America's Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers
While countless young tastemakers strive for the slam dunk, here are the 40 that caught our eye in 2015. Get to know the tastemakers who are behind your new favorite sip!
-Photos by Paul Aresu
CEO/winemaker, The Infinite Monkey Theorem
Denver & Austin, Texas
Eco-conscious urban winemaker
Born in England, schooled in Australia and spreading roots in Denver and Austin, Parsons launched TIMT in 2008 to make wine more accessible and approachable. Using grapes sourced from Colorado and Texas, his line of high-end wines show that these regions are up-and-coming contenders in the wine world. Yet, it’s with his environmentally conscious canned wine, keg and wine-on-tap programs that Parsons is conquering the nation.
Martin Reyes, 38
Senior buyer, Global Wine Company, San Rafael, California
Spreading influence through wine programs
At Global Wine, Reyes intends to broaden his range of imports to continue to offer exciting wines to explore for his club members. Added to a resume of buying, educating and writing content for Global Wine Cellars, buying and writing for the New York Times Wine Club and buying for the Williams-Sonoma Wine Program, Reyes’ influence in the industry runs deep. Reyes is also a WSET instructor and leads seminars in the Bay Area.
Marissa Ross, 29 (right)
Writer/comedienne, wine-allthetime.com, Los Angeles
Education through libations and laughs
She professes to have no wine-writing qualifications, but the “leisure enthusiast,” comedienne and author of the acclaimed Wine All the Time blog is helping the wine world lighten up (expect a book to hit shelves in 2017). Will your wine pass the Ross Test? Only if you can chug it from the bottle.
Advanced Sommelier/Beverage Director, Reeds American Table, St. Louis
Midwestern mover and shaker
Despite just hitting 30, Ivanov has launched wine programs at four restaurants, including the lauded Elaia & Olio and, currently, the hotly anticipated Reeds American Table. Reeds boasts a strongly producer-focused wine list; each bottle is also available for purchase.
Vice president/general manager, Lede Family Wines, Yountville, California
Boss lady with boss wines
Cohen oversees winemaking and domestic/international distribution for Cliff Lede Vineyards in the Stags Leap District and FEL Wines in the Anderson Valley. She has degrees in molecular and cellular biology, Master’s level study in viticulture and enology, as well as an MBA. Prior stints at Saintsbury, Bouchaine and Merryvale Vineyards in the Napa Valley helped Cohen transfer her education to the wine world. She also ran her own consulting firm, Vines to Wine.
Bringing wine delivery to your fingertips
What happens when you combine the technology and ease of a food delivery app with wine and booze? You get Drizly. In just two years, Rellas and Robinson have masterminded a tech-driven delivery system that’s disrupting the wine and spirits retail sector while giving consumers unprecedented options at their fingertips. Working with over 150 retailers in 15 cities (and counting), Drizly is doing what start-up companies do best: shake things up.
Jeff Porter, 38 (left)
Beverage director, B&B Hospitality Group New York City
Arbiter of Italian imports
Just a few years after arriving in New York City, this native Texan ascended Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s restaurant empire to head beverage operations. Overseeing the programs for the group’s flagship NYC restaurants (Babbo, Lupa and Del Posto) as well as new endeavors nationwide, under Porter’s guidance, the group has become one of the most powerful buyers of Italian wine in the country.
Jessica Norris, 36 (right)
Wine director, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, New York City
Steakhouse wine scholar
When not curating a 2,000-bottle list or managing $8 million in annual wine sales, Norris plays a key role in training her staff. The former opera singer is deeply entrenched in nurturing budding talent, whether mentoring the restaurant’s all-female sommelier team or helping more than 50 staff members prepare for their first Court of Master Sommelier tests this year. That doesn’t mean she’s complacent herself—she is also preparing for the master sommelier exam.
Owner/Winemaker, A Tribute to Grace Wine Company, Los Alamos, California
While some pay lip service to natural winemaking, Osborne, a native New Zealander, embodies it. She foot-treads grapes to the sounds of yogic chanting and racks according to the cycles of the moon. The result? Single-vineyard, 100-percent Grenache bottlings from California that have earned a cult following.
Founder, Vino 50 Selections, Washington, DC
Trailblazing wines from all 50 states
“It’s an obsession,” says Stover of his love for wine. He incorporates that love into Vino 50: The Grape American Road Trip, a wine brand and wholesale portfolio that focuses on unsung American winemaking regions. It contracts with small boutique wineries in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Michigan, New York and Texas.
Director, The Artisanal Group at Southern Wine & Spirits, Los Angeles
Shaking up craft spirits
Even during his first bartending job at Bodee’s in Ojai, Teitelbaum was causing a stir, as he expanded the beer and wine program into a full-blown cocktail bar. Stints soon followed at Sonsie in Boston, Mint Leaf in Berkeley, California, and Credo, Zero Zero and Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco. This year, Southern Wine & Spirits picked Teitelbaum to create and manage a new division devoted to local and national craft spirits.
Scott Vaccaro, 38 (left)
Brewer/owner, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Elmsford, New York
From cradle to cask
Beginning his homebrewing journey making five-gallon batches on his parents’ stove at 17—years before he could legally enjoy the results—Vaccaro further pursued the craft at UC-Davis. After early stints at Sierra Nevada and Bank Street Brewery in Stamford, Connecticut, Vaccaro founded Captain Lawrence Brewing in 2006, quickly earning a reputation for his signature IPA and barrel-aged seasonal brews.
Pamela Wiznitzer, 30 (right)
Bartender, Seamstress, New York City
Bartending dynamo on the cusp of cocktail trends
As part of the opening team for Seamstress, which debuted in February on New York City’s Upper East Side, Wiznitzer has already helped the bar gain numerous accolades. She takes it in stride, as her previous gig was at The Dead Rabbit, repeatedly lauded as one of the best cocktail bars in the nation. In addition to life behind the stick, she serves as President of the New York chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild and has a Master’s degree in food studies from New York University.
Co-proprietor, Lieu Dit Wines; wine director, Mattei’s Tavern, Santa Barbara, California
Spreading Old World gospel throughout California
Lifelong sommeliers would kill for Railsback’s resume: Wine Cask in Santa Barbara before turning 21. Osteria Mozza and Gordon Ramsay in L.A. RN74 in San Francisco, followed by co-founding Les Marchands in Santa Barbara’s eclectic Funk Zone in 2013. He currently oversees Mattei’s 1,500 bottlings and makes Loire-inspired Lieu Dit wines with another 40-Under-40 friend, Justin Willett.
Owner/winemaker, Tyler Winery, Santa Barbara, California
Making homegrown, terroir-focused wines
One of the few native Santa Barbarans who entered his hometown’s fast-growing industry a decade ago, Willett—whose middle name is Tyler—is enjoying his 11th vintage of making lower-alcohol but properly ripe wines that reflect vintage and place. That makes him a shining star of the “In Pursuit of Balance” movement, but one that offers something for all palates.
Co-owners, Rowan Imports, Brooklyn, New York
Leaders of the cider revolution
After spending time in Asturias—a classic cider region in northwest Spain—these globetrotting brothers noticed the lack of high-quality, international ciders in the U.S. From humble beginnings in 2011, the duo developed the first-ever cider-only import company. Rowan Imports offers selections from France, Spain, Germany, the UK and notable domestic producers. As cider continues to boom, these brothers are leaders of the grower-cider revolution.
Owner, Uncouth Vermouth, Brooklyn, New York
Foraging the future of American apéritifs
Starting behind the bar at 18, Miraglia packed her bags to learn in the ins and outs of making wine in Oregon. After moving back to NYC, vermouth became the way to connect her passion for winemaking and love of nature. Foraging most of her ingredients and using quality wines as a base, Miraglia’s elegant and quirky creations are shaking up the traditional vermouth world. Next up: Biancamaro, her first digestif aged in local Bourbon barrels.
Sommelier, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Orlando, Florida
Energetic, tri-lingual sommelier with wow-factor wines
Forgoing a career in international relations to pursue her true passion, Davis brings foreign-language skills and a down-to-earth approach to the wine program at the Four Seasons Orlando. She considers selecting wine a fun puzzle to solve. “One of my favorite parts of the job is finding a wine that will blow guests away,” Davis says. “I live for that response of, ‘Oh my goodness, this is delicious!’”
Owner/winemaker, Field Recordings Wine, Paso Robles, California
While playing football at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Jones worked for a vineyard nursery, opening his eyes to the various varieties and values of the Central Coast. He started Field Recordings as the first tenant in what is now Paso Robles’s urban winemaking hub. It’s aligned with other creative, millennial-focused brands under the Plough Wine Group, and this year, he became the first California winemaker to put his still red wine in cans.
Co-founders, The Bon Vivants, San Francisco
Millennial cocktail connoisseurs
In 2009, these close friends behind the outstanding Trick Dog bar in San Francisco’s Mission District started their hospitality, design and creative group, The Bon Vivants. Baird and Harris have set up cocktail programs across the country at restaurants such as Quince (which has two Michelin stars), 15 Romolo and Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, and Comal in Berkeley, California, among others. They’re also behind Pig & Punch, a national charity event series for charter schools that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Founders, Yes Way Rosé, Brooklyn, New York
What started as a cheeky Instagram account quickly evolved into a brand that touts a rosé-sipping lifestyle. Blumenthal and Huganir have leveraged their social media acumen, launching their own wine label (Summer Water, a collaboration with direct-to-consumer winery Club W) and developing a commercial line of apparel, accessories and nail polish. Their success is proof positive that it’s O.K. to think pink.
Co-founder, La Nuit en Rosé; CEO, ABLE Wine Marketing Agency, New York City
Arbiter of rosé for the masses
Known for his innovative wine-marketing approach, Bouquet launched America’s first rosé wine festival, La Nuit en Rosé, in 2014. It’s been an overnight success, as approximately 6,000 attended this year’s event. Bouquet also leads ABLE in deploying creative tasting experiences for clients like Le Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux, Wines of Corsica and Wines of South Africa.
Winemaker, Element Winery; restaurateur, FLX Wienery, FLX Table, FLX Culture House, Finger Lakes, New York
Following a stint as the general manager of a Relais & Chateaux hotel, this master sommelier returned to his upstate New York stomping grounds to kick-start an epicurean revolution. Today, he’s the winemaker and owner of Element Winery, as well as a budding restaurateur, with casual (FLX Wienery), fine-dining (FLX Table) and beer-focused (FLX Culture House) eateries.
Andy Chabot, 34 (left)
Sommelier/director of food & beverage, Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee
Destination drinking and dining
Recently named the 2014 James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program, Chabot has expanded the property’s wine cellar from 17,000 bottles to 166,000. His long list of accolades also includes an advanced level from the Court of Master Sommeliers and a culinary arts and restaurant management degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Chabot started his career at the famed Tennessee resort in 2002.
Chad Walsh, 31 (right)
Beverage director, The Dutch, New York City
Curator of American gems
Since Thanksgiving Day 2014, chef Andrew Carmellini’s restaurant, The Dutch, became one of the few New York City restaurants to focus entirely on American wine, doing so under Walsh’s guidance. A champion of small, independent producers and long-ignored grape varieties, Walsh celebrates the diversity of American wine. He highlights rare finds like Finger Lakes Teroldego and Willamette Valley Müller-Thurgau alongside cult classics of Napa and Sonoma.
Founder, Gay & Lesbian Alliance for Spirited Sipping
New York City
LGBT Spirits Liaison
Even while crisscrossing the country for booze clients like Speed Rack, St.-Germain and Three Hunters Vodka, Cheatham is the brains behind the Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Spirited Sipping, the liquor industry’s first LGBT networking group. Bringing together professionals and brands, Cheatham has created a vibrant, active community in cities around the country, encouraging members to volunteer time for causes and organizations like the Ali Forney Center, which supports LGBT youth.
- 1Ben Parsons, 39
- 2Martin Reyes, 38 (left), Marissa Ross, 29 (right)
- 3Andrey Ivanov, 30
- 4Remi Cohen, 38
- 5Nicholas Rellas, 25 (left) and Justin Robinson, 25 (right)
- 6Jeff Porter, 38 (left), Jessica Norris, 36 (right)
- 7Angela Osborne, 37
- 8Andrew Stover, 37
- 9Joel Teitelbaum, 31
- 10Scott Vaccaro, 38 (left), Pamela Wiznitzer, 30 (right)
- 11Eric Railsback, 30
- 12Justin Willett, 34
- 13Anthony Belliveau-Flores, 30 (left) and John Belliveau-Flores, 31 (right)
- 14Bianca Miraglia, 32
- 15Jill Davis, 28
- 16Andrew Jones, 35
- 17Josh Harris, 34 (left) and Scott Baird, 38 (right)
- 18Nikki Huganir, 32 (left) and Erica Blumenthal, 33 (right)
- 19Pierrick Bouquet, 32
- 20Christopher Bates, 34
- 21Andy Chabot, 34 (left), Chad Walsh, 31 (right)
- 22Cooper Cheatham, 27