SPEAKERS

 





  Bryan Avila
Winemaker, Pope Valley Winery and Winecraft

Bryan Avila has played an important role in the success and continued growth of California’s wine industry. His extensive experience in the production, education, marketing, and selling of wine has uniquely positioned him to be an invaluable asset to the industry.
He is a graduate of the Fermentation Science program at the University of California, Davis, and was awarded the Citation for Outstanding Performance. Early in his career, as the research winemaker for E. & J. Gallo Winery, Avila managed the production of more than 1,200 fermentation lots consisting of more than two-dozen different grape varieties from almost every appellation in California. Later, as a professor of enology, he commercialized Napa Valley College’s prestigious wine program, producing award-winning wines while mentoring hundreds of aspiring winemakers.
Currently, as the founder of Winecraft, he works closely with local vintners, marketers and winemakers in the shaping of luxury brands and fine wines from some of the most acclaimed AVAs and vineyards in California.


  Ken Bernards
Owner, Ancien Wines

Growing up in Oregon, Ken Bernards was impressed by the handful of pioneers who embraced the challenging grape Pinot Noir. His interest in wine led him to work his first harvest in Napa Valley in 1986, while still pursuing his degree in chemistry at Oregon State University. Upon completing his degree, Bernards accepted a position with Domaine Chandon as a research enologist, or experimental winemaker. A visit to Burgundy spoke to his artistic side, awaking a desire to make his own finished wines. In 1992, he made his first five barrels of Ancien Carneros Pinot Noir, marking the beginning of an ongoing quest for great Pinot Noirs. Bernards has been living his dream daily, making Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris under the Ancien label full-time since 1998. He is the only winemaker to import grapes whole from France and then vinify them in California. He serves as a consulting winemaker for Yorba Wines, Tournesol Wine, Porter Family Vineyards, Cowhorn and Matetic Vineyards.


  Mike Blom
Owner, Napa Barrel Care

Mike Blom holds a degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis. Following his first wine harvest in 1981, Blom’s career took him from Grigch Hills Estate to Santa Ynez Valley Winery to Firestone Winery. Lending a hand during the early startup of the Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in 1996, Blom and three others created the Firestone Union brewing process, for which he and his cohorts hold the patent.
Blom was named general manager for Golden State Vintners’ Edgewood Estate in St Helena, Calif., in 2000. In 2004 he became the consulting winemaker for Madorom Vineyards. In 2005, Blom started Napa Barrel Care, an aging and bottling solution for virtual and brick-and-mortar wineries. Napa Barrel Care gets requests for various cellar practices, and a number of vendors and inventors approach the company with ideas and to evaluate new products and technologies.


  Bob Blue
Vice president of winemaking & winery operations, Fetzer Vineyards

Bob Blue grew up in the North Coast, discovered wine while stationed in Europe as a soldier, and enrolled at the University of California, Davis. His first job was in Mendocino County, at McDowell Valley Vineyards, and he’s still in Mendocino today, 29 years after joining Fetzer Vineyards.
Within a few short years of joining Fetzer Vineyards, Blue was appointed general manager of the Hopland winery and lead winemaker for its red wines.
Today, as vice president of winemaking & winery operations for Fetzer Vineyards, Bob Blue leads a talented team responsible for crafting numerous leading California brands. He thrives on the challenge of consistently over-delivering quality while maintaining pacesetting environmental standards that have long been a hallmark of Fetzer Vineyards’ operation. A master blender, he can craft a single-vineyard wine as expertly as one drawn from a dozen vineyards throughout numerous premium appellations.


  Virginie Boone
Contributing editor, Wine Enthusiast

Virginie Boone is a contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine, where she reviews the wines of Napa and Sonoma and regularly writes features about these regions. A one-time staffer at the (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat based in Sonoma County, she continues to keep a faithful eye on who’s doing what in spirits, wine and food.


Bob Cabral
Winemaker, Three Sticks

There is a reason Bob Cabral’s name is synonymous with great Pinot Noir. A fourth-generation farmer and grapegrower, his interest in wine and farming began on his family’s 70-acre ranch near Escalon, Calif.
While in college at California State University, Fresno, Cabral’s passion for Pinot Noir became evident, and he spent every spare dime on wines from around the world. After graduating, Cabral honed his skills by spending 11 vintages in various winemaking positions at DeLoach Vineyards, Kunde Family Estate, Alderbrook Vineyards and Hartford Court Winery before arriving at Williams Selyem.
From 1998 to 2014, Cabral was winemaker for Williams Selyem, where he led the winery into a new era, overseeing an expansion of new vineyard sources and bottlings, along with the construction of a state-of-the-art winery. He was awarded the 2011 Wine Star Award from Wine Enthusiast as “Winemaker of the Year.” In 2015, he joined Three Sticks with fervent enthusiasm.


  Nicolas Cantacuzene
Winemaker, Emeritus Vineyards

Born and raised in Paris, Nicolas Cantacuzene had never considereda career as a winemaker. Midway through his chemistry studies at the University of Paris, Cantacuzene joined a student exchange opportunity in California. He completed his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Sonoma State University, but the allure of continuing to live and work in wine country sparked a new career path.
He took a job at Benziger and then at Cline Vineyards. Smitten with winemaking, Cantacuzene obtained a master’s degree in enology at Fresno State University while working at Quady Winery. Upon graduation in 2003, he furthered his enological education as cellar master at David Bruce winery. There, he began his journey learning the fine art of Pinot Noir under the tutelage of Don Blackburn.
In July 2004, Blackburn brought Cantacuzene aboard at Emeritus Vineyards as assistant winemaker. They approached winemaking differently but always had the same objective: a Pinot Noir that is charming, elegant, and well suited to food. In 2009, Cantacuzene became the winemaker at Emeritus, where he continues the quest he and Blackburn started.


  Jeff Cohn
Founder and winemaker, Jeff Cohn Cellars

Jeff Cohn got his start in the wine industry more than 20 years ago as an intern at Boordy Vineyards in Maryland. He moved to California in 1993 and earned a master’s degree in agriculture chemistry with an emphasis on enology from California State University, Fresno, in 1996.
Upon graduation, Cohn joined Rosenblum Cellars as an enologist. He rapidly moved beyond lab work and soon found himself in charge of the entire white wine program. In 2000, Cohn was officially promoted to winemaker, and in 2004 he was named vice president of winemaking and production at Rosenblum.
In 2006 Cohn parted ways with Rosenblum to focus exclusively on Jeff Cohn Cellars, which produces Rhone wines and Zinfandel from a variety of vineyard sites. This year Cohn is moving his winery from Oakland to Sonoma County, Calif.; he will be making wine in Santa Rosa and operating a tasting room on the square in Sonoma.


  Wayne Donaldson
Winery consultant

Wayne Donaldson began his career in Australia, where he earned an enology degree from Roseworthy Agricultural College while working as assistant winemaker at Brokenwood Wines. In 1988, while earning his graduate diploma in management from Deakin University in Victoria, he became a founding member of the Domaine Chandon Australia winemaking team. Over the next 11 years, he rose to the position of chief winemaker and operations manager.
In 2000 he was promoted to vice president of winemaking and vineyards for Domaine Chandon California and its parent company, Moet Hennessey USA. This position in Napa Valley broadened his role to direct all of the company’s sparkling and still wine programs.
In 2005, Donaldson was named director of North Coast winemaking for E. & J. Gallo Winery, and by 2008 he was promoted to senior director of coastal winemaking. With experience in many of the world’s finest wine growing regions, Donaldson decided to expand his repertoire to launch his own winery consulting business.


  David Jeffrey
Owner, Calluna Vineyards

In 2001, David Jeffrey left the New York area with his wife, Marla, and their three children to pursue a long-held dream of establishing a vineyard in California. From 2001 through 2003, Jeffrey studied in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at California State University, Fresno, and then worked for Alain Raynaud at Chateau Quinault in St. Emilion, France. In 2004, Jeffrey founded Calluna Vineyards on an undeveloped 80-acre parcel in the Chalk Hill appellation of Sonoma County, where he initially planted 12 acres of Bordeaux varietals. Calluna’s first vintage was made in 2007. The winery is now producing about 2,750 cases per year and has planted another 5 acres of vines on the property. Jeffrey lives on the vineyard with his family, manages the vineyard and does the winemaking.


  Michael Jones
Fermentation Specialist, Scott Laboratories

Michael Jones joined Scott Laboratories in 2007 with more than 35 years of winemaking experience under his belt. Since then, he’s shared his wealth of knowledge across North America by traveling extensively to trade shows and seminars throughout the country, many times as a speaker.
A UC Davis graduate, Jones has lived and worked in Burgundy, France, and the Hunter Valley of Australia. Domestically, Jones built his experience at Novavine, Hanzell Vineyards and Caymus Vineyards. He also spent 19 years at Domaine Chandon, where he put on a multitude of hats and was involved with the vineyards, operations, winemaking, laboratory and was part of the team that established the Wine Education program. Prior to his start in the wine industry, Jones spent a year traveling cross-country by freight train, stopping to work on a shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, pitch hay in San Antonio and sell art in New Orleans.


Engela Kritzinger
Graduate student, Institute for Viticulture and Enology

Engela Kritzinger is a Ph.D. student at the Institute for Viticulture and Enology, which is affiliated with the State Education and Research Center in Neustadt, Germany. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in viticulture and enology from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. She has worked as a winemaker at a boutique winery in Namibia and lectured about enology at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in Stellenbosch. Her current research focuses on the efficacy of barrel sanitation methods in eliminating Brettanomyces bruxellensis in oak wood.


  Hend Letaief
Technical director, Enartis USA

Hend Letaief, Ph.D., has been the technical director at Enartis USA since May 2016. Before joining Enartis, Letaief was assistant professor of wine chemistry at California State University, Fresno. She worked on projects related to oxygen management, grape texture and phenolic extractability. She is the author of Winemaking Process in Valorization of Winemaking By-Products and Texture Analysis for the Definition of Wine Grape Quality. In her current position, Letaief coordinates all technical aspects of Enartis USA. She manages technical support provided by Enartis winemakers and application specialists. Letaief also manages research projects developed by Enartis in the United States, working in collaboration with U.S. universities and Enartis research teams around the world. In addition, she leads educational programs throughout the country through workshops and seminars.


  Julie Lumgair
Consulting winemaker, J. Moss

Julie Hagler Lumgair is a highly awarded consulting winemaker and winegrower for luxury-tier brands from world-class AVAs.
After 11 vintages, her calling cards are consistently producing wines that garner acclaim, distinct vineyard expressions, excellence in operations and a passionate attention to customer delight and relationships.
Lumgair’s wines have achieved numerous 90+ scores from critics including Robert Parker / The Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits and industry press. Her wines have won more than 50 Sweepstakes, Best of Show, Best of Class, Double Gold and Gold medals for “full-bodied, impressive purity, density, richness...high-class” (RP) wine styles.
Her wine industry track record is complimented by 15 years as a Fortune 500 brand management senior executive with a sound understanding of the marketplace. She currently serves on the Board of Napa Valley Wine Technical Group and since 2013 has been Chair of the Napa / Sonoma Winemaking & Viticultural Roundtable of Women for Winesense.
Julie joined the J. Moss team for Chardonnay during the 2010 vintage and became consulting winemaker for the growing portfolio in vintage 2012.


  Daniel Moore
Winemaker, Zmoore

Arriving in the Russian River Valley in 1983, Daniel Moore made a name for himself as a talented and far-thinking winemaker. Building on his love of Pinot Noir, he has made wine for a number of noteworthy producers such as Martinelli Vineyard & Winery and Lynmar Estate (as well as his own winery, Zmoore). He was the founding winemaker for both wineries and worked for the latter for well over a decade.
Today, Moore draws upon his more than 30 vintages of experience to craft wines of great depth and complexity consulting for clients on topics from wine production to marketing and sales. Over the years his style has remained true to his vision—that the wines have balance.

 

  Jeff Morgan
Co-owner, Covenant Winery

Winemaker Jeff Morgan is the co-owner and co-founder (with vintner Leslie Rudd) of Covenant Winery in Berkeley, Calif., and Tel Aviv, Israel. He started his wine career in the late-1980s as a cellar rat on Long Island, N.Y. From 1992 until 1999, he wrote for Wine Spectator, where he was West Coast editor. Then, in 2000, he moved to Napa Valley, where he co-founded the eponymous rosé brand SoloRosa with Daniel Moore and helped jump-start the current rosé renaissance. That same year, he began what was to become a parallel career as a cookbook author, starting with Dean & Deluca, the Food and Wine Cookbook. He has since written eight cookbooks, most recently The Covenant Kitchen, Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table (Schocken Books, 2015). Morgan left Napa Valley for Berkeley in 2014 to transform Covenant into the urban California winery it is today. In 2013, he also founded Covenant Israel, where he recently completed his fourth harvest.

 

  Luisa Ponzi
Winemaker, Ponzi Vineyards

Second-generation winemaker Luisa Ponzi graduated from Portland State University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree. She continued her post-graduate education in viticulture and enology in Beaune, France, and was awarded the Certificate Brevet Professionnel D’Oenologie et Viticulture in 1993, the first American woman to earn such distinction. Ponzi combines her formal education with her lifelong experience working alongside father and winery founder Dick Ponzi.
Over the next two decades, Ponzi made her mark developing innovative viticulture techniques and winemaking practices, always focused on crafting wines of the highest quality with a commitment to sustainability. Her winemaking style is hands-off, expressing the terroir of the site. Her wines are elegant and showcase dark fruit with bold acidity, soft tannins and long finishes.
Ponzi currently sits on several advisory and wine organization boards including the Chehalem Mountains Winegrowers Association and LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) Inc.


  Dr. Andrei Prida
Research and development manager, Seguin Moreau

Dr. Andrei Prida obtained a doctorate with honors from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique of Montpellier in 2004. His thesis was devoted to the chemical characteristics of French and foreign oak for use in barrelmaking and their influence on the aging of wines and spirits. He has performed research in collaboration with the University of California, Davis, Department of Enology and Viticulture, on the theme: “The sensory contribution of the vegetation factors of oak and the practices of barrel making on wine and spirits stored in barrels.”
Prida joined the Seguin Moreau cooperage in 2006, coordinating all research programs, both internally in the company’s laboratory and externally in collaboration with historical partners including Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology and the University Institute of the Vine and Wine (Dijon, France).


  Alexandre Remy
General manager/winemaker, Atlas Wine Co.

Hailing from Rennes, France, Alexandre Remy holds a master’s degree in food science from the University of Montpellier. His desire to make wine has taken him to Marlborough, New Zealand, France’s northern Rhone region, Victoria, Australia, and California’s Napa Valley.
Remy joined Atlas Vineyard Management in January 2014, having most recently worked as a wine consultant for Vively’s USA, where he consulted for winery clients looking to improve their wine production and quality control. Today, Remy brings a wealth of winemaking knowledge to AVM’s grower and winery clients and helps ensure Atlas provides its clients with the resources to make great wine.
“People don’t often sit around discussing a wine’s complexity and terroir. Most of the time they’re simply enjoying wine,” Remy says. “Atlas Wines crafts wines to increase the pleasure of those moments.”


  Lee Riggs
Cellar supervisor, Franciscan Estate

Lee Riggs already had two successful careers under his belt (first in the military, another as a technical engineer for Pentax) when he discovered his true passion: wine.
He was hired at an urban winery and had worked up to the post of cellar master when he decided he needed to move to a world-renowned wine region if he was truly going to pursue a career in winemaking. Since moving to Napa in 2012, his wine production experience has ranged from small-lot artisan wines to a large-production facility, orchestrating the crush of more than 6,500 tons and maintaining the proper operations of 28,000 barrels.
Today he serves as cellar supervisor at Franciscan Estate, Mount Veeder Winery and The Prisoner Wine Co. (TPWC), all part of Constellation Brands. Riggs’ background in procedural analysis inspired him to create several water-conservation efforts that helped Constellation cut water usage by 30% at his facility in one year.


  Chris Russi
Winemaker, Comstock Wines

Chris Russi has a strong background in all aspects of wine production. His road to the wine industry began once he graduated from Santa Clara University with a combined science major and moved to Sonoma County to help develop and maintain vineyards in Dry Creek Valley.
Several years later he began wine production in the cellar and laboratory at Geyser Peak Winery, followed by a vintage at Peter Lehmann Wines in Barossa Valley, Australia. Armed with a strong understanding of grapegrowing and winemaking, he graduated with a degree in viticulture and enology from the University of California, Davis.
In 2000, he became the winemaker at Christopher Creek Winery, and eight years later moved on to revamp and make wine at Thomas George Estates. In 2009, he co-founded BlueMorph UV (a company that develops systems for vessel sanitation via ultraviolet light) and has successfully has been using UV units for sanitation in the winery setting. In 2013, he helped design and build Comstock Wines, where he currently serves as winemaker.


  Peter Salamone
Technical manager, Laffort USA

Dr. Peter Salamone has broad experience in industrial biotechnology and the wine industry—both in production settings with E. & J. Gallo Winery and Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines as well as wine industry service experience with enological product and enzyme vendors. Today he is the technical manager-North America for Laffort USA. Coupled with his diverse production winery exposure, Salamone’s depth of biotech experience in molecular biosciences including microbiology, enzymology and genetics provides Laffort USA clients with an outstanding technical resource.


  Megan Schofield
Winemaker, Robert Mondavi Winery

Growing up in St Catherines, Ontario, where she attended her town’s Niagara Wine Festival every year, Megan Schofield was unaware of just how paramount grapes would become to her future. Though she enrolled at Brock University in Ontario as a biotechnology student, she was soon intrigued by a new program, and in 2000 she graduated with honors with a degree in enology and viticulture.
Schofield then secured a position as an enologist at Beringer Vineyards, where she spent three harvests. From the Napa Valley, she moved to Sonoma County as the assistant winemaker at Buena Vista Winery. During the next four harvests, she worked with estate fruit, crafting small-lot wines from prized vineyards in the Carneros-Sonoma region. In 2008, she was lured to Simi Winery as assistant winemaker, and later as winemaker in 2012. In 2015, Megan ascended to her newest role as winemaker for Robert Mondavi winery, a full immersion into the Napa Valley terroir.


  Andrew Schweiger
Winemaker, Schweiger Vineyards

Andrew Schweiger gained a passion for winemaking on his family’s property on Spring Mountain, high above St. Helena. While in high school, he spent summers working at local wineries including Gloria Ferrer and ZD Wines. In 1988, Schweiger started his formal training in winemaking at the University of California, Davis, while expanding his winemaking experience by working at various wineries including Joseph Phelps and Trefethen Vineyards. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in enology and microbiology, Schweiger set to work at Chateau St. Jean, and a few years later at Cain Cellars.
Schweiger Vineyards opened in 1994, and in 1999 Schweiger turned his project into a full-time job. During his tenure as winemaker, Schweiger Vineyards expanded from growing Estate Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to growing six varietals. Guests now enjoy Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Port, two micro-block Cabernet Sauvignons, and his signature Bordeaux-style blend, Dedication.


  Scott Shapley
Winemaker, ROAR Wines

Scott Shapley started his winemaking career at Siduri Wines and Novy Family Wines (1999-2003). Under Adam and Dianna Lee, he learned the art of working with small-lot Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara to Oregon and gained experience with several other varietals.
He served as winemaker at Crushpad in the first years (2004-05), at Roessler Cellars and R2 Wine Co. (2006-2010), and has been making Halcón Vineyards’ Syrah and GSM since they started in 2009.
As Winemaker for ROAR Wines since 2013, Shapley has enjoyed the opportunity for a more regional focus on the Santa Lucia Highlands through ROAR’s Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. For his own label, Flywheel Wines, he similarly focuses on Monterey County through Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah from the Chalone AVA.
Shapley graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with degrees in ecology, behavior and evolution.


  Michael Terrien
Partner and founding winemaker, Tricycle Wine Partners

Following a short and lackluster sword-fishing career in his home state of Maine, Michael Terrien moved to California and studied at the University of California, Davis. While making wine at Acacia Vineyard and then Hanzell Vineyards, Terrien founded Obsidian Ridge in Lake County with the Molnar family.
Now he divides his time now between Obsidian, a Santa Cruz Pinot Noir project and Maine, where he makes Bluet, a wild blueberry sparkling wine.