40 Under 40: America's Tastemakers 2014
Our second annual 40 Under 40 list salutes the leaders of a new generation of drinkers. These dynamic young men and women are the innovators, gatekeepers and trendsetters who are changing what and how Americans imbibe.
—The Editors of Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Research by Katie Riley
Photos by Alex Farnum and Chris Sanders
Director of Education, Anchor Distilling, San Francisco
Beverage trends Michelangelo
A jack of all trades, Alan Kropf is certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, Cicerone Program and National Bartenders School. He is also president of Mutineer Magazine, and, last year, he joined Anchor Distilling Company.
Co-founder, Little Peacock Imports, New York City
Single-focus importer with an eye on quality
After moving from Melbourne, Australia, to the U.S. in 2008, Little was dismayed at the dearth of wine selections from his homeland. He founded Little Peacock to not only import and distribute Australian wine in the U.S., but also to provide wine that Aussies actually drink, helping to reshape American perceptions of wine from Down Under.
Founder, COO, Williams Corner Wine, Charlottesville, VA
Introducing Americans to small French domaines
Born and raised in France and a veteran of the restaurant business, Mestre seems to have been destined for his current role. Virginia-based Mestre founded Williams Corner Wine, a wine importer and wholesaler, at the age of 23. Since then, he has been integral in introducing little-known, well-made natural French wines to the U.S.
Wine Director, Smith & Wollensky, New York City
Helms one of the world’s most storied steakhouse wine lists
At only 29 years old, Kiefhaber, wine director at legendary New York City steakhouse Smith & Wollensky, is bringing a fresh approach to one of Manhattan’s most storied wine cellars. Kiefhaber, a Yale graduate, worked previously in a variety of restaurant roles—bartender, server, manager and writer—before taking on his current challenge.
Brand Ambassador, Treasury Wine Estates, Napa, CA
Actively mentoring a new wave of sommeliers
One of the men featured in the documentary SOMM, Proctor works as brand ambassador for Penfolds wines, helping to spread the gospel of high-quality Australian wine. He’s also actively involved in training and mentoring new generations of aspiring sommeliers.
Winemaker, Cinder Wines, Boise, ID
Emerging American wine region champion
In 2001, Krause began work as a vineyard technician at Stimson Lane in Woodinville, Washington, where she also started making some of her own “homemade” wine. After working at Chateau Ste. Michelle, she moved back to Boise and started her own winery consultant business, Krause Consulting, LLC, which is bringing much-needed expertise to this emerging wine region. Together with husband, Joe Schnerr, she now owns Cinder Wines, named after the layers of volcanic remnants found under the vineyards in Idaho.
Co-founder, Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles
Fast-growth beer business leader
While attending Yale, Gill spent her time studying Latin, which she says, “is about putting pieces of the puzzle together, and the same thing is true of getting beer on the shelf.” Gill’s Los Angeles-based Golden Road Brewing—which produced 15,000 barrels last year—is one of the fastest-growing breweries in the U.S. Ever the go-getter, Gill expects to double that output in 2014, and expand distribution beyond Southern California.
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Beverage Director, Aviary, Chicago
Joly started out as a bar back, but never dreamed he would make his career in the bar industry. Leading a crew of dedicated ice chefs, Joly runs Aviary’s bar more like a kitchen, snagging the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program in 2013 and being named Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2014.
Wine Director Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Épicerie Boulud, New York City
Manages prestigious, high-profile cellars with an accessible approach
Madrigale’s wine education began while waiting tables shortly after he moved to New York City. Now, as wine director for Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud and Épicerie Boulud, he manages a cellar of over 500 selections. He also launched New York City’s first “Big Bottles” program, which offers guests the opportunity to taste rare and large-format bottles by the glass. In 2012, Wine Enthusiast named him its Sommelier of the Year.
Co-proprietor, Pouring Ribbons, New York City
Decoding mixology for everyday drinkers
Simó got his first job as a bartender while studying English and religion in Boston. While working at the storied Death & Co. in New York City, Simó met Toby Maloney, Troy Sidle and Jason Cott, with whom he opened Pouring Ribbons. The East Village cocktail den has become famous for its “matrix menu,” which helps guests navigate obscure brands and ingredients by breaking down offerings into quadrants like “refreshing” or “spirituous,” rather than just listing ingredients.
Beverage Director, Treadsack Group, Houston, TX
Growing wine trends in the Texas market
Hinkle fell in love with wine while he worked his way through college at restaurants in Baltimore. In 2011, he moved to Houston and passed the Advanced Sommelier exam. Until a few months ago, Hinkle worked as the beverage director and wine buyer for Houston’s buzz-worthy Pass and Provisions, but he’s now wine director at growing restaurant group Treadsack.
Sommelier, Juni, New York City
Champion of offbeat pours
Prior to taking the reins at Juni, Beedle worked at buzzy and wine-focused NYC establishments like The NoMad and Betony, where he was the wine director. Perceptive and talented, he’s the master of obscure but delicious pours, and known for his astute guiding of guests. Beedle plans to take the Master Sommelier exam this year.
National Saké Sales Manager, Vine Connections, New York City
Actively engaging consumers in the saké trend
A saké expert and the national saké sales manager for Vine Connections, Samuels also has an incredible talent for pairing the spirit with food, particularly outside traditional Japanese settings. Samuels specializes in introducing saké to those unfamiliar with it, including developing saké programs for non-Japanese restaurants.
Winemaker, Red Newt Cellars, Hector, NY
Helping put New York wines on the map
After graduating from Harvard, Russell interned at Fox Run Vineyards, where he supplemented his education with trips to wineries in New Zealand, Tasmania and Australia. Now at Red Newt Cellars in New York’s Finger Lakes, he’s one of the most talented winemakers in the region. Russell is a prominent member of the local wine community and a collaborator in the new Boundary Breaks label, as well as his own project, Kelby James Russell.
General Manager, Raven and Rose, Portland, OR
The man behind the Negroni’s comeback
Derrick, also known as “the Unofficial President of Negroni,” is already arguably one of the most influential people in the U.S. when it comes to the Negroni cocktail. His “Negroni of the Month” program at Portland, Oregon’s Nostrana restaurant, combined with his annual Negroni Social, helped put the drink on the map.
Co-owner, Fourth Wall Restaurants, New York City
Business leader who doesn’t sacrifice wine quality
Son of Smith & Wollensky founder Alan Stillman, Michael is the co-founder and president of Fourth Wall Restaurants, a New York-based restaurant group with six venues, including Smith & Wollensky. Stillman has played a key role in expanding the brands Fourth Wall manages while retaining their reputation for quality products and service.
Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer, Wine Awesomeness, Charleston, SC
Leader in digital wine promotion
Lee, co-founder—alongside three friends—of Wine Awesomeness, wants to make wine, well, more awesome. The Web site and social marketing company seeks to educate wine drinkers without pretension, while curating a monthly wine club. Partnering with folks like fashion photographer Ben Watts, Lee is making the wine industry accessible, where new wine drinkers can feel at ease.
Director of Winemaking, Renwood Winery, Sierra Foothills, CA
An outing in wine country sparked Shebl’s interest in wine, leading him to snag a harvest position at Renwood. After a few years, he left to work in Sonoma County, but returned to Renwood in 2002 as winemaker. He left again in 2009, only to return in 2013 as director of winemaking. In this role, Shebl’s energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the region is creating a new wine culture in the Sierra Foothills.
Winemaker/Viticulturist, Turley Wine Cellars, Napa, CA
Steward of old and new California
Passalacqua is shedding new light on California wines as the winemaker and viticulturist at Turley Wine Cellars in Napa. Almost always on the road, this ultimate multitasker oversees the winemaking and vineyard duties for 35 vineyards and 28 wines. A founding member of the Historical Vineyard Society, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of California’s historic vineyards, Passalacqua has also started his own wine label, Sandlands.
Partner, Municipal Winemakers, Santa Barbara, CA
Brings eclectic wines to new consumers in unconventional venues
Municipal Winemakers in Santa Barbara not only sells creative wines like sparkling Syrah and varietal Counoise, but it draws in a young, hip crowd by utilizing music, parties and pop-up dinners. Potter has become a leader in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone by maintaining a cool, surfer atmosphere while making exceptional wines accessible to a new generation of drinkers.
Photo by Cara Robbins
Wine Director, The Little Nell, Aspen, CO
Educating and enlightening without pretension
Formerly of renowned New York City restaurants Per Se, Aquavit and Craft Steak, McCoy is wine director of The Little Nell hotel in Aspen, Colorado, and an alumnus of The Culinary Institute of America. McCoy is known for his ability to make all his customers feel at home, regardless of their level of wine expertise.
Owner, CrowdBrewed, San Francisco and Denver
Digital promoter of craft beer culture
Last summer, Benoit co-founded CrowdBrewed, a crowdfunding Web site dedicated to craft brewers and related services. This beer-loving former Wall Street vet raised more than $125,000 for aspiring brewers by the end of 2013. By doing so, he’s started to change the game for the craft-brewing industry.
Founder, Bieler Père et Fils, Charles & Charles, Gotham Project, Sombra Mezcal, Three Thieves, NY/WA
Advocate for affordable quality
Bieler spent some of his formative years working at his family’s Château Routas, promoting rosé at a time when rosé was considered unsophisticated. Bieler brought that passion for rosé to America, founding Bieler Père et Fils with his father, as well as partnering in Charles & Charles, with Charles Smith. A tireless innovator and fervent promoter of affordability, his anti-snob approach can also be seen in his other projects: Gotham Project, Three Thieves and Sombra Mezcal.
Owner, Coeur Wine Company, New York City
One-man dynamo specializing in small-scale wines
Clemons’s dream of owning his own business came true last year when, after nine years as a salesperson for Michael Skurnik Wines, he founded Coeur. A wholesaler specializing in small operations, Clemons works with wineries in California, New York and Oregon, as well as Italy, Spain and France. Possessing the skill and gumption to run a one-man operation, the wine world is taking notice.
Educator, Master Cicerone, Cicerone Program, Chicago
Academic beer prodigy
At 25 years old, Fahey is the youngest person to achieve the title of Master Cicerone and just the seventh individual to ever earn it. Fahey earned the beer-guru certification through a series of exams, culminating with two days of intense written and oral questioning about beer styles, draft systems, beer evaluation, brewing technology and food pairings. He now works for the organization, proctoring exams and developing content.
President, The Other Guys, Sonoma, CA
Adventurous champion of eclectic wines and spirits
The fourth generation of one of the most recognized wine families in California, Sebastiani joined the business as manager of The Other Guys (TOG), a division of Don Sebastiani & Sons (until 2009, when it became its own entity), growing annual case production from 5,000 to 140,000 in three years. TOG, whose motto is “laid-back guys, stand-out wines,” is burnishing the family reputation for quality.
Blogger/Podcaster/Sommelier, Los Angeles
Democratizing high-end wines
Adams’s love of Italian wine inspired her award-winning blog, Brunellos Have More Fun, which is now whitneya.com, focusing on wine-and-food lifestyle. A former cohost on the popular wine podcast The Crush, Adams is now emphasizing Bottle Stock, her online shop for original, handmade wine accessories and gifts.
Photo by Betsy Newman
Master Blender, Kings County Distillery, Brooklyn, NY
Crafting historically minded and affordable whiskeys
A former environmental engineer, Austin is now the master blender at New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery. A lifelong whiskey enthusiast, Austin joined co-founders Colin Spoelman and David Haskell at their Brooklyn-based distillery in 2010, the same year it began.
Co-owner/Head Mixologist, Dead Rabbit, New York City
Precocious pioneer of historic cocktails
The youngest-ever recipient of the Cocktail International Bartender of the Year Award, McGarry is also co-owner and head mixologist at The Dead Rabbit, one of the hottest bars in New York City. In creating the bar’s 72-drink cocktail menu, McGarry tested thousands of recipes from the mid-19th century, tweaking them to appeal to the contemporary palate.
Founder, Wine to Water, Boone, NC
Helping bartenders give back to the disadvantaged
A bartender from North Carolina, Doc Hendley has provided portable drinking water to thousands of people worldwide through his charity Wine to Water, since 2004. It uses all of its profits for a clean-water project. Determined to prove that bartenders can change the world, Hendley teamed up with Gaz Regan, a bartender from New York City who founded the “Just One Shift” program, which helps raise money for Wine to Water through tips donated by participating bartenders.
Proprietor, Les Marchands, Santa Barbara, CA
Master of the modern wine shop-meets-wine bar concept
McClintic is most recognized for his role in SOMM, which chronicled his journey in passing the Master Sommelier exam. He and business partner Eric Railsback have since opened Les Marchands, a wine shop and bar in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara. The wine selection is split between European and Santa Barbara producers, including their own label, but the emphasis is on making the enjoyment of wine casual yet informative.
Wine Director, The NoMad, New York City
Studious wine visionary
Certified Sommelier and wine director of New York City’s lauded The NoMad, Pastuszak studied neurobiology and classical piano at Cornell and envisioned a career in medicine. While working off his student loans, he developed a passion for food and wine and made hospitality his calling. Charismatic and well educated, Pastuszak is one to watch as The NoMad expands its bar operation.
Winemaker, Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville, CA
Refreshing an iconic brand
A Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma graduate working toward her Master of Wine certification, Cadamatre is the red winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery. She was one of the first graduates of Cornell’s Viticulture and Enology program in 2006. After 3½ years with Treasury Wine Estates, she joined the Mondavi team in 2013, focusing on red Bordeaux varieties and Pinot Noir.
Founder, Free Flow Wines, Napa, CA
Jordan Kivelstadt trained as an engineer and was a management consultant before he entered the wine industry in 2006. In 2009, with partner Dan Donahoe, he founded Free Flow Wines, a pioneer of premium wine on tap. Kivelstadt has not rested on his laurels, however. He’s made wine in four countries, founded his own brand, Kivelstadt Cellars, and manages his family’s organic vineyard.
Blogger/Podcaster/Sommelier, I’ll Drink to That, New York City
Entertaining expert with digital savvy
While Dalton’s first career was as sommelier at some of Manhattan’s top restaurants (Daniel, Masa, Alto), he’s taken his wine expertise to social media with his hilarious and thought-provoking blog, So You Want to Be a Sommelier? He also has a popular podcast, I’ll Drink to That, where he conducts interviews with a variety of wine industry insiders.
Owners, Taken Wine Co., Napa, CA
Bringing wine to millennials
In 2010, Phelps and Trinchero, both from winemaking families (Swanson Vineyards and Trinchero Family Estates, respectively), created Taken Wine to introduce their friends and other young people to wine. Bought out by Trinchero Family Estates, and with branding help from Volume Inc. in San Francisco, Taken Wine has effectively appealed to the under-30 wine crowd, using social media as its main platform to interact with fellow millennials.
Founder, Barman’s Fund, Austin, TX
Champion of giving back
Floyd’s not on our list just for his mixology talent at watering holes Qui and Drink.Well. in Austin, Texas. It’s his work building the Barman’s Fund that makes him stand out. The Fund—which has raised over $100,000 and has grown beyond Austin to New York City, New Orleans and Charlotte, North Carolina—organizes bartenders to pledge one shift each month for charitable organizations, ranging from homeless shelters to providers of camp scholarships.
Co-owners, Vin de Chez, Washington, D.C.
Pouring high-end wines in a surprising space
Bird and Madrecki have D.C. wine drinkers energized with the serious list of French and natural wines they’re serving at their pop-up wine bar in the parking lot of Union Kitchen. Madrecki, a former apprentice at Le Chateaubriand in Paris and Noma in Copenhagen, comes from a restaurant background, while Bird runs the front of the house.
- 1Heralds of Change
- 2Alan Kropf, 31
- 3Gordon Little, 32
- 4Nicolas Mestre, 29
- 5Lex Kiefhaber, 28 (left) and DLynn Proctor, 34 (right)
- 6Melanie Krause, 37
- 7Meg Gill, 29
- 8Charles Joly, 38
- 9Michael Madrigale, 37 (left) and Joaquin Simó, 36 (right)
- 10Travis Hinkle, 29
- 11Daniel Beedle, 26 (left), Monica Samuels, 30 (center), Kelby Russell, 26 (right)
- 12Douglas Derrick, 31
- 13Michael Stillman, 34
- 14Logan Lee, 31
- 15Joe Shebl, 38 (left) and Tegan Passalacqua, 36 (right)
- 16Dave Potter, 35
- 17Carlton McCoy, 29
- 18Travis Benoit, 37
- 19Charles Bieler, 38 (left) and Eric Clemons, 33 (right)
- 20Pat Fahey, 25
- 21August Sebastiani, 34
- 22Whitney Adams, 33
- 23Nicole Austin, 29
- 24Jack McGarry, 25
- 25Doc Hendley, 35
- 26Brian McClintic, 38
- 27Thomas Pastuszak, 29
- 28Nova Cadamatre, 31
- 29Jordan Kivelstadt, 31
- 30Levi Dalton, 36
- 31Carlo Trinchero, 27 (left) and Josh Phelps, 28 (right)
- 32Brian Floyd, 37
- 33Liz Bird, 27 and Tom Madrecki, 25