Shannon Borg writes about wine for Seattle magazine. She is the author of Chefs on the Farm: Recipes and Inspiration from Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts (Skipstone, 2008), and currently splits her time between Seattle and Orcas Island, where she manages the Doe Bay Cafe at Doe Bay Resort & Retreat.
W. Blake Gray is author of “California Winetopia,” a Japanese-language guide to California wines. He was previously a staff wine writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and has contributed articles on wine and sake to The Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, Wine & Spirits, and several in-flight magazines. Gray is currently Chairman of the Electoral College of the Vintners Hall of Fame.
David J Minick was raised on a diversified farm in Yakima Valley. After many years of raising juice grapes, cherries, and hops David’s family planted its first wine grapes in 1982. After graduating from WSU in 1990 David moved back to Prosser to start his career in the wine business and founded Willow Crest Winery in 1995. Focusing on Pinot Gris and Syrah Willow Crest has grown to 10,000 cases with a production facility that handles 1,200 ton annually. In 2008 David partnered with Precept Brands to create Willow Crest Wine Estates, an estate winery that focuses on Pinot Gris, Riesling and Syrah, using the estate grapes of their Yakima Valley vineyard to produce crisp whites and fruity reds. Today David manages 450 acres of wine grapes in two vineyards, a large white wine facility on the estate, and a premium red wine facility located at Alder Ridge Vineyard in Prosser.
Join The Washington State Beef Commission and Double R Ranch at the VIP (Very Important Protein) Beef Bar for a taste of beef at it’s best – Pulled Bourbon Braised Beef Short Ribs brought to you by the Lisa Dupar Catering team from her new cookbook!
Don’t miss the cooking stage at 5:30 pm. LDC Executive Chef Grover Ramsey will demonstrate the featured recipe with the help of a Washington Beef Producer.
Old Fashion Homemade Ice Cream Recipes
Shayn Bjornholm, MS is the Education Director for the Washington State Wine Commission, helping spread the word of its world-class vineyards and wines far and wide. A Master Sommelier since 2005, Shayn also serves as the Assistant Education Director for the Court of Master Sommeliers – Americas, helping design and execute the curriculum, study materials and examination system. He is really thankful that computers/machines can’t ever simulate the last three ingredients needed that might threaten both positions – unique palates, a real glass of wine and the admittedly peculiar jones he gets when he sees the lightbulb go on for anyone expanding their vinous horizons.
Born and raised in Australia, Wendy left the Barossa Valley in October 2007 to join Chateau Ste. Michelle as its white winemaker, managing day-to-day operations at the winery’s white wine cellar in Woodinville, located outside of Seattle, Washington.
Prior to joining Chateau Ste. Michelle from “down under,” Wendy was considered one of Australia’s best white winemakers and worked with the Fosters Group based at the Wolf Blass Winery for 15 years. She was responsible for some of the company’s iconic white wines, most notably the highly regarded Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling.
Wendy’s strong interest in Riesling is what initially attracted her to Chateau Ste. Michelle, the leading North American Riesling producer with a 40 year history of Riesling winemaking.
“Having worked with many different Riesling vineyards in Australia over the past 15 years, I was keen to work in another part of the world known for producing outstanding Riesling. At Chateau Ste. Michelle, I have the opportunity to make a range of different Riesling styles, some of which we weren’t able to produce in Australia, like ice wine.
The move to Chateau Ste. Michelle has been a great opportunity to broaden my professional experience by learning about and making wines from Washington.”
A native of Palm Beach, Florida, Jason first began cooking at age 15 and later worked at The Breakers Hotel. On the way to Hawaii, during a long layover in San Francisco, Jason took a job at Campton Place working for then-chef Laurent Manrique. He never finished the rest of the flight. A year later, Daniel Humm took over as executive chef, and quickly made Jason his executive sous chef. When Campton Place received four stars from The San Francisco Chronicle it attracted big-city restaurateur Danny Meyer, who lured Chef Humm to Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan. Charged with remaking Eleven Madison into a flagship restaurant, Humm insisted Mr. Meyer bring Jason as well.
Together they set to ushering in a new era of fine dining within Danny Meyer’s hospitality empire. After six years of working under Daniel Humm, Jason left the post of executive sous chef to become the executive chef of Seattle’s landmark Canlis Restaurant. Having helped transform Eleven Madison Park and placed it on the forefront of Manhattan’s dining scene, Franey set a new course: keep Canlis, 58 years young, at the forefront of fine dining in Seattle.
“My goal is to make Canlis feel even more like Canlis,” Franey said to press members curious of his intentions. “It’s Seattle’s showcase restaurant…we have room to grow, but I want to keep it the jewel a whole city will be proud of.”
Jason is Canlis Restaurant’s fifth-ever executive chef in 60 years.
Gorman Winery has been producing super-premium wines in Woodinville since 2002 and has an annual production of 1,500 cases. Our primary production is Red Mountain Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and small-lot barrel-fermented Chardonnay from the Conner Lee Vineyard.
Chris Gorman descended into the wine business after graduating from university in 1991, apparently too affected to climb out, he made the best of it. Cutting his teeth on world class Barolo and Barbaresco, he spent 3 years working for a small Italian Importer and never looked back. For the next decade, as a main stay in the Seattle wine trade, Chris was lucky to represent some of the finest wines in the world. He traveled extensively in the wine areas of Italy, Spain and Germany. His is a simple philosophy; to make wine, it is imperative to understand it. Those early years found him producing small batch wines, using “stolen fruit” from many of Washington’s finest vineyards.
In 2002 Gorman Winery went commercial. Since 2002 the mission was very clear. Make delicious wines. Choose the finest grapes in Washington State, use the finest coopers and suppliers, don’t settle and don’t screw it up. We have no employees and better yet no Board of Directors. All decision making is very simple. We are currently a single employee winery, with the occasional use of volunteer help for bottling and partying. Producing approximately 1500 cases a year (2006), maintaining quality as our main focus is very manageable. And that focus has been primarily on Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. For our style, the muscular nature of this fruit is a perfect match. Our close relationship with some of the greatest fruit growers in Washington State has been a major factor in our success in producing top quality wines. In 2006 we added our first white wine, the Big Sissy Chardonnay. Open only a few times a year to the public and consumers, our parties have been very well received. With a mix of incredibly loud music, delicious foods and great energy, our openings have been “hot-ticket “events.
Like Haley Joel Osment, Macaulay Culkin and that kid who played Mikey in the Life cereal commercials, Greg Harrington was a star before his time.
In 1996, at age 26, he became the youngest American ever to pass the Master Sommelier exam. At the time, he was working as wine director for Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in New Orleans and Las Vegas, where he developed a wine program that earned Wine Spectator’s Grand Award—an honor bestowed on fewer than 100 restaurants in the United States.
Avoiding the pitfalls that beset many young talents (rehab programs, bar fights, romantic liaisons with Lindsay Lohan) Harrington progressed to other major roles. From his job with Emeril, he went on to serve as wine director for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, managing beverage programs for Spago in Chicago, Las Vegas, Maui and Palo Alto, and others. More recently, he ran the beverage division for B.R. Guest’s 14 restaurants, including Blue Fin and Fiamma in New York, which feature two of the city’s most extensive and celebrated wine lists.
Over the past 12 years, he has won 21 Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence, and has been a regular speaker at prestigious wine festivals across the country, including the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Kapalua Wine and Food Festival and the Telluride Wine Festival. For all his lofty pedigree, Greg remains a down-home guy. He favors dive bars over fancy tasting rooms, and, with his career change, he has fulfilled one of his greatest ambitions: he almost never has to wear a suit.
He is a graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and is a regular guest lecturer for undergraduate and graduate beverage management courses at Cornell. Greg has four times been the featured sommelier at the acclaimed James Beard House. Greg also serves on the Board of the Court of Master Sommeliers and is co-founder and board member for W2U, an annual wine trade weekend in Walla Walla.
He has also appeared as a wine expert on numerous radio and television shows, including Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Invariably, those who meet him are left with this impression: he’s a serious winemaker who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
The wine editor of Travel + Leisure Magazine, Bruce Schoenfeld has written on diverse topics for The New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, Sports Illustrated, GQ, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Outside, Departures, and many other national and international publications. He has been awarded two Emmy Awards for television writing and has published books on bullfighting and tennis player Althea Gibson. Formerly a contributing editor for Wine Spectator, he has made more than a dozen visits to Washington wine country. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife, Julie, and sons Teddy and Toby.
Sean P. Sullivan is editor of Washington Wine Report – an independent blog focused exclusively on the wines of Washington State. The blog was founded in 2007 with the goal of providing consumers with wine ratings and information. In addition to his blog, he has written for Seattle Metropolitan, Vineyard & Winery Management, Washington State Wine Tour Guide, and Wine & Jazz. Sullivan resides in Seattle, Washington.
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Chris Sparkman, Dad, Winemaker and Head Janitor, also works in the restaurant world as Wine Syndicate Director for Mackay Restaurants in Seattle. He was in the Peace Corps in Cameroon, spent a couple of decades as GM, sommelier and wine buyer in some of America’s best restaurants, including Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Michael’s in LA, Todd English’s Olives in DC and Waterfront Seafood Grill in Seattle. He serves on the Board of the Washington State Wine Commission. His Personal Management Team is headed by Kelly, Stella and Ruby.
Sara Schneider is Sunset magazine’s first wine editor, reponsible for tasting panels, food-and-wine pairing in the test kitchen, wine-related food and travel coverage, and the magazine’s wine club.
With a B.A. and an M.A. in English, Sara taught high-school English for 10 years before a love of cooking drew her to San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, where her wine interest began. After earning her AOS dregree, she combined her word and culinary backgrounds as editor of Berkeley-based Bay Food magazine for three years, then joined Sunset’s editorial staff, first on the copy desk, then as a senior food editor, eventually becoming head of the food department. In that role, she expanded the magazine’s wine coverage, launching its Western Wine Awards program and the Sunset Wine Club. In 2005 she was named wine editor.
Sara writes a monthly column on food and wine pairing, trends, and issues in wine, as well as other wine-themed food and travel stories, and in 2007 co-authored the book California Wine Country, a Sunset Field Guide.
An award-winning author, speaker, wine consultant, television host, and founder of the new multi-media company, Thirsty Girl, Leslie Sbrocco’s entertaining approach makes exploring wine, travel, and food fun.
Sbrocco’s first book, Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine (William Morrow), has been excerpted by two national magazines – Redbook and Family Circle – and won the coveted Georges Duboeuf Best Wine Book of the Year award. Her second book, The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide, (William Morrow) was released to wide acclaim and she is currently at work on her third book, Adventures of a Thirsty Girl.
Her work has been published in outlets such as Epicurious.com where she was the Tasting Notes columnist for five years, O the Oprah magazine, Coastal Living, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping and Glamour among others. Prior to completing Wine for Women, Leslie was a columnist for The New York Times online and General Manager/Co-founder of WineToday.com, a site of The New York Times Company.
Leslie’s current television project is as host of the PBS series Check Please! for which she has won a coveted James Beard award, two Tasty Awards, and three Emmy awards. Sbrocco is also a featured judge on the PBS national series, The Winemakers, and a regular guest on NBC’s Today Show, where her humor and passion resonates with viewers.
A sought-after speaker, Leslie has spoken at events ranging from O magazine’s “Hi Gorgeous” tour to the American Dietetic Association national convention. She has been the keynote speaker at many wine events including the Boston Wine Expo, Pinot Noir New Zealand, and the Washington D.C. International Wine and Food show. Her corporate clients include RedPrairie, Cisco Systems, Ketchum, Southern Wine and Spirits, Target, Jackson-Lewis, Vineyard Bank, AOL, The Wall Street Journal, Liberty Mutual, and Fleishman-Hillard. She is also a wine educator for Crystal Cruises and Holland America Cruise Lines.
Leslie has built wine programs for and consulted with companies such as Harry & David, the Kimpton Hotel Group and Virgin America Airlines.
Sbrocco is a respected judge at a number of the largest wine competitions both domestically and globally including the Concours Mondial, The Argentina Wine Awards, and San Francisco and Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competitions.
Only a plum job could have wooed Jean-Francois Pellet away from a prestigious post in the Napa Valley.
In 1999, he received the offer he couldn’t refuse.
The Swiss-born winemaker had been working for four years at Heitz Cellars, a benchmark property in Napa, when Pepper Bridge Winery came calling.
The pioneering Walla Walla winery invited him to become its new creative force.
“I saw it as a great adventure,” Pellet says. “Walla Walla impressed me right away as a unique grape-growing area, and Pepper Bridge Winery gave me a chance to build a winery from scratch in a region whose blend of old and new world traditions reflected my own interests and experiences.”
From the start, Pellet has worn many hats. He helped design and build the winery, and devised time-saving and quality-control standards that are central to producing Pepper Bridge’s Winery luxury wines. But he’s also a winemaker who gets dirt under his fingers by managing the winery’s estate vineyards.
The varied demands of the job are suited to a man who has been immersed in winemaking for most of his life. A native of Rolle, Switzerland, a wine-growing region between Geneva and Lausanne, Pellet grew up working alongside his father, Pierre, who has managed the same vineyard for 30 years. Even as a boy, Jean-Francois knew what he wanted for his life: to turn his youthful passion into a profession.
After graduating in Switzerland with degrees in viticulture and winemaking, Pellet managed vineyards and made wine in Switzerland. He also worked in Jumilla, Spain where he oversaw 500 vineyard acres and designed a winery.
His reputation for meticulous but creative winemaking brought him to the attention of Heitz Cellars, which hired him as assistant winemaker in 1995.
Pellet’s roots are now set deeply in Walla Walla, where he is a founding member and current vice-president of VINEA, an organization committed to sustainable agriculture in the Walla Walla Valley. He is also the vice president of the Walla Walla Wine Alliance.
Though food was Rajat Parr’s first love, wine became his great passion. Luckily, Parr works in the best of both worlds as wine director for Mina Group and its signature restaurant, MICHAEL MINA, where he presides over a list that comprises wines from all over the world, including an in-depth list from Burgundy. Parr also presides over the RN74 wine list, a Wine Spectator 2010 Grand Award of Excellence winner.
“At Mina Group, I have the opportunity and challenge to find wines that can match the wide range of flavors presented within each restaurant, and even within a single dish at one restaurant,” says Parr. “In building multiple cellars, I have put an emphasis on mature wines which have the depth to fully complement the cuisine. Nothing is more pleasing than finding the perfect pairing.”
In 2003, Parr was named wine director of Mina Group where he is responsible for developing and managing the wine programs at each restaurant: MICHAEL MINA Bellagio (formerly AQUA Bellagio), ARCADIA (San Jose), NOBHILL TAVERN, SEABLUE, AMERICAN FISH and STRIPSTEAK (Las Vegas), SEABLUE (Atlantic City), MICHAEL MINA, RN74, BOURBON STEAK and CLOCK BAR (San Francisco), STONEHILL TAVERN (Dana Point),BOURBON STEAK (Scottsdale, Miami and Washington D.C.), SALTWATER and BOURBON STEAK (Detroit) and XIV (Los Angeles).
Parr released his first book, co-authored by Jordan MacKay, in 2010 – “Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals.” “Secrets of the Sommeliers” is a fascinating exploration of the inside world of sommeliers, sharing their unique perspectives, extensive expertise, and best stories. Parr’s profound knowledge of wines, enduring relationships with producers and renowned tasting abilities have made him a legend in the business.
Never resting on his laurels, Parr recently introduced, Sandhi, a new wine with Charles Banks, the former owner of Jonata Wines and Screaming Eagle, and esteemed winemaker Sashi Moorman. Sandhi will produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a focus on select vineyards of Santa Barbara County. The inaugural release was April 2011.
Parr began his career as an apprentice to one of the industry’s most acclaimed master sommeliers, Larry Stone at Rubicon. There, he worked closely with Stone to gain extensive knowledge of great wines from around the world, as well as an affection for wines of Burgundy. In 1999, Parr brought his expertise to Fifth Floor in San Francisco, which quickly received rave reviews and the Grand Award from Wine Spectator after only 2 years of its opening.
After earning a bachelors degree from the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Parr entered the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York.
Born in Calcutta, Parr credits his uncle in London for first introducing him to great wines.
At 37 years old, Parr is an ardent wine educator who has been invited to host seminars as well as lead panel discussions at several of the country’s most prestigious food and wine gatherings. He enjoys creating and hosting wine dinners that share his love of wine with others.
Heather Neff is from Pateros, Washington and graduated from Central Washington University with a degree in Business Administration. She grew up working on a golf course, which is a little like farming, and also a little like selling wine. She jokes, often, that she just traded selling Titleist for something she loves a whole lot more.
In 1998 she and her husband Dean planted their first vineyard in the Columbia Valley (about 20 minutes north of the Lake Chelan AVA). That property was later expanded to include their estate vineyards; Rocky Mother and Stone’s Throw. In 2001 they moved to the Willamette Valley to spend some time making pinot noir. Heather spent two years selling hard-to-find pinot from tiny producers. Knowing that selling would be just as hard as producing, it seemed like a good angle to tackle. She attended classes in viticultral and oenology at Chemeketa College in Salem, and together with Dean, started their first label: “Nonni and Zing”. In 2004, with a couple of memorable Oregon vintages behind them, Heather and Dean made the big leap and purchased property in Lake Chelan, planted it to their Defiance Vineyard (Syrah, Viognier, and Malbec), and built their winery: Nefarious Cellars. Heather is the white winemaker and currently produces about half of their 2000 case annual production. She works with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Aligote, and Viognier from a combination of estate grown and purchased fruit.
Over the course of 35 years, Rebecca Murphy has risen from being the first female wine steward in Texas, to forming her own consulting firm, Vintage Productions, to becoming an accredited writer of wine related articles. She is the founder and producer of The Dallas Morning News and TexSom Wine Competition.
Beside her competition interests and weekly feature in the Dallas Morning News, Murphy’s writing assignments have included articles for winereviewonline.com, Wine Business Monthly, and Wines & Vines. She has also contributed to the third edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine and the sixth edition of The World Atlas of Wine.
Murphy is a sought after professional wine judge herself and has judged at the Decanter World Wine Awards and International Wine Challenge in London, Concours Mondial, Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition and Critics Challenge in San Diego.
Dave McIntyre is a freelance wine and food writer, and wine columnist for The Washington Post. His writings have appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Wines and Vines, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. He co-created DrinkLocalWine.com to spotlight bloggers who write about the growth of regional wine, and he posts at dmwineline.com and on The Washington Post’s All We Can Eat blog. He also occasionally leaves breadcrumbs to follow on Twitter @dmwine.
Jordan Mackay is the wine and spirits writer for San Francisco magazine. He also writes the drinks column called “The Juice” Chow, the online food magazine. His writing on food, wine, spirits, and beer has also appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, Wine and Spirits, Food & Wine, Gourmet and others. His first book, Passion for Pinot, was published in 2009 and his second, Secrets of the Sommeliers, was released in October 2010.
Great wine must be embodied and actualized by great moxie. Brennon Leighton, our winemaker, has broken the mold. Raised by artists and hippies in Santa Cruz, California, Brennon was born to rebel, but struggled to find an appropriate venue for his artistic impulses. Dodging the option of becoming a conservative or conformist, he instead choose to dally in a punk rock band where he was rescued by a family friend and put to work busing tables in a fine dining establishment. It was there that Brennon was unearthed: a diamond in the rough.
Jason Smith, MS is Director of Wine for Bellagio. In his role, he oversees all wine operations for the AAA Five Diamond resort including wine sales and service in 32 venues ranging from restaurants and bars to banquet space and in-room dining. Smith also manages the inventory and cost control of more than 50,000 bottles spanning approximately 4,000 selections. He leads the wine education of Bellagio’s 3,500 Food and Beverage employees and is responsible for the hiring and training of the property’s sommeliers, a record staff of 16 which include three additional master sommeliers. Bellagio is the only property worldwide to offer four Master Sommeliers under a single roof.
Smith previously held the esteemed position of Head Sommelier for MICHAEL MINA Bellagio, the eponymous Michelin one star restaurant of the famed chef and restaurateur. During his two years there, Smith added 350 new selections nearly doubling the previous wine list and oversaw wine education for all Mina Group employees citywide. His dedication led the restaurant to receive a “Best of” Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine in 2007.
Smith developed his affinity for wine accidentally. Dreams of being a noted chef led him to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., but his destiny changed forever after a required course in wine education sparked an enduring passion. Soon a commanding wine repertoire led Smith to the prestigious role of Cellar Master at New York City’s celebrated ‘21’ Club – all before Smith was 21 years of age himself. Two years later at the age of 22, Smith became Sommelier at the distinguished property.
A 17-year veteran of the food & beverage industry, Smith has demonstrated his wine expertise in leadership positions at such acclaimed venues as Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Award winners – The Little Nell in Aspen, Colo. and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, Ill. During his service at Charlie Trotter’s, Smith was honored to author wine notes for two of the respected chef’s cookbooks – “Raw” and “Workin’ More Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter.”
In 2010, Bellagio was awarded “Best Chain Wine Program” from Cheers Magazine. Smith was selected as Las Vegas’ “Best Sommelier/Wine Director” in 2008 by renowned food and wine expert and James Beard Award winner Anthony Dias Blue. He was awarded the title “Best Young Sommelier in America” in 2005 by L’Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs, an organization dedicated to promoting wine education and enjoyment. Smith also was named among the “Best Sommeliers in America” during a nationwide competition in 2000 by the American Sommelier Association.
Growing up in a food-centric family, Drew Hendricks remembers going out to dinner more often than not. Growing up around the oil business and the young Texan learned to appreciate haute cuisine at a very early age. However, he was not immediately drawn to the food and beverage industry. Instead, his military education inspired him to enlist in the United States Army at age eighteen. Drew thrived in the military environment, finding purpose in its structure and appreciating the contribution he was making to his country – and, more personally, to his family’s long history of military service.
While in the Army, Drew was stationed in Germany, where he rediscovered his love of food. During his off hours, he explored the country – its cuisine, wine, beers, and cigars – and began to realize how much he appreciated all things food and wine. When he returned to Houston following his military service, he enrolled in the city’s Art Institute, but found himself more intrigued by his job working as a line cook at a local restaurant. After a long day working at the restaurant, he and his colleagues would relax with a few bottles of burgundy, and so began his love affair with wine. Drew dedicated an increasing amount of his time to the study of wine, reading everything he could get his hands on and tasting as many different wines as possible.
Realizing that wine was where his heart was, Drew accepted a distribution job at Glaser’s, stocking shelves in grocery stores. Given his clear affinity for the industry, it was not long until he became a salesman for Glaser’s, ultimately working in their fine wine division. It was at Glaser’s where he met Master Guy Stout, who encouraged him to pursue the Court of Master Sommeliers’ educational programs. Under Master Stout’s mentorship, Drew flew through the Court’s programs, passing his Master’s Exam in 2008.
Following his time at Glaser’s, Master Hendricks worked for a small local distributor, and then moved to Pappas Restaurants, Inc., where he ran the wine program at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse for three years. From there, he went to work for Charlie Palmer, opening the Dallas branch of his award winning restaurant. After its successful launch, Master Hendricks returned to Pappas Restaurants as their corporate wine director, where he remains today.
Since deciding to pursue a professional career in the wine industry, Master Hendricks has amassed an impressive list of accolades in a very short time, including second place at the National Chaine des Rotisseurs Young Sommelier Finals competition and first place at the 2007 International Chaine des Rotisseurs Young Sommelier Competition. Wine and Spirits magazine named Hendricks a “Best New Sommelier” in 2005. Wine Spectator awarded the “Grand Award” Recognizing the challenges facing young people interested in wine, he is also the co-founder and a board member of the Texas Sommelier Association, which hosts the annual Texas Sommelier Conference to promote wine education throughout the South.
Chris Figgins is the CEO and Director of Winemaking for Figgins Family Wine Estates and is one of a small handful of second generation winegrowers in Washington State. Chris succeeds his parents, Gary and Nancy Figgins, who founded Leonetti Cellar in 1977 in the Walla Walla Valley- its oldest winery. After growing up in the wine business, he officially joined Leonetti in 1996 after graduating from Washington State University with a degree in Horticulture – he became the head winemaker in 2001. In addition to winemaking, Chris presides over all viticulture operations for Figgins Family Wine Estates which includes five distinct vineyard sites in the Walla Walla Valley AVA. Chris recently launched FIGGINS, an estate grown, single vineyard wine, and Lostine Cattle Company grass-fed beef, to extend the Figgins Family Wine Estates experience. Chris was instrumental in transforming Leonetti into an estate grown winery and is known industry-wide for constantly pushing the envelope viticulturally in his vineyards. A frequent public speaker, Chris shares his love and intense passion for sustainable farming and biological soil health with other viticulturists, winemakers and diversified farmers whenever possible. Since 2007, Chris has also been the consulting winemaker for Doubleback winery.
Canlis Sommelier Nelson Daquip has been the most rapidly promoted employee in Canlis’ history, rising from server assistant, to server, to assistant sommelier, to wine director in only four years. We weren’t the only ones to notice –Food and Wine Magazine featured Nelson in their June 2005 profile of national up-and-coming sommeliers. The following year, Wine & Spirits Magazine named Nelson one of the “Best New Sommeliers” of 2006, in 2008 he was recognized as Seattle’s “Best Sommelier” by Seattle Magazine, and in 2009 he recieved the Star Chef’s “Rising Star” Sommelier award.
After earning a culinary degree from Kapiolani Community College through the University of Hawaii, Nelson served at the prestigious Alan Wong’s restaurant in Hawaii for three years.
He found Canlis in the summer of 2002 and within the year, Nelson had earned his place in the much coveted six-month Canlis Vinternship program, aimed at developing young sommeliers within the Seattle wine community. Under master sommelier and Canlis Wine Director Shayn Bjornholm, Nelson learned how to run a world-class wine program. Proving his time was well spent, he became a master sommelier candidate by passing his advanced course for the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Nelson expanded his horizons on his first trip to Champagne, France in order to assist with the second bottling of Jean Milan “Canlis Cuvée” Brut. He later led the Canlis Wine Team to Walla Walla Valley to bring the 2006 Buty “Peter Canlis” Syrah from vineyard to bottle.
Nelson brings the aloha spirit to the table—a welcoming tradition where he shares a piece of his life with each guest. As Queen Lililuokalani stated in her last message to the people of Hawaii, “Kulia I ka Nu’u”—strive for the highest.
As a member of the wine team for Heavy Restaurant Group, she serves as the Wine Director for the Bellevue locations of Purple Café and Wine Bar, Barrio Restaurant, and a third, yet-to-be-named, concept opening later this spring. Previous to that, Smith spent nearly three years with Canlis Restaurant as Lead Sommelier and Assistant Wine Director. She was also the opening Sommelier and Wine Director for Bin Vivant at Kirkland’s Woodmark Hotel. She earned a degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and credits her interest in wine to her experiences cooking professionally. Smith holds a Diploma Level certification from the International Sommelier Guild and is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Masters Sommeliers.
Martin Clubb is co-owner and managing winemaker with his wife Megan of L’Ecole N° 41. This second generation, family-owned artisan winery is located in the old Frenchtown Schoolhouse depicted on their label. Founded in 1983, L’Ecole is the third oldest winery in the Walla Walla Valley. Today the winery produces 35,000 cases, selling wines in all 50 states plus 20 countries. L’Ecole is a partner with Leonetti Cellar and Pepper Bridge Winery in Seven Hills Vineyard located in the Walla Walla Valley. L’Ecole has been honored nine consecutive years by Wine & Spirits Magazine as a Winery of the Year becoming the second Washington winery inducted into its prestigious Hall of Fame. Martin is currently President and Director of the Washington Wine Institute, and is one of two Washington State Board members for WineAmerica. Marty was instrumental in the founding of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and served as its president for six years. Marty worked with other industry pioneers in the development of the Walla Walla Community College Center for Enology and Viticulture. He earned a chemical engineering degree from Texas A&M University, and he and Megan both graduated from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.
When Brian Carter arrived in Washington in 1980, only 16 wineries were in existence in the state. As The Wine News observed in 1998, “Perhaps more than anyone else, Carter, both as a consultant and as winemaker for his own Washington Hills Cellars, is responsible for the tremendous recognition Washington has received for its wines and for the current status the region holds in the international wine community.”
Brian’s early and natural curiosity led him to study microbiology at Oregon State University and while there, discovered his appreciation for the wines of Oregon. After two year at University of California-Davis School of Enology, Brian honed his winemaking skill with stints at California wineries Mount Eden Vineyard and Chateau Montelena before returning to the Pacific Northwest. His first winemaking successes came with Paul Thomas Winery. At a 1987 competition held at the Windows of the World Restaurant in New York City between Bordeaux and United States wines, Brian’s 1983 Paul Thomas Cabernet outscored every wine in the competition, including the1983 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon and the 1983 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.
His early success did not fade. Brian’s work at Paul Thomas garnered many more awards, including the Grand Prize from the Pacific Northwest Enological Society for his 1986 Chardonnay. This string of accomplishments led Brian to pursue a career as a consulting winemaker for a series of young wineries including McCrea Cellars, Hedges Family, Randall Harris, Silver Lake and many more. Not limited to just making wines, Brian’s expertise led to the design of the Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain Winery and Kestrel Vineyards Winery in Prosser, WA. Brian became full time-winemaker and partner in Apex and Washington Hills Cellars in 1990 where he went on to take top honors at the Pacific Northwest Enological judging twice more making him the only three time winner of the award.
Brian’s passion for winemaking has always been his hallmark. After years of production wines for others, Brian created a small production of his own wine, “Solesce” starting in 1997. With a theme of “ A Passion for the Art of Blending” Brian has now introduced a wine of wines under Brian Carter Cellars label that represents Washington State’s first winery focusing exclusively on an array of blended wines. “It’s great to see my passion for blended wines transformed into these new European style blends using Washington State grapes,” he says. Meanwhile the awards keep coming forth for Brian’s Blends including most recently a Platinum medal for his 2005 Solesce Bordeaux-Style Blend and a double-Gold for the 2007 Byzance Rhone Style blend
During his 31 vintages as a Winemaker in Washington, Brian has often been honored by his peers for helping to contribute to the states reputation as a premier wine growing area. Past recognition includes the 1996 Alec Bayless prize and the 2004 Industry Service award. Most recently he has been chosen as the 2007 Honorary Vintner for the Auction of Washington Wines 20th Anniversary Event.
Brian has held leadership positions in numerous professional organizations, including:
- Past chairman, Pacific Northwest Chapter, American Society of Enology and Viticulture
- Past chairman, Central Washington Wine Technical Group
- Co-Chair Washington Wine Advisory Committee
- Member, Northwest Foundation Block Advisory Group
Brian lives with his two sons in Bellevue, Washington. He enjoys skiing, camping and hiking with them when he isn’t making wine or exercising his culinary skills in the kitchen.
Brian’s passion for winemaking has always been his hallmark.
A Walla Walla native, Jamie moved to Seattle after high school to pursue music, eventually opening his own music store. Several restaurateurs became clients, and started providing Jamie an education in fine wine. Jamie’s passion for wine developed alongside an interest in the art of winemaking. Jamie credits his love and knowledge of making music for helping him to become an intuitive winemaker. “My goal as a musician and song writer was to anticipate a melody, without restricting its natural direction. The same is true for wine. You develop your intuition and experience as a winemaker by recognizing the strengths of a particular vineyard, grape variety, or vintage. You learn to appreciate what nature gives you and allow those elements to shape the way you make wines.”
Inspired by the growing demand for Walla Walla wines, Jamie moved back and gained invaluable experience working at Glen Fiona, Dunham Cellars and Pepper Bridge, before becoming the first winemaker for James Leigh Cellars in 2001. At James Leigh, Jamie garnered a reputation for making elegant, food-friendly wines that showcased the underlying vineyard from which they came, particularly his Syrah. In 2005, Jamie became part of the team which founded Waters.
Sandy Block MW has been Vice President of Beverage Operations for Legal Sea Foods where he has directed beverage strategy, training and product selection for the 33 restaurant group since Nov. 2004. He initiated a comprehensive 18 hour training and education program at the company, the Legal Beverage Certification Seminar Series, which has educated over a thousand staff members since inception. From 2002 to 2004 he served as Assistant VP of Wine for Horizon Beverage, Massachusetts-based distributors of wine and spirits where his responsibilities involved portfolio development, key account sales, brand management, marketing and education. From 1990 to 2002 he worked as Vice President of Product Strategies at the Whitehall Companies, where he also directed staff education and served as General Manager of Whitehall Imports.
Sandy was the first American resident on the East Coast of the United States to have been certified as a Master of Wine in 1992. He also holds membership in the Confraria do Vinho do Porto, as well as being recipient of the Corporation des Vignerons de Champagne’s Diplome d’Honneur. Sandy writes and lectures regularly in the United States and abroad, travelling as far afield as New Zealand to present seminars. Over the years his particular specialty has been researching more effective ways to communicate about wine and food together. His extensive credits include serving as Wine Editor at The Improper Bostonian, and writing monthly columns for the Massachusetts Beverage Business Journal for several years as well as contributing articles to The International Wine Review, The Quarterly Review of Wines, The Wine Enthusiast, Sante Magazine, Wine & Spirits, Cheers, The Sommelier Journal, Nightclub & Bar, The New England Wine Gazette, The Boston Business Journal, Boston Magazine, Travel Smart and L’Officiel du Vin. He has authored “Selecting Wines for Vegetarian Cuisine,” a chapter in Chef Ron Pickarski’s Eco-Cuisine, as well as a comprehensive Study Guide for the Center for Wine Origins’ “Wine Location Specialist Accreditation Program,” and has frequently appeared as an expert commentator on television and radio programs.
He has also served as Vice President of the Executive Board of Boston University’s Elizabeth Bishop Wine Resource Center and has been an Adjunct Professor in its certification programs since inception in 1999. Together with a colleague he developed the curriculum for Wine Studies at Boston University, an accredited program launched in the fall of 2004. In addition, he has taught mandatory wine tasting courses to aspiring chefs at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, as well as operating the Boston Wine Center, a school he founded in conjunction with the World Trade Center from 1994 to 1997. For a number of years Sandy wrote a weekly column for AOL’s Digital City Boston and in 2003 he developed the WBCN Horizon Wine Club where he served as its on air voice, scripting and delivering “info-mercials” on various wine-related themes.
Sandy graduated with Honors from Vassar College and has a Master’s Degree in American Intellectual and Cultural History from the State University of New York. Prior to entering the wine trade he worked as a Sommelier, wrote scripts for radio and taught History. He has just completed his first novel.
Bob Betz is owner/winemaker of Betz Family Winery. His passion for wine was fueled by a year in the vineyards and cellars of Western Europe in the early 1970s, where his focus on the basics of grape growing and winemaking laid a foundation for the following decades in the Washington wine industry.
After returning to Seattle in the mid 1970s Bob joined Chateau Ste. Michelle. During nearly three decades there Bob was part of the emergence of Washington winemaking, working to make this new viticultural area become a reality.
Bob holds a Master of Wine (MW) degree from the Institute of Masters of Wine in London.
Annette Alvarez-Peters is the Assistant General Merchandise Manager – responsible for overseeing the Costco Wholesale wine, spirits & beer program for the United States.
Costco is the 5th largest retailer in the US and the 8th largest in world. Costco is the dominant membership warehouse club operator. There are 582 warehouse stores in 40 states and Puerto Rico and in 9 countries. Sales totaled $79 billion in fiscal year 2010. Costco’s alcohol beverage total company sales reached $2.2B in fiscal year 2010. In the United States, Costco has 335 wine licenses, 367 beer licenses, and 221 spirit licenses.
Annette began her career at Price Club in San Diego, CA in July 1983 with an entry level position in accounting, one year later transferred into Merchandising. She has held various positions within the company. Costco merged with Price Club in 1993, where she transferred to Washington State to become the company’s Electronics Audio buyer. She relocated back to southern California, becoming the Alcohol beverage buyer for the Los Angeles division from 1995 -2005. She was promoted to her current position of Asst. GMM in 2005 and returned to Washington.
Annette’s responsibilities include: Direct and assist 10 US regional and corporate buyers with implementation of corporate directives, along with assisting 7 international buyers. Lead development of new wines, spirits & beer for the Kirkland Signature program. Develop new supplier relationships, while working directly with National account representatives, suppliers and distributors to strengthen sales relationships. Interact with the Media and Analysts, assist legal, accounting, and marketing concerning all aspects of beverage alcohol departments. Annette also contributes a quarterly wine column for Costco’s member publication, The Costco Connection.
Annette was named to the Decanter Power List in 2009 (#5) and 2007 (#10) and a Market Watch Leader in 2008. Annette is an Associate member of the Institute Wine and Spirits Education Trust and holds the Diploma certificate (AIWS), also holds the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) certificate from the Society of Wine Educators. She is a candidate for the Master of Wine program.