40 Under 40: America's Tastemakers
Let us introduce you to the new faces of wine, spirits and beer. Wine Enthuiast’s editors think these 40 trendsetters under the age of 40 are the most influential in determining what we drink. Read on, as these hot sommeliers, innovative winemakers and creative tastemakers are making serious waves.
Clockwise from left:
Ian Brand, 32
Winemaker, Coastview Vineyards, Le P’tit Paysan, Monterey, CA
After moving from Utah to California to pursue surfing, Brand found his real calling at Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz, where he was assistant winemaker from 2004– 2007. He has also been winemaker for Nicholson and Pierce Vine- yards and consults for various clients in the region. Innovative, experimental and eager to push the envelope in the Salinas Valley and beyond, Brand is known for his progressive approaches to plantings, commitment to organic farming and tireless promotion of Monterey as the next region to watch in California.
Gavin Chanin, 26
Winemaker, Price Chanin Vineyards and Chanin Wine Co., Sonoma, CA
Chanin started tasting wine his senior year of high school in Los Angeles (shh!), then spent a summer working at Au Bon Climat in Santa Barbara alongside Jim Clendenen, who became his winemaking mentor. He worked three more California harvests, including one at nearby Qupé, before launching Chanin Wine Co. in 2007. A proponent of restraint, last year Chanin partnered with Bill Price of Durell Vineyards (and an investor in Kosta Browne and Kistler) to start a single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay project, the Price Chanin Vineyards.
Laura Maniec, 33
Owner, Corkbuzz Wine Studio, New York City
One of just 18 female master sommeliers in the world, Laura Maniec launched Corkbuzz Wine Studio—a hip wine shrine for lovers of the grape—in November 2011. From the casual consumer to the aspiring beverage director, oenophiles of every level flock to this Union Square haunt to soak up vinous factoids and tales that Maniec avidly shares as she strolls the floor. Offering enlightening classes and a wine list that champions the eclectic, Maniec has created a community that welcomes wine exploration and enjoyment without intimidation or pretension.
Jasmine Hirsch, 33
Director of Sales and Marketing, Hirsch Vineyards, Cazadero, CA
This daughter of Hirsch Vineyard founder David Hirsch has made a name for herself as an ardent advocate of “balance” in California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The 33-year-old is president of the In Pursuit of Balance Association, which promotes Pinot Noirs of lower alcohol. She’s also director of sales and marketing for Hirsch Vineyards. Outgoing and spirited, Hirsch is active in the social media realm.
Bibiana González Rave, 35
Winemaker, Rave Vines & Wines, Santa Rosa, CA
Originally from Colombia and trained in France, where she earned dual degrees in viticulture and enology, González Rave spent years doing two harvests a year, from South Africa to France and California, and was until recently the winemaker at Lynmar Estate, where she earned stupendous reviews for her silky Pinot Noirs and complex Chardonnays. Last year she decided to go out on her own, launching Rave Vines & Wines, where she is laser focused on one place only: Pahlmeyer’s Wayfarer Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. The first of her cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will be from 2012. In addition to making a small amount of her own wines, she’s partnering with husband Jeff Pisoni on a Sauvignon Blanc brand.
Jesse Katz, 29
Winemaker, Lancaster Estate and Roth, Healdsburg, CA
The son of photographer Andy Katz who came to Lancaster from Napa cult brand Screaming Eagle, Jesse’s first vintage of 2010 Lancaster Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is just about to be released, hot on the heels of the two barrels of wedding cuvée he made for the nuptials of friends Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, a 2009 blend of Alexander Valley Cab, Zin and Petite Sirah. Katz is also supervising the development of Lancaster’s sister brand, the 50,000-case Roth, which will soon have its own separate winery and for which he will make six different wines.
Nicole Erny, 28
Master Cicerone, Oakland, CA
Starting out behind the taps at The Trappist in Oakland during college, Erny is the first woman, fourth person and youngest ever to earn the Master Cicerone title, recognition of her evolved knowledge of beer, brewing and food pairing. She consults on beer menus, hosts dinners and events, including blind tastings, and otherwise pied-pipers her way around the country putting together Homebrew Nerd-Out and other educational tasting courses for home brewers.
Clockwise from left:
Morgan Twain-Peterson, 32
Winemaker/Proprietor, Bedrock Wine Co., Sonoma, CA
Twain-Peterson practically grew up in a wine barrel; his dad is Joel Peterson, founder of Ravenswood Winery, and he made his first wine at the age of five. Twain-Peterson launched his own winery, Bedrock, back in 2007. He is a champion of minimalist technique to produce “heirloom wines,” those hailing from old vineyards interplanted with multiple varieties. Twain-Peterson’s goal: “To bring greater awareness to these field- blended vineyards that are so steeped in California history.”
Jordan Harris, 32
Winemaker and General Manager, Tarara Winery, Leesburg, VA
While many of Virginia’s vintners are concentrating their efforts on the sure sellers—namely Bordeaux-style blends, Chardonnay and the state’s signature grape, Viognier— Harris champions varieties that are oft overlooked in the Commonwealth. Pushing the boundaries of his blends, Harris is blazing trails in the state with bottlings like his 2010 #SocialSecret, a heavy-hitting hodgepodge of Tannat, Petit Verdot and Pinotage; and his 2010 Honah Lee White, a sapid mix of Viognier, Roussanne and Petit Manseng.
Ian Cauble, MS, 32
U.S. Ambassador, Krug Champagne, San Mateo, CA
While many luxury beverage companies select celebrities to be their brand ambassadors, Krug tapped Master Sommelier Ian Cauble to promote the Champagne house’s magic and philosophy. One of the current 197 individuals worldwide to pass the notoriously rigorous MS exam, Cauble has amassed numerous industry distinctions. In 2011, Cauble clinched the gold at the TopSomm USA championship. That same year, the Paris-based Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest gastronomic society, named him Best Young Sommelier of the World.
Matt Stamp, MS, 35
Education Director, Guild of Sommeliers, Napa, CA
From managing V. Mertz, the fine- dining institution in Omaha, Nebraska, once owned by his family, to sommelier stints at the French Laundry and the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in Napa, Stamp has a lofty restaurant pedigree. Yet soon after winning the 2010 Top Somm competition and obtaining his master sommelier diploma, Stamp left the dining room floor behind him. Focused now on teaching and mentoring the next generation of sommeliers, Stamp is the education director for the Guild of Sommeliers, a nonprofit organization aimed at fostering a community for wine education.
Clockwise from left:
Erin Sullivan, 33
Wine Director, Acme Fine Wine shop, Napa, CA
Sullivan worked for four years as sommelier at Del Frisco’s Steak House in Manhattan and then as wine director of PRESS in Saint Helena, managing extensive cellars at both. She is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and the American Sommelier Association. Whether in tastings, on video or in person, Sullivan’s accessible approach to both California and global wine has gained her the attention of consumers and industry notables nationwide.
Marko Karakasevic, 39
Master Distiller, Charbay Distillers, St. Helena, CA
“Whiskey is where it’s at,” says Karakasevic, a 13th-generation distiller working in the Napa Valley family business whose creations never fail to surprise. To wit: his stout beer-based Doubled and Twisted Whiskey, which earned him a “Master Distiller” designation in 2009. More recently, his zesty, honeyed Hop Flavored Whiskey, distilled from Racer 5 IPA, is a true beer-lover’s whiskey, and continues to surprise. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
Hardy Wallace, 39
Winemaker, blogger Dirty and Rowdy Family Winery, Calistoga, CA
Wallace hit wine country’s radar when he won Murphy-Goode’s “A Really Goode Job” contest, which instantly made him one of the most visible personalities in wine social media. Since then, Hardy’s had stints in various parts of the industry. He now makes the wine at his own brand, Dirty and Rowdy Family Winery, and also doubles as social media director for the well-known Napa winery, Corison. A humorous, wry guy, Wallace maintains plenty of online visibility through his blog at dirtysouthwine.com.
Carla Rzeszewki, 34
Wine Director, The Breslin, John Dory Oyster Bar and The Spotted Pig, New York City
Despite being a relative newcomer to the wine business, Southern California-born Rzeszewski (pronounced Reh-zoo-ski) has turned three of the Big Apple’s hottest restaurants into hopping wine spots. Since 2009, this former bartender, who is self-taught with respect to wine, has helped steer The Spotted Pig from a glorified pub into what she calls a “fun” wine destination while decking out the John Dory’s list with thirst-quenching whites and making The Breslin a destination for “adventurous” wine enthusiasts. Rzeszewski’s vivacious personality is mirrored in her wine choices, which play nicely off lauded chef April Bloomfield’s creations at all three locations.
Ivy Mix, 27
Co-founder, Speed Rack, Brooklyn, NY
While she’s also a top-notch bartender at Brooklyn’s Clover Club, Mix is perhaps best known these days for her role as creator and later, with Lynnette Marrero, co-founder of Speed Rack, a national cocktail competition that creates a platform for female bartenders while simultaneously raising money for breast cancer- related charities. They are currently on their second season tour and are going international to London in 2013. So far it’s raised more than $110,000.
Clockwise from left:
Greg Engert, 33
Beer Director and Partner, Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Washington, D.C.
At the District’s Birch & Barley and Churchkey, two of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s 11 establishments, Engert has elevated beer consumption and education to levels far exceeding the casual imbibing of the carbonated, boozy beverage. At these havens for hopheads, Engert plies his suds-loving guests with an almost overwhelming list of 555 artisanal brews from around the globe (500 in bottle, 50 on tap and five cask conditioned), treating each selection with the respect that sommeliers grant the holiest of wines.
Christina Turley, 28
Brand Ambassador and Head of Sales, Turley Wine Cellars, Napa, CA
Daughter of winery owner Larry Turley, Christina attended Barnard College and worked at Matthew Marks art gallery before eventually becoming the beverage director for all Momofuku restaurants. In 2010 she returned home to the Napa Valley to start The Label, a new Turley Cabernet Sauvignon project released this winter. She’s now sales manager and brand ambassador for her family winery and the mind behind such new projects as the release of a bone dry Turley White Zinfandel.
Andy Lewis, 31
Distiller, Rock Town Distillery, Little Rock, AR
Emerging as a spirits-maker to watch in the South, Lewis is stirring things up at Rock Town Distillery in Little Rock, the first legal distillery in the state since Prohibition. “An advantage of being a smaller operation is the freedom to experiment more,” says Lewis, who helped the distillery win double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2011 for its handmade, small batch, vapor-infused Brandon’s Gin—beating out Hendrick’s and Tanqueray. Lewis is firmly committed to using local materials and ingredients, with plans to release a rye whiskey from Arkansas grains in the near future. “We’re planning on really pushing the envelope,” says Lewis.
Alpana Singh, MS, 36
Proprietor, The Boarding House, Chicago
Although she was born and raised in Monterey, California, Singh has been part of the fine-dining scene in Chicago for nearly 15 years. In 2000, she was named sommelier at Everest, and received her master sommelier diploma only three years later—do the math if you want to be amazed at her precociousness. She also appears regularly on local PBS television channel WTTV as host of Check, Please! and recently opened her first restaurant, The Boarding House, to great critical acclaim.
Clockwise from left:
Scott Beattie, 38
Bar Manager and Partner, Goose & Gander, St. Helena, CA
Beattie won worldwide acclaim at Healdsburg’s Michelin-starred Cyrus, where he inspired a movement harvesting local, seasonal ingredients to craft fresh, imaginative cocktails. Then he wrote Artisanal Cocktails, a barkeep’s bible, detailing his chef-like approach to making damn fine drinks. He’s now bar manager and a partner in St. Helena’s Goose & Gander, working the bar four nights a week, and is a sought-after consultant for hot spot restaurants and hotels, from the Grand Hyatt San Francisco to W South Beach Miami.
Matt Taylor, 35
Winemaker/Farmer, Reuling Vineyard and Front Porch Farm, Forestville, CA
The former winemaker and vineyard manager at Araujo Estate, in 2011 Taylor moved over to Reuling Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, a longtime source of sought-after Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for Aubert and Peter Michael. His love of Pinot began at Joseph Swan in 2000, followed by a stint at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy, where he also took to biodynamic farming. Taylor also oversees the biodynamic Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg and has had his own label, Taylor Cellars, since 2006.
Ravi DeRossi, 38
Owner, DeRossi Global, New York City
DeRossi’s innovative approaches to cocktail artistry, venue ambiance and his inspired mentoring of numerous spirits stars in his establishments have impacted cocktail culture well beyond New York and America. DeRossi’s bars are often at the very forefront of latest trend, such as the exotic and hard-to-find rums of Cienfuegos and the extensive artisanal Mezcal list of Mayahuel.
Kristy Melton, 32
Winemaker, Clos du Val, Napa, CA
Hired as Clos du Val’s assistant winemaker in 2010, Melton was promoted to winemaker just two years later and tasked with evolving the winery’s exclusive Winemaker Signature Series, designed to shine a light on the estate’s 150 acres of Stags Leap District and 180 acres of Carneros vineyards. A Texas native, Melton makes several notable Stags Leap District wines, ranging from Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to Carneros Pinot Noir.
Pascaline Lepeltier, 32
Beverage Director, Rouge Tomate, New York City
Within a year of taking over the dusty 4,500- bottle cellar of two-star L’Auberge Bretonne in the Pays Nantais, this Angers, France-native was named Best Loire Valley Young Sommelier and Best Sommelier in all of Brittany. In 2008, she took second place in the Best French Sommelier competition, the highest finish ever for a woman. In addition to upping the quality of the wine list at Rouge Tomate NYC, Lepeltier years ago quietly outflanked scores of so-called mixology meccas by transforming the Midtown restaurant’s cocktail menu into one of the first truly season-driven, farm- to-bar affairs.
Leo Robitschek, 31
Bar Manager, The Bar at the NoMad Hotel, New York City
This rising star is making a serious impact with his bar program at the NoMad hotel, and before that, Eleven Madison Park. A native of Venezuela, Robitschek has truly distinguished himself with consistently innovative bar programs (such as the custom-designed bar carts used at NoMad to elevate bottle service at tables), an emphasis on hospitality, and outstanding cocktails, like the biting Hair Trigger (Venezuelan rum, Fernet Branca, ginger, lime and cucumber).
Lesley Townsend Duval, 34
Founder and Executive Director, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, New York City
One of the first things Duval confesses is: she’s never been a bartender. Yet that didn’t stop her from creating the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, now entering its fourth year. A career in the nonprofit world followed by wine classes led her to start up wine and spirits education space Astor Center. Before long, she realized that there was no real cocktail festival in New York City, and quit her job to remedy that. These days, when it seems like every city or state has a drinks festival to call their own, it’s easy to point to MCC—and Duval—for helping blaze that trail.
Fred Merwarth, 35
Winemaker and Vineyard Manager, Co-owner
Oskar Bynke, 37
Business and Estate Manager, Co-owner
Finger Lakes pioneer Hermann J. Wiemer revolutionized fine winemaking in the region. Since 2007, the infusion of Wiemer’s long-time winemaking assistant, Fred Merwarth, and friend, Oskar Bynke, as co-owners, has elevated not just the winery, but Finger Lakes wines as a category. Merwarth and Bynke met over a decade ago while students at Cornell University. Ironically, while Merwarth studied business and Bynke studied agronomy, it’s Merwarth who is known for his thoughtful winemaking and Bynke for his business savvy and strident ambassadorship.
From left to right:
Paul Zitarelli, 35
Owner, Full Pull Wines, Seattle
A winding path led Zitarelli to open online- and email-driven Full Pull Wines in a Seattle warehouse. He majored in applied math at Harvard and “spent a good portion of my twenties in a bunch of strange jobs trying to figure out what to do with my life.” Wine beckoned; first a blog, then an Amazon internship. Finally, four years ago, Full Pull debuted, offering Zitarelli’s carefully selected, boutique wines (mostly Washington-sourced, with some imports) to a fast-growing mailing list.
Fernando Beteta, MS, 36
Director of Education and Social Technologies, Tenzing Wine & Spirits, Chicago
There’s a twinkle in the eye and a lift to the voice of the Guatamalan-born Beteta when he’s talking about wine— the sort of contagious enthusiasm that affects those around him. His obvious passion for the product has driven him fast and far. From neophyte to master sommelier in six years, head of NoMI’s 100,000-bottle cellar and now ideally positioned to spread the gospel of wine throughout the Chicagoland area and beyond, Beteta is a force of nature yet always seems perennially poised and perfectly in control.
Philip Rubin, 28
Director of Sales & Marketing
Phillip Zucchino, 29
Director of Wine Programs, The Wine Feed, Raleigh, NC
Rubin and Zucchino trained their palates, sniffed out wines around the world and blended a solid business plan a full year before they opened The Wine Feed, a wine store and event space. The pair “help people become more confident sharing wine, tasting wine, talking about wine and ordering it,” says enologist Zucchino. If you’re in the hot Raleigh-Durham, N.C. research triangle, they will even deliver your favorite wine.
Clockwise from left:
Jason Littrell, 32
Former president U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, New York Chapter, New York City
This gregarious San Diego native is noted for embracing cocktails and community with equal intensity. Littrell campaigned for health insurance for bartenders in his role as president of USBG-NY, and raised funds for bars impacted by Hurricane Sandy. That is, when he’s not wearing one of his many other hats, such as consulting for liquor brands and building drink menus at bars and restaurants like JBird. Although he’s serious about cocktails—even the humble gin and tonic, he says, “can be produced exceptionally well with a certain amount of care and intensity”—he’s best known for co-creating the inspired silliness known as the Pickleback (whiskey plus pickle juice).
Erin Barbour Scala, 32
Wine Director, Public, New York City
Scala’s wine list at Public is a bold proclamation of Australasian independence. There are nods to current trends, like wines from Jerez and Jura, and salutes to the classics from Bordeaux and Burgundy, but the meat of the matter lies in her selections from Australia and New Zealand. No other restaurant in this country can rival the breadth or depth from those regions, and to remain steadfast in her convictions has taken courage. The result is a destination-haven for folks actually from Down Under, or just people who share Scala’s passion for those wines.
Joe Campanale, 29
Beverage Director/Partner L’Artusi, dell’anima, L’Apicio and Anfora, New York City
Queens-born Campanale oversees the wine programs at the New York restaurants L’Artusi, dell’anima and L’Apicio as well as the wine bar Anfora. Campanale, who started in the wine business at the age of 22 as a salesman at Italian Wine Merchants in New York before moving on to sommelier work at Mario Batali’s renowned Babbo, is a huge fan of Old World wines, particularly those from Italy and Champagne. “My goal since we started in 2007 is to provide wines that taste great and are made with integrity and which complement the menu and offer value,” he says. When pouring something for himself, the affable Campanale leans toward Nebbiolo.
Clockwise from left:
Nicholas Miller, 33
VP of Sales and Marketing, Bien Nacido Vineyards, Santa Barbara, CA
Miller is barely 33 years old and already has emerged as a powerhouse in California wine. As effective head of his family’s Bien Nacido, French Camp and Solomon Hills vineyards, he not only grows some of the state’s most coveted fruit, he actively encourages a new generation of young winemakers to seek it out.
Karl Wente, 36
Winemaker, Wente Vineyards, Livermore, CA
The fifth-generation winemaker and head of winemaking operations for 130-year-old Wente Vineyards, the guitar- playing, yoga-posing Karl oversees thousands of acres of sustainably- farmed estate vineyards from the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay and Arroyo Seco appellations. He’s credited with creating the family’s limited- production, best-of-the- best Nth Degree brand, in addition to finessing its Wente, Double Decker, Entwine and Murietta’s Well wines.
Damon Boelte, 31
Radio Host on the The Speakeasy & Bar Director, Prime Meats, Brooklyn
At farm-to-table restaurant Prime Meats, Boelte has earned his stripes with unique and interesting cocktails, often spiked with bitters (at least one memorable drink calls for an entire 20-ml bottle of Underberg). In addition, Boelte has hosted The Speakeasy on Heritage Radio Network for the past two years—featuring bartenders talking shop and tossing shots in a most unfettered environment, making listeners feel like they too have drawn up a stool at the bar.
Tyler Baillet, 33
President and Founder, Second Glass, Boston
Second Glass’s Wine Riot series—the interactive, educational wine events that specifically cater to the younger set—got started five years ago when Balliet was working an office job during the day and a wine shop at night. Realizing that “young wine drinkers had questions about wine, and the producers and brands had all the answers,” Balliet and his business partner brought the two together in 2009. Today, Wine Riot boasts wine tasting events in six cities, utilizing mobile apps, social media and fun touches like wine tattoos and photo booths to get the Millennial generation engaged in learning about wine.