Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend 2019


Ken Aponte | Executive Chef - Napa on providence

Executive Chef Ken Aponte has been with the company behind Napa for five years, moving to Charleston from Charlotte to open the Mount Pleasant location in December 2017. Since then, the Puerto Rico-born and North Carolina-raised chef has worked with a team to collaborate on seasonal menus that are exciting the taste buds of locals.

Meet Chef Ken at the Napa on Providence Restaurant Dinner featuring Hartford Family Winery & Hartford Court.

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Charles de Bournet Marnier Lapostolle | CEO Domaines Bournet-Lapostolle

Charles de Bournet Marnier Lapostolle is a seventh generation family member of the most respected and pioneering wine and spirits producers, since 1827.

Although his ancestor is a remarkable role model, Charles learned the skills of hard work, dedication and entrepreneurship from his own parents, Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and Cyril de Bournet, who founded Clos Apalta and Lapostolle Wines in 1994, bringing French winemaking techniques to Chile for the first time. In 2013, Charles became the new CEO of Domaines Bournet-Lapostolle, overseeing all business, marketing and administrative functions at the winery in this role. He had previously served as an Executive Board Member for Lapostolle.

Charles is also the founder and CEO of Perigee Spirits, the producer of KAPPA and Lapostolle Pisco in Chile. Pisco, although introduced to the Western U.S. in the 1840’s, is just now becoming well known among spirits connoisseurs and consumers alike. Entrepreneurs like Charles are taking the category to new heights with time-honored distillation techniques and extraordinarily careful selection of the grapes, applying his family’s expertise in creating Cognac to this new venture.

Before he founded Perigee Spirits, Charles acted as Chief Performance Officer at DBL, responsible for operational activities for the highly successful winery now known around the world for the quality of its remarkable wines including the Cuvée Alexandre collection and the fmaily’s crown jewel, Clos Apalta, who’s 2005 vintage ranked best wine in the world in 2008 by Wine Spectator and both 2014 and 2015 vintages received 100 points by James Suckling.

Prior to taking a position with the family business, Charles was a Project Manager at Global Integration Consulting SA, a consultancy focused on creating value to its clients by providing integrated business solutions, aligning business with information technologies. During his tenure at Global Integration, Charles’ team focused on Argentina and Chile. He began his working career as a management trainee at Firmenich SA, one of three leading companies in the fragrance and flavor industry, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Charles received his MBA in 2010 from the prestigious international graduate school, INSEAD. He previously attended the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology where he received his MS in micro- engineering in 2004.

Charles resides in Santiago, Chile.

Meet Charles at the BLT Steak Restaurant Dinner featuring Lapostolle.


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 Barrington’s Vintner Dinner featuring The Spire Collection.


Amanda Britton | Mixologist/Co-Founder - Crowntown collective & Beverage director - Bardo

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 and 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 Private Bardo Restaurant Dinner featuring Broadbent Selections.

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Chris Coleman | Executive Chef - Stoke @ THe MARRIOTT

Chef Chris Coleman is one of the few Charlotteans who is actually from Charlotte. He grew up in the Mountain Island Lake community, what used to be a rural area situated about 12 miles northwest of Uptown. Uptown is what Charlotte proudly calls its down-town district, where bankers and business executives work alongside construction crews that are continually reshaping Charlotte’s skyline, and where Chef Coleman is the Director of Culinary Experience at Marriott Charlotte City Center, the M Beta property of Marriott Hotels.

Uptown Charlotte is where Chef Coleman went to college, and where he was worked ever since graduating in 2005. But Charlotte isn’t where Chef Coleman first gained his appreciation for local ingredients and fostering community. He spent his summers growing up on his grandparents’ farm in Purvis, Mississippi. It was there he became familiar with Southern growing seasons and the tastes of fresh, locally grown or sourced food.

Back in Charlotte, Chris took his first restaurant job bussing tables at a local fish camp at 14 years old. He worked there a total of four years, moving from bussing to the front of house, and then to expediting. In that position, he became enthralled with the bustle and creativity of the kitchen. He left that job when he graduated high school, and began college at UNC Charlotte to study art and ceramics. But, he soon decided the kitchen is where he is meant to be, and transferred to Central Piedmont Community College to attend the college’s culinary program.

During his second semester at CPCC, Chris landed a job as a line cook at the McNinch House, a fine dining restaurant located in a Victorian home. When the head chef left, he was elevated to executive chef, at 21 years old. In 2012, Chris left the McNinch House to create The Market Kitchen, a pop-up dinner series using only locally-sourced ingredients prepared with experimental, modern cooking techniques. In early 2014, Chris went back to the kitchen full-time to open The Asbury, a 40-seat farm-to-fork restaurant at The Dunhill Hotel. Under his direction, the restaurant was awarded two “Best of the Best” BOB Awards by Charlotte Magazine.

Chris joined Charlotte Marriott City Center in 2016 as the Director of Culinary Experience overseeing Stoke Restaurant, Stoke Bar, and Coco and the Director. He brings a rustic yet refined take on seasonal American cooking that showcases high quality, meticulously sourced ingredients from his farmers and friends in the Piedmont region of North Carolina.

Meet Chef Chris at the Grand Tasting.


Richard CraNmer | Owner & Executive chef - Zinicola

Zinicola is named after Chef Richard Cranmer’s Mothers maiden name. His mother grew up in San Giorgio Italy and his father from Brooklyn NY.  Growing up Chef Richard always dreamed about opening his own Italian restaurant based on his mother’s recipes and his own flare. 

In 2007 Chef Richard graduated from Johnson & Wales university in Charlotte NC with a culinary degree. After college he worked at the Four Seasons Hotel in DC. After leaving DC in 2012 he moved to Palm Beach where he was a sous chef at Jove in the Four Seasons Hotel. 

In 2015 Chef Richards wife and son moved back to Charlotte and opened Zinicola In December 2017. Zinicola made Thrillist Best New Restaurants in 2018. 

Meet Chef Cranmer at the Grand Tasting.

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Fred Dame, MS | Daou Vineyards and Winery

Frederick L. Dame, Master Sommelier brings an impressive blend of experience, expertise and enthusiasm to the world of wine and cuisine.  He is the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide. He is the Global Ambassador for DAOU Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles, CA famed AVA of Adelaida.  He is currently the Chairman of the Board of GuildSomm.com. He holds Honorary Professorships at Purdue University and The University of South Carolina.

Dame's ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine make him a natural teacher.  One of just one hundred and sixty Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year.  This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time.   

As Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years, Dame created a wine list which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award.  With the many wine events held in the brick and wine lined Wine Cellar, Dame turned The Sardine Factory into a wine destination restaurant of world renown.  He is also active in the culinary arts serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Careme Medal and was made a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000.  He was elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates in 2004. In 2006 he received Sante Magazine’s Wine Professional of the Year as well as Starwine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Chefs Hall of Fame.

A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in journalism and communications.  A European trip after high school piqued his curiosity about wine and food. Since then, he has applied his considerable persuasive skills to the service and appreciation of fine wine.

Meet Fred at the Corkbuzz Restaurant Dinner featuring DAOU Vineyards & Winery.


Sam Diminich | Executive Chef - Upstream

Cooking is in Executive Chef Sam Diminich’s lineage. Originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Diminich grew up in the restaurants of both his father and grandfather. After working his way up the ranks in his family restaurants, Diminich enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America where he graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts .

After graduation, Diminich trained under Chef and Owner Georges Perrier at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He then headed back to the South where he worked BLT Steak located in the Ritz Carlton Charlotte prior to joining Upstream in 2003 as Sous Chef. Diminich next served as Sous Chef at Arpa located in Charlotte in 2004 before his tenure as Executive Chef from 2006-2009. Most recently he worked under Executive Chef Raffaele Dall’Erta at The Hampton’s Restaurant in Sumter. He joined the Upstream family in fall 2017 as Chef de Cuisine.

Chef Diminich is passionate about working with local ingredients. His approach to cuisine is to honor the ingredients using sound techniques with a balance of flavors and textures blending traditional flavors with contemporary ones. His goal is to have a celebratory impact on the guest dining experience.

When he is not in the kitchen, Sam enjoys spending time with his two children and enjoying the beauty of the Carolinas.

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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 Chef Lewis at the Grand Tasting.

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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 Chef Ryan at the Grand Tasting or the Fin & Fino Restaurant Dinner featuring Benevolent Neglect.

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Blake Hartwick | Executive Chef - Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Blake Hartwick is the Executive Chef of Bonterra Dining & Wine Room. Blake finds his inspiration in his Southern roots and has embraced the farm to table movement using the best local ingredients in his dishes.  Blake brings a modern edge to Southern classics. Blake has an extensive culinary background that includes several restaurants in Charlotte since moving here in 1993. He was with Bistro 100, Carpe Diem and Sonoma, where he served as their sous chef. In 2000 he joined Bonterra as executive chef. In 2005, John Duncan opened Ratcliffe on the Green where Blake served as their executive chef. Blake also has a few highlights along the way. He spent time in Spain between 2004 and 2006 working at the prestigious Casino de Madrid and NoDo. He also served as the Chef de Cuisine at the world-renowned Four Star, Four Diamond Greenbrier Resort. In 2012, Blake cooked at the James Beard House featuring a "Taste of Charlotte" menu. Chef Hartwick was recently invited to attend the James Beard Celebrity Chef Dinner in Palisades, Virginia in April 2014 and hosted a dinner in the spring of 2015, as well as, representing the Carolina Panthers at the Taste of the NFL for the last two years.

Meet Chef Blake at the Bonterra Restaurant & Wine Bar Dinner featuring Rombauer Vineyards.

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“David Furr is a passionate wine connoisseur, whose curiosity and enthusiasm for tasting and sharing wines is infectious. He has traveled widely and takes great pleasure in meeting a wide range of producers, many of whom have become friends. His impressive cellar ranges from classic Bordeaux, to Rhone, Italy and California, which reflects his broad interest in all regions where wine is made. He is a bon vivant and always ready to share a bottle, along with some anecdotes and his wicked wit.” - Jamie Ritchie, Senior Vice President | Worldwide Head of Sotheby's Wine

“David Furr, is one of those wine personalities that combines sensitivity, technical skills, and deep knowledge, with an unmeasurable passion and, most of all, with joie de vivre, making every moment shared with him around a bottle truly memorable.” - Axel Heinz, Estate Director, Ornellaia e Masseto

“David Furr came several years in a row to my table at the New York Wine Experience to ask me to participate in the Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend. I kept telling him that it was during our harvest and I couldn’t be away from the vineyards. But over the course of these meetings, we became friends and I thought, “If this wonderful person is asking me to participate, then I must go!” When I finally came to Charlotte, David made me feel like part of his family. I’ve never seen a person so committed and passionate about a cause. I am so thankful for participating in Charlotte Wine & Food and for my friendship with David.” - Laura Catena, Managing Director - Bodega Catena Zapata


Meet David at the Lucky 13 Experience: 1000-Point Tasting & 300-Point Dinner.

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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 The Lucky 13 Experience: 1000-Point Tasting and 300-Point Dinner.


MAXIMILIAn kast, ms | DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION - 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 Emerging Wine Regions Seminar, the Grand Tasting or the Private Bardo Restaurant Dinner featuring Broadbent Selections.


Paula Kornell | General Manager - Kornell Wine Company

Growing up on her family’s Napa Valley vineyard. Paula was the girl who sold prunes, walnuts and peacock feathers in front of the tasting room at Hanns Kornell Champagne during summer months. When she wanted to spend time with her father, winemaker Hanns Kornell, she jumped on a horse and joined him for a ride or worked alongside him in the winery. In those days she was certain she would become either a veterinarian or a champagne maker by day and a ballerina by night.

After college and a stint in Manhattan, Paula returned to Napa Valley to work with her father until the closing of the family winery in 1992. She joined Robert Mondavi as General Manager of Vichon Winery and stayed with the organization for eight years. She ventured to Sonoma to become General Manager of Carmenet, then was wooed back to Napa by Oakville Ranch. The draw here is working with what she calls “a magical piece of property.” Her first visit to the mountain top vineyard was enchanting. She knew she wanted to help tell its story—a story very similar to her own, about belonging to this blessed place and fostering its authentic bounty. About being original and true. People often ask her how she can drive up the winding mountain road every day. To Paula, that is a big part of the joy she takes in Oakville Ranch.

Deeply connected to her community, she chaired the 1992 Napa Valley Wine Auction, now known as Auction Napa Valley, and served as a co-chair in 2005. She was 2009 President of the Board of Directors for the Napa Valley Vintners, filling a position her father held 45 years earlier. She also sits on the board of the Oakville Wine growers and the California Wine Institute. She is a founding member of the “Lust for Life” group of women vintners and is active in a new organization, Wine Entre Femmes, comprised of women in the Napa Valley wine trade working to share ideas, learn from one another and educate women consumers about fine wine.

More than slightly canine obsessed, Paula volunteers with Guide Dogs for the Blind and was recently adopted by Magoo, a professorial Bassett Hound who remains philosophical about her two other obsessions: gardening and cooking (especially for company). Given the choice between dessert and a cheese course, she’ll go with cheese every time. Epoisses is a perennial favorite.

Meet Paula at the Boutique Napa Wine Tasting Seminar at Petit Philippe.


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 DAOU Vineyards.


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 Chef Thomas at the Grand Tasting.


ChaD Mathews | Executive Chef - Bulla Gastrobar

Charles ‘Chad’ Mathews serves as the Executive Chef of Bulla Gastrobar in Charlotte, North Carolina. At the Spanish gastrobar known for its lively atmosphere and tapas-inspired cuisine, Mathews’ responsibilities range from leading the day-to-day operations of the kitchen to creating innovative dishes utilizing authentic flavors.

A Fort Lauderdale, Florida native and grandson of a deli owner, Chad was exposed to an appreciation for fine foods from an early age, but never imagined it would lead to a career in the culinary industry. It wasn’t until Mathews worked as a busboy and dishwasher at a local barbecue joint, Smokey Bones BBQ, in that he considered a career as a chef while under the guidance of the restaurant’s Army veteran-prep chef. Falling in love with the fast-paced culinary lifestyle, he trained alongside his mentor and later became lead prep chef when his mentor entered retirement.

Mathews spent the next 15-years gaining experience with positions ranging from Corporate Certified Kitchen Trainer and General Manager, to Sous Chef and Executive Chef. Now the Executive Chef at Bulla Gastrobar’s Charlotte location, he interlaces his passion for cooking with the flair of Mediterranean cuisine, creating contemporary Spanish dishes and experimenting with new ingredients. Mathews is also an instrumental part of the brand’s continued growth and supports with the culinary direction for new restaurant locations.

When he’s not in the kitchen for work, Mathews can be found with his wife and three young children in their home kitchen whipping up family favorites.

Meet Chef Charles at the Grand Tasting.



Chef Bruce Moffett’s culinary journey began in Barrington, Rhode Island, long before he knew he wanted to be a chef. He began cooking as a child, using his grandmother's recipes. It wasn’t until after earning a Political Science degree from the University of Rhode Island and working the political circuit in D.C., that Bruce decided his true passion lied in the culinary arts industry.

He was formally trained at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and worked in the kitchens of two of Boston’s most prestigious restaurants, L’Espalier and Metropolis Cafe. Chef Moffett moved to Charlotte in 2000 and opened Barrington’s Restaurant, an intimate bistro where his Northeastern cooking influence is integrated with seasonal Southern ingredients.

Chef Moffett was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Southeast award in 2009. That same year, he opened Good Food on Montford, followed by his third concept, Stagioni, in 2013. Bruce will be opening N.C. Red in Plaza Midwood and Bao + Broth in Optimist Hall this year. He also just released his first cookbook Bruce Moffett Cooks: A New
England Chef in a New South Kitchen.

Meet Chef Bruce at the Barrington’s Dinner featuring The Spire Collection.


Kyle Mcmackin | Executive Chef - Roots Catering and CafÉ

Kyle has over 15 years of experience in kitchens, training at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, then working at famed restaurants in the Charleston like Carter’s Kitchen and Hominy Grill. Kyle joined ROOTS in 2014 as Executive Chef. Growing up and still living on a 250 acre cattle farm in South Carolina, Southern cooking is second nature. Kyle also bring extensive knowledge and experience in international cuisine and is not afraid to take on any culinary challenge that ROOTS’ clients can throw at him.

Meet Chef Kyle at the Grand Tasting.

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Matt Nagy | Winemaker & Owner - Benevolent Neglect

Winemakers Matt Nagy and Ben Brenner are East Coast escapees who have made California their home. Matt’s day job 
was making $400+ retail 100-point wines, including Diamond Mountain’s famous Seaver Vineyards, but his passion is 
Benevolent Neglect, a tiny-production labor of love that is all about crafting the very best wines with the very least of intervention. 

Here’s how they view their approach to winemaking:
Minimal Intervention is likely the best way to describe our winemaking style. The idea of the winemaker is to be the 
reliable translator – to take what was made in the vineyard from sun, water, and soil and let it become the finest wine 
that it can be.

We use very little new oak, no oak substitutes, and no industrial additives. If we get the farming right, and the weather 
co-operates, we won’t do any additions of water or acidity to alter the natural balance of the wine.
We will occasionally ferment with whole clusters if it helps to bring out the best qualities of the vineyard, and try our 
hardest never to over-extract tannins from the skins and seeds. 

All of our red wines are unfined and unfiltered, with some whites getting filtered simply to ensure stability in the bottle for 
the consumer. We believe in Transparent winemaking,  doing things the Natural way, and being open to 
experimentation. Most importantly, we want to keep having fun with what we do in the cellar.

Meet Matt at the Fin & Fino Natural Wines Dinner ft. Benevolent Neglect Wines.

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Michael Noll | Executive Chef - Bardo

Chef Michael Noll sports an impressive résumé that includes some of Chicago’s finest restaurants. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Noll's earliest culinary influences were his grandparents and mother. Watching them cook for him is one of the first memories the chef has of food and cooking, and to this day, Noll considers his mother's food his favorite. His first professional experience happened by chance, when Noll was injured skateboarding and was made to get a job as a kitchen dishwasher by his mother, yet another way she managed to influence his career. Noll recalls chef and owner Michael Barbado as his first mentor during his time working in the kitchen at Peppercorns.

 The budding culinarian went on to work at Baum Vivant Restaurant in Pittsburgh, where he served as Sous Chef for two years under the tutelage of Chef Toni Pais. In 2006, Noll went to Chicago and landed at Moto, one of the most cutting-edge restaurants in the country. He followed this with tenures at Butter, Trenchermen, and Powerhouse, the latter of which he was part of the opening kitchen staff. Next up for Mike was a stint at yet another highly touted Chicago destination, Schwa. Noll worked under the guidance of chef-owner Michael Carlson, whose passion and love for his craft was instilled in this young chef. He also helped open Jam with Chef Jeff Mauro, whom Noll considers a major influence in his career. He worked as Sous Chef at Jam for a year before making his way to Elate, a busy downtown hotel where he started as the Sous Chef until he took over as Executive Chef for two years.

 Mike wanted to get back in fine dining and landed a Sous Chef position at an underground dining club called Sous Rising where he worked along with chef Jake Bickelhaupt (former owner of the two Michelin-starred 42 Grams), and who he considers the most influential chef he has had the chance to work beside.

Meet Chef Michael at the Private Bardo Restaurant Dinner featuring Broadbent Selections.


Alex piatt | executive chef - aria tuscan grill

Alex Piatt, 30, helms the kitchen at Aria Tuscan Grill as Executive Chef, his role since January 2018. He joined the restaurant in 2015 as Chef de Cuisine. Prior to that, Alex honed his cooking and kitchen management skills at McCormick & Schmick’s restaurants in Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, from 2010 to 2015, rising through the ranks to become Executive Chef of the Raleigh location.

Alex is a 2010 graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte with a B.S. in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management.  Alex oversees the Aria kitchen and staff, as well as the restaurant’s on- and off-site catering operation, which includes the exclusive catering service for the adjoining Founders Hall venue in the Bank of America Corporate Center.

 When not running one of Charlotte’s busiest kitchens, the Apex, NC, native enjoys attending sporting events, particularly the Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers. He also thrives on expanding his culinary knowledge and learning new skills pertinent to his role at Aria, such as making fresh pasta and hand-tossing pizza. His wife, Lauran, also works in the local restaurant industry.

Meet Chef Alex at The Lucky 13 Experience: 300-Point Dinner and the Aria Tuscan Grill ft. Pio Cesare Dinner.


Charlie Plummer | Director of Sales - Paul Hobbs Wines

From humble beginnings in Hawaii’s restaurant industry, Charlie Plummer cut his teeth in wholesale distribution but quickly made the leap to the supplier side.  His first role was as Sales & Marketing Manager for (then) upstart micro-brewery Kona Brewing Company.  For over 3 ½ years he helped grow the brand and launch its mainland sales into California.  From there he kick-started his wine career with (then) Humphry-Brown & Sebastiani winery.  During a decade of winery mergers and acquisitions he was able to establish his foundation, improve his fundamentals, and be coached by some of the most notable professional wine minds in the industry via Constellation Brands and Beam Global Wine & Spirits.  With a desire to apply his skills, mentor others, and guide smaller winery operations forward, he went back to family-owned wineries through Hess Collection, Jackson Family, and Merryvale Vineyards.  Along this 20 year path, Charlie achieved certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Society of Wine Educators, and the Sonoma State University Wine Business program.  He has acted in advisory roles for restaurant associations, culinary curriculum programs, and with Operation Homefront. For years he hosted The Golden Foodie Awards Chef Series, which highlighted Southern California chefs and restauranteurs through the Sub-Zero & Wolfe culinary center.  

Residing in Napa, California, he is an advocate for sustainability in farming and adopts a locavore sourcing lifestyle.  He currently presides as Director of Sales for Paul Hobbs Wines leading the company’s national and global campaign objectives, sales strategies, tactics, and executions. 

Meet Charlie at the FR Custom Catering Dinner at Petit Philippe featuring Paul Hobbs Winery.

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DLynn Proctor | WINERY DIRECTOR - Fantesca EsTate & 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, was 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.


Tom Rozner | Vice President - Hartford family winery

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 featuring Hartford Family Winery and Hartford Court.


Francie Rudolph | owner & creative director - francie rudolph custom catering

A native of Charlotte, NC Francie grew up in a household where dinners took place around the table with her family of five.  The younger of two older brothers, she learned early on that if you helped your mother with the cooking, you didn’t have to do the dishes. From these occasions a love for food was born, and although her tastes continue to evolve, gathering with family and friends over a home-cooked meal remains the source of her passion.

After graduating from The College of Charleston, Francie pursued her passion for hospitality and food by attending the International Culinary School at The Art Institute in Vancouver, BC. She took advantage of Vancouver’s diverse food scene - fine dining, farm-to-table and her favorite...a grilled cheese food truck - while working under several of the city’s most reputable chefs.

After years of cooking and working in various cities (Vail, CO; Charleston, SC; Sydney, AUS), Francie returned home to Charlotte, NC where it all began. After working in sales and event coordination for a local catering company, Francie’s heart led her back in the kitchen. Recognizing a void in the Charlotte boutique catering market, Francie started
FR | c u s t o m c a t e r i n g | in the Winter of 2016. By combining three key ingredients - family, friends and food - Francie fulfilled a lifelong dream. 

Meet Francie at the FR Custom Catering Dinner at Petit Philippe featuring Paul Hobbs Winery.

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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 Chef Anthony at the Corkbuzz Restaurant Dinner featuring DAOU Vineyards or at the Grand Tasting.


Bruce & Leslie Schlernitzauer | PropRietors - Porcupine Provisions

Bruce Schlernitzauer, a Navy brat, is mostly from Massachusetts and Leslie is a Charlotte native. They met in college in Massachusetts and later Bruce went to Johnson & Wales in Cranston, RI in their advanced standing culinary program while Leslie received her MBA from Boston University.  In 1994, they arrived in Charlotte and two years later opened Porcupine Café on East Boulevard. After closing Porcupine Café, they opened Porcupine Provisions, becoming one of Charlotte's top caterers. Leslie serves on several boards including Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend, Council for Children’s Rights and Advisory Board for Charlotte Concerts. They have two children (girls) Megan (22) and Grace (18). When not cooking for a profit you will find them cooking for a cause every chance they get!

Meet Chef Bruce & Leslie at Porcupine Provisions Underground Dinner featuring Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné.


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 Chef Stephen at the Grand Tasting.  


Matt Slezak | Chef de Cuisine - BLT Steak Charlotte

A familiar fixture at BLT Steak over the last nine years, Matt Slezak became the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine in Winter 2016 and brings a fierce energy to the kitchen with his passion for chef-driven, locally-sourced dishes. 

Matt is deeply invested in the North Carolina food scene as a native of Charlotte and graduate of Johnson & Wales University. He got his start in the restaurant business at the age of 15 and spent several years as a sous chef in Boone, North Carolina. He joined BLT Steak in 2010 and after several years with the Company, Matt moved to New York to hone his culinary skills at Rouge Tomate before returning to Charlotte with a renewed vigor for his craft. 

His goal as Chef de Cuisine at BLT Steak Charlotte is to ensure guests experience the restaurant’s signature style and exceptional service with a touch of southern hospitality. 

Matt currently lives in the Queen City’s Plaza-Midwood neighborhood and is an avid traveler and motorcyclist.

Meet Chef Matt at the BLT Vintner Dinner featuring Lapostolle Wines.


Natalie Stewart | Wine Director - Fin & Fino

Natalie is the Wine Director for Fin & Fino in uptown Charlotte, NC, a part of the Rare Roots Hospitality Group. She has been with Rare Roots Hospitality since 2012 and helped opened Fin & Fino in April 2018. Fin & Fino has given her the chance to develop a unique wine program, with each wine on the list being under 10,000 cases in total winery production. This type of list allows guests to step outside of their comfort zones, not finding some of the big names they are familiar with and getting to know smaller rock stars of the wine world. “There is something happening in Charlotte, there are some amazing players making changes and shaking things up. I am incredibly honored to be a part of the evolving wine scene here,” she says.  

Meet Natalie at the Fin & Fino Natural Wines Dinner featuring Benevolent Neglect Wines.

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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 Chef 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.


Ramon Wilson | Executive Chef - Hawkers ASIAN STREET FARE CHARLOTTE

Bio coming soon!

Meet Chef Ramon at the Grand Tasting.

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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 Chef Greg at the Fig Tree Restaurant Dinner featuring Fantesca Estate & Winery.

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amela zeba-sarac | regional sales director - twins bordeaux USA

Amela Zeba-Sarac is Regional Sales Director at Twins (negociant house in Bordeaux), currently manages sales in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Before obtaining this role, Amela was Regional Sales Specialist at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, D&E fine wine division, calling on high-end on-premise accounts and independent retailers in Dallas/Fort Worth area. Amela is Accredited Bordeaux Wine Educator, holds Bachelor of Science degree in Viticulture from University of Zagreb, Croatia and  WSET Diploma.

Meet Amela at the Porcupine Provisions - Underground Dinner featuring Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné.


Bari Zelizer | Southeast Market Director - Huneeus Vintners

Bari has a life-long passion for fine wine and enjoys sharing her enthusiasm with others. She fell in love with wine on a backpacking trip to France at age 20 and has worked in all facets of the industry. After many years serving in restaurants, she spent 2 years managing The Grape Wine Bar and Retail Shop, followed by 6 years with a local Atlanta distributor selling wines from all over the world. Bari has been representing the wines of the Huneeus Family for three years and is thrilled to represent some of California’s most well respected wineries.

Agustin Huneeus has been discovering great vineyards of the world throughout a career in wine spanning five decades and 15 countries. Agustin and wife Valeria founded the Quintessa estate in the renowned Rutherford District of Napa Valley in 1990 and after years of running global wine companies, established a family portfolio of wines that represent the finest vineyard estates, appellations and wines in both North and South America. In addition to the Quintessa estate, Agustin’s current vineyard and winery projects include Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Illumination Sauvignon Blanc, Flowers Vineyard and Winery, Andy Erickson’s Leviathan, and Benton-Lane Winery.

Meet Bari at the Private Oak Steakhouse Dinner featuring Huneeus Vintners.