Born in 1977, Pierre Casenave grew up in the pyrénées atlantiques renowned for tapas, ferias and rugby, a region closed to Spain. Casenave is an oenologist at the Champagne House Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France. Casenave has had quite an original career path, as he studied Pharmacy first during six years at the University of Bordeaux, majoring in Chemistry. During his fifth year, he studied chemistry further in Pamplona, Spain. Thereafter, he completed a Doctorate Dissertation in Chemistry under the subject: a chemical approach to the vinification in Bordeaux. Pierre recognised his passion for Enology and obtained a diploma in Enology at the University of Montpellier and has been enrolled at Bordeaux International Wine Institute in 2007 and graduated an MBA Wine. Pierre Casenave joined Champagne Veuve Clicquot in 2008 as a winemaker in the wine communication team leaded by Cyril Brun. He is proud to belong to the tasting panel led by chef de caves Dominique Demarville, taking an active part in the creation of the finest quality blends for all of the House’s wines. He is also involved during the harvest in the Pinot Noir winemaking in Bouzy. Casenave now plays a significant role in the communication efforts of Veuve Clicquot - tasting, promoting and training all over the world in French, English and Spanish.
John Conover is general manager of PlumpJack Winery and Odette Winery, and partner in PlumpJack, Odette and CADE wineries. His winery background encompasses sales, marketing and management positions with well-respected, super-premium and ultra-premium California wine producers. Conover is also on the Board of Directors of The Napa County Land Trust and Napa Valley Grape Growers. He joined PlumpJack as general manager in January 1999 to oversee the daily operations of the estate winery and vineyard, provide strategic direction for the newly-established property, steadily increase production from 1,000 cases to 10,000 cases annually and create the image, awareness and distribution channels that would ultimately support that level of production. Conover is also a partner in CADE, an estate winery built on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley by the PlumpJack group which opened April 1, 2009. PlumpJack Winery released its first vintage in 1997. The winery currently produces several varietals under the talented direction of winemaker Anthony Biagi and consulting winemaker Nils Venge. The winery’s focus remains its Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon with two limited offerings: PlumpJack Estate and PlumpJack Reserve.
Kathleen K Dirickson "KK"
Kathleen K. Dirickson "KK", is the National Sales Manager for Joseph Phelps Vineyards, a family-owned winery committed to crafting world class, estate-grown wines. Founded in 1973 when Joe Phelps purchased a former cattle ranch near St. Helena in the Napa Valley, the winery now controls and farms nearly 375 acres of vines on eight estate vineyards in St. Helena, the Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District, Carneros and South Napa Valley. Phelps is best known for its flagship Napa Valley blend of red Bordeaux varieties, Insignia, first produced in 1974. Awarded Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year” in 2005, Insignia is widely regarded as a qualitative benchmark for California winemaking.
Anthony Giglio is one of the most entertaining wine authorities on the planet. He is a journalist, sommelier, educator, author and raconteur who has written several books, including three editions of the annual FOOD & WINE Wine Guide, a review of 1,000-plus wines; five editions of the enormously popular Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide; and his highly regarded first book, Cocktails in New York. He is the longtime online sommelier for the FOOD & WINE Connoisseur Club newsletter, as well as for Departures’ Reserve Wine Club.
Ray Isle is the executive wine editor of FOOD & WINE, the sophisticated trend-spotting and talent-seeking epicurean brand. In addition to overseeing the magazine’s wine department, Ray writes the monthly column Tasting Room and directs all spirits coverage.
Ray’s articles about wine, food and spirits have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Wine & Spirits, The Washington Post, Martha Stewart Living and Gastronomica. He has been nominated for a James Beard Award. Ray regularly conducts wine-tasting seminars at epicurean events throughout the country and abroad and appears as a wine and spirits expert on national television, including NBC’s “Today”, “CBS This Morning” and CNBC.
Chicago native Charles Joly is an award-winning, lifelong food and beverage professional. A certified mixologist, Joly focuses on a balance between the classics and his own seasonal original cocktails. His beverage program at the Aviary, which won a James Beard Award in 2013, offers a glimpse at mixology in the golden age of the cocktail. Joly’s career quickly rose in the national and international mixology scene with a long list of competition wins and industry awards. In 2013, Joly launched Crafthouse Cocktails – the nation’s first all-natural, premium line of prepared cocktails. In 2014, Crafthouse was awarded the highest ratings ever received in the prepared cocktail category. But, to his loyal guests and coworkers, he is best known for his rock star appearance, yet refined tastes.
Mary Keehn is a recovering hard-core hippy, dairy goat enthusiast, and lover of all things outside the box. A leading lady in the American goat cheese industry, she officially founded Cypress Grove Cheve in 1983. Best known for Humboldt Fog, Cypress Grove’s full line of fresh, soft-ripened, and aged-firm cheeses helped pave the way for artisan cheese in America. In her free time, Mary enjoys consulting with up-and-coming food entrepreneurs and spending time with her daughters and grandchildren.
Russ Weis was born into a family of grape growers in Madera, California. In 1987, Russ moved to Napa and joined the Christian Brothers Winery in St. Helena, California and soon after became Global Brand Manager for California Wines for International Distillers & Vintners Ltd. in 1990. In 1993, Russ joined the Robert Mondavi Winery where he led the Asia/Pacific export business. In 2000, Russ was named Mondavi Winery's Senior Vice President for International Business Development, a position he held until joining Silverado Vineyards in 2004. When he's not busy touting the virtues of Silverado Vineyards wines, Russ is involved in a personal wine project with partners in Spain's Priorat region. He's a member of the Board of Directors of the Stags Leap District Association, and the International Programs Committee of the Napa Valley Vintners. Russ lives near Yountville with his wife, Laurie, and their daughter, Josephine.
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