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October 2, 2017

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.


Virginia wine industry pioneer Dennis Horton passes away

Horton began growing grapes in the early 1980s, and in the late 1980s planted nearly 30 acres of grapes, including the first Viognier grown in Virginia. Horton also became the first Virginian to replant Norton, a native varietal that was ripped out during Prohibition. He was 73.

Aaron Reed to open Tiki Tatsu-ya in Austin, Texas

Reed will oversee the beverage program at the upcoming tiki bar with the owners of Ramen Tatsu-ya, which currently operates three Texas locations, with a fourth to come. Reed will be assisted by the company’s beverage director Michael Phillips and sake and shochu sommelier Bryan Masamitsu Parsons.

Steve Schwob to open Fort Oak in San Diego

Schwob will serve as general manager at the cocktail-focused eatery— the third he and chef Brad Wise have opened in the last three years. Fort Oak will also offer a deep selection of wines from around the world.

Justin Chin to open Hina Yakitori in San Francisco

Chin, formerly of Gary Danko, will serve as beverage and service director at the new restaurant, which will offer a 16-course tasting menu from chef and owner Tommy Cleary. Chin will offer wine pairings, as well as sake and shochu.

Patrón Spirits creates two new executive roles

Marc Roberts will serve as vice president of control states, Canada, and strategic accounts, while Danny Primo will be the new vice president, commercial excellence, and execution. Both will report to Darren Doalson, newly-appointed managing director of North American sales.

Ian Burch named winemaker at Archery Summit

Burch joins the Dundee Hills, Oregon winery after serving as winemaker for Scott Paul Wines, also based in the Willamette Valley. In the role, Burch will oversee all aspects of the winemaking process.

Fever-Tree USA names Charles Gibb North American chief executive officer

Gibb most recently served as president and chief executive at Belvedere Vodka. The move comes as the producer of tonic water and other mixers takes direct control of US operations. (Press Release)

Joe Volpert to open Corzetti in Portland, Oregon

Volpert, who also partners with chef Johnny Nunn at Verdigris, will serve as wine director at the new Italian restaurant. The emphasis will be on affordable wines from Italy, Spain, and the Pacific Northwest.

Joseph Phelps Vineyards names Clarice Turner president

Turner joins the iconic Napa Valley winery after serving as the founder and chief executive officer of Carneros Associates, a strategic advisory firm. She is also the advisory board director for Women of the Vine & Spirits and a member of the Culinary Institute of America Society of Fellows.

Philippe Melka named lead winemaker at Westwood Wines

Melka is an acclaimed winemaker and consultant famed for his work in Napa Valley. This venture, working with Pinot Noir and Rhône varietals for the Sonoma, California-based winery will be his first in Sonoma County. (Press Release)

Fred Furth, founder of Chalk Hill Winery, passes away

Furth, an acclaimed lawyer, founded the Sonoma County winery in 1972, eventually expanding to more the 1,200 acres outside Windsor, California. He sold the winery to William Foley of Foley Family wines in 2010. Furth was 84 years old.

C. Mondavi & Family names Maria Steckler vice president of national accounts

Steckler joins the iconic Napa Valley wine company after serving as director of national accounts (off-premise) at Duckhorn Wine Company.

Victoria Ash to serve as national sales manager for Westwood Estate Wines

Ash, formerly the Pacific region manager for Purple Wine & Spirits, will oversee sales for the Sonoma Valley-based winery.


Jessica Retif opens Saba with chef Alon Shaya

The New Orleans restaurant focuses on modern Israeli cuisine, but Retif, the general manager, has selected wines from Europe and the Middle East. There is also a Champagne and caviar menu.


Leslie Rudd, founder of Vintage Wine Estates, passes away

Rudd owned a number of businesses in California besides the Santa Rosa-based wine company, including Distillery No. 209 in San Francisco, the Oakville Grocery, and PRESS restaurant in Napa Valley, as well as endowing the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. He was 76 years old.


Dunham Cellars promotes Robert Campisi to head winemaker

Campisi joined the Walla Walla, Washington-based winery in 2008 as a cellar worker, before being promoted to assistant winemaker in 2012. He will oversee all aspects of the winemaking process starting with the 2018 vintage. (Press Release)


Sommelier Freddy Foot opens Birdsong in San Francisco

Foot, formerly of Gary Danko, has assembled a list focused on classic European wines supplemented with smaller Pacific Northwest producers and craft beers, designed to match the restaurant’s emphasis on Pacific Northwest cuisine.

Jared Burns set to unveil new destination winery in Walla Walla, Washington

Burns, the founder and winemaker at Revelry Vintners, will unveil the nearly 12,000 square foot facility situated on 20 acres of farmland on May 4th. (Press Release)

Terravant Wine Company adds two executives

The Santa Barbara County winery announced Mike Jackson as chief sales officer and Tracey Mason as chief marketing and business development officer as they look to more than triple production by 2023.

Precept Wine names Dan Ewer chief sales officer

Ewer joins the Seattle, Washington-based wine company with holdings in four western states after spending almost two decades with Young’s Market Company, most recently as senior vice president of business development for 10 western states.

Winemaker David Heitz to depart Heitz Cellars

Heitz is the son of the iconic Napa winery’s founder Joe Heitz, and has served as winemaker since his father’s death in 2000. The move comes after the recent sale of the winery to billionaire Gaylon Lawrence Jr.

Purple Wine + Spirits adds two to executive team

The Sonoma County-based wine and spirits company named Barry Sheridan chief marketing officer, and Eric Gilliland as vice president of supply operations. Both are joining Purple after working for Treasury Wine Estates; Sheridan as senior vice president of marketing, Americas, and Gilliland as general manager of Beringer.

Leonildo Pieropan, iconic Soave producer, passes away

Pieropan took over his family’s winery in 1967, and for decades was among the few quality-minded producers in the Soave region, including producing the first-ever single vineyard Soave and the first oak-aged Soave. He was 71.

Napa Valley winemaker David Stevens passes away

Stevens worked in management and winemaking for Napa Valley icons like Freemark Abbey and Domaine Chandon, as well as teaching at Napa Valley College’s Viticulture and Winery Technology program. He was 57.

Argyle Winery names Robert Alstrin director of sales and marketing

Alstrin joins the Newburg, Oregon-based winery after more than 15 years working in the Willamette Valley wine industry. He’ll manage marketing and direct-to-consumer efforts for the winery, as well as guiding brand planning. (Press Release)

Alessandro Boga new Italian portfolio specialist at Wilson Daniels

Boga will seek to expand national distribution for Italian wines at the New York-based importer. (LinkedIn)

Far Niente makes two more executive changes

Current chief executive officer Dick Hampson will give way to incoming CEO Steven Spadarotto, though Hampson will remain chairman of the board. Current president Larry Maguire has been named vice chairman.

Matthew Owings new chief financial officer at Rombauer Vineyards

Owings joins the Napa Valley-based winery after most recently serving as the vice president of finance at Jackson Family Wines.

Sommeliers Janice Dean and Eli Traverse to open wine bar in Seattle

Claret will feature over 200 bottles and more than 50 wines by the glass, including half-glass “duos” of each varietal on the list. It’s slated to open in April.

Washington Wine Industry Foundation adds four new board members

Corina Davis, Joe Hattrup, Jordon McEntire, and JJ Williams will join the fund-raising and gift-giving organization. Hattrup farms 165 acres of grapes in Washington’s Yakima Valley, and Williams is the sales manager for Kiona Vineyard and Winery in Red Mountain, Washington.

Frederick Wildman & Sons adds three new leadership appointments

Bill Seawright has been named senior vice president of the company’s East Division; Tim Daffin has been named vice president of the Central Division; and Barry Walsh has been named vice president of the West Division for the New York-based wholesaler and importer.

Jean-Marie Heins new chief marketing officer for Broken Shed Distilleries

Heins, a longtime executive at Sidney Frank Importing Co., was heavily involved in the launch and development of spirits brands like Grey Goose and Jagermeister. She will be in charge of the overall marketing strategy for the New Zealand-produced Broken Shed vodka.


Mercedes O’Brien to open Cold Beer in Atlanta

O’Brien, currently the beverage director at Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow, is collaborating with the acclaimed chef on the upcoming cocktail and beer bar, which will highlight her innovative cocktails, including some made tableside.

Vintage Wine Estates adds two to leadership team

The Santa Rosa, California-based wine company promoted Erin Luby to vice president of tasting rooms and wine clubs, and Kimberly Benson to vice president, finance. Luby has been with the company since 2009, while Benson joined in 2014.


Distilling maven Pearse Lyons passes away

Lyons, also the founder of global biotech company Alltech, entered the distilling industry in 1980 as the founder of the Lexington, Kentucky-based Alcohol School. Eventually, he opened Town Branch Distillery in Lexington, and in 2017 the Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin, Ireland. He was 73.

Maggie Campbell promoted to president of Privateer Rum

Campbell has been the head distiller at the Massachusetts distillery since 2012. In her new role, she’ll look to continue to grow the Privateer brand, as well as expand their stock of aged rums.

Woodford Reserve promotes Elizabeth McCall to assistant master distiller

McCall, previously a master taster for the Louisville distillery, will work under master distiller Chris Morris on product innovation and development.

Benovia Winery names Ed Thralls general manager

Thralls joined the Russian River-based winery in 2016 as director of marketing and business operations. In his new role, he will oversee all sales, marketing, hospitality, finance and business operations for the winery.

Sommelier Ryan Arnold launches wine label

Arnold, wine director for the Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group, is teaming with music industry managers Pat Corcoran and Tim Smith on No Fine Print Wine.

Women for WineSense Napa Sonoma adds six new board members

Maryam Ahmed, currently director of public programs at the Culinary Institute of America, will be the new president. She’ll be joined by Kate Spadarotto as vice president, Brandi Brown as secretary, and Michelle Ruggirello as treasurer, while Teri Cirillo and Antoine Casanave will serve as program director co-chairs for the non-profit wine education organization.

Changes at Craft Brewing Alliance

John Glick is out as vice president of emerging business, and Karmen Olson has been tabbed for the newly-created director of innovation role.

Jean-Pierre Savare purchases Château Franc-Mayne

The French billionaire paid an undisclosed sum for the St.-Emilion Grand Cru Classé estate, which includes the winery, 17.3 acres of vines, and a bed-and-breakfast. The winery currently produces about 2,500 cases of wine annually.

Matt Dogali appointed new president and chief executive officer of the Presidents’ Forum of the Distilled Spirits Industry

Dogali replaces Vicky McDowell, who resigned in December, as the head of the industry lobbying and governmental outreach group.

Robert Rowland named bar manager at Joli

Rowland will run the drinks program at the new Seattle restaurant after a longtime stint at nearby cocktail bar Oliver’s Twist.

Ryan Bailey opens NoMad LA

Bailey, who was previously the Head Sommelier at NoMad NYC, serves as wine director for the Los Angeles outpost from co-owners Daniel Humm and Will Guidara.

Legendary Piedmontese winemaker Bruno Giacosa passes away

Giacosa took over the family wine business in 1960, becoming the first producer in Piedmont to bottle his Barolos and Barbarescos by individual vineyard site. He was also instrumental in saving the Arneis grape from extinction. Giacosa was 88.

Royal Wine Corp. hires Jeremy Briese as Rocky Mountain Midwest manager

Briese will handle sales in that region for the New Jersey-based producer, importer, and distributor of kosher wine and spirits.

Rudy Buratti, chief winemaker at Castello Banfi, passes away

Buratti had been a part of the winemaking team at Castello Banfi since 1983. He was 56.

Pat Pokorny named executive vice president and general manager , Pennsylvania for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

Pokorny was most recently the vice president of the control state and military region for Moet Hennessy USA, and will bring his experience working with control states like Pennsylvania to his new job.

Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas adds five members to board of directors

Master sommeliers Laura Williamson, Randall Bertao, Scott Carney, Reggie Narito, and Virginia Philip will all serve three year terms.

Court of Master Sommeliers names new chair and vice chair of the board

Master sommelier Devon Broglie, the global wine buyer for Whole Foods Market, will serve as chair of the board, while master sommelier Matt Stamp, co-founder of the Napa wine bar and bottle shop Compline, will serve as vice chair.

Lake County Winery Association adds three to board of directors

The newly elected members are Christian Ahlmann of Six Sigma Ranch, Jessie Zielsdorf of Langtry Estate, and Randi Sedrick of Wildhurst Vineyards.

Ferrari-Carano hires Thomas Rivers Brown as consultant

Brown will focus on the cabernet sauvignon program for the Sonoma-based winery, after work with Schrader Cellars, Kinsella Estates, and Charles Krug.

Rombauer Vineyards hires Heather Rehnberg as director of marketing

Rehnberg was most recently a brand manager at Treasury Wine Estates, and will look to further the reach of the St. Helena-based winery.

Alexander Weil joins LA’s Sprout Restaurant Group as assistant general manager and beverage director

Weil has previously been the head sommelier at Bouchon in Beverly Hills.

Paul Coker joins Specialty Restaurants Corporation

Coker was formerly the sommelier at Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Laguna Beach, CA.

Alicia Ortiz named Brown-Forman market manager for South Texas

Ortiz will make the move from Seattle to Austin for the spirits and wine company.

Sonoma State University brings on Heather Conlin as instructor of Wine Business Management

Conlin has 16 years experience in the industry, having served as general manager of ADAMVS Howell Mountain Estate, general manager of CONSTANT Diamond Mountain Vineyard, both in Napa Valley, and general manager of Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz. She will teach the Spring 2018 online certificate program in Wine Business Management beginning Thursday, January 18, 2018.

Lou Romano named CEO of Flying Fish

After four years as the national sales manager for Oskar Blues Brewery, Lou Romano has left the Colorado-headquartered craft brewery to become the president of Flying Fish Brewing Company.

18 new Advanced Sommeliers announced

Congratulations to Jeremy Broto-mur, Taylor Grant, Jay Hutchinson, Lauren Kemp, Justin King, Marissa Kipp, Nathan Morrell, Sophie Oppelt, David Osenbach, Imre Papp, Juan Quintero, Derek Reijmer, Luis Rivera, Katja Scharnagl, Joshua Stanko, Kiril Tsarev, Andres Villegas, and Lindsey Young.

Wine by Joe/Dobbes Family Estate names Travis Proctor director of winemaking operations

Travis Proctor came to Wine By Joe in 2015 as production winemaker to oversee all wine production for the company, under the direction of Joe Dobbes. Now promoted to Director of Winemaking Operations, Proctor will continue in this role, but will also participate in a broader range of company activities, including vineyard/grower relations, industry engagements, business development and promotions.

Steve Burns named president of Wine Market Council

For two decades, Steve Burns has specialized in re-alignment, board development, and management for associations. Most recently, he was the owner of O’donnell Lane L.L.C., a marketing, public relations, and strategic planning firm for associations. Prior to that, Burns was the Executive Director of the Washington Wine Commission, where he served from 1996-2004.

LibDib hires Amanda Rehn as sales VP 

Liberation Distribution (LibDib), a web-based wholesale alcohol distributor, has hired  Rehn vice president of platform sales. She previously worked at Big Basin Vineyards as national sales manager.

Hakkasan Group promotes Kat Thomas to training manager, wine

Hakkasan group promotes Kat Thomas to the position of Training Manager, Wine. Thomas will continue to be based at Hakkasan Las Vegas, but will operate for its Las Vegas U.S. office. She is responsible for training staff throughout the United States on wine knowledge, selling techniques, pairings, and driving sales.

Champagne Pommery appoints Clément Pierlot as winemaker

Pierlot has been a vineyard director at Vranken-Pommery Monopole since 2004. In 2010, he became part of the Vranken tasting panel, and in 2014, took control of oenological development for champagne, as well as overseeing Pommery’s English sparkling wine.

Marc Hirten in as CEO for Frederick Wildman and Sons, LTD

Hirten comes to Wildman from William Grant & Sons where he was General Manager of Commercial Strategy. His responsibilities include overseeing sales, marketing, operations, finance, supplier and distributor relations as well as Wildman’s dedicated wholesale division.

Tim Hassett leaves Beam Suntory

Tim Hassett is leaving the company to run a startup business outside of the spirits industry. Effective immediately, Albert Baladi, currently president of Beam Suntory’s International region, will take on the role of coo and president for the Americas.

Acumen Wines appoints Daniel Saavedra as eastern regional sales manager

Daniel Saavedra has spent the past seven years working in the National Sales Division for Ladera Vineyards in St. Helena, most recently as vice president of sales.

Acumen wine appoints Carter Prasse-Freeman as central regional sales manager

Carter Prasse-Freeman spent six years as District Sales Manager for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, an Acumen partner, in Houston prior to joining the Acumen team.

Unita hires Brian Curran as new VP of sales

Curran brings two decades of beverage industry sales experience, having previously served as vice president of East Coast sales for wine importer, producer, and seller, Terlato Wines International.

Mark Guillaudeu named beverage director at Oakland’s Commis

Guillaudeu was formerly the sommelier and manager at Roka Akor in San Francisco.

Joshua Nadel named Master Sommelier

Nadel is the executive beverage director for Andrew Carmellini Restaurants in New York, as well as the founder of Gothic Wine, a producer of Oregon Pinot Noir.

Andrew Schawel launching Bullion in Dallas, TX

The former wine director at NYC’s Union Square Cafe will be the beverage manager and sommelier for the new French restaurant from acclaimed Dallas chef Bruno Davaillon (insider tip).

Jordan Lari heads to Long Island to open 2 Spring

He’ll team with chef Jesse Schenker (the Gander) to launch the restaurant in Oyster Bay, NY with a list of approximately 500 bottles, including 350 from a “private stock” list of highly sought-after wines.

Anchor Distilling Co. adds three to executive team

The San Francisco-based company has promoted Gregory Finch from president of East Coast sales to chief sales officer, promoted former vice president of marketing Morgan Rabbat to chief marketing officer, and hired Shannon Tracy as chief finance officer.