Team Biographies at WISE Academy
Founder, Jean Arnold Group
After consulting with Hanzell Vineyards since 1999, Jean L. Arnold was named President in January 2002 as Bob Sessions moved into retirement. Prior to joining Hanzell Vineyards as President, Jean was CEO of Jackson Family Farms and its wnine independent wineries. Jean has over twenty-seven years’ of experience in business leadership, executive management, marketing, and sales with notable wineries such as Chateau St. Jean, Chateau Montelena, J Vineyards & Winery, Jordan Vineyards & Winery, Chalk Hill Estate and Williams Selyem. In 1999 she founded her consulting firm, the Jean Arnold Group, to offer luxury positioning and image strategy to private wine industry clients including Laurel Glen Vineyards, Rudd Vineyards & Winery and the management firm of Motto, Kryla, & Fisher.
Jean is the inaugural recipient of the Women in Business Award for Wine given, by the North Bay Business Journal, to women who demonstrate a leadership role in their company as well as business-related innovations, achievements and vision. Click Magazine named Arnold as one of the Top 20 People to watch in 2000 and she received the Bulldog Reporter’s National Crisis Communications Silver Award for Excellence in Media Relations in 2005. Published in “Wine, A Global Business – The Importance of Wine Brand”, Arnold is also one of the creators of “Sip by Sip – An Insider’s Guide to Fine Wine”.
In addition to being an instructor for the WISE Academy, Arnold is a guest lecturer in Professional Studies with the School of Business and Finance at Sonoma State University, a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She is also a guest lecturer at the University of California, Davis and the OIV (in connection with the University of Paris); California State University, Fresno; Culinary Institute of America (Greystone and Hyde Park); National Conference of the American Institute of Wine and Food, The Boston Club Distinguished Leader’s Series, and the Harvard Business School Women’s Association.
Director, Consumer Sales & Marketing, Chateau Montelena
Brian Baker serves as the Director of Consumer Direct Sales and Marketing at Chateau Montelena where he oversees all consumer direct sales and marketing efforts including tasting room, wine clubs, hospitality special events and e-commerce.
Before joining Chateau Montelena, Brian served as the Vice President of Consumer Relationship Marketing at Jackson Family Wines (Kendall-Jackson), where he was responsible for enterprise direct sales growth, strategy, infrastructure development, and maintenance and database management.
Prior to joining Jackson Family Wines, Brian spent 20+ years in the travel industry, including a post as VP Marketing at the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau and before that as Executive Director of Worldwide Marketing for Dollar Rent a Car. Hebegan his career in marketing and publishing in Torrance California at Del Amo News which he founded.
Brian serves on the board of directors of the California Travel Industry Association where he chairs the Sessions committee for the annual Conference on Tourism and also chairs the Session committee for the annual Consumer Direct Wine Symposium which benefits the Coalition for Free Trade and Free the Grapes.
Brian has passed the introductory level of the Court of Master Sommeliers program and is currently studying for the certified level. He is an avid wine collector and wine judge, serving as an adjudicator at the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Spirits Competition. Brian is also an accomplished professional speaker, consultant and facilitator, speaking nationally on subjects including Technology, Foodie Tourism and Branding. He is a graduate of USC with a BA in Journalism and Speech Communications.
Principal, Barclay Marketing Solutions
Kathie Barclay is an experienced marketing professional specializing in direct-to-consumer marketing in the wine industry. She launched one of the country’s first loyalty marketing programs for California retailer Beverages & More. She grew their list from zero to 500,000 members in 4 years by applying the key principles of recency, frequency and monetary value (RFM) to target offers to appropriate consumers.
After launching marketing and merchandising programs for a number of California retailers, Kathie was the Senior Director of Marketing for Windsor Vineyards, whose wine was sold 98% direct-to-consumer. She led the direct marketing practice for Benson Marketing Group, where she created and managed client campaigns that increased revenue and profit in direct-to-consumer sales channels. These campaigns included programs to increase wine club membership and retention, using print and email campaigns as well as saavy data mining and customer segmentation.
Kathie graduated with honors from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her creativity, keen eye for numbers and her overall good business sense help clients focus on the strategies and tactics that produce the most bang for the buck.
Founder, Ensemble Marketing Group
After a career of consumer direct marketing for Quaker Oats, Pepsi, Jeep, Nike, Citicorp, Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab, Jennifer Becker escaped to the Napa Valley and the wine industry. As Vice President of CRM for Robert Mondavi Winery, Jennifer built a 100k+ consumer database, award winning websites, wine clubs, e-commerce systems and managed all CRM campaigns.
In 2001, Jennifer founded Ensemble Marketing Group to help clients forge profitable direct to consumer relationships. Overseeing all Ensemble projects, Jennifer’s focus is on strategic planning and client relations.
Today Ensemble Marketing Group is a virtual network of contract experts specializing in CRM. Each has extensive wine and other industry experience on which they draw to provide some of the most creative and professional services in the wine industry.
Co-Founder & Chairman, WISE Academy
Lesley is an accomplished wine industry entrepreneur and CEO with a focus on change management. Over the past 21 years in the wine industry she has started up the equivalent of seven new businesses, acquired and integrated four companies and led during periods of dramatic change. As co-founder and former CEO of the Ambrosia Wine Catalogue/the Winetasting Network (which she sold to 1-800 Flowers in 2004) she has deep experience in consumer direct marketing of fine wines. Lesley has served on the board of ten wine-related companies and trade associations. In 2006, she co-founded the Specialty Wine Retailers Association. In 2008, she co-founded the WISE Academy, which provides education, training and certification for winery consumer direct professionals. Lesley serves as co-chair of both the Wine Industry Technology Symposium and the Green Wine Summit. She also owns the Aged Cabernet Trust, a library wine brokerage business. Lesley has a BA from Wesleyan University and a MBA from Harvard Business School.
Tamara Boatright is President of VingDirect, which is focused on helping wineries establish and grow their direct-to-consumer sales channels.
Prior to founding VingDirect in 2009, Tamara served as head of Foster’s Wine Estates U.S. Direct to Consumer division. In this role she was acting President of Windsor Vineyards from 2005 – 2007 and President of International Wine Accessories from 2004-2007. Windsor Vineyards is the largest U.S. shipper of wine direct to consumer and it utilizes outbound telemarketing as the primary sales channel.
Tamara has 20+ years of Direct Marketing and General Management experience, beginning with her position at Collin St Bakery in 1990 as General Manager of Cryer Creek Kitchens., a producer of specialty baked goods. She is an instructor at the WISE Academy and a frequent moderator at Direct to Consumer conferences.
VP, Consumer Sales & Marketing, St. Francis Winery & Sequoia Grove
Steve Bowden has been developing strategies, systems and analytical tools topredict and influence consumer behavior for more nearly 20 years. Prior toentering the wine industry, Steve spent 12 years in telecommunicationsdeveloping systems and applied predictive models to increase the lifetime valueof Sprint’s $3 billion long distance consumer business.
Steve began his wine industry career in 2000 leading database marketing effortsfor Robert Mondavi Winery and eventually took on responsibility for all CustomerRelationship Marketing (CRM) activities for the corporation’s 10+ brands. Key achievements included developing comprehensive direct-branding and direct-selling strategies, engineering a sophisticated data mart for analysis, developing models to predict product preferences & customer attrition, increasing wineclub & e-commerce revenue, increasing opt-in email addresses for loyalty programs, managing all consumer-direct communication via email, direct mailand web, and conducting qualitative and quantitative consumer research.
In 2005, Steve moved to The Hess Collection winery where he implemented adata-based marketing strategy to significantly increase share of wallet anddeepen consumer commitment to the brand. Steve’s data based strategies forincreasing marketing relevancy and effectiveness has resulted in consistentdouble-digit revenue growth rates and below-average attrition rates throughoutthe past six years in the wine industry.
In 2006, Steve launched Old Vine Marketing to help wineries build strongerrelationships with their customers. Key services include marketing strategydevelopment, systems selection and implementation, data analysis, andcampaign management.
Steve, a native of Overland Park, Kansas, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Kansas State University and an MBA from the University of Kansas.
Former Chief Marketing Officer, The Hess Collection
Derek has spent his career innovating in and around the wine industry. In 1998 he merged his experience as a Sommelier and Beverage Director at Drew Nieporent’s Myriad Restaurant Group in New York with an intuition for the “Web 1.0” world as Co-Founder of BevAccess, an industry exchange linking the three tiers of the global drinks trade.
After relocating to the Napa Valley, Derek successfully launched Domaine Chandon’s still wine portfolio in the U.S. He went on to become the Director of Sales and Marketing for Lynmar Winery where he played a key role in the transformation of the winery into a top-tier producer and destination. As Vice President of Marketing at Vintrust, a leading provider of wine management and cellarage services to collectors and wineries, Derek oversaw the company’s marketing, communications and branding initiatives. As Marketing Director, Luxury for Foster’s Wine Estates, Derek oversees brand development for Etude Wines, Penfolds (US), St. Clement Vineyards, Sbragia Family Vineyards, and Stags’ Leap Winery.
Derek holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, and has been a guest lecturer at both the Hotel School and at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, daughter and pug.
Senior Associate, The Personnel Perspective
Shelley Brott is an HR generalist with 25 years experience providing human resources management expertise and support to Boards of Directors, CEOs, and other management personnel on a broad range of personnel issues. She previously served as a Division Human Resources Manager for PG & E and as Vice President of Human Resources for Redwood Empire Bancorp.
Shelley holds a degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and a Master’s degree in Industrial Relations/Human Resources from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Wine Consultant & Educator, Tannin Management
Rebecca Chapa, is a Certified Wine Educator and holds the Diploma Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in London. Chapa is the Chairman of the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition. She has taught wine classes for consumers with her own company, Wine by the Class since 2001. Chapa is an adjunct instructor at the Culinary Institute of America teaching Tasting Terroir, Oregon and Washington Intensive and the Fortified and Dessert Wine Intensive. She also teaches WSET classes and classes at the Professional Culinary Institute.
Chapa’s blog www.rebeccachapa.com explores wine, spirits, travel and culture. Chapa launched Tannin ManagementSM in 1999, a San Francisco-based wine consulting firm whose clients have included Napa Valley Vintners, Canyon Road Winery, Geyser Peak Winery, Heck Estates, Credit Suisse, Wines from Spain, Iluna Basque, Twenty-Four Restaurant, Cetrella, XYZ Restaurant at the W Hotel, Belon, Westin St. Francis Hotel, and Auberge Del Mar. Rebecca is Contributing Editor for Wine & Spirits Magazine and has written freelance for Santé Magazine, Wine Business Monthly, Patterson’s Beverage Journal, Cooking Pleasures and Millevigne in Italy. She wrote chapters on California wine regions for The Global Encyclopedia of Wine and on the California Wine Business for Greenwood Publishing’s The Business of Wine.
Rebecca believes that wine should be fun and wine service should not be intimidating. She strives to make information accessible to those who want to educate themselves about wine, yet also understands that wine can be enjoyed without fanfare. Her other interests include singing, songwriting, banjo, guitar and painting sand dollars.
Susan Cole Direct
Susan has more than 18 years of wine marketing experience, all in the direct-to-consumer arena. Her industry knowledge, sales expertise, and ability to build relationships have proven instrumental in helping both large and small wineries achieve and surpass their revenue goals. During her time at Windsor Vineyards, Treasury Wine Estates, and Pezzi King Vineyards she has managed inbound and outbound call centers, wine clubs, and customer service organizations, resulting in revenue growth, club membership, and sales that consistently exceeded projections. For the tasting rooms of Beringer Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean, Stags’ Leap, St. Clement, Etude, Souverain, Meridian and Cellar 360 she had led dynamic and successful training sessions in retail sales and wine club membership that resulted in improved sales revenue and increased club conversion. Susan holds a diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust in London.
Master Sommelier, Full Circle Wine Solutions
Master Sommelier Brian Cronin began his wine career in Raleigh North Carolina. After studying biology in college, Brian realized that he wanted to make wine. However, it was his exposure in restaurant to from wines all over the world and his growing passion for wine that made him want to learn everything.
Brian has worked as a Sommelier in some of the top restaurants in the country. In Chicago he worked for Charlie Trotter as the assistant Sommelier under Master Sommelier Joe Spellman, and then worked his way up to head Sommelier. Since then he has worked as an Educator for Southern Wine & Spirits in Hawaii, as well as Sommelier for Gary Danko restaurant and Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, in San Francisco.
Today Brian spends most of his time doing consulting and education for the public, as well as the hospitality industry. While realizing he could never learn everything about wine, Brian spends much of his free time continually educating himself as well as teaching and examining for the Master Sommelier Program.
Principal, Jean DeLuca Consulting
Jean DeLuca Consulting takes a uniquely integrated approach to wine marketing. Founded in 2005, her consulting business balances consumer-direct objectives with three-tier issues, strategic plans with practical considerations, marketing innovation with fiscal responsibility, sales opportunities with service standards.
Jean’s expertise taps 15 years in luxury resort operations and sales management, half a decade in consumer direct marketing, merchandising and finance management with industry leader Bear Creek Corp (Harry and David, Jackson & Perkins), a decade as director of marketing and public relations with Merryvale Vineyards and Trefethen Vineyards, and four years as a successful wine business consultant. Recent clients have included Round Pond Estate, Swanson Vineyards, Zahtila Vineyards, WineCountry.com, Wine & Dine Events and the Napa Valley Vintners among others.
Angelica de Vere
CEO, Cornerstone Cellars
Angelica de Vere is currently CEO at Cornerstone Cellars after serving as CEO at Sullivan Vineyards. Previously, Angelica was responsible for directing all enterprise initiatives related to consumer direct sales and marketing, and the retail operations for Constellation Wines, US. Along with the responsibility of multimillion-dollar budget planning, she is also responsible for the vision, strategy, and tactical execution of all DTC programs: 16 premium and luxury wine brands, 8 wine clubs, 10 ecommerce sites, and multiple strategic partners, as well as the retail operations for 10 winery visitor center (Napa, Sonoma, Central Coast, and Washington).
With over 16 years of experience in the wine industry and more than 15 years in management, Angelica has in-depth knowledge of and experience with direct-to-consumer wine sales and marketing, e-commerce strategies, tasting room and visitor center management, as well as luxury retail goods. Her talents lie in cultivating high-performance teams, building new business, analyzing and streamlining business practices, and developing sustainable policies that lead to high levels of operational capacity while exceeding performance expectations.
Angelica received a BA from Mills College in Oakland, CA, received a certificate for her additional studies at Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, speaks French fluently, and lives in Napa with her husband and children.
Wine & Food Professional
22 years ago, journeyman performer Peter Downey originally came to the Napa Valley to participate in a Shakespeare festival. When that was postponed until the following year, Peter began his wine education at Beringer’s Hudson House, a Trade-only wine hospitality and training center, while working as an inbound/outbound phone salesperson for the Ambrosia Wine Catalogue. This education was furthered during front line service in some of the finest dining establishments in New York City and the Napa Valley, including The Lever House, The Biltmore Room, La Toque, and the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. As VP and Wine Director of The Winetasting Network, Peter directed Wine Club, Vendor, Wholesale and Trade Client Relations/Operations.
Experience with Michelin*** and NYT **** service teams led Peter to research, understand and implement first-class service, loyalty and retention programs that could also support and reinforce top-tier DTC standards & procedures. These programs aim to provide: 1) an enriching, memorable guest experience, 2) a fulfilling work environment and culture, and 3) excellent reporting and growth opportunities across all channels. Peter continues to work as Actor in the North Bay, while pursuing wine and wine-business education (WSET & WISE Academy).
Sommelier, Full Circle Wine Solutions
Christie Dufault is a San Francisco based sommelier and wine educator. She is a member of the wine faculty at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley, where she has been an instructor for seven years.
Christie, a candidate for the Master Sommelier Diploma, has worked as the sommelier and wine director for some of the Nation’s finest restaurants including Vincent’s in Phoenix and Gary Danko in San Francisco, where she was featured on the Food Network and earned the Grand Award from the Wine Spectator for her work.
As the head sommelier at Quince, Christie was awarded “Best Wine Director 2007” by San Francisco Magazine. Today, she is one of a team of five top sommeliers at the acclaimed restaurant and wine bar, RN74.
Principal, The Personnel Perspective
Jeannette Feldman has over twenty years experience as a management consultant, Human Resources generalist, and leadership trainer. As a consultant, she provides expertise and counsel to CEO’s and senior management teams on issues related to all facets of organizational development, team development, human resources, management training, and recruitment. She provides planning and facilitation services for strategic planning sessions, executive staff meetings, and team retreats. She brings extensive expertise to problem solving and conflict resolution with management teams, partner groups, individuals, and work groups.
Jeannette has held management positions in both Human Resources and Employment for technology and manufacturing organizations.
Chief Education Officer, Full Circle Wine Solutions
Evan Goldstein, MS, is one of the nation’s most prolific food and wine industry veterans. In 2008 Goldstein joined Full Circle Wine Solutions, Inc., a global wine and spirits education company, as President and Chief Education Officer to create tailored experiences that help clients grow brand loyalty and business profits.
Evan’s food and wine career started in the renowned kitchens of Paris and California. In 1984 he joined his mother, Chef and Author Joyce Goldstein, in opening the celebrated San Francisco restaurant Square One. In 1987 he became the eighth American and youngest ever at the time to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier examination. Since 1990 Evan has created wine education programs and service hospitality schools with Seagram Chateau & Estates Wines Company, Diageo, Allied Domecq, and most recently, as the Vice President of Global Wine & Brand Education at Beam Wine Estates. In addition, Evan continues to train and examine candidates for the Court of Master Sommeliers as a Founding Board member.
Evan is the author of Five Star Service: Your Guide to Hospitality Excellence (On Premise Communications Inc.) and the critically acclaimed Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food (University of California Press). His sequel wine and food book for the University of California Press, working titled Daring Pairings, is planned for release in Spring 2010.
Evan is a regular editorial contributor to America’s Santé magazine, Wine & Dine and Indulgence magazines in Singapore, and is the American correspondent for South Korea’s Wine Review magazine. Evan is a recurring guest wine expert on NBC’s syndicated television show “In Wine Country,” San Francisco’s top-rated “Ronn Owens’ Show” on KGO Radio and on Saturday morning television’s KPIX “Eyewitness News.”
DTC Consultant; VP, Sales & Marketing, Cornerstone Cellars
With more than 15 years of experience in direct-to-consumers wine sales, Sonyia Grabski is a prime thought leader and amplifier in identifying market trends, innovative DTC approaches in the wine industry, which includes wine sales programs and consumer targeting, acquisition and retention. Her programs are supported by effective and thorough marketing tactics to support long-term growth and profitability, for the company and brand’s essential messaging. Over the course of Ms. Grabski’s career she has over seen DTC sales and marketing for Constellation Wines, Terlato Wine Group, Visit Napa Valley and is currently the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Cornerstone Cellars as well as managing her own consulting business which provides DTC strategies for companies including Iron Horse, Bonny Doon, Highway 12 and VinoPro.
Pamela began her career in specialty retail, helping Bed Bath & Beyond, Smith & Hawken and Restoration Hardware grow their businesses from early entrepreneurial stages to thriving multi-store chains. After overseeing seven stores in the San Francisco Bay Area as a District Manager, Pamela moved to Napa Valley in 2000, bringing 15+ years of proven retail sales strategies to the growing Direct to Consumer channel. As Visitor Center Manager at Robert Mondavi Winery, Regional Direct Sales Manager for Jackson Family Wines, General Manager for Elizabeth Spencer Wines and then VP of Direct for both Charles Krug and Silverado Vineyards, Pamela combines expertise from two industries, creatively utilizing the best strategies from both to improve business performance. Today, as a wine industry consultant, Pamela helps her clients design branded experiences that promote desired responses from guests and increase the likelihood of purchase during their visit.
Wine Industry DTC Professional
David Johnson brings extensive experience in assessment, development, and education in all aspects of Guest Services and Facility Operations. He has conducted audits of guest services and facility operations for numerous wineries to offer recommendations on how to improve efficiencies, enhance guest’s experiences, and increase overall profitability. He has designed, produced, and facilitated training experiences that provide practical application and immediate transferability in the work environment.
David has a successful career working in the wine industry for over 20 years. He is currently the Hospitality Director at Quixote Winery with general management responsibilities for overseeing overall winery operations. He worked as the Hospitality Director at Larson Family Winery and with his success creation of marketing strategies, cost controls, and organizational development the winery experienced an immediate increase in its profits. As the Consumer Direct Manager he breathed new life into the consumer direct functions at The Hess Collection Winery, and before that he was the Visitor Center Manager at Domaine Carneros Winery for a number of years.
David’s accolades include: 2010 Best Places Northern California Guide Book, 2009 Fodor’s Travel Guides ‘Top Picks Napa Valley’, 2009 Frommer’s Travel Guides ‘Top Picks Napa Valley’, 2009 Great Wine Capitals Bay Area Award for ‘Most Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences’, and 2009 North Bay Business Journal Book of Lists, ‘Who’s Who in Wine Hospitality.
Consultant, Pillsbury Law, Former California Director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)
Jerry Jolly is a consultant for Pillsbury assigned to the firm’s Wine, Beer and Spirits Law practice. He is not an attorney. Prior to joining Pillsbury, Jerry served as Director of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). He also served as Interim Director of Business, Transportation and Housing’s Office of Real Estate Appraisers.
Jerry was appointed Director of California ABC by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004. During his tenure he was responsible for increasing the level of compliance of ABC laws by developing extensive statewide prevention and enforcement programs. Mr. Jolly has over 31 years of experience in public service with knowledge in every aspect ABC law including licensing, enforcement, business practice and fiscal management of statewide programs. On several occasions Mr. Jolly has testified before Senate and Assembly hearings on issues related to California ABC Tied-House law and related matters.
Jerry counsels Pillsbury’s beverage industry clients on how to navigate California’s complex regulatory scheme regarding the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. He keeps clients abreast of legislative and regulatory changes in the industry. The firms Restaurant, Food and Beverage Industry practice represents a wide range of national and regional chains, wineries, distilleries, importers and wholesalers.
In January of 2009, she joined E&J Gallo to manage the wine clubs and e-commerce for William Hill, Louis M Martini and Gallo Family Vineyards. Liz volunteers on Napa Valley Vintners’ Auction Napa Valley – E Lot Committee. She resides in Napa with her husband, also a food and wine enthusiast, and young daughter.
Director of Winery Sales, VinoPro
Rob possesses a wealth of experience working on the consumer direct side of the wine business. He has worked for over 15 years in winery direct to consumer, with a particular expertise in tasting room and wine club management. He built multi-million dollar businesses at wineries such as Sterling Vineyards and Mumm Napa Valley, and has also turned around flagging tasting room and wine club businesses at Geyser Peak and Canyon Road. He launched the Chalk Hill Estate DTC program from virtual scratch, and has also worked as a DTC consultant for numerous wineries in both Napa and Sonoma County.
More recently, Rob worked as the Director of Tasting Rooms for Vintage Wine Estates, with tasting room and wine club management responsibilities at Girard, Cosentino, Kunde and Windsor Vineyards. Rob currently works as the Director of Winery Sales for VinoPro.
Wine Industry Social Media
Paul Mabray has been on the forefront of technology innovation for the wine industry for two decades including Wine.com, WineDirect, and VinTank which was recently acquired by the W2O Group. Vintank is a continuation of his desire to help revolutionize the wine industry by bridging the gap between wine and the digital world.
Paul has been in the wine and spirits industry for over twenty years. He has worked for Napa Ale Works, Niebaum~Coppola, WineShopper/Wine.com and also was the North American Beverage Consultant for Sumitomo Corporation of America from 2002 through 2005. He founded Inertia in 2002 as one of the first major companies established to bridge the barrier between wineries and their customers. He was CEO from 2003 until 2008 creating the largest and most powerful e-commerce platform for the wine industry, the Rethink Engine.
Under his leadership, Inertia created incredible new products for the wine industry to help open up the ability to sell and market direct including the innovative Direct to Trade, ReThink Compliance, Brix Open Source CMS, Marketplace Enablement, and many more. For his last six months at Inertia, Paul was Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Business Development in charge of creating key strategic direction, business development, and mergers and acquisitions. Inertia successfully evolved into Winedirect.com and is the foremost leader for enabling direct to consumer for the wine industry.
A four-time American Wine Blog Awards finalist, he has also been a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, UC Davis and many other symposiums, seminars, blogs, and periodicals for his leadership in the wine industry.
Mercer Hospitality Consulting; WISE Academy Key Account Director
Having grown up in the Napa Valley, Liz always knew it would be her forever home. She spent eight years in the mid west (Detroit), before coming home to roost. With a unique background having a degree in Finance & Business Management, and 17 years’ experience in Direct to Consumer Experience marketing, she approaches the multiple needs of the business balancing the business and guest needs. Her career includes time with Diageo and Pernod Ricard, followed by nearly six years with Gallo, and finally to a small family owned luxury brand. Liz can relate to the challenges faced by large, publicly traded wineries, corporate family owned wineries, and to smaller family owned brands. That breadth of experience has allowed Liz to see how different strategies work for different brands and implement the right solution. She has been an active contributor and instructor for the WISE Academy, which seeks to grow the skills of DTC professionals and managers.
Marketing Director, Consumer Direct Sales, E&J Gallo
Dan Michael joined Gallo in 2005 to spearhead the development of their Direct to Consumer programs and now drives the strategic planning and operations of their tasting room, wine club, eCommerce and consumer event businesses. He currently manages the direct marketing of three brands in the North Coast: Gallo Family Vineyards, Louis M. Martini and William Hill Estate as well as working closely with Bridlewood Estate Winery in Santa Ynez and the company-wide CRM effort centralized in Modesto.
Prior to Gallo, Dan was Director of Hospitality at Domaine Chandon where he managed all aspects of this world-class destination including the visitor’s center, restaurant, tasting salon, boutique and events in addition to the wine club and internet sales. While at Chandon, he developed branding for the direct-to-consumer channel and a small lot program to support their club. He also hosted the Thursday Barrel Auction at Domaine Chandon in 2004.
Leading to his career with Chandon, Dan spent five years at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone where as Director of Special Events and Hospitality he helped build their event program from the ground up. While at Greystone, he developed a strong relationship with the Napa Valley Vintners, contributing to the success of their events such as Premiere Napa Valley and Napa Valley Wine Auction.
Prior to moving to the Napa Valley in 1997, Dan spent ten years in tourism in New Orleans. He is a graduate of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration at the University of New Orleans. He was the Assistant Director of Food & Beverage for the New Orleans Hilton Riverside and managed fine wine retail for Martin Wine Cellar. His career started with two tours cooking at a Michelin starred restaurant outside of Cognac, France.
When not immersed in the wine world, Dan loves to play golf and cook for his wife Erin and daughter Hannah and travel back to New Orleans.
Principal, Decision Applications, Inc.
Ann has been teaching and coaching teams, management and individuals in various industries on Sales, Service and Phone Specialization for over 10 years. She has worked with numerous companies designing their phone-based strategies and implementing and launching telephone programs for Direct Sales, Customer Service and Retention.
She began her career in science and research, as Geophysicist in a major oil company during a period when “continuous Improvement” philosophies were being sought. Her career then transferred into Director of Business Process Improvements which focused on the bottom line and designing organization workflow and employee skills and decision-making to efficiently meet and exceed the goals. Since then, Ann has been leading organizations and groups in the development of new and emerging efforts, including customer service and sales skills in both retail and direct-to-consumer markets.
Ann has a Master’s degree in Geophysics, a post-graduate degree in Conflict Resolution, is a certified State Mediator and a National Baldrige Business Examiner. She has done work for companies such as TiVo, OpenTable, SGI, Mywaves, DIRECTV, ClientLogic, and continues to work with groups to help their DTC business.
Ann joined Decision Applications in 2006 and consults regularly.
Founder, Call for Wine
Mark Parton has 17 years of sales and marketing experience with 12 of those years spent developing and growing inside sales teams in a number of different industries. From computer equipment and wholesale print consumables to inbound and outbound calling campaigns in the call center industry, Mark has exhibited a clear understanding of what makes a happy customer, while helping companies exceed their sales goals. While in the computer industry, he was responsible for growing a business unit form $32 million to $45 million in a two year period. Mark’s current passion is introducing this style of direct marketing to the wine industry, allowing wineries to experience the potential of their customer database.
Mark is originally from Chicago and has a BA in Economics from Southern Illinois University. Over the past 10 years he has traveled through wine country in the United States as well as Europe and South America.
An entrepreneur at heart, Rachael Poer has enjoyed a rich career in hospitality for fourteen years. Her appreciation began in the business as a young child, moving from hotel to hotel to support her father’s career in hotel management. From these experiences, Rachael knew that providing a memorable experience for a guest was her true calling. She has had the pleasure of working solo as a private chef and event planner for many years in San Francisco and Napa Valley while rounding out her experience by working for several luxury brands such as: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Silver Oak Cellars and Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley.
Throughout Rachael’s broad career in the wine business and hospitality she has always remained focused on the details and presentation of a brand that has lead to a superior guest experience. In 2010 Rachael created “Hopscotch Events” where she consults for wineries and their brands by conceptualizing programs, promotion and business development initiatives. The drive behind Hopscotch Events is to provide “hospitality with purpose,” by concentrating on event marketing goals that support customer retention and direct to consumer wine sales.
Wine & Spirits Professional
With decades of experience in the food and wine business, Jeff Prather shares his wealth of knowledge through engaging, and often amusing, wine content for the website and wine shop both at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco and Oxbow Wine Merchant in Napa.
Having been an actor in his earlier years, Jeff is a natural instructor, entertaining and educating students in tasting classes. After opening the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley in 1995 as the Restaurant Director and Cellar Master, Jeff served as Director of Wine Education at Shafer Vineyards, Flora Springs Winery, as well as the historic Beaulieu Vineyard. After serving as Senior Wine Merchant for the original Wine.com with Peter Granoff and Bo Thompson, Jeff was the managing Director of Azalea Springs Winery. Jeff became known for his decade of work as Wine Director for Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle which merited him several awards, including four James Beard Award nominations, Restaurant Hospitality Magazine’s Best American Wine List, Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, and Restaurant Wine Magazine’s Wine Marketer of the Year nominee. Jeff judges at wine competitions and is a frequent speaker and guest sommelier at national wine events. As a writer, he has been published in several magazines, was a correspondent for the Microsoft Online Network (MSN), a contributor to Oz Clark’s Microsoft Wine Guide CD-ROM and is co-author of the book “Northwest Wines.”
General Manager, Wine Creek LLC
Greg Ralston is a graduate of Portland State University, where he graduated with a BS in Economics and Certification in Urban Studies. While attending college, Greg began his career in fine wines with a position in a prominent Portland restaurant. Upon graduation, he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area, accepting another restaurant position in Berkeley, where he was responsible for selecting wines and crafting the wine list.
Over the next five years, Greg enhanced his wine knowledge and skills by working as a sales representative for an importer of small, family-owned estate wines from Italy and France; as a regional sales broker for artisanal wine estates from California’s Sonoma County; and as a fine wine merchant. These experiences provided Greg with the industry perspective necessary for his next career step, working directly for a family-owned and operated winery.
In late 1988, Greg joined Chateau Montelena Winery as Sales & Marketing Manager. In May of 1990, he was appointed Director of Sales and Marketing and in 1998 he assumed the position of Managing Director. During his tenure, he represented the winery at extensive speaking engagements and presentations before consumer, trade, and professional groups around the world. Now, with more than 20 years in the wine industry, Greg continues to be involved with every level of wine marketing, sales and distribution.
As a licensed private pilot and avid fly-fisherman, Greg escapes to trout streams when the opportunity arises.
President and Publisher, Streetwise Reports
Karen Roche is the President and Publisher of Streetwise Reports. Streetwise Reports publishes multiple on-line investor magazines which focus on aggregating information from investor sector leaders and companies to provide individual investors with information to make investment decisions.
Karen’s position before Streetwise Reports was COO of The Winetasting Network. During her tenure with Winetasting, she grew the company fourfold by focusing on relevant sustainable activities and reinventing the company from a dot.com to a winery service provider. In November 2004, The Winetasting Network was sold to 1-800Flowers.com.
Prior to joining Winetasting, Karen spent the majority of her career helping companies with strategic and tactical leadership required for rapid growth. Her background includes ten years of management consulting first at Towers Perrin and then at Sibson & Company, where she was a managing partner, and 10 years of sales and marketing experience at technology services firms including ADP – Network Services and Control Data.
Karen has lectured at both the UCLA and USC graduate business schools and is published in several business journals. She earned her MBA from the UCLA Anderson Graduate School and BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
CEO, Vintage Wine Estates
Pat Roney is an active partner in several wine related ventures, including Girard Winery, Windsor Vineyards, Napa Valley Specialty Wines, Bin to Bottle and Put a Cork In it.
Pat has also been actively involved with the development of Dean & DeLuca where he served as CEO. He currently sits on their Board of Directors. Pat has also served as President of Chateau St. Jean and Kunde Estate Winery. Prior to that he was Executive Vice President of Marketing for Christian Brothers and spent eight years with the Seagram Wine Company in marketing and sales capacities.
Pat holds an MBA from Southern Illinois University and a BS from Northwestern University.
President, Visitor Management Resources
Craig Root has over 30 years experience working with the public in visitor centers, including twelve years as staff and then manager of the Beaulieu Vineyard tasting room.
As Manager at Beaulieu, he more than doubled the business with many innovations including a very successful direct mail program. The Sacramento Bee and the McClatchy newspaper chain rated his operation as one of the top ten visitor centers in Northern California.
As Manager of Trefethen’s Visitor Center, Craig increased business by over 70% by revitalizing the staff and tours as well as creating another highly profitable direct mail program which grew to 900 members in eight months. For the last 15 years, Craig has provided successful consulting for tasting rooms all over the United States, Canada, and China. He is the only person to teach and lecture Tasting Room Design and Management at UC Davis. He has also been a regular speaker for the Wine Industry Symposium, the Unified Symposium, and colleges and organizations throughout California and Oregon.
In addition, Craig still works one Saturday per month on the floor at a busy tasting room in order to stay in touch with the public and the work. He averages one wine club sign-up and two tours per shift. This experience keeps his seminars fresh and updated.
Craig lives outside of St. Helena with his wife, a professor of Speech and Theatre. He serves on the board of the Napa Valley Wine Library.
GM, St. Helena Winery
Lesley Russell is responsible for all direct-to-consumer sales and marketing efforts at St. Supéry Vineyards and Winery in Napa Valley, California. She oversees St. Supéry’s visitor operations (host to 70,000 guests annually), wine clubs, web presence and e-commerce, as well as consumer marketing. She has 15 years of experience selling wine in the U.S. and international markets. She was International Sales Manager for St. Supéry for seven years; responsible for business development in Western Europe, UK, Asia and Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Lesley received an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 while working full-time for St. Supéry. Lesley was raised in California and now lives in Napa with her husband, two daughters and a Labrador Retriever.
Co-Founder & Principal, WISE Academy
Mack Schwing is a co-founder of The WISE Academy. Previously, he was Director of the Wine Business Program at Sonoma State University for five years following his retirement from Deloitte Consulting. At the University, he was responsible for all wine industry business education and developed a passion for wine industry professional education. During his thirty years at Deloitte, he held several senior management positions including Global Director of Information Systems Consulting and Director of Management Consulting for Asia-Pacific.
Mack has an MBA and a BS in Mathematics from Michigan State University. He is a board member of the Sonoma County Food & Wine Center and of Webview, Inc. as well as Co-Chair of the Green Wine Summit. Mack also serves as Vice Chairman, Shone Farm Foundation where he oversees the winery for Santa Rosa Junior College. He also shares his broad wine knowledge as Chairman of the Wine Committee at Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club.
Tasting Room Manager, Silver Oak Cellars
Jody Stewart has 27 years of retail management experience. She firmly believes that quality customer service and creating a community for our guests are key attributes to any successful business.
She began her management career in Aspen Colorado at Les Chefs D’Aspen, a gourmet housewares store and cooking school. Starting in a sales staff position, Jody quickly became the store manager and full time buyer for this high end retail store. Next she was hired to manage the sales floor at Boogies, a luxury boutique clothing store with annual revenues of $6M and a sales floor staff of 30 employees. In 1992 Jody moved back to her home state of California to open the flagship store for Wolf Coffee Company. This led to opening two more locations and becoming the Retail Operations Manager of four stores, 65 employees and annual budgeting. Her love for food and wine led her to her last position as the Consumer Direct Manager and Tasting Room Manager at Kunde Family Estate for 10 years. Responsible for the Tasting Room, Wine Club, Hospitality & Events, and Website as well as long term planning and annual expense and revenue budgeting.
Jody lives in Santa Rosa with the best guy in the world, her husband, one cranky cat, and a loving dog.
Founder & Chief Exectutive Officer, Full Circle Wine Solutions
Limeng founded Full Circle Wine Solutions, Inc. in Fall 2007, as a global wine and spirits education firm to deliver tailored onsite seminars and engaging online content.
Previously, Limeng was the Senior Director of Marketing at Beam Wine Estates where she managed the company’s core brands including Clos du Bois, Geyser Peak and Wild Horse Winery. Her cross-functional experience in working closely with winery operations, regional sales and finance management enabled her to lead the brands to successful positions in the competitive wine marketplace. During her tenure, the Sonoma County-based Clos du Bois brand grew from 1.5 million cases to surpass the 2-million case mark.
Her professional background includes a position as the MBA summer intern at Pepsi-Cola North America’s Strategic Planning division. Previously, Limeng spent three years in a rotational management achievement program at Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery where she held sales, marketing, operations and business development positions. As a native of Singapore, Limeng is particularly excited about the opportunity to build a global business in Asia through wine education and hospitality programs.
In 2003 Limeng graduated from Harvard BusinessSchoolwith a Masters in Business Administration. She also graduated with Honors from Duke University in three years with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.
Managing Director, Juice Box | direct
Kristi Taaffe specializes in helping build and grow lifestyle brands through direct engagements with their end users. She has deep experience in building online marketplaces – providing robust revenue streams and developing innovative new ways to engage consumers in lifestyle interests and brands. In her most recent role as VP, Marketing for Inertia Beverage Group (IBG), she lead the Corporate and Product Marketing strategies for the wine industry’s leading direct-to-market service provider, assisting over 350 wineries in building their brands and gaining access to their desired markets..
Prior to IBG, she oversaw the Consumer Relationship Marketing division at Foster’s Wine Estates, where she led direct sales and marketing for nine Foster’s brands, including Beringer Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean, Stags’ Leap Winery, Etude Wines, and Souverain, among others.
Kristi’s experience in the Wine Industry goes back to the late 90’s, where she was responsible for the marketing efforts for Virtual Vineyards, and its re-brand initiatives around a new name – wine.com. She has led marketing for several leading lifestyle and luxury brands, driving the direct-to-consumer strategies for early eCommerce players like Preview Travel (now Travelocity), and multi-channel retailers like Smith & Hawken, where she helped modernize their brand and accelerate their DTC sales, preparing the company for its subsequent purchase by Scotts-MiracleGro.
Kristi lives in Marin County with her husband and two children.
Director of Finance & Partner, Folio Wine Partners
Susan Vowell, Director of Finance at Folio Fine Wine Partners, is responsible for strategically managing the company’s day-to-day finance operations, including financial oversight and analysis of all production, sales and marketing, and administrative/human resource operations. Her knowledge of and experience in the wine industry and vineyard operations was gained during her tenure with G&J Seiberlich LLP in St. Helena, as Director of Finance for Vine Cliff Winery, and as CFO with Trefethen Family Vineyards. Susan’s previous public accounting experience included senior management positions with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington, DC and Ernst & Young in Philadelphia. Susan received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business & Economics-Accounting from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, and is professionally licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Susan and her husband John maintain a small vineyard and produce wine under the commercial brand name of Rocinante Wines & Vineyards.
Senior Manager, Moss Adams
Wine Industry veteran, Bill Vyenielo’s love for agriculture was instilled growing up in Sonoma County. A UC Davis graduate, he began his career 28 years ago as an agricultural lender with American Ag Credit in St. Helena. He later served as Controller and Vice President of Monticello Cellars and Vineyards in Napa. After a sabbatical to earn an MBA at Pepperdine University, Bill spent the next 14 years from 1991 through 2005 leading the highly regarded Peter Michael Winery as General Manager and Chief Executive. Under his leadership at Peter Michael, Bill set a steady course for his team, helping guide the winery and vineyard estate from a fledgling start-up to one of the most respected producers of limited production, ultra-premium wines in the world.
Bill, who left Peter Michael to found his own consulting business, knows the “daunting feeling” that can accompany the many challenges faced by winery principals. He draws on the experience he’s gained in successfully developing and managing luxury-focused winery operations and brands, to help winery clientele who are committed to succeeding in the ultra premium and luxury niches. Bill helps guide them through challenges spanning marketing, operations, winery and vineyard development. He works directly with owners and managers of ultra premium wineries striving to grow their business, improve efficiency, increase profitability and build a sustainable, valuable brand.
CPA, CITP, CSPM, Brotemarkle, Davis and Company
Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM is the Countess of Communication at Brotemarkle, Davis and Company, where she helps make accounting and business concepts understandable. She is a contributing columnist for for www.theprogressiveaccountant.com and a frequent speaker at events around the country. She is a former software company executive and software industry analyst and a two-time graduate of the Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe. As a CPA, she is passionate about finding interesting ways to explain accounting concepts and has discovered an endless supply of formerly boring material. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC.
She is the author of How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 ways even a nerd can be heard, which offers presentation help to her fellow nerds.
Vice President, Communications & Trade Relations, Trinchero Family Estates
As Vice President of Communications and Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates, Barry Wiss is responsible for establishing one of the industry’s most creative and innovative culinary and wine education programs, Vine to Dine®. Vine to Dine® has received international accolades and has been described as the most innovative approach to wine education. Barry is also the author of the World Wine Challenge®.
Barry is a Certified Wine Educator and Certified Sommelier, he has also been awarded Advanced Level Certification with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of Wine Educators. He is also presently pursuing a Master Sommelier diploma with the Court of Master Sommeliers
Barry and his wife Kim make their home in Napa, but a love of fine wines lures them away on tours of the world’s great wine regions. Barry is an avid fisherman, whose other passions include cooking, growing culinary herbs and tomatoes, and enjoying fine Irish Whisky.
Former Estate Director, Domaine Chandon & Newton Vineyards
Matt Wood was born in England in 1965. After gaining a Bachelor of Laws degree from Leeds University, he joined Bass PLC as a management trainee. Following several assignments in retail operations and marketing he left to form his own small business consultancy service.
In 1994, Matt immigrated to California with his wife Elke and looked for opportunities within the wine industry. In 1997, he settled at Franciscan Estates starting as a tasting room assistant before moving into a management role overseeing the direct to consumer business. As the business transitioned to ownership by Constellation, the importance of consumer direct, and Matt’s role grew substantially. After ten years with Icon Estates where Matt managed ten tasting rooms, multiple wine clubs and internet sites, he transitioned to a new role with 1-800 Flowers in July of 2008.
Matt’s new role is focused on developing the wine category for the 1-800 Flowers group of companies, including 1-800 Flowers, Plow and Hearth, Ambrosia and many others. In addition he is spearheading a new co-operative marketing model with wineries to leverage the 1-800 Flowers customer database.
Laura Zahtila Michael
Proprietor, Michael Wines
A long-time wine enthusiast, Owner and Proprietor Laura Zahtila purchased a Calistoga winery estate that would become Zahtila Vineyards from the Traulsen family in 1999. At the time, Laura was a sales specialist with Cisco Systems in San Jose and had over 15 years in the high tech industry. It was a career that required intimate knowledge of high-tech product application. Knowing how the technology worked was critical to her success in selling the product.
Today, Laura’s tenacity for learning systems and science is directed at running her small winery and vineyard estate dedicated to limited-production, premium red wines. Since 1999, Laura has managed all winemaking processes from grape sourcing to the logistics of launching and operating a winery. Her zeal to understand winegrowing at its root has her pruning, picking, irrigating and collecting soil samples in the vineyard. A thirst for winemaking knowledge encourages her participation in crush, pump-overs, racking and bottling.