Wine Hosts

HOST YEAR
2024|2025

Your Wine Expert

One of the most wonderful aspects of our Celebration of Wine River Cruises is the opportunity to sail with an experienced wine expert. Their refined palates will allow your clients to swirl their glass and discover the unique notes of each varietal they sip, gain pairing recommendations and get answers to their questions about viticulture and more. Our Wine Hosts proudly bring bottles from either their winery or their favorite winery to conduct tastings and stimulate discussions on board. Most often sailing with members of their wine club, these hosts focus on highlighting the growing conditions and production techniques that create the unique characteristics of their wines as well as the differences between their bottles and those of the Old-World regions we sail through.

Mar 14, 2024
Mike & Melissa Owen
Owners
Mike Owen’s lifelong wine journey has taken him from California to France, from the cellar to the judging table, from a wine aficionado to a wine businessman. Mike and his wife Melissa own and operate Crystal Basin Cellars in the Sierra Foothills of the El Dorado appellation. Working with almost 20 different grapes provides an extensive line-up of award-winning wines. Mike has great success with Rhone varieties planted at high elevations. You can literally taste the difference on these flavorful wines. Who doesn’t want to talk about and sip great Syrah and Mourvedre? Mike’s palate, easygoing informative approach, plus his serious, wine-geeky patter all set him up to be an All-Star host for AmaWaterways. Crystal Basin’s winemaking history extends back nearly 40 years. Mike and Melissa lived on the Cote-d Azur for three years in the 90s. This was their playground – let them share their enthusiasm on an unforgettable trip.
Mar 14, 2024
Chik & Polly Brenneman
Winemakers, Baker Family Wines
Chik and Polly Brenneman are the winemakers and managing partners for Baker Family Wines in West Sacramento, California. Baker Family Wines gets its name from fellow owner and partner, Dusty Baker, who celebrates over 50 years in major league baseball as a player, coach, and manager. Baker Family Wines is a small urban based craft winery that produces about 1,200 cases per year. The winery produces small lot wines from varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Barbera, Sangiovese. Chik and Polly have been making wine together for over 25 years in both amateur and commercial settings. Polly is a retired Clinical Laboratory Scientist and Chik managed the Teaching and Research Winery at the world-renowned UC Davis School of Viticulture and Enology, where he taught winemaking courses there and also in France. He retired from UC Davis in 2019. In his ‘spare’ time, he has been a contributing columnist, for the last 15 years, for WineMaker’s Magazine. The duo also lead the local chapter of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine, an international wine brotherhood whose mission is to promote the wine industry and educate our members to the benefits and enjoyment of wine.
Mar 14, 2024
To be Announced
Please check back for updates.
Mar 18, 2024
Paul & Merrill Bonarrigo
Owners, Messina Hof Winery & Resort, Bryan, TX

Messina Hof is the most awarded and renowned Texas wine in national and international competitions. In a community steeped in tradition, Messina Hof Winery & Resort holds its own with a 200-year history of award-winning wines. Although the winery itself was officially established when with the first vintage release in 1983, the rich wine heritage of Winemaker Paul Bonarrigo dates back six generations to Messina, Sicily. Merrill Bonarrigo’s family originates from Hof, Germany. Together they have pioneered the Texas wine industry in creating premium wines of distinction and a landmark wine country destination.
Mar 20, 2024
Curtis Hascall
Winemaker, Shale Oak Winery

Attracted by Shale Oaks’ commitment to producing high quality wines in a sustainable fashion, Curtis Hascall has been winemaker at Shale Oak since 2010. Born in Watford, England, Curtis intended on becoming a master beer brewer when he grew up. He moved from the San Francisco Bay area to San Luis Obispo where he became a food-science graduate of Cal Poly State University. His focus on making beer took a turn, however, when a friend hired him to drag hoses in the cellar at Norman Vineyards in Paso Robles. After working there for a few years, he took advantage of an opportunity to work a harvest at Cumulus Winery in Orange, Australia, where he would stay for one vintage. Curtis and the winemaking team have racked up an impressive list of awards and accolades in a relatively short amount of time. Upon your first tasting of Shale Oak, you'll know why.

Join Curtis on a voyage of discovery, cruising up the Blue Danube on the deluxe river ship AmaSonata. This is the best-selling river cruise in Europe. Onboard AmaSonata, Curtis will conduct 2 tastings and a gourmet dinner, paired with the wines of Shale Oak. Along the way visit Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, the Wachau Valley, Passau and Vilshofen Bavaria. Conclude with 3 nights in beautiful Prague, never destroyed in WWII.

Mar 21, 2024
Rich Olsen-Harbich
Winemaker, Bedell Cellars
Bedell Cellars is an esteemed family-owned estate winery in the North Fork of Long Island AVA. The winery was founded in 1980 by Kip and Susan Bedell and was purchased by the current owners, The Lynne family, in 2000. We are dedicated to quality and creativity in everything we do. With a commitment to sustainable farming, we have hand-crafted our wines in small batches for over forty years using methods that define the regional style — artistically blending grapes grown in our unique maritime terroir. Winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich is a veritable pioneer of winemaking on Long Island. Over the past 40 years this accomplished winemaker has crafted award-winning and highly regarded wines. Join Rich Olsen-Harbich on this special wine cruise along the waterways of Bordeaux.
Mar 21, 2024
Doug Margerum
Owner/Director of Winemaking, Margerum Wine Company, Santa Barbara, CA

Doug started his food and wine explorations at a young age while traveling with his parents in France. His passion for food and wine was enhanced as he worked in restaurants as a cook and server throughout his high school and college years. Coinciding with his graduation from UCSB in 1981, his family purchased WINE CASK – which quickly expanded to include a simple bistro adjacent to wine store. In 1994, the WINE CASK became one of 74 restaurants in the world to earn the Wine Spectator Grand Award. Doug sold the WINE CASK in 2007 after deciding to devote all of his energies to wine making. Margerum Wine Company began in 2001. His philosophy is to return to wine making in its previous form of production – handcrafted and personal. Doug reassumed ownership in WINE CASK in 2009.
Mar 21, 2024
Jenne Baldwin-Eaton
Career Wine Educator

Jenne Baldwin-Eaton started her career with Plum Creek Cellars, one of the largest Colorado wineries in 1994. Hired as a chemist in the lab and then having an “Aha moment” with a bottle of 1992 Cabernet Franc, made by her mentor Erik Bruner, art and science were forever woven together. For 22 years, Jenne made award-winning wines from 100 % Colorado grown grapes. Her next six years were spent developing and teaching the first Viticulture and Enology program at Western Colorado Community College, a division of Colorado Mesa University. Although retired from academia, Jenne has a long-standing passion for the Colorado wine industry and continues to support, educate, research and consult. For Jenne wine is a beautiful culmination of terroir, art, and science. She looks forward to exploring the Bordeaux wine region and introducing folks to the high-quality wines of Colorado. Jenne will bring with her wine from three Colorado wineries Vines 79, Red Fox Vineyards and Restoration Vineyards. All three wineries make wines from Bordeaux cultivars and each have their own style from 100 % Colorado grown grapes. Join Jenne as she shares with you the new world vs old world styles of Bordeaux wines!

Mar 21, 2024
Dan Panella
Owner/Winemaker, Oak Farm Vineyards, Lodi, CA

As a third generation American farmer, agriculture has always been a passion for Dan. He got his first start in farming by riding a tractor in the family's cherry and walnut orchards, so it was only a matter of time before he found himself farming grapes. Under the training of a highly regarded winemaker, Dan has been able to grow in the art of winemaking; the fusion of agriculture and art that has allowed him to be creative and allow the grapes to show their strengths.
Mar 23, 2024
Holly Howell
Journalist & Wine Expert, Finger Lakes, NY

Holly Howell writes a wine column for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester and is a well-respected New York-based authority on the wines of the Finger Lakes region, particularly Rieslings. She spent a year in France studying French food and wine, teaches wine and food pairing classes, and has served as a judge for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and also writes a popular blog. Holly is currently pursuing her Wine Spirit Education & Trust diploma.
Mar 25, 2024
Paul Toussaint
Owner, Toussaint Cellars

Toussaint Cellars is a micro boutique winery established in 2016 by Paul and Gina Toussaint in the Santa Barbara County wine region of California.

Paul is the winemaker and has lived in the Santa Barbara area for 40 years. He learned to love the unique vineyard characteristics and many varietals grown in the Santa Barbara wine region and developed a great appreciation for the local winemakers. He started making his own wines 15 years ago.

Wines are handcrafted in limited quantity to fully express the unique varietal and vineyard characteristics of Santa Barbara County AVA’s. Most grapes are sourced from smaller vineyards to offer a unique expression of Santa Barbara varietals.

Mar 28, 2024
Janet Thomas
Market Relations, Wagner Family Wines
While Janet Thomas hails from a background in Theology and International Relations, she discovered her real passion for wine when she began working for the Wagner Family in Napa Valley, California. Working in Market Relations, Janet wears many hats, but none so important as having the opportunity to share the Wagner Family’s beautiful array of wines with the public. The Wagner family got its start over 40 years ago and is still family owned and operated and their wines span across multiple brands including Caymus, Conundrum, and Emmolo just to name a few. Next August, join Janet on the beautiful AmaMagna for memorable wine cruise down the Danube river and experience all that the region, and the Wagner Family Wines have to offer!
Mar 28, 2024
Mary Joli
Regional Sales Manager, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Mary Joli is the SE Regional Sales Manager with Willamette Valley Vineyards, where she manages our distributor relationships, seeing accounts and presenting at wine dinners and seminars across the southern region from AZ to FL.

Mary brings with her a wealth of wine knowledge and experience from 20 years in the Oregon wine industry, starting in wine shops specializing in Oregon Pinots, and later with several small production Oregon wineries. Mary has managed tasting rooms, formed and structured wine clubs, hosted special events and vineyard weddings.

As a TWA international flight attendant Mary traveled extensively throughout Europe she first discovered the joy of drinking elegant old world wines. Over a four year period Mary tasted her way across Europe and developed a palate and passion for wine. After settling down and raising a family Mary returned to the workforce to pursue her passion for wines, of traveling and meeting new people, working with Willamette Valley Vineyards has enabled her to live her dreams.

At home in Oregon Mary enjoys hiking the dunes on the Oregon coast, organic gardening and kayaking on the Willamette River. She actively enjoys Oregon’s endless forests, snowy mountains, rugged coastline and, of course, its elegant wines!

Mar 30, 2024
Roman Roth
Winemaker and Partner, Wolffer Estate Vineyard, Sagaphack NY

A gifted winemaker, Roman Roth can be heard singing in an enviable tenor voice amid the barrels in the winery. But most of all, he gives “voice” to his wines, produced by experience that bridges three continents and stems from the dream of a 16-year-old boy in Rottweil in Germany’s Black Forest. In 1992, Roman became the first winemaker at Wölffer Estate Vineyard. He established the estate’s distinctive character — European elegance combined with the typicity of Long Island terroir. Recent honors include having two of our wines make recent “Top 100” lists from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast; being honored as the highest-rated wines in Long Island history; and having our wines served in the White House over the past two decades. Wolffer Estate celebrates it’s 30 Anniversary in 2018 so join us on board as we share a “toast” to the next 30 years!
Apr 3, 2024
Josh & Carrie Bendick
Co-Winemakers for Holly Hill Vineyards, Placerville, CA
Holly and Tom Cooper, owners, fell in love with the varieties of Southern France’s Rhone Valley when they shared a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape on their honeymoon. Years later, when they fulfilled their life long dream of planting a vineyard it was a natural choice to plant these very same grapes. As the vineyard was being planted, their daughter, Carrie learned the art of winemaking and met Josh Bendick, another aspiring winemaker along the way. They not only fell for each other but with the idea of crafting Rhone varietal wines. It’s been a love affair ever since. Together, the family produces wines from their mountainous El Dorado County vineyard. It sits at nearly 3000 feet in elevation and is located half way between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Join Carrie & Josh on this beautiful wine cruise along the Rhone!
Apr 3, 2024
Judd Finkelstein
Owner, Judd's Hill Winery, Napa Valley, CA

Judd was raised in Napa Valley. He graduated from The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunication at Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in Television Production, but you might say winemaking was in his blood. Since he was a tot, his parents were making wine. From pruning to picking to punching to pressing, Judd has been involved in every facet of winemaking, and he also studied winemaking at UC Davis and Napa Valley College.
Apr 4, 2024
Steven Kent Mirassou
Owner and Winemaker – Steven Kent Winery, Livermore, CA

Steven’s career in wine began at age 13 on the bottling lines and in the warehouses of his family’s historic winery in San Jose, CA. In 1996, The Steven Kent Winery was born and had one mission in mind: to make Cabernet and Bordeaux varieties in the Livermore Valley that rival the greatest red wines in the world. Many of his wines have received recognition and accolades for quality.
Apr 4, 2024
Micole Moore & Teri Kerns
Owners & Winemaker for Ramona Ranch Vineyard & Winery
We moved to Ramona in 2004 with the intention of having a hobby farm, with chickens, a garden, and a horse or two. Quickly we discovered that Ramona was also an excellent place to grow winegrapes and make wine. In 2006 the Ramona Valley was officially designated an AVA (American Viticultural Area). That designation motivated us to plant our first vineyard in 2006 and begin making our own white, rose and red wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Temperanillo, Sangiovese, Merlot and Tannat. Today Ramona Ranch Winery is San Diego County’s only CSWA Certified California Sustainable vineyard and winery and the Ramona Valley’s #1 rated winery for three years in a row. We invite you to join us on a delightful summer European river cruise. This is a voyage of discovery along four of Germany’s great rivers: the Danube, Main, Rhine and Mosel. The villages and ports are picturesque, virtually out of a fairytale and the scenery spectacular. We will enjoy superb German wines and along with an ample supply of our own wines from Ramona Ranch Vineyards.
Apr 10, 2024
Anthony Beckman
Winemaker, Balletto Vineyards

Anthony Beckman has made Balletto Vineyards wine since 2007, starting as an enologist and earning a promotion to winemaker just two years later. His unorthodox path to winemaking gives Anthony a unique and unbridled perspective on winemaking. While Anthony has had a life-long passion for wine and food, his first career was as a daily news reporter working for prominent newspapers in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, followed by a stint in San Francisco working in technology.

But the realization that he needed to pursue wine as a career came quickly. He quit his day job in San Francisco and a month later worked harvest at Quivira Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. His second harvest took him to New Zealand working for Delegats, where he gained exposure to cold-climate viticulture and learned the ins and outs of grape varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. After returning to California, Anthony worked for three years as the wine buyer for Taylor’s Market in Sacramento while putting himself through the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology program. He graduated from Davis with high honors and department-wide recognition.

Since becoming winemaker at Balletto, Anthony has applied his style and point of view to Balletto Vineyards wines. Anthony strives to make wines that are elegant, balanced and reflective of the variety. He perfectly matches the lively natural acidity with the fruit to create wines with depth, structure and finesse. When it comes to the single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Anthony strives to create wines that express each site so those enjoying can experience the nuances of the cool, foggy Russian River Valley estate vineyards at their essence.

Apr 11, 2024
Julie & Bret Pittsinger
Owners, Karma Vineyards
Born in Montreal Canada, Julie came to the USA after swimming in the 84 Olympic Games and accepting an athletic scholarship to the University of Miami. She has been married to husband Bret for 31 years and began to build Karma in 2005, hoping to expose her two children to work in the vineyards and experience many of the far reaching values that agricultural work can have on them. In 2004 she attended WSU studying enology, and opened Karma in 2007. Currently, Karma has grown into more of a hospitality company producing 100’s of weddings and events, 2 restaurants and vineyards. Their specialty is several blends of methode champenoise, many of which are grown on the estate vineyards. Julie and Bret have a strong commitment to youth in their community and more specifically believe supporting the arts and healthy lifestyle endeavors are a key part of a healthy community. Julie began the first high school viticulture program in 2016, which proved to be a fantastic catalyst for young adults who may not follow the traditional path through college.
Apr 17, 2024
Rick & Bridget Hutchinson
Owners & Winemaker for Amphora Winery, Healdsburg CA
Amphora Winery owner/winemaker (and resident potter) Rick Hutchinson chose the name in honor of the clay wine jars of the ancient world. Rick’s philosophy, “Work year round with knowledge and passion to transform the best grapes into rich, delicious wines that are truly works of art” comes through in every wine he produces. After more than thirty vintages in Dry Creek Valley, his portfolio of small-lot wines includes more than a dozen varietals, embracing the appellation’s exemplary Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, while reimagining Old World rarities from the Rhone, Italy and Spain.
Jun 20, 2024
Caryn Arrowood
Owner & Winemaker, Montemar

Steve and Caryn Arrowood, owners and winemakers of Montemar, started making wine in their garage in 1991, sourcing fruit from Santa Barbara County to Napa and making upwards of 14 barrels a year. As Garagistes, the activity was a friends and family experience. After Steve retired from a career in aerospace, his continued passion for winemaking led to creating a bonded winery in 2009. In 2012, production was increased to sufficient volume for a tasting room. The tasting room opened in 2013 and the Montemar winery was built in time to harvest the 2015 fruit. Both the tasting room and winery are located in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. Montemar currently produces 1,400 cases/year, averaging less than 100 cases per lot with many small-lot bottlings available exclusively to wine club members. Sadly, Steve passed away in early 2020 but not without passing on his winemaking passion to their son, Kyle. Caryn and Kyle are dedicated to carrying on Steve’s vision for the winery and his trademark high-quality, small-lot production.

Jul 4, 2024
Brad Beard
Winemaker, Mercury Wine

Brad Beard is the charismatic but down-to-earth force that drives Mercury Wine. A self-taught winemaker, Beard learned the wine trade in Arizona, starting in high end restaurants, then made the leap to wine sales and distribution. He then moved to California to fulfill his winemaking dream.

Mercury Wine was founded in 2008 in the sleepy little town of Geyserville, located in the northern reaches of Sonoma County, nestled in the heart of Alexander Valley. The downtown district on Geyserville Avenue runs a mere 2 blocks, but boasts three world class restaurants along with Mercury’s tasting room.

Brad’s winemaking philosophy is to bring the style and elegance of European wines, blended with the world’s best grapes; occasionally shredding all the rules to put his personal and unique touch on his unruly American winemaking.

Brad lives in Geyserville with his husband Danny & winery dog Freddie.

Jul 4, 2024
Jeff & Margie Runquist
Owners of Jeff Runquist Winery, Amador County, CA

Since graduating from UC Davis in 1980, Jeff Runquist has been the winemaker at Montevina Wines in Amador County, Napa Valley Cooperative in St Helena, and the J. Lohr Winery in San Jose and Paso Robles. In 1996, Jeff designed and helped construct the McManis Family Vineyards in Ripon then launched his brand in 1997. Jeff’s dream was to move back to Amador County and open his own tasting room and that dream came true in 2008. From the 2012 vintage, Jeff offered twenty-nine different wines from twenty different varietals ranging from Barbera to Touriga. Depending upon the varietal, Jeff teams with twenty-four different growers from throughout California, pairing the particular grape varietal with a specific vineyard site. All but four of his wines carry a vineyard designation and the name of the grower. A close relationship with growers and a respect for their fruit is revealed in every bottle of Runquist wine. Join Jeff and Margie as they explore the Enticing Douro in 2018.
Jul 6, 2024
Jody Bogle
Co-owner of Bogle Vineyards & Winery, Clarksburg CA
Jody is a 3rd generation winegrower who, along with her brothers, currently manages the day to day operations of Bogle Vineyards & Winery in California. Born and raised on the family farm in Clarksburg, Jody knows all about being a “farmer’s daughter.” She spent many a summer in her youth tying, weeding and pruning vines on the 1500 acres her family farms in the Sacramento River Delta. After earning an English degree and spending some time away as a teacher, Jody returned to the family business in 1997 after the death of her father, Chris Bogle, who along with her grandfather Warren, founded the winery in 1968. Upon returning, Jody began overseeing the newly opened tasting room, where today over 600 guests visit weekly. She has developed several departments at Bogle, including direct-to-consumer marketing, events and hospitality, as well as the extremely popular Bandwagon wine club. Jody also currently manages the international sales of Bogle wines in 40 different countries as well as working in various sales support roles across the domestic U.S.
Jul 11, 2024
Karl & Carole Dinger
Owners of Terra Vina Wines, Wilsonville, Oregon
In their early 20’s, Karl & Carole moved to California’s Bay Area, enjoying the region’s big red wines. A trip to Italy in the early 80’s inspired them to become home winemakers as their grandfathers once did. Relocating to Oregon in 1996, they found the local Pinot Noirs dissatisfying, so they planted a small vineyard to produce wine for their own consumption. Soon, as fermenting wine carboys took over the house, they transitioned to a custom crush facility nearby. For the last 16 years this boutique winery has produced award winning reds year after year. The first to plant Cabernet Franc in the valley, their signature wine is produced from their Estate vineyard as well as vineyards in Washington. Current offerings include Estate Grown Pinot Noir Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Dolcetto, and Eastern Washington sourced Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Sangiovese, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo. Join them on this Captivating Rhine Wine Cruise.
Jul 14, 2024
Kimberly Zacharias
Winery Promotions and Education, Black Star Farms Winery, Suttons Bay, MI

Northwest Michigan is fast becoming recognized for its excellent opportunities for growing grapes. The “lake effect” climate enables the growth of classic vinifera grape varieties, including Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and more. Since 1998, Black Star Farms has been producing wines from local vineyards that are consciously crafted from vine to bottle. Grapes are sourced from their proprietor’s vineyards and local grower partners on the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas AVAs. Because of Black Star Farms’ commitment to preservation, 130 of their 170 acres of vineyards have been protected from development.

In their 20th year, they were honored with the most prestigious award at the 19th Annual Canberra International Riesling Challenge – Best Wine of the Challenge! The 2017 Arcturos Dry Riesling scored 98 points and was awarded “Best in Show,” in addition to taking home Best Dry Riesling and Best American Riesling. All six Rieslings they submitted received medals, showing a consistent quality across vintages and styles.

Kimberly is a Certified Specialist in Wine with over 16 years in the Michigan wine industry. She travels the state promoting Michigan wine at restaurants, trade tastings, festivals, and other wine-themed events. At Black Star Farms, she hosts wine tours and other curated wine and food experiences. She believes every bottle tells a story, and she loves sharing her passion and knowledge of the Black Star Farms story with enthusiasts and novices alike.

Jul 20, 2024
Mike Embly
Winemaker for Hungry Hawk Vineyards, Escondido Ca
Mike Embly is the winemaker and manager of vineyard operations for Hungry Hawk Vineyards and Winery: a family-run boutique winery in the northern San Diego County town of Escondido, California. Mike earned his degree in Business from California State University San Marcos in 2003. After working for over a decade in the corporate world, Mike took advantage of a family opportunity. He made the career leap to grow grapes and make wine; an occupation that satisfies his creative nature and love for working with the land. Today Hungry Hawk Vineyards and Winery grows 15 varietals on their 10-acre Estate. This boutique, award-winning winery relies heavily on a cohesive team, from vineyard to tasting patio, garnering numerous accolades along the way. Each year, Mike and his team create up to 30 vineyard and vintage expressive wines ranging from Méthode Champenoise Bubbly to Port Style wines, each artfully crafted to accentuate the soul and experience of the vintage, from vine to bottle.
Jul 22, 2024
Mike & Gale Reynvaan
Owners, Reynvaan Family Vineyards
Reynvaan Family Vineyards is a small family winery that was formed in 2005. Beginning with their two estate vineyards in the Walla Walla AVA, "In the Rocks" (2005, 26 acres) and "Foothills in the Sun" (2008, 14 acres), Reynvaan Family Vineyards produces distinct and authentic wines grounded in very traditional techniques. Almost everything they do is by hand, carefully farming organically, planting each vine in the vineyards, trellising, pruning, dropping fruit then picking and sorting the berries at harvest. Each vintage, the wines evolve in the winery with as little interference as possible, fermenting solely with native yeast, aged exclusively in French oak, then bottled unfined and unfiltered. Each of their wines are highly acclaimed small vineyard, small lot bottlings from a unique, world-class terroir that combine a sense of place, power and elegance.
Jul 24, 2024
Theodora Lee
Owner, Theopolis Vineyards, Yorkville, CA
Ms. Theodora Lee, known in the wine world as Theopatra, Queen of the Vineyards is the founder and owner of Theopolis Vineyards. In 2001 she bought land in Anderson Valley, California and planted her first grapes in 2003. In an ode to her Greek sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, she named her vineyard, Theopolis Vineyards. Her first harvest received 94-96 points from Wine Critic Robert Parker. Ms. Lee decided to bottle her own wines in 2014. In addition to bottling Petite Sirah, Theopolis Vineyards strikes a lighter note by bottling a Symphony, a white wine grape, which is a crossing of Muscat and Grenache Gris. Ms. Lee also bottles the unique Rosé of Petite Sirah, a Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir, a Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, a Cuvee Blanc and a Cuvee Cerise. The 2018 Estate Grown Theopolis Vineyards Petite Sirah has received 96 Points from Wine Enthusiast, and Cellar Selection, ranking it No. 16 in the Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2021.
Jul 24, 2024
Mary Joli
Regional Sales Manager, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Mary Joli is the SE Regional Sales Manager with Willamette Valley Vineyards, where she manages our distributor relationships, seeing accounts and presenting at wine dinners and seminars across the southern region from AZ to FL.

Mary brings with her a wealth of wine knowledge and experience from 20 years in the Oregon wine industry, starting in wine shops specializing in Oregon Pinots, and later with several small production Oregon wineries. Mary has managed tasting rooms, formed and structured wine clubs, hosted special events and vineyard weddings.

As a TWA international flight attendant Mary traveled extensively throughout Europe she first discovered the joy of drinking elegant old world wines. Over a four year period Mary tasted her way across Europe and developed a palate and passion for wine. After settling down and raising a family Mary returned to the workforce to pursue her passion for wines, of traveling and meeting new people, working with Willamette Valley Vineyards has enabled her to live her dreams.

At home in Oregon Mary enjoys hiking the dunes on the Oregon coast, organic gardening and kayaking on the Willamette River. She actively enjoys Oregon’s endless forests, snowy mountains, rugged coastline and, of course, its elegant wines!

Jul 25, 2024
Billy Dim
Owner and Winemaker of Summer Somewhere Wines, Malibu, CA

When founders Billy and Stacey Dim got married, they merged their passions, winemaking, wine drinking and all things Summer, to create Summer Somewhere Wines, a natural, organic, and sustainable wine company.

Billy has over 16 years' experience in the wine industry acting as a principal in winemaking, production, operations, management, and sales. He is an accomplished Winemaker & Sommelier, which led him to develop his innovative wine platform, Blendtique in 2012. Dim has managed reputable wine and restaurant programs and is currently CEO and Winemaker of both Blendtique Wine Company and Summer Somewhere Wines.

Summer Somewhere hand-selects fruit from some of the most coveted Organic, Biodynamic and Sustainably farmed Vineyard sites throughout Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast. These exceptional sites advocate natural growing practices and factor in soil, topography, and climate to elevate the quality of fruit.

As a result, the Winemaking methodology is to be as natural as possible. All fruit for the Summer Somewhere program is grown and picked true to be the best expression of variety, style, or blend.

Dim and his team are thoughtfully minimalist when it comes to production, advocating for high quality, small batch selections which means sustainable sourcing, zero additives, organic grapes and keeping the wines as clean as possible for you.

Aug 1, 2024
David & Lana Mounts
Owners, Mounts Family Winery

David Mounts spent his life growing up in the vineyards under the watchful eye of his father Richard. He knew the farming life well. After graduating in 1998 from Fresno State University with a degree in Viticulture, David went on to work in the vineyard industry. He spent his first six years with Sonoma-Cutrer Winery and Vineyards developing his vineyard skills and learning quality through sacrifice, such as cropping a vine for quality not quantity. David then moved on to manage multiple vineyard sites throughout Napa Valley. This is where he refined his vineyard practice to grow the highest level of quality fruit as well as gain exposure to winemaking at its finest. With a developing palate for high quality wines, David wanted to apply what he’d learned over the years to his own family’s vineyard. The outside experience gave David the confidence and desire to showcase the grapes and vineyards he knew so well, through the expression of wine.

Aug 4, 2024
Greg Freeman
Winemaker, Hahn Family Wines, Soledad, CA

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Greg received his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Chemistry from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1989. He landed at Hahn Estate in July of 2003 working as a lab technician and has since been promoted to winemaker. Vintage after vintage, Hahn wines are styled to be fruit-forward, balanced and supple. The vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands and Arroyo Seco AVAs are a significant source of fruit for these wines. Hahn’s four estate vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands comprise more than 10 percent of the total acreage planted in the AVA. All of the meticulously planted, hillside sites are situated at elevation and overlook the Salinas Valley and their southeastern slopes assure plentiful morning sun. Greg considers working at Hahn Estate to be his dream job. Some days, he can be heard playing bagpipes in Hahn’s vineyards.
Aug 7, 2024
Roxanne Langer
Sommelier, Career Wine Educator

Sommelier, wine writer and international wine judge, Roxanne Langer has tipped her glass around the world looking for the best wines, Champagnes, Cognacs, and Whiskeys. She has held executive management positions for Napa Valley wineries, international winery associations and even a cult winery located in the tawny hills of Bel Air, Los Angeles. Frequently a guest wine speaker for wine festivals (including EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival) to cruise ships, Langer has co-authored, “Churchill, A Drinking Life: Champagne, Cognac and Cocktails” (Skyhorse Publishing NYC). Langer has also penned several articles for the Somm Journal, The Tasting Panel, Wine Geographic and numerous newspapers and wine blogs. In addition, as a wine expert she has been quoted in more than 10 national books.

As the co-founder of LadySomm, a wine edutainment and experience company located in Carmel-By-The-Sea, Langer provides wine programs to corporations, associations, universities and C-suite executives in the US and Europe. A two-time graduate of the University of the Pacific (B.A & M.A.) Langer wrote her master’s thesis on wine. She attended the University of California at Davis Community Education Program in Viticulture and Enology and has studied under WSET in the UK, US Somm and is a somm-certification adjunct professor. Langer has traveled extensively through 40 countries focusing mainly on wine regions.

In addition, Langer serves as Vice Enchansson for the Los Angeles Chapter of Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, is a board member for Les Dames d'Escoffier International- Monterey Chapter, is a member of Women of the Vine & Spirits, Women for WineSense (past Sacramento president), CMO Club (Chief Marketing Officers), American Institute of Food and Wine, and Women in Wine, Monterey, CA.

Aug 10, 2024
Andres Basso & Rodrigo Gonzalez
Owners & Winemakers, Lynfred Wines
Lynfred wines are created by Chilean-born winemakers Andres Basso and Rodrigo Gonzalez. As an urban winery, our winemakers source the best fruit from vineyards in Washington, California, Illinois, Michigan, and Chile. Lynfred believes in gentle processing and minimal handling and procedures. Ultimately, the best fruit, cared for under the best conditions in the cellar transforms into a supreme delight when processed, aged, and blended in their signature style and is unique to the Midwest. No other winery in the region can boast the variety of wines made in-house that Lynfred offers under Andres’ and Rodrigo’s tutelage.
Aug 14, 2024
Gina Adams & Carolina "Cat" Warwick
Winemakers, WIT Cellars

Following their dreams, three friends came together, Gina, Cat and Flint; full of talent, ideas, and the passion to create exceptional wines. At Wit Cellars, we are committed to artfully crafting outstanding wines, which respect the elegance of each region, and the talents of each wine grower. Our experienced, knowledgeable, and committed winemakers, Flint Nelson and Cat Warwick, along with the WIT team create exceptional wines for those whom we have touched, and those whom we have yet to touch. We accomplish this by blending our individual strengths and talents. In doing so, we foster a fun, positive atmosphere that supports our principles and culminates in a healthy, happy life style. WIT speaks to thoughtful, meaningful interactions with friends, a lightness of mood, and certain elegance of style–which is the spirit of WIT Cellars.

Aug 15, 2024
Lorraine Hems
Senior Lecturer, Rochester Institute of Technology’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Rochester, NY

Even before Lorraine traveled to Germany and Alsace, she was passionate about their wines. This cruise will be a great opportunity for her to share her love of their wines as well as wines from her home base, the internationally acclaimed Finger Lakes, NY wine region. After specializing in wine for years in both the wholesale and retail markets, Lorraine began teaching beverage courses at RIT. She hopes that each student that takes her classes finds wine less mysterious and gets “bit by the bug” like she experienced.

Lorraine is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Through the Society of Wine Educators, she became a Certified Wine Educator and Certified Specialist of Spirits. She was elected again to their Board of Directors in 2022. As an American Wine Society Certified Wine Judge, she teaches and assists on their education programs. Lorraine judges at and has chaired domestic and international amateur and commercial wine and spirits competitions. She has the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level 3 and teaches their courses. She also helped start the local chapter of Women for Winesense and received the WWS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Aug 15, 2024
Bill Redelmeier
Owner, Southbrook Organic Vineyards, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

Bill Redelmeier is the driving force behind Southbrook Vineyards, Canada's largest organic winery. With a deep passion for both wine and the environment, Bill has revolutionized the wine industry in Canada by prioritizing sustainability and organic practices. Bill's journey began with a simple dream: to produce exceptional wines that are not only rich in flavor but also gentle on the earth. Recognizing the importance of organic farming and its positive impact on both the quality of wine and the environment, Bill made a bold decision to focus on organic viticulture from the very beginning. Today, the winery spans impressive vineyards, capturing the essence of Ontario's fertile land, and showcases an extensive range of wines, all of which are certified organic. By prioritizing organic practices, Bill has become a trailblazer in Canada's wine industry. He has shown that it is possible to create exceptional wines while being environmentally conscious, without compromising on taste or quality. In doing so, Bill has set the standard for sustainability in wine-making throughout the country.

Aug 22, 2024
Stephen Reustle
Owner Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards, Roseburg Oregon
Before the vineyard and winery, Stephen and Gloria Reustle owned a successful marketing company that taught them the value of providing “world-class” product to a loyal customer base. Upon arriving in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon, Stephen carefully mapped out 40 acres of vineyards to be planted. Each variety, clone, and rootstock was carefully selected to match the diverse hillside soil and unique micro-climates. Using only fruit grown from the estate’s Prayer Rock and Romancing Rock Vineyards, winemaking is kept to small lots preserving the distinctiveness of each varietal and clone. Stephen became the award-winning pioneer of U.S. Gruner Veltliner, and since 2009, Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards has garnered 18 “Best of Class,” 7 “Double Platinum,” 17 “Platinum,” 38 “Double Gold,” and 99 “Gold” Medals across 10 different varietals. And yes, there really is a “Prayer Rock” at the vineyard -- at the top of the south-facing slope is a large rock that was the meeting place for Stephen and his son in the mornings to pray to God for blessing over their vineyard. Not only did this family practice establish the name of the vineyard, but it has kept the Reustle’s very busy. Since then, they have bottled 5,000 - 8,000 cases of wine annually, selling out every year.
Aug 22, 2024
Jason Long
Owner, Long Cellars, Woodinville, WA

Long Cellars is a boutique winery in Woodinville, Washington that has been evolving for over 16 years. Jason became involved in the wine industry in 2008 when he began assisting several Woodinville wineries. Working with them taught Jason how to appreciate, make, and sell wine while simultaneously incorporating fun and laughter. In 2009, Jason produced his first vintage of wine and has never looked back. The primary mission at Long Cellars is to produce fine wines using Bordeaux varietals from some of the most reputable vineyards in Washington. There is also an underlying mission – incorporating a fun and comfortable social setting, which is why the slogan “connecting good people with fine wine” is part of the winery.

Currently, Jason is sourcing fruit from two of the most notable A.V.A.s in the state: Red Mountain and Yakima Valley. Over the years, Jason has focused on producing single varietal and blended wines using all 6 red Bordeaux varietals. Between the Washington state terroir and Jason’s careful and unique winemaking style, Long Cellars wine exudes a classic and powerful New World style. This journey has led to 25 wines receiving a score of 90 or more points.

Oct 30, 2024
Les & Sharon Heinsen
Owners, Element 79 Vineyards, El Dorado County, CA

Both born and raised in North Dakota with rich farming backgrounds, Les and Sharon have long had a dream of getting back to their roots and owning a vineyard in beautiful El Dorado County and the Fair Play AVA.

Upon retiring from a 38-year career in the insurance industry, Les has made his vineyard owning dreams a reality and takes his many years of experience in nurturing people to now nurturing grape vines. As they say, "you can take the boy out of the country, but not the country out of the boy".

With a hospitality background and a caring and nurturing personality, Sharon is the perfect host and representative for our brand and wines made from the heart.

Together, Les and Sharon are creating exclusive wines with extraordinary winemaking practices seldom employed by wineries in the Sierra Foothills, and even in California.

Oct 31, 2024
Robert Young Family
Family-owned Robert Young Estate Winery

For over 165 years, the Young family have lived on and farmed their ranch in Sonoma County, becoming one of the largest family-owned growers of premium wines in Alexander Valley. Since 1997, the family have offered small lot Estate wines under the Robert Young name – big, lush Chardonnays, sublime Bordeaux Blends and powerful 100% Cabernet Sauvignons. Today, visitors to the winery in Alexander Valley are welcomed as members of the extended family and invited to experience the beauty of the vineyard ranch and the wines inspired by Robert Young. Join us as we explore the beauty of the Seine River from Paris to Normandy on this magical cruise beginning October 31, 2024.

Nov 6, 2024
Jamie Peterson
Winemaker, Peterson Winery

Although officially the winemaker at Peterson only since 2006, the joke is Jamie has 43 years of experience in the winemaking life. Jamie was born at Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1981, where father Fred was winemaker from 1979 to 1983, and was raised in the cellar and vineyards there. After the family moved to Dry Creek Valley outside of the town of Healdsburg in 1983, Peterson Winery grew out of the vineyards that his father managed and took him to visit in his youth.

Prior to joining the family winery as assistant in 2002, he worked harvests abroad in both Australia and New Zealand. As Peterson’s winemaker, he follows the same winemaking philosophy and commitment to wines with an honest sense of place that his father has always practiced, while updating a few of the finer points in the process. When not in the winery or vineyards, Jamie can be found hiking, spending time with his two children, playing or watching baseball, trying new recipes, or working in his garden.

Nov 7, 2024
Jill Osur
CEO, founder of Teneral Cellars

Teneral Cellars, founded in Northern California, is a women-owned and operated producer of sustainable, phenomenal wines, harnessing the power of business for good. Exceptional wine is the catalyst for connection, crucial conversations, and investments toward an equitable future for all women.

Jill Osur, is CEO and founder of Teneral Cellars, and previous co-founder and director of California-based winery group GL Enterprises. Teneral Cellars is driven by Jill’s belief that wine can be a conduit for change, a force for gender equity and social justice within the wine industry and our culture at large. Jill is a captivating public speaker who has been described as a “firecracker in the room” with her energizing, moving presence.

As veterans of the wine industry, Jill, along with Teneral Cellars, is the first to disrupt it by creating a business that intentionally reflects the wine industry’s largest consumer: women.

Nov 7, 2024
Michelle Myrenne & Scott Willoughby
Owners, Seebass Vineyards

Purchased in 1988 by her mother Brigitte Seebass, the vineyard has been the focus of Michelle’s family for most of her life. Her careers in technology and legal fields in San Francisco gave her an excellent basis to transition into the day-to-day operations of the estate winemaking business, as she now oversees the finance, compliance, and planning of her company. Michelle personally oversees operations and welcomes guests to our beautiful Tasting Room in Boonville, California, in the heart of Anderson Valley. Her husband Scott, has also transitioned from a technology marketing career spanning 30 years. In San Francisco he lead his own company that produced branding strategies, new business initiatives and advertising campaigns. Today he oversees marketing, working with winemakers, creative designers, distributors, restaurants and the trade to develop sales channel opportunities for the business. Together, with their son Aidan, the family is immersed in the winemaking business and making world-class wines. Michelle’s family emigrated from Germany and her first language was German. They create highly acclaimed and awarded wines with a subtle, food-friendly European palate in California, and look forward to importing wines from small world-wide producers in the future as well.

Nov 7, 2024
Hillary Cole
Director of Sales, Bell Wine Cellars
Hillary started out as a military linguist and counter-terrorism analyst in the Washington, DC area, during which time she also had the opportunity to visit vineyards in Italy. The serenity and romance of the vineyards were a stark contrast to her Intelligence career and she felt at home every time she stepped foot on one. After leaving the Intelligence she gravitated instead to the wine industry via restaurant management as the General Manager and Sommelier for three Sacramento-area restaurant groups after finishing her MBA studies and Intro Sommelier exam. Her final position on the restaurant side of wine was running the wine program at Ella Dining Room and Bar in Sacramento. Hillary has completed several wine certification programs, her favorites among which include French Wine Scholar, Champagne Master Level, Napa Valley Wine Expert, and The Business of Wine. Hillary is an on-going student of the French language and is currently a Bordeaux Master candidate. She has loved having the opportunity to maximize her backgrounds in business, wine, and leadership via her position as Director of Sales at Bell Wine Cellars.
Nov 11, 2024
Rob & Paula Campbell-Taylor
Owners, Graveyard Vineyards, San Miguel, CA

While living in Santa Barbara, Rob and Paula dreamed of owning property in the country to raise their two 2 young sons. After searching the California coast, Rob took Paula for a visit to Paso Robles Wine Country and she was hooked after seeing the beautiful countryside and the downtown square that reminded her of her Midwestern roots. Paula discovered an 81-acre property on the top of a hill past a little country graveyard dating back to 1865. The property had everything on their list of “must haves” including an existing vineyard. The biggest find though came soon after when they discovered their winemaker, Jason Bushong. What started with 184 case bottling in 2006 is now an award-winning winery and tasting room with direct to consumer sales of 5,000 cases per year to a wine club of over 2,000 people.
Nov 11, 2024
David Lauer & Krista Lauer
Bryn Mawr Vineyards, Salem, OR

Bryn Mawr Vineyards David Lauer, VP of Sales & Marketing, has been a part of the family business since 2014. After working his summers in the vineyard and the then-basement cellar alongside his dad and their winemaker, Rachel, he joined the winery full-time upon graduating college. He’s engaged in nearly every aspect of operations at Bryn Mawr during its meteoric growth, filling in any gaps that have arisen as they’ve developed into a premier operation. Through wearing many hats from forklift driver to DTC Sales Manager to VP of Sales & Marketing, he’s developed a comprehensive understanding of the wine industry from grape to glass. He utilizes his years of experience in the wine industry to communicate Bryn Mawr’s efforts to make terroir-drive wines using regenerative farming practices with an undeniably infectious passion.

Krista Lauer, VP of Hospitality, rejoined the family business in 2022. After spending summers in the Tasting Room while at Willamette University, she ventured to Denver to get her M.A. in Art History. After spending 6 years at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, working her way through the Visitor Services and Exhibitions departments, she found herself wanting to be part of something greater: her family’s legacy. Upon her return to Bryn Mawr, she’s focused on the Tasting Room and events, streamlining procedures, improving lines of communication, and brainstorming new opportunities for engagement. With a unique perspective, a flair for the dramatic, and clear vision, she is excited to build upon the legacy of superb Hospitality that gives us pride.

Nov 13, 2024
Christine Vrooman
Owner, Ankida Ridge Vineyards

Christine has a story to tell. She and her husband, Dennis, purchased 100 acres high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in 1999 that was to one day be their retirement retreat after they sold their veterinary practice in Virginia Beach. But before they had a chance to even consider retirement, serendipity stepped in, and soon, up at 1800 ft elevation where the air is cool and the earth, rocky and steep, they were planting a small family vineyard of Pinot Noir, a grape that was determined impossible to grow successfully in the humid, hot Mid-Atlantic climate. This unexpected journey brought their son, Nathan, back to Virginia from Denver to learn winemaking and he would soon produce one of the finest pinot noirs on the East Coast. Their Pinot Noir has been recognized as a “Top Ten Hot Brand 2017” by Wine Business Monthly, and Ankida Ridge was the only East Coast producer invited to Oregon’s prestigious International Pinot Noir Celebration 2016. They are listed in Food & Wine as one of Virginia’s Top 10 Vineyards and have received numerous high ratings from James Suckling and Wine Enthusiast.

Christine loves to share her passion for high-elevation viticulture, the importance of matching grape variety to place and for maintaining respect for the environment. Their panoramic vineyard and sheep farm sits high above the valleys and distant cities and has been cited as having one of the most beautiful vineyard views on the East Coast. “Ankida” is an ancient Sumerian word meaning “Where heaven and earth join.” Christine embraces the connection between people, good food and wine and the conviviality that goes with it all. She hopes you will join her on this cruise so she can share with you their serendipitous story and learn about grape-growing in various regions of the world. She invites attendees to journey to beautiful Virginia wine country and experience for yourself the beauty, tranquility and fine wines of Ankida Ridge. And there is now no retirement in their future!

Nov 14, 2024
Sara & Brice Garrett
Owners, Serrano Wine, Hye Texas

Sarah and Brice Garrett are the owners and husband/wife winemaking team of Serrano Wine, a small, luxury wine brand located in Hye, Texas. They started from the ground up, with no formal education in viticulture or enology. For the next few years, they completely immersed themselves in the wine world. They traveled to France and Italy and met with winemakers across those regions, they read hundreds of books, they watched documentaries, they tasted every wine that they came in contact with to expand their palate and refine their own winemaking style. They hustled and started to really see growth! Their brand began with a strong social media presence and eventually a tasting room in downtown Paso Robles. They knew they had so much more of their story to write, but Paso Robles was pretty well established, and they wanted to be in an up-and-coming wine region where they could be part of the growth, a place where they could contribute and have some sort of positive impact. Texas was the first wine region they looked at outside of California, and after visiting, they decided they didn’t need to look anywhere else. This is where they wanted to be! The region was full of warm hospitality, a booming, yet still growing, wine scene, and a strong sense of community. This was where they wanted to expand Serrano.

Nov 14, 2024
Frederick Frank
President, Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes Region, NY

Frederick Frank is president of Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, a position he has held since 1993. After graduating from Cornell University, Fred worked for Banfi Vintners in sales from 1979 to 1982, before attending Geisenheim Reserch Institute for Viticulture and Enology in West Germany in 1982-1983. He was managing director of Old Brookville Vineyard at Banfi from 1984 to 1993. Under Fred’s leadership both the winery’s production and number of honors received has increased greatly, with Dr. Frank’s Riesling poured on numerous occasions in the White House. Wines from Dr. Frank’s winery are now available in over 30 states, making them among the most visible and well-known produced in New York State. Fred, the winery, and its wines have been featured in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Wine & Spirits Magazine, New York Times, The Washington Post, Wine Enthusiast and more. Please join Fred Frank on this voyage down the Blue Danube visiting Prague, Vilshofen, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and some of the most beautiful villages in Austria.
Nov 18, 2024
Sean O’Keefe

Sean O’Keefe was raised in a winemaking family on Old Mission Peninsula. His father, and founder of Chateau Grand Traverse, Ed O’Keefe, planted his first vineyards in 1974. Sean studied German Literature at University of Michigan, before going to Germany to study wine making. Afterwards, he did an apprenticeship and went to Geisenheim in Rheingau. Featuring one of the main oenology schools, great professors, and even more importantly great people, Geisenheim was an inspiration to Sean, immersing him in generational wine history. He often jokingly refers to it as the Hogwarts of Riesling.

He then returned home to launch an innovative small-batch series at his family’s winery and make himself an international emissary for Northwest Michigan’s wine community. Sean began consulting for Mari Vineyards in 2009. As Sean began deciding what types of future wine he was interested in creating, he realized Marty Lagina’s vision aligned with his in many ways, and he decided to come on as Mari’s Winemaker in 2015.

While Sean specializes in many of the varieties he grew up with — Riesling, Gamay Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Grüner Veltliner, he also works with Italian varieties the Lagina’s have planted, such as Malvasia Bianca, Nebbiolo, and Schioppettino. Curious about textural qualities in wine and always experimenting, Sean also makes skin-contact whites inspired by Georgian techniques and more recently began creating wine ciders. Mari’s portfolio is a reflection of both the Lagina family legacy and Sean’s winemaking journey.

Nov 21, 2024
Sebastian & Colleen Hardy
Founders, Living Roots Wine, Finger Lakes, NY

Sebastian and Colleen Hardy are the founders of Living Roots, a winery in the regions surrounding both of their hometowns: the Finger Lakes of New York and the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.

Though it was founded in 2016, the Living Roots story can be traced to Thomas Hardy, Sebastian’s great-great-great grandfather, who immigrated from England in 1850 and planted some of the first vines in South Australia. Seb grew up around his dad’s vineyards in McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills, and went on to pursue winemaking himself. He’s worked vintages in Australia, Austria, France, Italy and the US, and has a degree in Viticulture and Oenology from The University of Adelaide, with a six-month exchange at UC Davis during his studies.

Colleen grew up in Rochester, New York and has a degree in marketing from Michigan State University. Three years into a marketing career in Chicago, she was keen to get into the wine industry and pivoted. Colleen landed a position as a cellar hand for the 2014 vintage at Hardy’s Tintara Winery in South Australia before working for a small boutique winery in a hybrid marketing and cellarhand role.

Seb and Colleen started Living Roots in 2016 and split their time between South Australia and New York, doing two harvests each year and experimenting with a wide range of styles that highlight the natural strengths of each region. With sustainability at the forefront, Living Roots makes wines with varietal and regional expression, minimal inputs and maximum quality.

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