USBevX Advisory Board
The USBevX Advisory Board was established to guarantee that conference topics and speaker are relevant to the continued success of the Eastern wine & beverage industry every year. Advisors are comprised of professionals whose levels of expertise span all facets within the wine & beverage industry.
Wine Educator & Communicator
Luiz Alberto is a Brazilian with Italian blood and an American heart - very complex as a great wine must be! As a person who truly loves wine, and with more than the simple desire to imbibe the drink, Luiz has an eagerness to appreciate and learn everything that relates to wine. Luiz has quite an extensive list of wine-related activities. Here are just a few examples; Founder & CEO of TheWineHub, Founder of the #winelover community, Founder & CEO of the Winelover Against Cancer Foundation, a Master of Wine student, a Member of the Circle of Wine Writers of London, an Italian Wine Ambassador, a Judge at international wine competitions, and is a wine educator and communicator.
Winemaker, Vineyard Manager / Keswick Vineyards
Stephen started working in the wine industry at Groot Constantia Winery, the oldest winery in South Africa, as a pourer and tour guide. Through various courses of events he managed to find a position in the cellar as a cellar worker and then eventually became the assistant winemaker there. He studied Enology and Viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural College. Upon completion of his studies Stephen became the assistant winemaker at Flagstone Winery where he worked exclusively with red wines.
Through the Ohio State Internship program, he came to Virginia in 2002 and joined Keswick Vineyards as an intern and held that position until May 2004 when he took the position of Winemaker at Rappahannock Cellars. In June of 2006 he re-joined Keswick Vineyards as the Winemaker.
Stephen’s philosophy for winemaking is minimal intervention. He prefers to focus on the vineyard to produce optimal fruit for winemaking. Keswick Vineyards is one of the few wineries that ferments most of its wines without the addition of yeast and do not fine or filter any of their reds since the 2006 harvest. Keswick Vineyards is committed to producing world-class wines and are now seeing the potential Virginia, as well as Keswick Vineyards, has to offer.
Annette Ringwood Boyd
Director / Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office
Owner / Ringwood Boyd Marketing
Annette Ringwood Boyd is the director for the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office. In this capacity, she manages the board’s marketing efforts on behalf of the Virginia Wine Industry including the strategic oversight of the overall marketing of the Virginia wine industry. Her staff oversees the production of the Virginia Winery Guide, the development and day-to-day management of the industry website, www.virginiawine.org, October Virginia Wine Month, Love by the Glass Virginia Wine & Dine Month and other marketing initiatives on behalf of the Virginia Wine Board.
She began her wine career selling wines in a retail wine shop in college and later as marketing director for a Richmond, Virginia non-profit organization, where she planned wine events in downtown Richmond in addition to running the organization’s public relations and marketing efforts.
She ran the Virginia Wine Marketing Office for 5 years as an employee for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and from there went on to direct branding, marketing planning and business development for other organizations including various advertising agencies and non-profit organizations in Virginia.
Annette founded her own company, Ringwood Boyd Marketing in 2007 and her company has been the outside consultant managing the marketing efforts for the Virginia Wine Board since 2007. She has been recognized for her marketing by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association and the Richmond Chapter of the American Marketing Association and is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a BS in Business with a concentration in marketing.
Mark L. Chien
Program Coordinator / Oregon Wine Research Institute
Mark was born in Wilmington, Delaware, grew up in New England, and received a psychology degree from Amherst College and M.Ed. from Penn State University. He became interested in vines while traveling and studying in Europe. After traveling extensively through Europe where he caught the wine bug, he enrolled in the graduate viticulture program at the University of California at Davis.
He was the first winemaker and second vineyard manager at Pindar Vineyards, the largest winery on Long Island, NY. He managed Temperance Hill Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of Oregon for 16 years, growing wine grapes, Christmas trees and timber products. During this time he was a co-founder of Oregon Low Input Enology and Viticulture and the wine studies program at Chemeketa Community College, served on the Oregon Wine Association research committee and the International Pinot Noir Celebration board.
In 1999 he joined Penn State Cooperative Extension as their first viticulture extension educator and worked to improve wine quality in Eastern North America. In May, 2014 he joined the Oregon Wine Research Institute as its program coordinator, and will facilitate viticulture and enology research at Oregon State University.
He is a long time member of the national American Society for Enology and Viticulture and a former secretary of its Eastern Section. He also helped found the National Grape and Wine Initiative, the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) and the National Viticulture and Enology Extension Conference. He lives in Salem with wife Judi and cat Mandy.
Executive Director / Garden State Wine Growers Association
Tom Cosentino is the Executive Director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA), the statewide advocacy and promotional channel of the New Jersey wine industry. He has over 30 years of strategic media relations, marketing communications and brand-building expertise in the public relations industry. Cosentino joined the GSWGA from MWW PR where he coordinated public relations and advocacy programs for the firm’s public affairs division, representing a diverse array of clients including: Atlantic Wind Connection, BioReference Laboratories, JCP&L, NJ 211 and PBA Local 105 among others.
Cosentino oversees the day-to-day administrative and marketing functions of the organization; serves as spokesman for the wine industry in New Jersey; and is the liaison with the Christie Administration, Department of Agriculture, Tourism and other industry groups. Cosentino is also responsible for securing grants and tasked with bringing corporate sponsors to the New Jersey wine industry.
Prior to joining MWW PR, Tom was a principal at Capital Public Affairs in Princeton where he headed up the firm’s media relations division iMedia Public Relations. There, Tom helped develop the grassroots campaign UncorkNJ, which led to the passing of the direct shipping bill in 2012 allowing in-state wineries to ship wine directly to consumers and for out-of-state wineries to do so as well. He also served as the public relations representative for the Garden State Wine Growers while at iMedia and MWW.
Tom was also the founding Co-General Manager of Catalyst Public Relations in New York, where he directed programs for major brands such as Subway, vitaminwater and TicketsNow among others. He also was co-owner of O’Leary & Cosentino Communications for nine years and General Manager of Lapin East/West in New York. He also served as the Publicity Director of Yonkers Raceway in New York and began his career in 1983 as a media relations intern with the New York Yankees.
Tom has managed national programs for major sporting events including championship boxing matches starring Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns; worked on the 75th Anniversary of the National Hockey League; launched Ted Williams’ trading card company and the Women’s United Soccer Association. In New Jersey, Tom managed programs for Alstede Farms, NJ2-1-1, JCP&L, the Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racetrack, Association of NJ Chiropractors, and NJ Festival of Ballooning among others.
In addition to his professional career, Tom has worked as an Adjunct Professor at Rider University and served on the Board of Directors of Michael’s Feat, a 501c3 charity in Monmouth County that assists families of seriously ill newborns. He is currently a board member of Visit South Jersey, a local Direct Marketing Organization.
Tom resides in Farmingdale, NJ with his wife Ann and has two sons.
Winemaker / Glenora Wine Cellars
Steve DiFrancesco is Winemaker for Glenora Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes of New York. He earned a BS from Stetson University, and has since enjoyed 38 harvests in the Finger Lakes.
Steve worked with Guy DeVaux and Charles Fournier at Gold Seal Vineyards, with their excellent sparkling wines, from the late ‘70’s to the mid ‘80’s. He then worked with high quality barrel aged red hybrids at Bully Hill Vineyards.
Steve was an assistant winemaker at Glenora in the late ‘80’s, as part of an ambitious expansion program with an emphasis on Sparkling Wines.
Steve became winemaker at Lucas Vineyards in the early 90’s, and helped expand production in high quality still and sparkling wines.
Steve returned to Glenora in 1995 as winemaker and has helped expand their reputation and production.
In 2000 the owners of Glenora purchased Knapp Vineyards, and Steve was responsible for winemaking at both properties until 2015. He is now responsible for Glenora only. Riesling is at the forefront of production, though other varieties produced include other aromatic white viniferas, sparkling wines, and red viniferas, as well as hybrids and natives.
CEO / Foundations Marketing Group
Monika Elling is the CEO and Founder of Foundations Marketing Group, a company launched in May 2010 to address the growing strategic communications and brand-building needs of the wine and spirits sector. Monika has years of experience in the global trade on the supply as well as the import/wholesale sides, having most recently served as Director of Public Relations at Lauber Imports, a division of Southern Wines & Spirits, America’s largest wholesaler. Prior to joining Lauber, Monika held the position of Chief Marketing Officer for Monarchia Matt International, where she launched the European Company’s American division.
She is a thought leader and innovator in the global wine & spirits industry, and with FMG, created a unique platform to embrace the latest market innovations in the U.S. wine sector. Monika is a noted speaker and author, with an upcoming book release on the topic of wine education. She is a noted presenter at numerous industry events on topics of Social & Digital Media and the State of the Wine and Spirits sector. Monika is a regular contributor to blogs on LinkedIn and Medium, with her latest article titled: Wine & Spirits: The U.S. Marketing Challenge . She also appears in global industry news such Harper's U.K, Huffington Post, and the Beverage Media Journal.
Winemaker / King Family Vineyards
Matthieu was born in Crozes Hermitage in the Rhone Valley of France. Coming from a family of viticulturists and wine lovers, Matthieu was predisposed to continue his family's pursuit of making and enjoying wine. He first studied viticulture and oenology at Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy.
After graduating in 1995, Matthieu worked in many different wine regions around France including Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, and Jura. He then worked in Italy and South Africa to gain experience around the world before settling in Virginia. Since arriving in 2003, Matthieu has worked with wineries throughout the state. He enjoys working in the Monticello Appellation most because he likes the excitement of the region’s growth and being close to Charlottesville.
When not at the winery, or with his lovely wife Erin, son Gabin and daughter Tessa, Matthieu likes to play rugby, snowboard, rock climb, cook, and drink wine with friends.
Denise M. Gardner
Enology Extension Associate / Penn State University
Denise M. Gardner is the Enology Extension Associate for Penn State University, offering educational support for the Pennsylvania wine industry. Denise provides several winemaking workshops on topics such as wine defect identification, wine sensory evaluation, winemaking basics, wine taste and flavor manipulation, research winemaking, and winery sanitation. Additionally, she spends time visiting wineries throughout Pennsylvania and aiding them with production questions.
Denise started growing wine grapes at her local high school in 2001, when she was 16-years-old, and spent her high school years following viticulture Extension programs and working for local wineries. She graduated from Penn State’s Food Science program with a minor in Horticulture in 2007, and earned her M.S. in Food Science and Technology, with an emphasis in enology from Virginia Tech in 2009. Her graduate research with Dr. Bruce Zoecklein focused on the use of electronic nose technology for volatile analysis in grapes, juice, and wine.
Following graduate school, Denise worked in Napa, California as Enartis Vinquiry’s Sensory Scientist, assisting wineries with specific wine sensory studies and conducting in-house evaluations on enological products. In 2013, Denise obtained the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) accreditation from the Society of Wine Educators, and earned her Level 3 certification from the Wine and Spirit Educational Trust (WSET) in 2015. In 2016, Denise was elected as the Chair-Elect for the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) – Eastern Section organization.
For more information on Denise and current Penn State Extension Enology programs, please visit extension.psu.edu/enology or visit the Wine and Grapes U. blog at psuwineandgrapes.wordpress.com. You can also follow Denise on Twitter (@DeniseMGardner) or “Like” the Facebook pages she manages: Denise M. Gardner, Penn State Extension Enology, or American Society for Enology and Viticulture – Eastern Section.
Winemaker / RdV Vineyards
An adoration for the outdoors and a passion for all things food and wine related drew Joshua to life on a farm. After earning a degree in environmental science and working in professional kitchens, he began his journey in the wine industry as an apprentice at Linden Vineyards, a pioneering Virginia winery. Josh’s path has led him from the cellars of Bordeaux to the vineyards of Tasmania, and back to his native Virginia, as he continues to hone his craft. At RdV, his vast knowledge and devoted attention to detail has earned him the title of winemaker. In addition to managing all of the technical operations for the vineyard, Josh leads the charge on implementing sustainable practices across the farm.
Winemaker / Horton Vineyards
Michael Heny has been making wine in Virginia since 1990, actively experiencing the dynamic growth of an industry celebrated for it’s distinct wines from unique grapes. He joined the winemaking team at Horton Vineyards in 1997, entranced by the promise of the unique flavors could be unleashed from the rolling hills of Central Virginia with our unique selection of varieties. To this day Mr. Heny devotes his days to protecting the zip and verve of Rkatsiteli and Albariño, preserving the aromatic richness of Viognier and Petit Manseng, expressing the berry fruit of Cabernet Franc and Nebbiolo, and unleashing the intense potential of Tannat and Norton. When not crafting Horton Vineyard's award winning wines he enjoys exploring the mountains, woods and streams of central Virginia and beyond with his wife and two children.
Professor of Horticultural Marketing and Business Management / Pennsylvania State University
Kathy Kelley is a Professor of Horticultural Marketing and Business Management at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include consumer awareness, preference, and acceptance of horticultural products, with a focus on wine. Her extension-education responsibilities are to develop business and marketing educational programs for horticultural crop producers and retailers. She also discusses topics and challenges retailers encounter in one of her undergraduate course, Retail Horticultural Business Management. Kathy has authored or co-authored peer reviewed publications, trade journals articles, and has addressed consumer groups, various industry groups, Master Gardeners, and scientific audiences. She received a dual Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Horticulture and Botany & Plant Pathology and joined the faculty at Penn State in November 2001.
Owner, Winemaker / Linden Vineyards
Jim is the owner/winemaker of Linden Vineyards and winegrower of Hardscrabble. An Ohio native, he was raised in the 1960’s and 1970’s by parents who loved to share their passion for food and wine. Study in Europe and two years’ teaching of agriculture as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire (Congo) led to the desire to grow grapes.
Jim’s first vineyard job was in Indiana where he traded work for a place to live. He then got a real job in Ohio at Chalet Debonne where he learned the nuts and bolts of grape growing and cellar work. In 1981 Jim was hired to start a winery in the Shenandoah Valley where he fell in love with the area and viticultural possibilities. In the mid 1980’s, while establishing Linden Vineyards, he consulted for other wineries and taught winegrowing at local community colleges.
He is currently obsessed with growing great wine and happiest in the vineyard. When not amongst the vines he enjoys cooking, eating (especially in France), and writing for trade publications.
Partner / Pepper Hamilton LLP
Alva Mather is partner and chair of Pepper Hamilton’s Alcoholic Beverage Practice Group and co-chair of the Food and Beverage Practice Group.
Alva is a business lawyer, litigator and first-chair trial attorney with more than a decade of experience who has established herself as a leading attorney in matters affecting the highly regulated alcoholic beverage industry. She has advised breweries, distilleries, wineries, wholesalers, distributors, and restaurateurs on all aspects of manufacturing, distributing and selling alcohol. Alva is an active writer and speaker and on social media at @alcohollawyer.
Associate Editor of Virginia Wine Lover Magazine
A Virginia native, Frank Morgan works in the Legal and Data Privacy group of a global company by day. He is the author of the DrinkWhatYouLike.com wine blog, started seven years ago to chronicle his wine travel experiences and to share stories of the wines, wineries, and winegrowers of Virginia. His site was recently named one of the top wine news blogs by Millesima. Morgan is also a contributor for edibleDC magazine, the wine site Snooth, and is the associate editor of Virginia Wine Lover Magazine, the only print magazine dedicated to the state’s wine industry.
Winemaker / Bedell Cellars
Richard is a pioneer in Long Island winemaking with over 30 years of experience. He wrote the North Fork of Long Island appellation into existence in 1986, and is the only Winemaker in Eastern North America to use entirely indigenous yeasts. Rich developed the first Bordeaux/Long Island consultation partnership with M. Paul Pontallier of Chateau Margaux and also helped found Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, the first third party certification program for vineyard sustainability on the East Coast.
General Manager / Lieb Cellars
Ami is a certified sommelier and the General Manager of Lieb Cellars, an 85-acre farm-winery on the North Fork of Long Island, New York, dedicated to crafting clean, balanced, fruit-driven still and sparkling (vinifera) wines. Prior to joining Lieb she spent 3 years as the Tasting Room and Wine Club Manager at another boutique winery on Long Island and 8 years working in wine & spirits account management at advertising and marketing agencies in NYC and Chicago. As Lieb’s GM, she oversees wholesale and retail sales, hospitality, production and marketing for both Lieb Cellars and Lieb’s second label, Bridge Lane. Bridge Lane wines are marketed to millennials and focused on delivering value, fun and convenience though alternative packaging. In summer 2017, Bridge Lane introduced the first premium canned wine made in New York and plans to roll out all 5 of their wines in can in early 2018. Their wines are distributed in 10 states across the NE and growing. Follow both brands on Instagram at @liebcellars and @bridgelanewine.
Owner, Winemaker / Pearmund Cellars
Chris has been in the wine industry of Virginia for nearly 30 years. Chris began his career in the kitchen of the restaurant industry at several restaurants in California, England, and ultimately in the northern Virginia area.
Chris transitioned to wine steward then manager for several northern Virginia area restaurants including Wine Manager of Clyde’s Tysons Corner.
In 1990, Chris began working as winemaker and continued to do so through 1996. During those years, he helped start and manage the first winery mobile bottle line in the East working for over 40 wineries in 10 states assembling, filtering, and bottling wine.
From 1996 to 1998, Chris was a wine buyer and store manager for Total Beverage, a 25,000 square foot wine specialty store. He was also in charge of the wine training classes for all of its stores. He then worked for The Country Vintner, a fine wine distributor, until 2003.
Chris was elected President of the Virginia Vineyards Association in 1996, and was the first chairman of the Virginia Wine and Food Society, a board member of the Virginia Wineries Association, Chairman of the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce and previously editor and publisher of ‘The Grape Press’, a quarterly professional vineyard trade publication.
Chris is a nationally certified wine judge by the American Wine Society, has received and taught the Higher Certificate Education course for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and has organized and taught courses for both amateurs and professionals in wine appreciation and regularly speaks at wine and vineyard seminars and conferences.
To date, he has been instrumental in the founding of more than a dozen new wineries and countless vineyards, and is currently Managing Partner at Pearmund Cellars, Vint Hill Craft Winery and Effingham Manor and Winery. He was recently voted as the best winemaker in Virginia by Virginia Wine Lovers Magazine and Pearmund Cellars as Virginia’s best winery several times.
He has traveled extensively through the wine regions of North and South America, Europe and Africa. For the past 23 year Chris has lived at Meriwether Vineyard, home to Pearmund Cellars, and 15 acres of chardonnay vines, recognized as the oldest in Virginia.
Head Winemaker / Veritas Vineyards & Winery
Emily moved to Virginia in 1999 with the intention of taking a year off of school, and to help her parents and sister Chloe transition as they moved from Florida to Virginia. While starting a vineyard in Virginia seemed like a far-flung idea to Emily to start, she quickly fell in love with the beauty of the industry and the area and decided to stay and pursue a career in the wine industry. Emily and Andrew worked alongside each other as a team in the inception of Veritas, and Andrew held down the fort when she went to Virginia Tech to get her Masters degree in oenology (fermentation science).
Now fifteen vintages in, Emily has become head winemaker and proud mother of two beautiful girls who have grown up on the farm and watched the winery and the vineyard grow. Emily has made wine solely in Virginia and feels very strongly that with select varietals the future of the industry, when it stays true to its roots and Virginia grown fruit, will be unstoppable.
Her philosophy involves trying to achieve natural, balanced expression of the fruit by focusing on attention to detail and cultural practices, but most of all just trying to stay out of the way as she allows the wine to show off the beauty of where the grapes were grown.
Director of Business Development / Biltmore Estate Wine Company
Jeff Plack serves as Director of Business Development for Biltmore Estate Wine Company, whose parent company owns and operates Biltmore in Asheville, NC. Jeff works closely with the estate marketing and operations teams to leverage Biltmore’s 1.4 million annual visitors to maximize the company’s direct-to-consumer sales. With a focus beginning the moment guests enter Biltmore’s gates and culminating in their visit to America’s most-visited winery, DtC sales maintain significant double-digit annual growth year over year.
For Jeff, the infatuation with wine began in college, but it wasn’t until recent years that he’s made wine a career. Having spent almost two decades in both business development and managing operations in multiple industries, Jeff credits those two dynamics with influencing his appreciation for both sides of the equation. Being able to combine his love of wine and business development has made being in the wine industry his dream job.
Jeff holds an MBA from Western Carolina University and lives in the Asheville area with his beautiful wife and two daughters. In his free time, he loves running, reading, and relaxing with a glass of wine at home in the mountains of NC.
Winemaker / Penns Woods Winery
Penns Woods Winery is the result of Gino Razzi's lifetime of experience in the world of wine. A respected importer and distributor of wine, Gino is an Italian immigrant from Abruzzo, in southern Italy. He settled in the Delaware County area in 1962, where he was fostered by the area's Italian-American community. Gino served four years in the United States Marines then attended college in California. After graduation, he returned to Pennsylvania to rejoin family and friends. With three decades of success as a wine importer, in 1995, Gino turned his experience towards the craft of winemaking. He finished his first wine in 1997. Symposium, a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was his first commercially released wine, and was awarded 95 points by Wine Spectator Magazine. This publication recently honored this wine again with its inclusion in the retrospective article "Italy's Golden Vintage - the 1997 Harvest" in 2007.
Gino's pursuit of perfection led him to his own back yard. In 2002, he began to craft wines from Pennsylvania–grown grapes. To his surprise, he found that great wines can be made in Pennsylvania.
After a two-year search for an ideal vineyard site, Gino decided to purchase the Smithbridge Winery, in 2004, to take advantage of its 25-year-old vines. Gino is convinced that Pennsylvania has the capability to produce world-class wines, and hopes to contribute to the legacy of hard work and artistry of his predecessors. As a symbol of these aspirations, one dollar from the proceeds of each bottle of Penns Woods wines will be donated to furthering wine and grape research in Pennsylvania.
Vineyard & Winery Consultant / Rigby Viniculture
Instructor of Enology & Viticulture / Harrisburg Area Community College
Joyce Rigby is a vineyard and winery design consultant and an instructor for the Enology and Viticulture Program at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) in Harrisburg, PA. Joyce has been involved with eastern viticulture for over 35 years. She has worked or consulted for vineyards and wineries in NC, VA, PA, TN, and MD. Her various positions have included tasting room and tour guide, vineyard and winery labor, vineyard manager, and winemaker. Her current consulting business, Rigby Viniculture, focuses on site evaluation, viticulture, winery design and business planning.
Joyce is a member of the Virginia Vineyards Association, the Maryland Grape Growers Association, the North Carolina Winegrowers Association and the American Society of Enology and Viticulture -Eastern Section.
Kyle Schlachter, CSW
Outreach Coordinator / Colorado Wine Industry Development Board
Kyle Schlachter is the Outreach Coordinator for the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board in the Markets Division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture. His love for wine developed while earning a Master's degree in geography from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. He worked in retail for 4 years before his current position. He is accredited by the Society of Wine Educators as a Certified Specialist of Wine and the Center for Wine Origins as a Wine Location Specialist. He writes about his personal wine adventures at Colorado Wine Press and has been a contributor to Palate Press: the online wine magazine, Decanter, SOMM Journal and Wine Spectator. Schlachter enjoys traveling, cooking, eating and sharing his love of wine with friends and family
Founder & Editor / The Cork Report
Lenn Thompson, a proud Pittsburgh, PA native, moved to Long Island more than a decade ago and quickly fell in love with the region’s dynamic and emerging wine community. A digital and content marketing and community professional by day, he founded NewYorkCorkReport.com in early 2004 to share his passion for the wines, beers and spirits of New York State. After running that site -- which became the premier source for independent New York wine commentary, reviews and news -- for 12 years, he launched TheCorkReport.us in late 2016 to add the wines of Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont and beyond to his beat.
Lenn currently serves as the wine columnist for The Suffolk Times weekly newspaper and is the former editor of the Long Island Wine Gazette. He contributes or has contributed to publications like Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Beverage Media, Edible Brooklyn, Edible East End and Edible Hudson Valley.
Lenn served on the board of directors for Drink Local Wine, and is the creator and founder of TasteCamp, an annual regional wine immersion conference for writers and trade.
An admitted riesling and cabernet franc fanatic, he’s intensely passionate about eating local and the many local wine regions of America. Lenn lives in Miller Place, NY with his wife Nena, son Jackson, daughter Anna and their dog, Casey Lemieux Thompson.
President / WineAmerica
President / International Riesling Foundation
James (Jim) Trezise has transitioned from serving over three decades as President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation to President of both WineAmerica and the International Riesling Foundation.
After serving for more than 20 years on the Executive Committee of the WineAmerica Board of Directors, on January 1, 2017 he because the national organization’s President. Based in Washington, DC, WineAmerica is the national organization of American wineries, and focuses on grassroots public policy advocacy to protect and advance the industry’s interests.
The International Riesling, which he co-founded a decade ago, is a coalition of top Riesling producers from around the world seeking to promote Riesling as the most noble white wine due to its versatility, reflection of terroir, and food compatibility.
Jim has also been involved with numerous national and international organizations involved with grapes and wine. He has served as Communications Director and on the Presidential Council of FIVS (formerly Fédération Internationale des Vins et Spiritueux -- International Federation of Wines and Spirits) based in Paris. He also serves as a Board member of the National Grape and Wine Initiative; as a Board member of the Wine Market Council; and previously served as Director of Communications for the International Organization of Vines and Wines in Paris. He is a frequent speaker on major issues at conferences throughout the United States, as well as a professional wine judge at more than a dozen international competitions, and the author of articles which have appeared in The New York Times and other media.
Jim has been widely recognized for his leadership in the broader American wine industry, having received six national awards or other recognition for his many contributions: The “Grand Award” of the Society of Wine Educators in 2014; one of “The 20 Most Admired People in the American Wine Industry” in 2013 based on a survey by Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine; the Wine Integrity Award in 2006 from the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission; the first-ever “Distinguished Service Award” in 2001 from the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (Eastern Section); the Perpetual Monteith Trophy (Thomas Jefferson Cup) in 1995 from the Vinifera Winegrowers Association; and recognition by "Wines & Vines" magazine as one of the “top 50 movers and shakers" in the United States wine industry. In addition, in 2014 he received the coveted “Chairman’s Award” of the New York Wine & Culinary Center.
Jim has been involved with the grape and wine industry since 1982 when he was hired by the New York State Wine Grape Growers. During a time of crisis in the industry, Jim was instrumental in creating the New York Wine & Grape Foundation as a private, not-for-profit organization which sponsors research and conducts promotion programs in support of New York grapes, grape juice and wine. The Foundation's research and promotion programs have received international recognition, as has its close and productive partnership with the State of New York.
Most recently, largely due to the Foundation’s work over the years, New York State was named 2015 “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine as part of its Wine Star Awards. Other contenders were Champagne, France; Chianti, Italy; Sonoma Coast, California; and Red Mountain, Washington.
Jim holds a Master of Arts degree in International Communications from American University in Washington, DC, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Allegheny College.
A native New Yorker from Rochester, Jim lived in France for three years prior to his involvement with the New York grape and wine industry. He now lives on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes wine region.
Owner, Vineyard Manager / Ankida Ridge Vineyards
Christine is co-owner of Ankida Ridge Vineyards with her husband, Dennis, and their son and winemaker, Nathan. Ankida Ridge is a family-run, micro-boutique vineyard, planted in 2008 at 1800 ft on an eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Amherst County, VA. Their vineyard, known as “Virginia’s Little Burgundy” was planted with chardonnay and pinot noir, a grape previously thought as incapable of producing quality wine in Virginia. With the assistance of consultants Lucie Morton and Matthew Finot, they would learn at this particular site, Virginia could in fact grow grapes that can produce world class pinot noir.
Christine has played an active role in the creation of The Virginia Sustainable Winegrowers Self-Assessment Guide (VSWAG) and has served on numerous committees within the Virginia winegrowing community. She has been a contributor for the Virginia Vineyard Association’s quarterly newsletter, “The Grape Press,” and is a founding member of The Jefferson Heritage Trail, where she currently serves as its president. Her passion for writing and photography is evident in the blog she maintains, and her photography can be seen in their tasting room. Her dedication to promoting the Virginia wine industry, the quality of its wines and its people and the importance of “place” are part of her passions for Virginia wine.
Dr. Damien Wilson
Chair of Wine Business Education / SSU Wine Business Institute
Damien Wilson is the inaugural Hamel Family Chair of Wine Business Education with SSU's Wine Spectator-sponsored Wine Business Institute. Dr. Wilson arrived in California with 20 years of professional experience in the wine sector. It was this commercial experience that facilitated him achieving the first-ever Honors Degree in Wine Business, being one of his four degrees in the discipline. He joins us from Burgundy's School of Wine and Spirits Business, having just augmented a European professorial career, which began in Australia in 1999. His professional and research interests have realized an extensive list of trade, consumer and academic publications on crowdfunding, wine consumers, tourism and technology. Dr Wilson’s most recent book chapter on ‘Innovation Management in the Wine Sector’ precedes his presentation theme of Innovation Pioneering Excellence in his 'State of the Wine Industry' address.