyard Manager Kirk Lokka, be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Emeritus Vineyards, and will focus on furthering the brand’s reputation for high-quality Pinot Noirs. She is a second-generation family member. (Press release)

Derek Grimm to lead Still & Stir bar team in Worchester, Massachusetts

Still & Stir bar, from Niche Hospitality Group, is set to open Friday. Grimm, formerly beverage director for local Deadhorse, is leading the bar. The drinks selection will include classic and modern cocktails, as well as bottled and draft selections, and the bar will feature a rotating food menu. Still & Stir will feature a seasonal Miracle pop-up bar, to start November 25.

Andrea Bottarel named director of Consorzio Tutela Laguna DOC

Bottarel will be responsible for business development, brand promotion, and supporting consortium members. He will focus on brand building in international markets, such as Japan, United States, and Baltic countries, and is backed by extensive experience collaborating with foreign wineries in Germany and Switzerland, among others.

Amy Prosenjak named chief executive officer of A to Z Wineworks in Dundee, Oregon

Prosenjak was promoted to president and chief executive officer following Bill Hatcher’s move to chair of the board. She has worked at the company since 2007, serving in roles such as chief financial officer and president. During her tenure, she helped grow the company’s production output, from 80,000 cases per year in 2007 to more than 350,000, and led the company to its certified B Corporation status.

Jonathan Lee named beverage director for upcoming Kochi restaurant in New York City

The Korean restaurant, set to open this week, comes from Sungchul Shim, former chef of the now-shuttered Neta. The menu focuses on an interpretation of Korean royal cuisine, using French technique and Japanese ingredients. The drinks menu will feature classic cocktails with Korean ingredients, including the perilla leaf, Korean plum extract, and ginseng. There will also be an emphasis on high-quality soju, both in cocktails and served straight.

Shigefumi Kabashima opens NR restaurant on New York’s Upper East Side

Kabashima, who owns and serves as beverage director of ROKC restaurant in West Harlem, drew inspiration for the venue’s concept from 19th century Japan. The drinks menu includes specialty and classic cocktails, sake, wine, and beer. The food menu, from chef Isao Yoenda, offers snackable fare, like karaage fried chicken and pork buns.

Vintrace winery management software names Heather Crawford general manager

Crawford, who currently advises venture funds, brings over 20 years of executive experience to the software company, having lead business development, finance, and technology initiatives for wine brands including Beringer and Chateau St. Jean, among others. She is responsible for leveraging her cross-industry experience to continue growing the company.

Broadbent Selections in Richmond, Virgina, names Fred Reno chief operating officer

Reno has 40 years of wine industry experience, including founding the Thomas Jefferson Wine Company and creating, as well as directing a division for Jackson Family Wines. Catherine Miles, previously the senior vice president and director of marketing, has also been added to the executive team, having been appointed chief marketing officer after working with the company for 18 years. 

Mary Bartlett named beverage director for Sound Advice, a new cocktail bar in Boston

Proprietors LLC, the company behind Death & Co., is the driving force behind this new concept, set to open in November. The cocktail program is a collaboration between Proprietors partner Devon Tarby and beverage director Mary Bartlett, who also owns a gin company, called Future Gin, in L.A. The upscale bar will feature custom cocktails as well as elevated classics.

Pfendler Vineyards in Sonoma names Erica Stancliff winemaker

Stancliff will be responsible for overseeing Pfendler’s three vineyards, including monitoring grape growth and overseeing vineyard crews, and will start with overseeing the production and bottling of the 2019 vintage. She is also a winemaker Trombetta Family Wines and serves as Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance’s president of the board.

Nicole Carter named president of Merry Edwards Winery in Sonoma

Starting today, Carter is responsible for all business activities, including working with head winemaker Heidi von der Mehden. Carter has decades of experience in the wine business, having served in executive roles for Hess Family Wine Estates and Treasury Wine Estates, among others. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine, holds certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers, Wine & Spirits Education Trust, and more.

David Kaplan and Alex Day to open Los Angeles location of Death & Co.

Bartender Matt Belanger and beverage director Tyson Buhler created drinks offerings unique to the location. There will be 25 drinks on the menu, which is organized by categories including “fresh and lively,” “elegant and timeless,” “light and playful,” and “boozy and honest.” Patrons could also order from 1,000 cocktails that Death & Co. has served elsewhere. The bar is slated to open in November.

Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland names Mark King chief executive officer

During King’s 30-year career in the drinks industry, he cofounded Austin Eastciders, served as a VP for Anheuser-Busch and Beam-Suntory, and has held key roles in Twisted X Brewing and BeatBox Beverages. At Great Lakes, he will be leading daily operations and driving the company’s growth and development strategy.

Olivia Schnell named bar manager for Troublemaker bar in Austin

The team behind The Hightower (now-closed), Chad Dolezal and Victor Farnsworth, are converting the space into a bar and record store, with The Hightower bar manager Schnell staying on to oversee the drinks program. For this new venture, Dolezal and Farnsworth have partnered with Dan Pluckett and Blake Carlisle, cofounders of End of An Ear record store.

Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Medoc promotes Jennifer Mathieu to director

Mathieu worked for the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Medoc since 2010, having most recently served as communications manager. Her immediate focus is marketing the launch of the three-tier classification system for Medoc AOCs, including Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, which comes into effect by the end of February 2020.

Cynthia Lohr, a second-generation co-owner of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, named company’s new chief brand officer

Lohr will be involved in day-to-day management of the brand alongside brothers and co-owners Steve and Lawrence Lohr, including managing internal teams focused on direct-to-consumer sales and brand strategies. (Press release) 

Monique Huston promoted and Jessica Partington appointed to new positions at Winebow

Both Huston and Partington will assume the title of vice president, spirits for Winebow’s wholesale west and east divisions, respectively. The new roles reflect the company’s intent on growing it spirits business. (Press release) 

Melissa Zeman opens BottlesUp! wine shop in Chicago

After working nine years in the wine industry, Zeman is stocking her new wine shop with selections ranging from $10 to $140 retail, working with global female importers or winemakers to represent lesser-known regions. 

Britt Kulsveen, president of Willett Distillery, announces opening of new bar in Bardstown, Kentucky

The bar will feature vintage Willett whiskeys from the distillery’s collections, while bartender Andrew Pope’s bar program will showcase classic cocktails. (Press release) 

Justin Catalana, a cofounder and CEO of Fort Point Beer Company in San Francisco, announced the opening of the company’s first beer hall

Fort Point Valencia is set to open October 7, featuring the brand’s line-up of beers but also guest brews, and bar food from chef Eric Ehler. (Press release) 

Michael C. Mathews has joined Round Pond Estate winery as vice president of finance in Rutherford, California

Mathews will oversee all financial operations. (Press release)

Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas announced seven new Master Sommeliers in St. Louis

Nick Davis (Medium Plus, Seattle); Mariya Kovacheva (Pernod Ricard, West Palm Beach, FL); Justin Moore (Vetri Cucina, Las Vegas); Vincent Morrow (ONE65, San Francisco); Joshua Orr (Broadbent Selections, San Diego); Jeremy Shanker (Michael Mina, San Francisco); and Jill Zimorski (Champagne Specialist Representing Moet Hennessy Champagne Portfolio, Chicago). (Press release) 

Dean McKillen joins Grassini Family Vineyards as national sales manager in Santa Barbara, California

Prior to his new role, McKillen worked with on- and off-premise wine sales at J&L Wines, where he worked with the Grassini brand for five years. (Press release) 

Eric Vallat to join Rémy Cointreau as group CEO

Vallat—who previously served as CEO of Rémy Cointreau’s flagship Cognac brand, Rémy Martin—will succeed Valerie Chapoulaud-Floquet as CEO, according to reports. Chapoulaud-Floquet said that she plans to step down by the end of the year.

Burroughs Blind and Erik Elliott join Heitz Cellar in St. Helena, California

Blind will take on the role of director of direct-to-guest sales, leading ecommerce, tasting room, and wine club sales. Elliott will assume the title of director of hospitality and education. He was most recently lead sommelier at The Little Nell, under current Heitz president and CEO, Carlton McCoy. (Press release) 

Kelly Wheeler is the new Southeast broker for Tuscan Vineyard Imports in Atlanta, Georgia

In his new roll, Wheeler will work with TVI’s Italian portfolio. He also founded distributor Con Vinum, and is currently a senior instructor at Atlanta Wine School. (Press release)

Zak Miller promoted to sparkling winemaker at Domaine Carneros, in Carneros, California

Miller has worked at the family-owned winery for 11 years, joining the team in 2008. He will lead daily sparkling winemaking operations. (Press release)

Juan Carlos Santana in as beverage director of Le Jardinier in Miami

The restaurant is the first of three concepts to open in Miami by Invest Hospitality, the group behind chef Joël Robuchon’s restaurants. Santana and bartender Dushan Zaric (an Employees Only veteran) will helm the drink program, which will feature non-alcoholic drinks made with vegetable juices, teas, herbs, and other ingredients, alongside proprietary cocktails. 

Sophie Burton in as beverage director of Bar Politan in forthcoming Houston food hall

Phil Anova in as beverage director at Korean-restaurant Anju, in Washington, D.C.

The restaurant from mother-son owners Yesoon and Danny Lee will offer contemporary Korean fare by chef Angel Barreto, paired with drinks selected by Anova. “Anju” is the Korean term for food to consume with alcohol, so expect large-format cocktails made with soju, plus a global wine list and makkoli (a sparkling rice wine) on tap. 

Christina Walther named Best Sommelier at TEXSOM

Walther, who works at Jeffrey’s in Austin, Texas, beat out other participants in a three-part wine examination. She won a $2,500 scholarship to be used towards her Court of Master Sommeliers education. 

Erin Robertson joins Round Pond Estate winery in Napa Valley as director of marketing

Robertson will be responsible for the Rutherford-based winery’s marketing strategy, branding, public relations, and digital marketing. (Press release) 

Charles Welch and Andrew Miller to open Good Fortune in Chicago

The restaurant, which started as a pop-up, is the first of three projects by the duo’s Out to Lunch Hospitality group—other plans include revamping neighborhood dive bar Happy Village and opening a new cocktail spot called X. Good Fortune’s wine program will be helmed by wine director Steven Mendivil, with cocktails by bar director Miranda Breedlove. 

Micah Ochej joins Tower Brewing as new brewer in Sacramento, CA

Ochej, who spent the last three years at Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks producing wild ales, joins brewer Mike Ungerbuhler at the East Sacramento brewery. (Press release) 

Orlando Rodriguez takes over Graft restaurant in the Finger Lakes

Along with wife Natacia, Rodriguez purchased the FLX wine country restaurant, which is known for its commitment to locally sourced food and wine. Rodriguez, who is also executive chef at Glenora Winery, will reopen Graft in the fall with new offerings that tap his Latin roots.

JR Velazquez joins Las Vegas-based Toast Spirits as chief financial and operating officer

Most recently serving as worldwide controller at Patron Tequila, Velazquez will head up Toast’s Beau Joie Champagne brand’s growth strategy. (Press release)

Samra Morris joins Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards in Santa Barbara, California, as assistant winemaker

Born and raised in Bosnia, Morris holds both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Food Sciences from the College of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the University of Sarajevo. Morris was most recently quality control manager for Free Flow Wines in Sonoma, California, which she joined in 2017 as lab assistant. (Press release)

Terry McNeese has been named general manager and wine director of Blackbird restaurant in Chicago

Taking over management of Blackbird’s award-winning wine list, McNeese’s credits include running operations and building wine lists at Chicago establishments such as Le Sud, The Gage, Bistro 110, Le Lan, and Chicago Firehouse. (Press release)

Tal Baum to open Aziza in Atlanta

The new Israeli family-style spot from the owner of Bellina Alimentari will feature a by-the-glass and bottle list of wines from Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey. The business opens July 25.

Anne Brown joined Columbus Wine and Spirits as Virginia state manager

Brown will take on sales and education duties for the whole Columbus portfolio, covering the Virginia and D.C. markets. (Press release)

Cesar Valera opens Agora Tysons in Tysons, Virginia

The second location of the Washington, D.C. restaurant will eventually offer a selection of over 200 wines, including 22 by the glass. Valera’s focus is on wines mostly from Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon, which will be paired with chef Ghassan Jarrouj’s Mediterranean cuisine. Agora Tysons is now open.

Ned Benedict, a partner of Grand Cru Selections in New York City, passes away




The wine community is mourning the loss of Ned Benedict, a partner of Grand Cru Selections in New York City, who died unexpectedly last weekend. Members of the wine industry are remembering Benedict as a fixture of the industry, known for his quick wit, strong relationships, and joyful approach to wine—and life.

Benedict fell into the New York restaurant industry in the mid-1980s, falling in love with wine while working his way up through spots like Keens Steakhouse and Bouley and making several pilgrimages to Burgundy, which would become his specialty. He became Aureole’s first wine director before leaving five years later to focus on the Burgundy program as a wine buyer for Zachys. The relationships cultivated and maintained throughout Benedict’s career helped to launch Grand Cru Selections in 2010 with a small but high-quality portfolio, which has grown into one of the country’s most sought-after.

But it wasn’t just his professional accomplishments that made Benedict so beloved by the wine community. Benedict was always looking out for people, his friends and colleagues say, and he had a huge impact on the careers of many in the industry. He never forgot those that he met over the years, and he maintained those relationships over time, always willing to connect people or make a call on their behalf. Laughter and energy seemed to surround Benedict—his sense of humor was “indescribable.”

“Ned was loved by so many people,” says Elise Pfannenstiel, a partner of Grand Cru Selections who has known Benedict for 17 years. “He was such a force and a unique spirit. He will be mentioned and toasted countless times in the years to come. We miss him.”

Dan Rice to open Bar Brava in Minneapolis

Rice will focus entirely on natural wine at the upcoming wine bar, offering over 100 wines including 20 or so by-the-glass selections, procured with consultation from Jill Mott of Jill Mott Selections. Bar Brava is slated to open fall 2019.

Zac Brown to open Stalk & Vine in Wilmington, North Carolina

Brown, a former brewmaster, will offer an array of craft beers on draft as well as in can and bottle at the new restaurant, along with a selection of wines and cocktails, in addition to hosting wine dinners and educational tastings. Stalk & Vine opens July 20.

Beverage director Ryan Lotz opens Black Lamb in Boston

Lotz, who also serves as beverage director for Bar Mazzana, and Shore Leave/No Relation, will offer minor tweaks on classic cocktails like the gimlet, along with a selection of draft beer and small-production wines. Black Lamb is now open.

Ken Maverick to open Maverick Whiskey in San Antonio, Texas

The new distillery and brewery, operated by head distiller Rikk Munroe and head brewer Nathan Rice, will open offering a light whiskey with minimal aging, with plans for a Texas gin as well as straight whiskey in conjunction with a range of craft beer styles. Maverick Whiskey opens July 23.

Bernard Farges elected president of Bordeaux Wine Council

He will serve a three-year term. (Press release)

Didier Porteaud named director of estate sales for Cristom Vineyards in Salem, Oregon

Porteaud is the former general manager and wine director at Portland, Oregon’s RingSide Steakhouse. He will work with director of membership & education Gaironn Poole to launch a year-round ecotourism program, two new tasting salons, and a new garden patio terrace. (Press Release)

Christian Gourdin named district manager, San Francisco for The Winebow Group

Gourdin formerly served as San Francisco area manager for Epic Wine & Spirits before taking on his current role with the national wine and spirits importer and distributor. (Press release)

Joseph Hernandez named senior editor of SevenFifty Daily in New York City

Hernandez, formerly a senior travel editor at Thrillist and a deputy editor of food and dining, overseeing drinks coverage, at the Chicago Tribune, has joined SevenFifty Daily’s editorial team. As senior editor, Hernandez will help shape the future of SevenFifty Daily, breaking new ground with high-quality content that serves the needs of the drinks industry and showcases the people and ideas moving the industry forward.

Antoinette Cattani named national market development manager for Ming River Sichuan Baijiu

Cattani, formerly the U.S. brand ambassador for Fernet-Branca, will aim to increase awareness and placements for the Chinese grain spirit. (Press Release)

Kristen Barnhisel named president of American Society for Enology and Viticulture in Davis, California

Barnhisel, also the winemaker for white wines at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, will oversee the research-focused professional society with over 2,000 members nationwide for 2019-2020. (Press Release)

Ryan Marks to open the Whale in Chicago

Marks, who also owns the sports bar the Vig, will offer 100-ounce towers of drinks like mimosas, bellinis, and sangria along with a complement of beer, wine, and spirits. The Whale opens July 5.

Covert Estate in Napa Valley adds Rachelle Mudaliar as estate director

Mudaliar, the co-founder of RAM Wine Country Tours, will work to ensure a more consistent brand experience nation-wide, as well as overseeing the winery’s relations with collectors. Emily Floyd will also join Covert Estate as director of hospitality & sales, having previously worked at Ram’s Gate Winery.

Jason Elliot to open Encima in Philadelphia

Elliot, formerly the general manager at sister bar Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company, is focusing on mezcal and other agave spirits at the new venture, which will also feature a collection of Mexican dishes from Guadalajara-based chef Fabian Delgado. Encima is scheduled to open July 5.

Evis Savvides in as operating partner at Distill Ventures in New York City

Savvides, formerly president at Domaine Select Wine & Spirits, will focus on planning and operations for all North American operations for the Diageo-backed drinks accelerator. (Press Release)

Ryan Thacker to open Coelum restaurant in Baltimore

Thacker, formerly the sommelier at the Sagemore Pendry Hotel, is partnering with Corey Laub on the new restaurant, which will focus on natural and biodynamic wines, along with a flight of three different Negroni variants. Coelum is scheduled to open July 1.

Abby Titcomb named head distiller of Three Floyds Brewery in Munster, Indiana

Titcomb, who has been with the company since 2011, is launching the new venture with a range of spirits including gin, akvavit, and whiskey. The new distillery will also feature a cocktail bar with a range of drinks created in consultation with Chicago bartender Nandini Khaund. Three Floyds Distillery opens June 21.

Daniele Dalla Pola to open Esotico Miami

Pola will emphasize tiki cocktails at the new venture, which will eventually boast a list of over 350 rums, along with custom glassware and large format cocktails for up to 10 people. Esotico Miami is opening summer 2019.

Eric Johnson opens Home & Away bar in Encinitas, California

Johnson is overseeing the second location of the craft-focused bar from founders Jonathan Frank and Dennis O’Connor, which features 20 beers on tap and a selection of house cocktails available at two main bars, along with a smaller upstairs bar called Aloha Cowboy that will focus on more complex cocktails. Home & Away is now open.

Russ Grimes opens Wajan in Portland, Oregon

Grimes serves as bar manager at the newly-opened restaurant, focusing the cocktail program on the classic Indonesian spirit arrack, as well as other commonly-found spirits like Dutch genever, as well as a selection of both local and Indonesian beers.

Helena Tubis promoted to vice president of sales and marketing for Kelvin Slush Co. in New York City

Tubis formerly served as the director of sales for the Brooklyn-based producer of organic frozen cocktail mix. (Press Release)

Sommelier Danny Lledó to open Xiquet in Washington, D.C.

Lledó will focus on his Spanish heritage at the new venture, which will replace the existing Slate Wine Bar in August 2019 offering a range of Spanish wines, as well as vintage Port and Madeira. Rachael Buehrer is also onboard as the restaurant’s general manager.

T. Cole Newton opens The Domino in New Orleans

Newton, who also owns the cocktail bar Twelve Mile Limit, worked with bar manager Luis Zepeda on a program featuring wines from cans, boxes, kegs, or corkless bottles in an attempt to minimize waste. The Domino is now open.

Joe Fortune promoted to chief commercial officer of White Plains, New York-based Mast-Jägermeister US

Fortune, formerly the company’s chief financial officer, assumes the newly-created title to oversee the company’s commercial team as well as overseeing sales and marketing. (Press Release)

Vintner Michael Kennedy launches Vin Fraîche distribution company

Kennedy, founder of Component wine company in Napa, and formerly the head sommelier for acclaimed chef Eric Ripert, will be focusing on wine distribution in the new venture, including the soon-to-be-released wines from Gagnon-Kennedy Vineyards, made in collaboration with winemaker Marc Gagnon. Longtime wine sales professional Doug Banks has also joined Vin Fraîche as national director of sales. (Press release)

Jason Brandt Lewis in as wine education director at Santa Cruz, California-based Equinox Wines

Lewis, formerly the sales manager for Adventures in Wine, will oversee staff training and public-facing education for the sparkling wine producer. (Press Release)

Anu Apte-Elford and Chris Elford to open Vinnie’s Raw Bar in Seattle

The couple, owners of fellow Seattle bars Rob Roy and No Anchor, will focus on natural wines selected by sommelier Bryn Hagman, with a wide selection of wines by the glass and affordably-priced bottles, along with a selection of cocktails. Vinnie’s Raw Bar is slated for a June 14 opening.

Kiki Louya and Rohani Foulkes to open Mink in Detroit

The duo will team up with Ping Ho, owner of the Royce and Marrow, on the wine program for their new venture, a small wine bar also offering beer, sake, and cider, which will also feature a menu heavy on appetizers. Mink is schedule to open September 2019.

David Francke named managing director at Napa Valley’s Chappellet

Francke joined the board of directors of the family-owned winery in 2017, but in his new role will oversee all of the winery’s operations, including sales and marketing, hospitality, and strategic planning. (Press Release)

Paola Ibarra to open Barra in Somerville, Massachusetts

Ibarra, currently of Celeste, will focus on spirits and cocktails from Latin America at her upcoming bar, which will also feature a menu based on street food from Mexico City. Ibarra is hoping for a late summer opening for Barra.

Sami Gaston to open Bar Diane in Portland, Oregon

Gaston, formerly of Clive Common and Pepe Le Moko, will focus on natural and sustainable wines at her wine bar, which will also feature small bites and craft cocktails. Bar Diane is scheduled to open August 2019.

Sommelier Courtney Kaplan opens Ototo in Los Angeles

Kaplan, formerly of Sake Bar Decibel in New York, partnered with chef Charles Namba to focus on sake at the new bar and restaurant, which features a wide range of sake available by the glass and bottle. Ototo is now open.

Kristi Devine appointed director of hospitality and sales at Brand Napa Valley

Devine, previously with Covert and Fantesca, will oversee those departments at the 100-acre property founded in 2009. (Press Release)

Jeremy Chou opens Bei Lounge in Boise, Idaho

Chou’s cocktail program draws inspiration from his family’s sister restaurant, Yen Ching Chinese, while also offering craft beer, wine, and a limited menu from Yen Ching’s kitchen. Bei Lounge is now open.

Liz Pearce to open Flora Fauna in Chicago

Pearce, currently the head bartender at Aba, will look to create new takes on classic cocktails while also emphasizing waste reduction. Her husband, Jonathan Meyer, will serve as head chef when the restaurant opens this summer.

Peg Karpfinger to open Bar Centro in Milwaukee

The bar will serve as a companion to her Italian restaurant centro, and will emphasize a wide selection of amari, with 30-40 being available as well as heavily featured in house cocktails. Bar centro opens May 22.

Bar director Ben Potts opens The Sylvester in Miami

Potts and fellow co-owner Brian Nasajon have revamped their previous venture, Boombox, and turned it into the cocktail and coffee bar, which will feature Potts’s cocktails, which paying homage to Miami’s cultural and culinary history. The Sylvester is now open.

Jon Schlegel to open Attimo in Denver

Schlegel, a former sommelier, will focus on wines from his newly-purchased vineyard in Piedmont, Italy at the new venture. Schlegel is also the co-founder of Snooze, a chain of 37 breakfast-focused restaurants throughout Colorado, California, Arizona, and Texas. Attimo is targeting a Fall 2019 opening.

Michael Shearin named VP of sales at LaBarge Winery in Lompoc, California

Shearin, formerly the California sales manager for Golden State Wines based in Van Nuys, will now oversee sales for the estate winery. (Press Release)

Steven Waters opens Run for the Roses in Denver

The equestrian-themed bar emphasizes sustainability and zero-waste principles. The beverage menu offers riffs on classic cocktails and a selection of organic, biodynamic, and natural wines. Run for the Roses is now open.

Signorello Estate in Napa hires Priyanka French as winemaker

The move comes after Signorello announced the retirement of its longtime winemaker Pierre Birebent. French previously worked at Dalla Valle Vineyards in Napa. She is joined by fellow new hires Celia Welch, the consulting director of winemaking, and Steve Matthiasson, the consulting viticulturalist.

Scott Tyree named Master Sommelier

Tyree, the head sommelier at Mavens & Aficionados in Chicago, was the only person to pass the exam in this most recent round of testing by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Eric Hsu and Stephanie Watanabe open Coast and Valley in NYC

The couple will focus exclusively on California wines at their new Brooklyn wine bar, which will feature a wide range of varieties and appellations from the state’s many wine growing regions. They aim to feature over 100 wines by the glass and bottle. Coast and Valley opens May 1.

Will Jones named NYC sales consultant for New York-based David Milligan Selections

Jones, formerly a wine representative at International Wine and Craft Beer in Birmingham, Alabama, will aim to increase New York metro area sales for the wine importer.

Bartender Erik Hakkinen to open Roquette in Seattle

Hakkinen’s new project will focus on French spirits like Cognac, Armagnac, and eaux-de-vie as the basis for cocktails, along with a collection of Champagne and other French wines. Roquette is scheduled to open late summer 2019.

Nicholas Bennett in as beverage director at Cedric’s in New York City

Bennett will oversee the drinks program at the newest venture from restaurateur Danny Meyer, housed in the newly-opened Hudson Yards development. He will focus on creative takes on classic cocktails at the all-day bar, which also features a wine list from Union Square Hospitality Group’s sommelier John Ragan. Cedric’s is set to open April 24.

Brewmaster Jared Rouben to open The Dining Room at Moody Tongue in Chicago

The new venture, which will be coupled with an expanded brewery and tap room, will feature Rouben’s beers in a fine dining setting with food from new executive chef Jared Wentworth. Rouben will explore different presentations, ages, and temperatures for beer service during the 10-course tasting menu. The Dining Room is set to open summer 2019.

William Ball to partner on new Austin restaurant Comedor

Ball, owner of the cocktail bar Garage, next door to the upcoming modern Mexican restaurant, will be designing the cocktail program, which will offer Mexican-inspired twists on classic cocktails. No opening date has been announced for Comedor.

Noah and Josh Lit to open Batch Brewing in Austin, Texas

The brothers, who currently own Batch Craft Beers & Kolaches, intend to add brewing their own beer to the business. They’ve brought in Heath Shuford to take charge of their IPA program, with an emphasis on small batch and rotating brews. Batch Brewing is scheduled to open in June 2019.

Conner Mitchell reopens Dudley Market in Los Angeles

Mitchell, who formerly worked at the wine-focused neighborhood restaurant, will now oversee operations, with a continued emphasis on affordable European wines as well as a wide selection of Champagne. Dudley Market is now open.

Sarah Thompson and Henji Cheung open Queen’s English in Washington, D.C.

The couple will seek to explore Cheung’s childhood in the north of Hong Kong at the new restaurant, where Thompson, the beverage director and general manager, has designed a cocktail program around batched cocktails that utilize flavors from Hong Kong’s cuisine, as well as plenty of cognac. Queen’s English is now open.

Ricky Ramirez to open The Mothership in Milwaukee

Ramirez, a long-time Milwaukee bartender, will split his cocktail menu between classics, remedies, and a rotating selection of themed cocktails. The Mothership will also feature draft beer. It is scheduled to open April 18.

Alex Holman in as winemaker at Notre Vue Estate Winery in Windsor, California

Holman, formerly of Rack and Riddle, will take over production of the winery’s estate bottlings. Notre Vue also named Daniel Charles as viticulturist and Kirk Tomiser national sales and marketing manager. (Press Release)

Brooks and Bradley Anderson open Hillside Tavern in Dallas

The brothers, owners of fellow Dallas restaurants Veritas Wine Room, Boulevardier, and Rapscallion, will be offering a dozen local beers on draft along with a curated wine list and a full cocktail list emphasizing popular classics like the Aperol Spritz and Boulevardier. Hillside Tavern is now open.

Mike Moreno, Jr. to open Osito’s Tap in Chicago

Moreno, who also owns Moreno’s Liquors, is opening the Latin-influenced cocktail bar with an emphasis on agave spirits, including bottles from his collection of rare and old tequilas, mezcals, and whiskies. Osito’s Tap is scheduled to open June 2019.

Alice Guy to open Alice’s Restaurant in Pensacola, Florida

Guy, who also owns Anna’s Fine Wines, will offer a wide range of wines from both the New and Old World at the upcoming fine dining restaurant. Alice’s Restaurant will also feature a wine bar and wine cellar. The venue is scheduled to open May 2019.

Lindsey Johnson and Nickle Morris to open Expo in Louisville, Kentucky

The bar will have a special focus on sustainability efforts, such as minimizing waste, and ethical business practices that revolve around inclusive employment and competitive wages. Morris, formerly of The Pontiac in Hong Kong, is designing the cocktail program. The proprietors are hoping for a late April 2019 opening for Expo.

Sergio Ungureanu promoted to wine director at SER Restaurant in Arlington, Virginia

Ungureanu will oversee the beverage program at the acclaimed Spanish restaurant, with an extensive, all-Spanish wine list. (Press release)

Zoe Schor to open Dorothy cocktail bar in Chicago

Schor and Split-Rail restaurant general manager Michelle Szot will open the cocktail bar in the basement of the restaurant, with a wide range of spirits, wines, and beers available. Szot and Schor are looking to launch Dorothy in summer 2019.

Seth Watson to open Distillery of Modern Art in Chamblee, Georgia

The venture, located in an Atlanta suburb, will focus on distilling gin and vodka at first, while also serving as a modern art exhibition space. Watson intends to eventually add whiskey and liqueurs to the product line at the Distillery of Modern Art, scheduled to open fall 2019.

Marty Barrington named chairman of the board of AB InBev

Barrington was formerly the chairman of Altria Group, which owns approximately 10% of the multinational beverage giant. Other newcomers to the board include Cecilia Sicupira, daughter of former board member Carlos Alberto Sicupira, and Xiaozhi Liu.

Jeremy Ragonese named president of Unita Brewing Company in Utah

Ragonese, who previously served as the Salt Lake City brewery’s chief marketing officer, replaces outgoing president Steve Mills. Ragonese will seek to bring stability to the struggling company, which has seen a decline in market share and the departure of several executives over the last few years.

Stuart King and Jack Keane to open Comfort Station in Cincinnati

The team behind the bar Sundry and Vice will offer a combination of craft cocktails, coffee, and a co-working space at the new venue, which will feature two different bars, with larger-format cocktails and wines being more central to the menu. Comfort Station is scheduled to open summer 2019.

Vanessa Rae in as wine director at Boston’s Eastern Standard

Rae, previously the assistant wine director at Union Square Cafe, and the head sommelier at Chefs Club, will now oversee the wine program at the brasserie, which focuses on classic European wines and unique domestic offerings. (Press Release)

Paula Dezzutti to open micro-distillery in Alpharetta, Georgia

Dezzutti, the chief executive officer at Charleston, South Carolina’s Striped Pig Distillery, will be producing vodka, gin, tequila, and whiskey in the space within upcoming development The Stables. It will also feature a tasting room and distillery museum. No opening date has been announced.

Kevin Demers to open Parliament in Montreal

Demers, also owner of Montreal’s Coldroom, will base the upcoming bar on traditional British pubs, with an emphasis on unfiltered and non-carbonated beers and cocktails inspired by the 1850s. Parliament is scheduled to open spring 2019.

Brewery founder Freddy Bensch to launch new project in San Marcos, California

Bensch, the founder of Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing, will be developing the new brewery concept situated inside the upcoming My Yard Live entertainment and restaurant space, which will feature an arcade, outdoor play area, and concert venue in addition to the restaurant and brewery. My Yard Live is scheduled to open June 2019.

Wine importer Edward Lauber passes away

Laubner, the founder of New York-based Laubner Imports over 25 years ago, emphasized wines from Europe, California, and South America. Laubner was 87 years old. (Press Release)

Master of Wine Mary Gorman-McAdams named director of the International Wine Center in New York City

Gorman-McAdams also works as a wine consultant, educator, and judge, and will assume oversight of the organization’s academic programs as well as business growth and general management when she formally assumes the title on May 1. (Press Release)

Institute of Masters of Wine announces six new Masters of Wine

Edouard Maijot of France, Nicholas Jackson of the United States, Brendan Jansen of Australia, Jonas Röjerman of Sweden, Harriet Tindal of Ireland, and Jonas Tofterup of Spain were all given the title after passing their final exams and completing their research papers.

Nicholas Hammond to open Pacific Coast Spirits in Oceanside, California

Hammond will serve as head distiller at the soon-to-open distillery and farm-to-table restaurant. Pacific Coast Spirits’ offerings will include a wide range of products, with multiple gins, brandies, and whiskeys on offer as well as vodka and agave spirits. Pacific Coast Spirits is set to open spring 2019.

Katrina Jazayeri to open Peregrine in Boston

Jazayeri and partner Joshua Lewin will be teaming up on their second restaurant, with Jazayeri running the wine program with an emphasis on smaller producers from Italy and Spain, along with other Mediterranean selections. No opening date has been announced.

Tim Piotrowski to open Delta Beer Lab in Madison, Wisconsin

Piotrowski will launch the brewery and taproom with six different craft beers in a space intended to foster community engagement, with an outdoor beer garden and commercial kitchen to follow. Delta Beer Lab is slated to open in late February 2019.

Kristina Tucker to open Decant Urban Winery in Houston

Tucker is a recent wine school graduate who will serve as head vintner at the new project, which will work with grapes from Texas, California, Oregon, and Washington. It will also feature a large tasting room and smaller tasting lounge. Decant Urban Winery opens February 13.

Brewers of Pennsylvania name Adam Harris deputy director

Harris, formerly the chair of Pennsylvania’s House Liquor Control Committee, has joined the beer trade association in the newly-formed position to lobby for the modernization of Pennsylvania’s liquor laws, through outreach to and engagement with the state’s many craft breweries.

Sommelier Jordan Stasinowsky to open Mary’s Vine in Pittsburgh

Stasinowsky, along with his parents, sister, and brother-in-law, are renovating a 100-year-old church to house the wine lounge, which will offer a proprietary wine list app as well as iPad menus to facilitate education. Mary’s Vine is scheduled to open in April 2019.

Matt Gilbertson named to Craft Brew Alliance board of directors

Gilbertson is also the North American vice president of mergers & acquisitions, treasury, and corporate real estate for Anheuser-Busch InBev. He becomes one of the two board members appointed by AB InBev as a component of their minority ownership of the beer company.

Chicago-based Dustin Chabert wins first-ever Best USA Sommelier title

Dustin Chabert, the Illinois market manager for DNS Wines and a sommelier at Spiaggia, won the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale’s inaugural U.S. competition after two days of blind tastings, food pairing suggestions, and wine service conducted in a second language. Chabert will compete on behalf of the U.S. at ASI’s Best Sommelier of the World 2019 competition in Belgium in March.

Brewmaster Skip Virgilio opens Gravity Heights in San Diego

Virgilio, one of the co-founders of AleSmith Brewing Company, collaborated with head brewer Tommy Kreamer on the new project, which launched with 13 different house beers offered at a large-scale brewpub, along with a selection of collaboration and guest beers. Gravity Heights is now open.

MillerCoors names Michelle St. Jacques chief marketing officer

St. Jacques is joining the brewing giant on February 4 from The Kraft Heinz Company, where she serves as the global head of brands and capabilities. She will look to bring a fresh perspective to marketing and customer engagement for the Chicago-based company.

Santa Fe Brewing Co. names Brian Shaeffer brewmaster

Shaeffer will replace outgoing head brewmaster Bert Boyce as the company prepares to open a new brewhouse later this year. Shaeffer currently serves as the production manager at Oskar Blues Brewing Company in Longmont, Colorado.

Cocktail director Noah Small to open Empellon Al Pastor in New York City

Small is teaming with chef Alex Stupak on the second Manhattan location of the Mexican restaurant, housed within the Pod Hotel in Midtown East. Small’s cocktail program will offer innovative takes on Central American classics like the Margarita and Piña Colada. Empellon Al Pastor is set to open on January 18.

Walla Walla Vintners names Derrek Vipond winemaker

Vipond joins the Walla Walla, Washington-based winery from fellow Walla Walla winery Long Shadows Vintners, where he served as assistant winemaker. Vipond will oversee all aspects of the winemaking process in the new role.

Ariel Acre to open Niche Niche in New York City

Acre, also the owner of Air’s Champagne Parlor, will aim to create a dinner party vibe at the new Manhattan restaurant, which will feature a different wine expert’s selections each night. Niche Niche is set to open in February 2019.

Lina Velez to open Grand Tour in Boston

Velez will partner with her husband, chef Michael Serpa, on the Parisian-style bistro set to open in fall 2019. Grand Tour will focus on American wines for the by-the-glass program, while offering both domestic and French wines on the bottle list.

Sommelier Carolina Seibel to launch Moio in London

Seibel previously worked with chef João Ferreira Pinto at the Michelin-starred Portland. The two are collaborating on the restaurant, which will feature a modern take on Portuguese cuisine, and is set to open on January 10.

Thad Vogler opens Obispo in San Francisco

Vogler’s long-awaited cocktail bar is intended to express his belief that people should be drinking spirits with a sense of place, with an emphasis on small-production rum. Obispo is now open.

Bar manager Daniel Osborne to open Bullard in Portland, Oregon

Osborne’s cocktail program will focus on both Oregon and Texas, the home state of chef Doug Adams, with a robust selection of canned beers, plus three versions of classic cocktails like Negronis, Old Fashioneds, and margaritas. Bullard opens on December 15.

BrewDog USA names Adam Lambert chief revenue officer

Lambert was most recently the chief operating officer at growth capital group Storied Craft Breweries, and joins the Scotland-based craft brewing company with the goal of expanding their presence in the United States.

Court of Master Sommeliers adds six new master somms

After having the results of their examinations in September invalidated due to a cheating scandal, Dana Gaiser, Andrey Ivanov, Maximilian Kast, Douglas Kim, Steven McDonald, and Mia Van de Water passed a re-examination to regain the title of Master Sommelier.

Bartender Kevin Lee opens Le Néant in Los Angeles

The omakase-style, reservations-required cocktail bar is housed inside Lee’s existing bar, The Wolves, and offers a list of farmers market ingredients from which Lee crafts specialized cocktails for each guest. Le Néant debuts on December 6.

Tony Quealy hired as general manager at Thacher Winery

Quealy joins the Paso Robles-based winery after serving as wine club manager and tasting room manager at fellow Paso Robles winery Halter Ranch. Quealy will oversee all customer-facing aspects of the business in the newly-created role.

Josh Landan launches Harland Brewing Co. in San Diego

Landan, the co-founder of fellow San Diego brewery Saint Archer, which was sold to MillerCoors in 2015, has teamed up with fellow former Saint Archer employees Jeff Hansson and Anthony Levas on the new brewery project, which recently distributed its first kegs to San Diego bars and restaurants.

Garth Hodgdon named director of national sales for Accendo Cellars

Hodgdon, formerly the US brand ambassador for Krug, will step into the newly-created position with the Napa Valley winery, overseeing sales and strategy for domestic distribution of the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. (Press Release)

Tommy Klus to open Scotch Lodge in Portland, Oregon

Klus was heavily involved in opening the iconic Multnomah Whiskey Library, and will again heavily focus on whiskey for the new venture, along with agave spirits and a selection of others. Klus will serve as floor manager at Scotch Lodge when it opens in January 2019.

Diageo adds two sustainability leadership positions

David Cutter has been named chief sustainability officer after more than 15 years with the beverage giant, while Kate Gibson is joining the company as director of Diageo in society after serving as vice president, global corporate citizenship for InterContinental Hotels Group.

Beverage director Andrew Meltzer to open Noosh in San Francisco

Meltzer, previously the president of the Bay Area branch of the US Bartender’s Guild, will focus on intricate versions of classic cocktails, as well as so-called “Ancient World” wines from places like Lebanon and Georgia, to pair with the eastern Mediterranean cuisine at Noosh.

Liz Howard to open Jônt in Washington, D.C.

Howard, the general manager, will team with bar manager Will Patton on the cocktail program for the new tasting menu-focused restaurant from chef Ryan Ratino, as well as the adjacent Bar Jônt. The trio also operates the Michelin-starred Bresca in D.C. Jônt is slated to open in the spring of 2019.

Bobby Arifi opens Bobby’s Lincoln Park in Chicago

Arifi is the front-of-house manager and beverage manager for the Italian eatery and steakhouse, which currently features a 150-wine list that eventually will grow to over 300 bottles. Arifi and his brother, Augie, also operate two other Chicago-area restaurants.

Bartender Dre Masso to open Fam bar in London

Masso, a London bartending legend, is teaming with her fellow bartender Megs Miller and bar operators Eric Yu and Martin Malley on Fam bar and kitchen. The intimate bar will pay homage to many of London’s bar legends, as well as using recycled ingredients and local spirits whenever possible.

Sommelier Zach Byers to open Beckon in Denver

Byers will oversee beverage pairings at the new restaurant, which exclusively offers an eight-course tasting menu at a 17-person chef’s counter for two seatings per night. Beckon is set to open on November 21.

Todd Karnig departs Stone Brewing

Karnig had served as vice president of sales for the San Diego-based brewery for over five years. The search for Karnig’s replacement is currently underway.

Brian Reames named marketing manager at 375 Park Avenue Spirits

Reames takes on the newly-created position within the Louisville, Kentucky-based spirits sales and marketing company after serving as vice president of marketing at The Warsteiner USA Group. (Press Release)

Greg Hughes in as new president, North America for Beam Suntory

Hughes currently serves as general manager for North America for the beverage giant. He will replace Albert Baladi in the role starting on January 1. Beam Suntory previously announced that Baladi would serve as president and chief executive officer for the multinational corporation starting in April 2019.

Jackson Family Wines makes changes to executive leadership team

The California-based wine company announced that second-generation proprietor Katie Jackson has been promoted to senior vice president, corporate and social responsibility. Additionally, Gayle Bartscherer has been named senior vice president, international marketing and development, Viviann Stapp has been appointed senior vice president, general counsel, Kristen Reitzell has been promoted to vice president of public relations, and Jane Catelani Howard has been hired as senior vice president of finance.

Ryan Cole to open The Vault in San Francisco

Cole and Hi Neighbor co-owners Jason Kirmse and Tai Ricci will launch the fine-dining American restaurant in early 2019 with an emphasis on classic American wines and cocktails. They will also provide liquor and wine lockers for building tenants to store their bottles.

David Gates named managing director for BrewDog Distilling

Gates will oversee operations at LoneWolf Distillery, the spirits arm of the multinational brewery and pub chain based in Ellon, Scotland. Gates previously spent 27 years with Diageo, most recently as managing director. The move comes as the LoneWolf aims to expand beyond their current offerings of gin and vodka into whisky and rum.

Soutirage names Tommy Svendberg wine director

Svenberg joins the Napa Valley-based wine lifestyle company after serving as director of sourcing at Vinfolio. He will aim to heighten the caliber of wines and experiences that Soutirage delivers.

Wine director Joe Briand opens Elysian Bar in New Orleans

Briand is once again teaming up with chef Alex Harrell on the just-launched restaurant, located inside the newly-opened hotel Peter and Paul. The bar program focuses on classic cocktails and aperitifs, while the wine list emphasizes domestic bottles.

Dave Pickerell, Whistlepig master distiller, passes away

Pickerell was one of the founders of the Vermont distillery in 2009 after more than 14 years with Maker’s Mark. He was attending WhiskeyFest San Francisco at the time of his passing, from natural causes. Pickerell was 70 years old.

Chris and Lindsey Wanner to open new location of West Coast Wine & Cheese

The Bay Area duo will be expanding from their original San Francisco location with a new wine bar in Mill Valley, California, located in Marin County. Like the first location, it will focus on limited production wines from producers throughout the West Coast. The second location is slated to open on November 30.

Edouardo Jordan to open heirloom-focused Lucinda Grain Bar

The chef behind Seattle’s James Beard-winning June Baby will open his third restaurant—a bar by night; cafe by day—in November. In addition to grain-centric meals, the grain-based craft-cocktail program will focus on classics and highballs.

Josh Peeples and Cheryl Foil buy Elyse Winery

Longtime Napa Valley vintners Ray and Nancy Coursen sold the winery to locals Josh Peeples and Cheryl Foil, who will take over the winery, the inventory, a two-bedroom cottage and about 1 acre of vineyards. The new owners will focus on ramping up digital marketing, with millennials in focus.

Matthew Biancaniello opens Mon-Li at The Calamigos Beach Club in Malibu

The 12-seat hideaway, Mon-Li at The Calamigos Beach Club, opens Thursday. The menu, centered around foraged ingredients, includes 12 liquid courses, and five food courses.

Beam Suntory’s Matt Shattock steps down

After 10 years in the role of CEO, including during the Beam and Suntory merger, CEO Matt Shattock will hand the reins of Beam Suntory over to current chief operating officer and president – North America, Albert Baladi.

Jarrett Gray and Joy Gray Prince open The Harp in Atlanta

The forthcoming restaurant will feature American cuisine, and drinks options will include a wall of 40 self-service taps featuring one-ounce pours of beer, wine, and Champagne, all of which will be purchased using an RFID-enabled bracelet.

Michigan brewery Right Brain to be acquired

The Traverse City craft brewery will merge with younger competitor, Roak Brewing Co., out of the Detroit area, in an attempt to give both brands a boost among the state’s 300 craft breweries.

Burgundy expects largest white harvest ever

According to Louis Fabrice Latour, president of Maison Louis Latour there were bumper crops in the Maconnais and Chablis. Numbers for the final crop remain to be calculated, but indications suggest a substantial crop in white-producing villages across the region.

Felipe Szpigel changing roles at Anheuser-Busch

Szpigel had been the president of the craft business unit for the brewing giant, but will now head an as-yet-undisclosed venture in the “beyond beer” category. He will be replaced by Marcelo Michaelis, current vice president of sales for region 7.

Beverage director Lisa Balagna set to open Marrow in Detroit

Balagna will work with co-owner Ping Ho on the wine program, while designing a craft cocktail list for the combination restaurant and butcher shop, which will focus on lesser-known cuts from locally-raised livestock. Marrow is set to open on October 7.

Denver’s Laws Whiskey House adds two members to leadership team

The Colorado distillery added Christine Perich, formerly of New Belgium Brewing, to their board of directors, while Kieran Walsh was named vice president of sales. Walsh was previously the executive vice president, sales and marketing, for New Orleans-based Porchjam Distillery.

Katie Koran to open Sloan + Parker in Austin, Texas

Koran will operate the family-friendly wine bar with an emphasis on organic and biodynamic wines, as well as a selection of craft beers. Wines will also be available for retail purchase. Sloan + Parker is slated to open in early November.

Beverage director John Hess set to open Dorian’s in Chicago

Hess has designed a cocktail program featuring a variety of original drinks, as well as drinks designed for sharing and a rotating draft cocktail selection. The space will also emphasize music, with a vinyl shop at the entrance and live performances by DJs and bands.

Head brewer Alex Shoenthal to open Lower Left Brewing Company in Charlotte, North Carolina

Shoenthal will focus on IPAs and other hop-heavy beers, with a core lineup of four-to-six beers available year round with a number of seasonal or limited release beers as well. Lower Left Brewing is slated to open in early 2019.

Nick Rancone opens In Bloom in St. Paul, Minnesota

Rancone will serve as beverage director at the new restaurant, which he co-owns with chef Thomas Boemer. The fine dining restaurant inside the Keg & Case food hall will offer cocktails, wine, and spirits, and is set to open on September 24.

Eric Alperin to open The Streamliner in Los Angeles

Alperin will head up the cocktail bar, which will be located inside Los Angeles’s Union Station and attached to sister restaurant and brewery Imperial Western Beer Company. Both spaces are slated to open later this fall.

Sommelier Daniel Beedle opens Sans in Brooklyn

Beedle, formerly of The NoMad and Old World Hospitality, will serve as beverage director at the new vegan restaurant. The cocktail program focuses on avoiding waste by reusing ingredients, as well as plenty of housemade ingredients.

Kevin Lee launches The Wolves in Los Angeles

The cocktail bar, housed inside the Alexandria Hotel, is modeled on a late-19th century Parisian salon. Lee serves as bar director, and has designed a cocktail program centered around house-made amari, vermouths, and liqueurs.

Jeff Josenhans to debut Rendezvous in San Diego

Josenhans, food and beverage director for the U.S. Grant Hotel, is behind the soon-to-open cocktail bar within the hotel that serves as a tribute to the legendary post-Prohibition bar that was housed in the hotel. The bar will offer a variety of punch bowls as well as beer, wine, and other cocktails, and is set to open in late October.

Constance Savage named general manager for L’Ecole N° 41

Savage joins the Walla Walla, Washington-based winery after serving as vice president and director of supplier relations for New York-based Kobrand Corp. She will replace longtime general manager Debbie Frol, who is set to retire at the end of 2018. (Press Release)

David Borsman to open Bar Lyon in Boston

Borsman will serve as beverage director for the soon-to-open French restaurant, which will focus on the classic dishes of Lyon. Drink offerings will focus on French wines, but with beer, cider, and cocktails also available. Bar Lyon is slated to open on September 14.

Debora Fernandez to open Kaiyo in San Francisco

Fernandez will serve as bar manager for the new restaurant, which focuses on Japanese-Peruvian cuisine. Fernandez will incorporate pisco heavily, as well as ingredients such as corn, salted plum, and yuzu which are featured in dishes. Kaiyo is set to open this week.


Michael Chu opens East Trading Co. in Seattle

Chu serves as the bar manager at the cocktail bar, which features twelve signature cocktails named after the Chinese zodiac. Chu previously partnered with co-owner I-Miun Liu on the similarly-themed cocktail bar Dynasty Room, also in Seattle.

Silas Manlove opens Fog Room in Seattle

Manlove, who previously managed similar rooftop bar The Nest, will serve as general manager for the rooftop bar for the new Charter Hotel, offering original cocktails featuring local ingredients.

Joe Lewis named chief executive officer at Painting with a Twist

Lewis, formerly vice president and general counsel at Smoothie King Franchises, Inc. will oversee operations for the over 300 locations of the combination painting studio and bar. Founders Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney will remain with the company but no longer oversee day-to-day operations.

Longtime California winemaker Kent Rosenblum passes away

Rosenblum, a champion of California Zinfandel, founded the eponymous Rosenblum Cellars in 1978, eventually selling to Diageo in 2008. Shortly thereafter he founded Rock Wall Winery, working with his daughter Shauna. Rosenblum was 74 years old.

Court of Master Sommeliers announces 24 new master sommeliers

Tyler Alden, Scott Barber, Peter Bothwell, Dana Gaiser, Morgan Harris, Andrey Ivanov, Maximilian Kast, Douglas Kim, James Lechner, Jane Lopes, Steven McDonald, Vincent Morrow, Elton Nichols, Robert Ord, Joshua Orr, Dan Pilkey, Christopher Ramelb, Steven Robinson, Justin Timsit, Mia Van De Water, Greg Van Wagner, Steven Washuta, Jessica Waugh, and Jill Zimorski all earned the honor through passing the rigorous three-part examination.

Brian Valencia to open Klein’s in Brooklyn

Valencia will serve as North American beverage director for London-based hotel chain the Hoxton, which will open its first location this weekend. Valencia has designed the cocktail program for the all-day restaurant in the hotel’s lobby.

Joe Harden named winemaker at Nickel & Nickel

Harden joins the Napa Valley-based winery after working as the Bordeaux varietal winemaker at Robert Mondavi. He will take over production of Nickel & Nickel’s portfolio of single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons.

Institute of Masters of Wine names ten new Masters

Americans Olga Karapanou Crawford, Lindsay Pomeroy, and Nicolas Quillé earned the honor alongside Elsa Macdonald of Canada, Barbara Drew, Regine Lee, Thomas Parker and Tim Triptree of the UK, Job de Swart of the Netherlands, and Almudena Alberca of Spain, bringing the global total of Masters of Wine to 380.

Jermaine Whitehead opens Deep Dive in Seattle

Whitehead has designed cocktails to match the aesthetic of the moody, deep sea-themed bar, offering both classics and original cocktails in the space, opened by chef Renee Erickson. It is housed within the newly-opened Amazon Spheres.

Giuseppe Rinaldi passes away

Rinaldi was one of the most acclaimed producers of Barolo and a fierce advocate for the region’s traditional winemaking methods. His wife Annalisa and daughters Carlotta and Marta will continue running the winery, as they had during his illness. Rinaldi was 69 years old.

Erik Segelbaum to open St. Anselem steak house in Washington, D.C.

Segelbaum is the corporate wine director for Starr Restaurants, which is partnering with New York-based restaurateur Joe Carroll, who operates the original location in Brooklyn. It will offer 35 wines by the glass including some eclectic offerings from Turkey, Hungary, and Bolivia. St. Anselem is set to open on September 10.

Peter McCrea sells Stony Hill Vineyard to Long Meadow Ranch

McCrea, whose parents founded the iconic Napa Valley winery 70 years ago, will join the advisory board for the Napa Valley agriculture company, while his daughter Sarah will join the executive team. The McCreas will retain a stake in Stony Hill Vineyard.

Jordon Ogron opens Boutellier wine shop in Los Angeles

The bottle shop is an adjunct to the recently-opened Tesse, and will offer over 1000 different wines ranging from $15 to several thousand dollars. The space will also host private events and act as an additional dining room for Tesse on busy nights.


Terrevant Wine Company adds two to sales team

The Santa Barbara County-based winery named Kelly Howell as south central division manager and Gerry Catanzano as northeast division manager. Howell most recently served as vice president of sales – strategic and national accounts at Purple Wine + Spirits, while Catanzano was northeast divisional manager for Mendocino Wine Company.

Chopin Imports Limited names Jeffrey Dechiro vice president of sales

Dechiro has been with the spirits marketing company since 2012, previously serving as central region division vice president. In his new role, he will be responsible for all sales-related company activity. (Press Release)

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards names Debra Eagle general manager

Eagle joins the Santa Barbara County winery after serving as senior director of business development at Vintage Wine Estates. She will oversee construction of the new winery facility, as well as help shift the business towards estate wines and direct-to-consumer sales.

Jon Sebastiani to return to Viansa Winery in Sonoma

Sebastiani’s family founded the winery in 1989, and he served as president of the winery when it sold to an investment group in 2005. It is now owned by Vintage Wine Estates, in which Sebastiani’s Sonoma Brands purchased a minority stake. Sebastiani’s brother, Christopher, will serve as the winery’s general manager.

Scott McLeod joins Cuvaison Estate Wines as consulting winemaker

McLeod served as director of winemaking at Rubicon Estate for 18 years before starting his own consulting business in 2010. He will join the Napa Valley wine company to assist winemaker Steve Rogstad in evaluating winemaking and viticulture practices. Cuvaison has also hired Kelly Maher, formerly of Domaine Chandon, as consulting viticulturalist. (Press Release)

Chad Coulter opens LouVino wine bar in Cincinnati

Coulter will team with his wife Lauren on the wine bar, which will offer 60 wines by the glass. This will be the fourth location for the Louisville, Kentucky-based tapas bar. Louvino is set to open on August 21.

Alison Surgeon named national sales manager at Rombauer Vineyards

Surgeon joined the iconic Napa Valley winery in 2004, most recently serving as northern California and Hawaii regional sales manager. That role will now be filled by Kristine Pederson, previously a senior account specialist with Monterey Bay Wine Company. (Press release)

Silver Trident Winery promotes Mallory McEligot to director of membership & events

McEligot joined the Napa Valley-based winery in 2015 as membership & industry relations manager. (Press release)

William Meznarich to open Savoir in Houston

Meznarich, of local distributor Victory Wine Group, is partnering with owner Brian Doke on the modern American restaurant. Meznarich will curate the bottle and glasspour list, as well as beers and cocktails. The two are also teaming up on the nearby wine bar La Grande Rue. Savoir is scheduled to open in November.


Loire Valley icon Jo Pithon sells Pithon-Paillé

Pithon established his winery in 1978, eventually rehabilitating the abandoned Coteau des Treilles vineyard in Beaulieu-Sur-Layon. That vineyard, along with 15 other acres of vines and a négociant business, were included in the sale. Pithon will remain on as winemaker for the next several years.

Phillip Hurst to join Precept Brands as chief innovation officer

Hurst had served as chief executive officer at Healdsburg, California-based wine company Truett-Hurst, which sold to Seattle-based Precept Brands earlier this month. He will be replaced by co-founder Paul Dolan, who will serve as interim chief executive at Truett-Hurst.

Sommelier Dan Thomas opens South Egremont Spirit Shoppe in Massachusetts

Thomas, who spent a decade as the sommelier at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is partnering with former Spirited Wines “wine guru” Tom Morrison on South Egremont Spirit Shoppe. They’ll feature wines from the Finger Lakes, Greece, the Canary Islands, and Croatia, in addition to Old World staples.

Sommelier Noel Shu to open Wind Rose in New York City

Shu will team with chef Sung Park on the West Village Korean-French fusion restaurant, which will emphasize smaller plates. It’s unclear as of yet what the focus of the wine program will be. The restaurant is set to open in October.

George Parkinson hired as new sommelier at The Peacock Inn

Parkinson joins the Princeton, New Jersey-based restaurant after a 35-year career in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He’ll emphasize Champagne and other sparkling wines, but will still offer different  wines from around the world.

André Mack and Phoebe Damrosch to open & Sons, a wine bar in Brooklyn

Sommelier and winemaker André Mack of Maison Noir Wines and his life-and-business partner Phoebe Damrosch are set to open an American charcuterie and wine bar in Brooklyn’s Prospect-Lefferts Garden in October. The 22-seat venue will feature an all-American wine list focused on selections from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, and a menu of charcuterie and cheeses from American producers.

Norman Bonchick retires from 375 Park Avenue Spirits

Bonchick served as chairman and chief executive officer for the Lexington, Kentucky-based spirits importer, which he joined in 2004 (then known as Van Gogh Imports). He will be replaced by current president and chief operating officer Jason Schladenhauffen. (Press Release)

Far Niente names Andrew Delos director of winemaking

Delos, who previously oversaw winemaking at EnRoute in the Russian River Valley, will continue to manage winemaking at that label while adding oversight for four Napa Valley properties: Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel, Dolce, and Bella Union.

Katie Nelson named senior director of winemaking at Columbia Crest

Nelson had previously worked for parent company Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, and will now assume full winemaking duties for the entire range of wines produced at the Washington winery. She was most recently assistant winemaker at Seattle-based Charles Smith Wines.

Sarah Traynor to open Brass Heart in Chicago

Traynor will serve as beverage director for the soon-to-open fine dining establishment, which will offer wine pairings to go with the 12-to-15 course tasting menu designed by chef Matt Kerney.

Sommelier Zach Olson to open Birch in Seattle

Olson will partner with chef Jeffrey Kessenich on the restaurant, which will offer two different tasting menus. In keeping with the Northwest focus of the restaurant, Olson will offer plenty of Northwest wine in addition to global selections.

Sommelier Jake Skakun to open Le Swan in Toronto

Skakun, will also serve as general manager, is teaming with restaurateur Jen Agg on the revamp for the restaurant, which closed in 2015. He currently runs the wine program at Agg’s wine bar Grey Gardens.

Brent Stone promoted to chief operating officer at King Estate

Stone, who also serves as winemaker for the Willamette Valley winery, will now oversee day-to-day operations. He has been with King Estate since 2011.

Ernest J. Gallo named chief operating officer at E. & J. Gallo

Gallo is the son of current president and chief executive Joseph Gallo, and the grandson of founder Ernest Gallo. He is slated to take over as president and chief executive in 2020, and previously served as the vice president and general manager of the international wine marketing company’s spirits division.

Sommelier Spencer Wolff named executive chef at Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga, California

Wolff will oversee food and wine pairing experiences for visitors to the Napa winery, as well as serving trade members who visit the estate. (Press Release)

Sommelier Mindy Lopus opens SheWolf in Detroit

To pair with the handmade pasta focus of the Italian restaurant, Lopus, who also serves as general manager, has focused almost exclusively on Italian wines, with two dozen available by the glass and another 100 or so bottle selections.

Lanie Bayless to open cocktail bar in Chicago

The small cocktail bar will be situated underneath her father Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill, and will emphasize a variety of Mexican medicinal herbs. Lanie Bayless serves as spirits director for the family’s restaurant group.