Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend 2018 | Uptown Charlotte



John Blazon, MS | Vice President of Sales - Spire Collection

John Blazon MS is Vice President of Sales for the Spire Collection since February 2010. The Spire Collection is a luxury driven division representing the artisan brands from the Jackson Family. As its educational and sales brand ambassador, John travels the US to work with a talented team of sommeliers in key markets focusing on collector and AAA accounts to build and strengthen equity for a unique selection of handpicked brands.

Blazon is the former wine director for Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. During his tenure, John was responsible for the development of wine concepts and standards, including product selection, service and training for 55 restaurants, 20 lounges, 18 resorts, 3 theme parks which also included Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival.

John received his master sommelier diploma from the International Court of Master Sommeliers, during a fall 2004 exam in London, England and became the 59th MS for the American Chapter.

In 2003, Blazon’s efforts were applauded by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), which awarded its “America’s Best Wine Lists Special Innovation” honor to Walt Disney World Resort at the Monterey Wine Festival. In addition, Santé magazine named Blazon its 2003 “Wine Professional of the Year.

John continued to develop educational courses for Disney’s food and beverage team which included the Disney sommelier certificate program in partnership with the Court of Master Sommeliers. More than 750 cast members passed the introductory certificate level since the training began in 2000, which is a greater number than any food and beverage organization in the world. In 2006, Blazon was recognized by The STARWINE International Wine Competition as their “Sommelier of the Year.” In 2008 and 2013, John was elected to serve on the board for the Court of Master Sommeliers and was appointed as an inaugural board member to the American Guild of Sommeliers. 

Meet John at the Corkbuzz Restaurant Dinner featuring Spire.


Todd Brentnall, CSW, WSETIII | Regional Manager - Spire Collection

Todd Brentnall, CSW, WSETIII is the Regional Manager for the Spire Collection since October 2013. The Spire Collection is a luxury driven division representing the artisan brands from the Jackson Family. As Regional Manager, Todd is responsible for sales and marketing of the 22 brands under the Spire umbrella concentrating on key markets while focusing on collector activation and on premise sales to further the awareness of this unique selection of handpicked brands.

Todd started his career in the financial industry at PNC Bank but found a passion for wine at a young age.  In pursuit of this passion, Todd was able to train his palate and further his knowledge of wine through a variety of positions in the industry including consulting beverage selections for many top restaurants, management of top retail accounts and working as a key account specialist within a wholesaler in the Baltimore market.  Continually a student of wine, Todd is currently studying for his WSET Diploma.

Meet Todd at The Fig Tree Restaurant Dinner featuring Spire.


Amanda Britton | Mixologist/Co-Founder - Crowntown collective

Originally from New Jersey, Amanda has been shaking her way through the Queen City for over 6 years. In that time she has gained a plethora of knowledge when it comes to Charlotte’s craft beer & a love for the blossoming cocktail scene. Recently named NCRLA Mixologist of the Year she loves to utilize lesser known spirits with familiar flavors to help even the most skeptical drinker go out of their comfort zone.

Meet Amanda at the Bardo Restaurant Dinner.

Gary Crunkleton | Mixologist/OWneR - The Crunkleton

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Gary Crunkleton’s first bartending job was around twenty years ago at an undergraduate bar in Chapel Hill, NC as a student at the university. Gary cut his teeth at the busy bar as the co-eds wanted their drinks fast and often. A more civilized and sophisticated bartending opportunity followed as he developed the necessary personal skills of a true barman. 

Realizing the significance of his achievements as a bartender, Gary opened his own bar, The Crunkleton, in Chapel Hill, NC after more than a third of his life working on his craft. The Crunkleton has become one of the most acclaimed bars in the region by a few of the more popular magazines of the South. The Crunkleton's second location will open later this year on 7th Street in Elizabeth in Charlotte, NC.

When not at the bar following his passion, Gary spends his time with his other loves – an adoring wife, Megan, and their three boys, Montgomery, Hudson, and Beaufort.

Meet Gary at the Gala Dinner. 

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Lewis Donald | Pit-master & Owner - Sweet Lew’s

Even now, Lewis Donald can’t cut into a radish without thinking of his grandfather. Growing up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, Donald wasn’t the best student in the classroom, but he could spend all day studying the rows of vegetables in the garden his granddad Ray planted every year. He was just a teenager when Ray gave him the advice that shaped his life: “Lewis, you need to find something to do with your hands.” Donald has lived in six different states since then, mastering numerous cuisines as a cook and chef at restaurants, country clubs, resorts, and a specialty food store. In Sweet Lew’s, he fulfills his dream of running a classic barbecue shack. Donald crystallized his love for barbecue in the mid-2000s, while working at the Greenbrier Resort alongside championship pit master Ken Hess. Every weekend, Hess fired up the smoker at his house in the tiny mountain town of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and invited Donald and other resort staffers over with their families for a big meal.

“Birthdays and holidays, we spent them all together,” Donald says. “That’s where the difference between grilling and barbecue happened for me.”

The camaraderie and consistency of Southern barbecue may appeal to Donald for reasons beyond food. He left Ohio for Los Angeles in 1997 when he was just 17, landing a job as cook in an Italian restaurant. He moved to Hawaii two years later, then spent two years there before coming home one month after September 11, 2001. His mother offered him a room at her new home in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Donald commuted 90 minutes to a job as a cook in Chattanooga. That job led him to an apprentice at the prestigious Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, and that job led him to the Greenbrier.

Donald moved to Charlotte in 2008. He honed his barbecue techniques over the next decade while working as an executive chef for some of the city’s top kitchen programs, from Charlotte Country Club to Carmel Country Club to Reid’s Fine Foods. When he wasn’t at his day job, he’d pop up at various places in town making brisket or pork, from catering charity functions to Panthers tailgates, putting down roots in one place for the first time in his life. With Sweet Lew’s, he takes the lessons from all of those travels and distills them into a simple menu that reflects not just North Carolina’s culinary history, but also the belief that’s driven him since the days in his grandfather’s garden: The best food makes you feel right at home.

Meet Lewis at the ………..

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Ryan Daugherty | Executive Chef - Fin & Fino

Chef Ryan Daugherty is a Charlotte native and takes great pride in how far the Charlotte food scene has come. He helped Rare Roots Hospitality open Dogwood Southern Table & Bar (Opentable Best 50 Southern Restaurants in USA) in 2014 as well as Fin & Fino 'A Social Seafood House' in 2018. Chef Ryan is an avid Panther's and Hornets fan with two small children and a very patient wife.

Meet Ryan at the Grand Tasting.

Jeff flood | Southeast sales AMBASSADOR - SIlver Oak Cellars & Twomey Cellars

Jeff has 30 plus years of experience in the wine business.  Representing Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars is the pinnacle of his years in the industry. Through his career he’s been involved in every aspect of wine, from vine to bottle to shelf. However, Jeff finds that with wine, there is always something new to learn. “Wine is a subjective product that is never the same twice”.

Covering the southeastern United States for Silver Oak and Twomey, Jeff loves working with fine wine shops and restaurants, educating customers about the wines and their origins. “People are so passionate about food and wine; it’s fun to share that with them.”

Jeff’s winery experience includes the Robert Mondavi family and Asheville, North Carolina’s Biltmore Estate Wine Company.

Meet Jeff at The Porter's House Restaurant Dinner featuring Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. 

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Kelley Jones has spent the past 25 years with Jackson Family Wines, leading sales and marketing divisions, strengthening the company’s national distribution and spearheading successful brand initiatives. Kelley is currently Executive Vice President of Jackson Family Wines and President of the Spire Collection, the company’s portfolio of luxury wines that includes such esteemed wineries as Cardinale, Lokoya, Capensis, Hickinbotham, La Jota Vineyard Co., and Gran Moraine. 

Kelley’s career in wine began early on. A New York native, Kelley’s first introduction to the industry started in 1987 at the Bridgehampton Winery in New York and then as the Northeastern Regional Sales Manager for McDowell Valley Vineyards out of Mendocino County, California. It was only natural that Kelley’s next move would be out west, and in 1992, she moved to California.

In July 1993, Kelley met wine pioneer, Jess Jackson, and Rick Tigner, current President and CEO of Jackson Family Wines. Finding synergy with Jackson, and inspired by his vision for the industry, Kelley soon found herself working for Jackson Family Wines. Kelley quickly moved up the ranks and in 1998 relocated from Southern California to Sonoma County to join the national sales team at the company’s headquarters in Santa Rosa, California. In 2007, she became Executive Vice President of Marketing and began working closely with Jess Jackson, spearheading marketing strategy and brand development across the entire company portfolio. In 2011, she was made President of the Spire Collection. As President, she manages all strategy and development including brand marketing, national sales, direct-to-consumer, hospitality and culinary. In addition to leading the Spire Collection, Kelley also oversees the Public Relations, Hospitality, Culinary, and Creative and Strategic Development departments for Jackson Family Wines.

With over three decades of wine industry experience, Kelley has always felt very fortunate to find herself working with the Jackson Family early in her career, learning from them to never take shortcuts, and stay committed to excellence above everything else. Kelley holds a degree in Business and Marketing from State University of New York, New Paltz. When she isn’t leading her various teams, Kelley enjoys seeking out new restaurants and chefs and traveling the world with her family and friends.

Meet Kelley at _______________________________________.


MAXIMILIAn kast ms | Regional sales manger - broadbent selections

While studying History at the University of Montana, Max Kast supported himself by working in restaurants and wine bars. With a pocket full of tip money, he purchased a bottle of 1991 Chateau Musar Rouge and fell completely in love with wine.  After graduating with a BA, he decided to forego the world of academia for a full time career in the world of food and wine when he realized he spent more time reading Michael Broadbent, Kermit Lynch, and Jancis Robinson than applying to grad school. Max was the wine director at the Relais & Chateaux property, Triple Creek Ranch in the Bitteroot Valley of Montana before he moved to Chapel Hill, NC where he spent  10-years  as Wine Director of the Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux Fearrington House Restaurant. During his time at the  Fearrington House he helped the property earn the coveted  Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux and the Forbes Five Star designations.

In 2018 after over a decade of traveling, tasting, studying and more studying, Max earned the coveted designation of Master Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers.  Max is one of only 256 Master Sommeliers in the world.  Since 2016 Max has worked for Broadbent Selections, where he passionately promotes their diverse portfolio of family-owned global boutique  wineries from around the world including the wine that set him on his path, Chateau Musar.

Meet Max at the Bardo Restaurant Dinner and the Grand Tasting.


Ashely Larose | Executive Chef - Napa on Providence


Originally from New Hampshire, Ashley grew up in New England for majority of her life. Food was always big part of her childhood, with most of her influence coming from parents and family. She decided to attend Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. After receiving her associates degree, she started her pastry career at the Mount Washington Resort, where she also met her husband. She continued her culinary path in NH at Passaconaway Country Club and Hanover St. Chophouse before she decided it was time for change. 

Over the last 5 years, Ashley has held many different chef positions in our restaurant. Starting as the pastry chef, she quickly moved her way up through the company. As the Executive Chef at Napa, she has complete control over culinary artistry, cuisine and execution in the restaurant. She says that moving to Charlotte has been one of the best adventures and she is always looking forward to the future. 

On her days off she loves spending time with her dogs, lounging by the pool and enjoying the local NC breweries. With her husband also being an executive chef, you can bet there is never a bad meal in their house! 

Meet Ashley at the Napa on Providence Restaurant Dinner featuring Blackbird Vineyards. 

Brandon Lopez | Executive Chef - Corkbuzz

Brandon Lopez was born in Oceanside, California. With his father in the military, the Lopez family travelled heavily, living everywhere from England to Beaufort, SC - where he lived most his childhood and teenage years. It was in Beaufort that Brandon first became interested in the world of food. From a job in a small pizzeria to exclusive work on resorts and in golf-clubs, Brandon became excited with the culinary world and decided to further explore the food and beverage field. With his parents being first generation Italian and English immigrants, Brandon had an immediate connection with European style cuisine, but with his low-country roots, Brandon’s unique cooking style immerged.

In order to follow his growing passion and refine his craft, Brandon decided to attend culinary school at Johnson & Wales University Charlotte. Originally, he set out to complete the two-year program but decided to complete the four-year program, later receiving his Bachelors of Science. Brandon mentions, “I feel like I had a successful college experience. I instantly got involved in the Teaching Assistant program and the Competition Team, and I feel as though I gained a lot from my education, including a hunger for more knowledge and, simply put, a grand since of accomplishment. This was positive motivation for my future and where I saw myself.” After this experience, Brandon grew to love Charlotte, and decided to take up roots.

“My first experience doing a wine dinner is probably why I am so interested in food and wine today. I can still remember the course: honey comb, microgreens, and parmesan, paired with Chardonnay. This was a WOW moment, and I got excited. Who knew you could mix food and wine like that? It truly was a magical moment.” From this experience, early on in his culinary adventure, Brandon developed a thirst for knowledge and a passion for unique culinary techniques and flavor combinations. Today, Brandon works at Corkbuzz, a Restaurant and Wine Bar in Charlotte, North Carolina owned by MS, Laura Maniec where he continues to break the molds of the local Culinary scene and explore unique flavor profiles to create WOW moments for other people – so they can have their own magical moment. 

Meet Brandon at the Corkbuzz Restaurant Dinner featuring Lokoya. SOLD OUT!

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Laura maniEc, MS | Co-Owner - Corkbuzz

Master Sommelier Laura Maniec brings her extensive wine knowledge and passion for teaching to Corkbuzz Wine Studio, which she opened with her business partner Frank Vafier in 2011. Already a rising star in the wine world, Maniec is also the face of Corkbuzz, which she expanded in 2014 with Corkbuzz Wine Bar in New York City’s bustling Chelsea Market and Corkbuzz Wine Studio in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Maniec’s fresh approach to wine has made Corkbuzz a destination for expert and novice wine drinkers alike and earned her recognition as both a sommelier and entrepreneur. Since opening Corkbuzz, The Wall Street Journal called Maniec the "It Girl" of the New York wine scene, Crain’s New York Business honored her as one of their “40 Under 40” and Food & Wine named her one of their 2013 “Sommeliers of the Year.”

Corkbuzz is part wine bar, part wine school, all wrapped up in a cool, casual studio designed to feel like a living room. Maniec created the wine program to bring casual and professional wine drinkers together in one space with approachable yet comprehensive classes. The wine bar also offers a robust, seasonally inspired menu with dishes designed to complement Maniec’s changing wine and Champagne offerings.

Maniec first discovered her true enthusiasm for wine through an 18-week sommelier certification class at Windows on the World, and just as she was legally allowed to drink, she became a sommelier at Blue Fin, a 400- seat restaurant in New York City. Progressing quickly, she was made a partner as well as wine and spirits director for the entire B.R. Guest Restaurant Group of 20 restaurants across the country. At only 25 years old, she was managing the wine lists as well as educating the entire front-of-house team on wine.

Maniec earned her master sommelier designation, the highest accreditation given to wine professionals, in 2009 after nearly eight years of intensive study. She is currently just one of 32 women in the world to have the designation.

In summer 2010, Maniec left B.R. Guest and spent the harvest season in Champagne, which she recounts as one of the best experiences in her life. After finishing the harvest, Maniec returned to New York City to pursue her dream of opening Corkbuzz.

In addition to her work at Corkbuzz, Maniec is the vice chair for the Sommelier Foundation, and is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier’s New York chapter. She regularly sits on The New York Times tasting panel also contributes to industry publications, including Food & Wine and Sommelier Journal. Corkbuzz has been chosen as a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program for 2017 and 2018. 

Meet Laura at the Corkbuzz Restaurant Dinner featuring Lokoya.


Thomas Marlow | Executive Chef - Mimosa Grill

Chef Thomas Marlow hails from Fairport, New York and made his way to Charlotte to study at Johnson and Wales University.  While he was in school, he was able to work with some of the best chefs in the city, including Chef Tom Condron and Chef Tommy Dyrness, learning the business and crafting his skills. Before graduating, he spent a summer in Singapore and Chaing Mai, Thailand where he acquired much of his own personal culinary style including the importance of respecting the ingredients that you have available and instilling your passion into what you cook.    Chef Marlow joined Harper’s Restaurant Group in 2009 where he quickly moved up the ladder from line cook to Sous Chef at Mimosa Grill.  Under the tutelage of Executive Chef Jon Fortes, he honed his skills and then moved on to other Harper’s Group locations such as Upstream, M5 and Zink. American Kitchen before coming full circle back to Mimosa Grill as Chef de Cuisine and finally, Executive Chef.    While at Mimosa Grill, Chef Marlow has had the opportunity to travel to Birmingham, Alabama to work in the kitchen of renowned chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club.  Here he cooked alongside Chef Hastings, a 2012 James Beard Recipient of Best Chef in the Southeast, and witnessed his approach to blending various styles of cooking using local harvest.    Thomas also had the distinct opportunity work with Master Charcuterist Francois Vecchio in Palmer, Alaska, where he learned the fine craft of salami making.  Chef Marlow now oversees Mimosa Grill’s charcuterie program, using natural pasture raise pigs from Rock House Farm in Morganton, NC.   Guests will find these unique products showcased on the Mimosa Grill menu each day.    Perhaps Chef Marlow’s most profound culinary influences are based on his upbringing on his father’s large farm where he connected personally with the hard work and effort it took to raise fresh ingredients and product for market.  He brings this respect for farmers and for the food they produce to his work at Mimosa Grill where he uses only the best ingredients to create the restaurant’s extraordinary cuisine and adds his own distinctive southern twist to each and every plate.     

Meet Thomas at the Grand Tasting!

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Matt Martin | Executive Chef - Fern

New Hampshire born Executive Chef Matt Martin has been working in restaurants since the age of 12, when he spent summers scooping ice cream at his grandmother's small diner. Ever since then he's know what he wants to spend his life doing: making people happy through food just as his grandmother did there. After graduating from Southern New Hampshire University's Culinary and Business Management program in 2013, Matt and his wife Mariah relocated to Charlotte; a move that allowed her to pursue a Masters Degree at Winthrop University and him to put his motivation and energy to work at Fern. After joining the kitchen team at Fern, Matt showed his talents with such popular menu items as the Sweet Potato Reuben and Honey Tart. His skill and ambition allowed him to quickly move up the ranks, eventually being named Executive Chef in August 2014. Moving into the future, Chef Matt hopes to continue taking the lessons he's learned from both the kitchen and his everyday life as a vegetarian and bring food to Fern that is all at once elegant, engaging and approachable. In his free time Matt enjoys spending time with Mariah and their cat Chia, hiking and other outdoor adventures, and working out.

Meet Matt at the Grand Tasting!


Tom Rozner | Hartford family winery - Vice President

Tom Rozner grew up in the (then) prairies of the northern Illinois- a little west of Chicago, and dreamed of being a professional baseball player. When that didn’t seem like it was going to happen, Tom decided to pursue higher education. Tom began his career in the wine industry almost 40 years ago after studying fruit and vegetable production, international agriculture and agricultural education at the University of Arizona and later completing a Master’s degree in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. 

Tom’s early wine industry resume included UC Davis research related to grapevine ‘hormonal triggers’, innovative table grape handling and controlling grapevine and fruit tree fungal diseases. Tom also managed vineyard disease diagnosis crews for Beringer in Knights Valley and Alexander Valley and worked on the production team for Balverne Winery, located in the beautiful Chalk Hill appellation of Sonoma County.

Since 1985, after being recruited by a northern California wine importing company, Tom has worked as a sales person and then a manager for wine distributors and as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing / National Sales Manager for several well-respected artisan wineries. 

Tom has had the pleasure of working for the Hartford Family as Vice President of Sales for just over 18 years and is one of about 150 Certified Wine Educators in the USA (Society of Wine Educators) and is an occasional participant in the international Masters of Wine program.

Prior to joining Hartford Family Winery, Tom helped to develop a sales and marketing plan for a (then) brand new winery (Pezzi King Vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley) as Vice President of Sales & Marketing and worked as the National Sales Manager for Chimney Rock Winery in the Stag’s Leap District 
of Napa Valley. 

‘Roz’ believes in helping to demystify wine and making the exploration of delicious wines a fun and non-intimidating process. Tom is an avid gardener, hiker, world traveler & backpacker, dog lover and craft beer aficionado.

Meet Tom at the Napa on Providence Restaurant Dinner.

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Meet Executive Chef Anthony Salvato. Anthony grew up in an Italian family with humble roots in Georgia. “Food was always what brought everyone together. Food was a big part of being a ‘family,’” said Anthony. After graduating high school, he moved south and attended Culinary School at Le Cordon Bleu in Florida. While he may have been trained by classically French chefs, Anthony’s style of cooking is a product of his environment - using influences from his different positions and bearings to add a contemporary twist to classic techniques.

While in school, Anthony’s passion for the culinary world started to spill rapidly into his work life. After working with Gaylord Hotels while in school, he had the opportunity to expand his work through a property opening in Washington D.C. After spending a few years with the company he decided to branch off - doing everything from chef consulting to working with hotels like Hilton and stand alone restaurants. Each experience allowed him to push himself to be creative in an array of environments and settings.

Outside of work, Anthony is quite the family man. He enjoys spending time with his wife and seven kids and enjoys sports. Anthony noted, “I’m enjoying the growing market that is Charlotte, North Carolina. This city has a ton to offer.” We look forward to growing our Corkbuzz family. Help us in welcoming Chef Anthony Salvato.

Meet Anthony at the Corkbuzz Restaurant Dinner featuring….!


Stephen Schmitt | Executive Chef - WP Kitchen + bar

WP Kitchen + Bar executive chef Stephen Schmitt is one of the rare Charlotteans who was raised in Charlotte, N.C., a burgeoning New South city that is now welcoming thousands of new faces every day.

Prior to cooking, Schmitt was pursuing a computer science degree from University of North Carolina, Charlotte. It wasn’t until he was offered to work in the kitchen at an Uptown Charlotte restaurant that his passion for cooking and food grew. In 2005, he left UNC Charlotte to attend the prestigious Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. While attending school he was able to work in the US Virgin Islands at the prominent Caneel Bay resort, as well as the Harper’s Restaurant Group concept, Zink American Kitchen, in Uptown Charlotte. Schmitt continued to work with the Harper’s Restaurant Group at a number of their locations over the next seven years as a sous chef and chef de cuisine. In 2012, Schmitt joined the opening team for Wolfgang Puck’s first Pizza Bar, located in Charlotte. In 2016, he oversaw the restaurant’s transition from a pizza bar to a new concept, WP Kitchen + Bar, located at 6706 Phillips Place Court in Charlotte. 

Meet Stephen at the Grand Tasting.  


Chef Tweesak (Peter) Sripan | Executive Chef - Ray Lay Thai Cuisine

Born in Nakhon Ratchasima Province (Northeastern Thailand) and raised in Bangkok, Peter began his cooking career working alongside a Chef of the Royal family at the age of 13. His passion continued more than a decade later, working in restaurants and mobile kitchens in Bangkok. Arriving in Boston at the age of 35, he steadfastly began working in gourmet Thai restaurants and hotel establishments while mastering his techniques. In October 2015, Chef Peter moved to Charlotte and worked briefly with Basil Thai restaurant and then joined Dee Jai Restaurant Group as the head chef of Ray Lay Thai Cuisine, Chef Peter brings a uniquely warm and distinguished touch to Thai Cuisine. 

Meet Peter at the Grand Tasting!

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Ella Stone | CHEF- SWIRL

Ella Stone is a triple graduated from Johnson & Wales and the founder of the award winning Celestial Cakery. After five years focusing on wedding cakes, she is expanding her talents with SWIRL and will be offering an assortment of mini-desserts, cupcakes, shop cakes, etc... available daily.

Meet Ella at the Grand Tasting!


Will Williams | Executive Chef/Owner - Seasoned Provisions

For years, William has enjoyed bringing people together with his meals, believing that food is an important part of a person's life. He wanted to share his passion for hospitality with others.

In 2014, William created Seasoned Provisions, a private catering company, where he also provides private chef services and cooking lessons. He has been serving the Charlotte area since, establishing a reliable reputation for Seasoned Provisions.

Through Seasoned Provisions, William translates your needs into delicious food, ensuring each bite creates a memory. He studies each event, understands each guest, and carefully arranges excellent service and a delightful experience.

William studied at Johnson & Wales University, one of the best culinary schools in the country, and graduated in 2011. He became ServSafe certified in 2015. In 2017, William started appearing live on TV showing off his cooking skills

Meet Will at the Grand Tasting!

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DLynn Proctor | WINERY DIRECTOR - Fantesca Esate & Winery

DLynn Proctor has been a prominent figure in the beverage and hospitality industry for over 15 years. He comes to Fantesca with extensive experience working with Michelin starred Chefs, retail/web sales, fine and rare wine brokerage, global education, and corporate sales, marketing, and strategy.

Drawn to Fantesca by the winery’s ethos, DLynn is a passionate ambassador, instrumental in winery education programs, media relations and international communication. He often contributes to food and wine content and to TV shows and print magazines. In addition, he travels extensively to speak publicly and represent Fantesca to customers, consumers, journalists, and distributors in a variety of global forums.

DLynn has been involved in widespread sensory testing, winemaking, and training with top winemakers in California, Washington, Texas, South Australia, and Italy and is an adjunct lecturer and wine show judge at some of the world’s most famous universities and wine shows.

DLynn has been featured in the UPSCALE TV series, and is one of the four featured subjects in the internationally acclaimed wine documentary ‘SOMM’, covering the three-year journey through six countries of filming to becoming a coveted Master Sommelier. A follow-up film ‘SOMM: Into the Bottle’, was released in 2015, and the third installment SOMM 3, is set to be released in 2018.

A few accolades:

  • ‘Best Sommelier in America’ - Wine and Spirits Magazine, 2008

  • Finalist - The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Société Mondiale du Vin ‘Best Sommelier in America Competition’, 2008 and 2009 

  • National RUDD Scholar, 2011

  • Top ’40 Under 40’ Tastemakers - Wine Enthusiast’s Magazine, 2014

Meet DLynn at the Fig Tree Restaurant Dinner featuring Fantesca Estate & Winery!

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Greg ZanitSch | EXECUTIVE CHEF - The Fig Tree

Some people are born into a profession. Others come to a career path later in life. Greg Zanitsch found his calling on the side of the road.

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in December of 1990, the philosophy major saw a sign for the New England Culinary Institute while driving through Vermont. Having always had an interest in cooking and working in kitchens all through college he pulled over to take a tour. The rest is history.

Following graduation, Greg lived in Hawaii, Napa Valley, then Cincinnati, working in some of the most high volume, fine dining kitchens in the country. Two things that shaped his culinary style: the importance of high-quality ingredients and how to pair food with wine.

When it was time to get a kitchen of his own, he and Sara his wife whom he met while working as Sous Chef at Prima Vista searched for spots in Cincinnati, but nothing felt right. “My parents were living in Charlotte and called to say they’d seen a place we might like,” Greg says. “We got on a plane, flew down, walked in and fell in love with it.”

After a year of renovations to the historic Lucas House, The Fig Tree opened in 2005 with a wine list and menu of country European classics that have garnered awards from outlets including Charlotte Magazine and Wine Spectator.

Meet Greg at the Fig Tree Restaurant Dinner featuring Fantesca Estate & Winery!