2024 Symposium Speakers

PJ has a B.S. in Wine and Viticulture from Cal Poly and a MBA from Sonoma State. After working for Jackson Family Wines in Santa Barbara County, PJ joined Duckhorn Wine Company in June of 2007, and has since worked across all aspects of Vineyard Management, Viticulture, and Grower Relations. In his current role, he directs all of Duckhorn’s Winegrowing efforts in the broader California regions and Washington State, with a primary focus on the industry-leading Decoy brand.

Laurent has been working for the French Selection Center for almost 30 years. Formerly named ENTAV and now IFV since 2007. In charge of the coordination of clonal selection and breeding programs in close partnership with INRAE and the French wine industries.

Laurent is also the Development manager of the trademark ENTAV INRA present since 1998 on the US territory dealing with licensed nurseries. He has quite a good experience of California, a wine region he has visited approximately 40 times.

Laurent will speak on hybridization: what’s going on in France? Regulation is currently evolving in France and Europe i) giving the possibility to grow hybrids in the appellations, ii) removing progressively fungicides from sales, iii) pushing the development of organic growing also called agroecology transition…

All of this can generate a huge change in the future. To move and adapt towards that direction, all main wine regions in France have decided to run specific programs named: Resistance and Typicality keeping in mind the new material will have to be as much as possible adapted to the Climate Change.

The presentation will be the opportunity to explain the strategy in terms of durability of resistance and maintenance of the quality of the final products.
ENTAV INRA has begun spreading the first PMDM resistant grapevine varieties in the USA. Some will be poured for tasting during the session.

Linda Bisson is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis, where she taught wine production, the biology of yeast, and graduate courses in genetics since 1985. Other notable achievements include the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV) Prize in Oenology as a coauthor for Principles and Practices of Winemaking. She was science editor for the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture for many years and helped create a new journal for the society: Catalyst: Discovery into Practice. She was the society’s Honorary Research Lecturer in 2000.

Dr. Bisson obtained her PhD in Microbiology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980. She was postdoctoral researcher and research associate position at Harvard Medical School before moving to the University of California, Davis. She served as Chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology and has held multiple leadership roles on the Davis campus, including Chair of the Academic Senate from 2006-2008 and 2011-2012.

Dr. Bisson currently serves as Faculty Director of the NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant at UCD and is committed to creating an inclusive environment for all faculty, staff and students.

Danny Brager has a wealth of experience in the U.S. Beverage Alcohol industry, analyzing trends over many years. He formerly headed Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area in the U.S, leading teams that supported relationships with Nielsen’s clients as well as key industry groups and the media.

In his current consulting role, Danny provides data-driven analysis and insights to Beverage Alcohol companies seeking to translate information into fact-based insights in support of their goals. Each year, he presents at a large number of notable industry and company events, and is a frequent thought leader contributor to the media/press. His informed opinions are highly respected by the beverage alcohol industry.

Danny is also a Special Advisor to the Wine Market Council and is Managing Director of Category & Consumer Insights at Azur Associates, founded to bring comprehensive advisory & consulting services to wine and spirit companies, including mergers & acquisitions, route to market, and strategic advisory support.

Danny was born in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Toronto where he graduated from the Schulich School of Business at York University. He relocated to Mission Viejo, California in 1993 where he now resides

Paul Brock has been the winegrower and co-owner of Silver Thread Vineyard in the Finger Lakes since 2011. Paul is driven by his desire to learn about and know how to explain classical and cutting-edge techniques useful to small scale winemaking and vineyard operations. His current interests include developing and practicing biointensive viticultural techniques which reduce synthetic pesticides while focusing on regenerating soil health and balanced vine nutrition to achieve high-quality grapes for wine production.

Paul is an Associate Professor of Viticulture and Wine Technology at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC). He is also a winemaking consultant for The Gotham Project, a company that primarily markets keg wine to New York City restaurants. Before purchasing Silver Thread, he has practiced winemaking in both the Finger Lakes and Marlborough, New Zealand. Paul has an M.S. in Enology and Viticulture from Cornell University and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has earned a wine judge certification from the American Wine Society and a level three Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust of London.

Will Camarda is the Winemaker and Sales Director at Andrew Will Winery. He has been working at the winery for 10+ years.

Jim is the CIO at Elevate responsible for bringing new technology, data, and marketing solutions to our clients. Under his leadership Elevate will expand its capabilities around data, insights and create a proprietary software platform that will make our teams and clients more efficient and effective. In addition, the team will be focused on packaging and ‘productizing’ our offerings to the market. Prior to joining Elevate, Jim was the Co-Founder and CEO of Apollo Program, a software company that provides businesses with powerful intelligence on people to make marketing more informed, accurate, and ultimately more effective that was acquired by Stagwell in July of 2022.

Prior to Apollo, Jim joined Anomaly in June 2016 as their first Chief Product Officer to create a product that harnesses the true power of data to fuel creative advertising. At Anomaly he led the development and productization of their analytics, technology, data, and software strategy. Previously, he served as SVP of Product & Client Strategy at Varick Media, an industry leading media trading desk. He was responsible for guiding the strategy and development of the technology, sales planning, marketing, business development and account management functions.

Jim graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors from Montclair State University, after which he was a founding partner of a startup which developed enterprise social & relationship management software for large, multinational corporations. Upon exiting, he utilized his entrepreneurial experience along with his product knowledge to begin his career developing software and technology products across various verticals, including government compliance, higher education, and most recently digital media and advertising. Previously, Jim was the head of Product Development at Undertone where he led the development for their ad serving and media buying platform. Jim has also founded four startups: MobileTag, a mobile gaming platform, Snapit App, an e-gifting mobile application, Travelyst, a mobile UCG-led trip planner and ATX, an Amazon commerce agency.

Ben-Min Chang is the Research Scientist of Viticulture and Plant Physiology in Summerland Research and Development Centre, British Columbia, Canada. Ben-Min joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Summerland in March 2022. Previously, he received his PhD degree and worked as postdoctoral research associated at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, Washington, USA.

Ben-Min had diverse experiences working in the field of viticulture. Starting with table grape research in subtropical Taiwan in 2008, he studied grape berry splitting and heat stress management in Washington state since 2013. His current research focus on the grapevine stress management. Specifically, he is interested in managing cold, heat, and drought stress of wine grapes in the Okanagan and Similkameen valley.

Janelle Christian is the Director of the Office of Industry and State Outreach at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). In this role, Janelle focuses on communication and outreach for TTB-regulated industry members. Some of her primary efforts include coordinating TTB participation at industry conferences and events; identifying training opportunities for industry members to encourage voluntary compliance with TTB laws, regulations, and requirements; and serving as a liaison with industry members and trade associations.

Janelle joined TTB in 2011 as a Presidential Management Fellow. Prior to her current position, she served as Industry Outreach Program Manager and as Policy Advisor to Headquarters Operations. Janelle received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Oregon State University, a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University, and a law degree from the University of Oregon.

Brianne Cohen is a Los Angeles based event producer, certified sommelier, wine educator, and wine writer. During the pandemic, Brianne educated and entertained over 7,000 people through her “Virtual Vino” online wine classes, regularly highlighting diverse (i.e. Black, BIPOC, female, and LGBT) owned wineries. She now offers both in-person (and virtual) wine tasting experiences for her corporate clients. Brianne regularly judges at international wine competitions, including the International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London and holds the WSET Diploma certificate. She writes about wine on her own website and for outlets such as Decanter, Monarch Wine, Matador, SommTV, Edible, Wine Tourism, and Wine365. She also holds a Master of Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University. Brianne Cohen Wine & Events is a certified woman-owned business with WBENC.

Dr. Collins is an Assistant Professor of Grape and Wine Chemistry in the Viticulture and Enology Program at Washington State University. He manages a research program in wine and spirits aroma and flavor chemistry and teaches course in wine chemistry and winery operations. Tom’s current research focuses on the impacts of wildfire smoke exposure on grape and wine quality.

Prior to joining WSU in 2015, Dr. Collins was the Director of Research for the Food Safety and Measurement Facility at U.C. Davis. He received his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry from U.C. Davis in 2012. He has also served as the President of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture.

The first woman Winemaker-Proprietor in the Napa Valley, Cathy Corison produces three Cabernet Sauvignons, hand-crafted without comprise from benchland vineyards between Rutherford and St. Helena. She makes wines that are both powerful and elegant, speak of time and place and are structured to grace the table and enjoy a long, distinguished life.

A wine appreciation course taken while studying Biology at Pomona College 50 years ago led to a life in wine. A master’s degree in Enology from UC Davis followed. Winemaking gigs included Yverdon, Chappellet, Staglin, York Creek and Long Meadow Ranch. Cathy founded Corison in 1987 and she and her husband, William Martin, built their winery in 1999.

Jonathan Cristaldi is a wine writer and reviewer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the Napa Valley correspondent for Decanter, an authoritative UK-based magazine distributed to over 90 countries, reaching over 2 million subscribers. His articles on wine, spirits, and beer have appeared in local and national print and digital platforms, including Decanter, Food & Wine, Departures; The SOMM Journal; Tasting Panel Magazine; Liquor (dot) com; Seven Fifty Daily; Los Angeles Magazine; LA Mag’s Liquid LA blog; Thrillist (National Edition); Tasting Table (National Edition); Time Out LA; Complex Magazine’s First We Feast blog; Vivino; and Psychology Today. When not writing about wine, Cristaldi works as a scriptwriter on film and documentary projects with award-winning commercial photographer and director Rachid Dahnoun.

Luis Diaz-Garcia received his undergraduate degree in Agronomy from Universidad Autonoma Chapingo, and his master’s degree in Plant Biotechnology from CINVESTAV-LANGEBIO. He then joined the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics Program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and obtained his Ph.D. in 2018.

During his Ph.D., Luis worked in cranberry genetics, genomics, and phenomics, under the supervision of Dr. Juan Zalapa. After graduating from UW Madison, Luis moved to Aguascalientes, Mexico, and occupied a position as lead scientistic at INIFAP, a Mexican agency for research in agriculture, livestock, and forestry. At INIFAP, Luis conducted genetics and genomics research on several crop species including guava, maize, and Capsicum.

Luis joined the Viticulture and Enology Department in Fall 2022 and currently leads the grapevine breeding program at UC Davis. His lab at UC Davis integrates multidisciplinary and high-scalable approaches for guiding grapevine breeding efforts and preventing future difficulties in growing high-quality grapes in the light of climate change. Research and breeding in Luis’ group are based on the needs and priorities of growers, industry, nurseries, food processors, and consumers. His lab heavily relies on industry collaborations and on building relationships with growers to better assess current and future challenges, priorities, and areas of opportunity for grapevine breeding.

Originating from South-Western Australia, Jane Dunkley got her start in the wine industry as a teenager and never looked back. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Wine Science from Charles Sturt University and is a Master of Wine candidate, winning the Commanderie de Bordeaux USA Scholarship for exceptional performance in the Stage 1 exam in 2021. Her quest to craft world-class wine has led her around the globe, with over 2 dozen vintages in 4 different countries. In 2014 she came to California to assist Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon Vineyard, now based in Paso Robles she works for Cakebread Cellars as Winemaker for their new Central Coast project, Bezel.

Steve Fredricks joined Turrentine Brokerage in 1991 as a bulk wine broker. Over the years he has established himself as an expert in the sales of bulk wine and grapes, understanding market cycles, and building long term relationships. Steve is currently managing all Turrentine Brokerage operations and directly responsible for Turrentine’s international relationships and strategic alliances in France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Chile and Argentina.

In addition, he also oversees the publishing of the Turrentine Brokerage Collateral Value Report and The Turrentine Spotlight. Steve is a frequent speaker at several annual wine industry meetings discussing the bulk wine, grape and international markets.

Steve graduated from U.C. Davis in 1988 with an individual major of Wine Production Management and Marketing, combining business and fermentation science. During the weekends, Steve can be found on his road bike or mountain bike climbing the hills of Marin County or in the mountains skiing with his family.

Dr. Amélie Gaudin is Associate Professor and Endowed Chair of Agroecology in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California Davis. She obtained a Ph.D. in Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph (Canada) and worked as an agronomist and crop physiologist at various CGIAR centers to sustainably intensify staple food crop production in smallholder farming systems. She currently leads a dynamic and diverse team of students and postdoctoral researchers to characterize outcomes of regenerative agricultural models that have conservation of natural resources, agrobiodiversity, and ecosystem services as a basis for improvements. She engages communities with the science of agricultural ecology by collaborating with and learning from a diverse group of students, growers, advisors, and policy advocates. Her research integrates concepts and methodologies from various disciplines to measure multifunctional outcomes of ecological intensification and regenerative strategies on soil health, C sequestration and drought resilience. She is also interested in better understanding root system and rhizosphere ecology and their potential to harness improvements in soil health, sequester carbon and decrease crop water and nutrients requirements. More information here: http://gaudin.ucdavis.edu


I got my Ph.D. from the University of Murcia (1992) being the main topic of the doctoral thesis the study of the volatile components of grapes and wines. I did a post-doctoral research stay at Fresno (California, USA) for 16 months, hired by the Agricultural Research Service and California Raisin Advisory Board. The objective was to carry out a research project regarding the presence of trichloroanisoles in raisins.

I returned to Spain and continued working on grapes and wines for three years, focusing the research on their polyphenolic and chromatic characterization (1994-1996). I joined the University of Murcia in 1997, first as an Assistant Professor and later as a Full Professor in the area of Food Technology and from 2007 as a University Professor.

I have participated in more than 25 research projects, with regional, national and European funding, being the Research Leader in 15 of them and almost all of them have been related to the study of different aspects of grapes and wines with a special focus on the studies of phenolic compounds of grapes and wines, the different phenomena associated with them, affecting both to chromatic and gustatory properties (such as the astringency associated with tannins) and the modulation of their concentrations by applying various oenological techniques, such as the use of high power ultrasound.

Due to our large knowledge of wine properties and our experience in technological approaches, I have also led several contracts with different companies. With one of these companies, I have participated in a SME instrument on the Horizont 2020 framework, working in the development of an ultrasound system for wineries and we have been, together with Agrovin S.A., the promoters for the approval of the use of ultrasound in oenology, participating as representatives of the Spanish delegation in the meetings of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) for three years.

Paul is the Manager of Technical, Environmental, and International Affairs and the Redwood Vineyards winemaker for Bronco Wine Company in Ceres, CA. He serves as the Vice Chair for the Wine Institute Technical Advisory Committee and leads its Wine Components Working Group. He also serves as the Co-chair for the Scientific and Technical Committee of FIVS, a wine and spirits trade organization based in Paris, France.

Dr. Mark Krstic is the Managing Director of the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). He has more than 25 years of experience in grape and wine research, development and extension in prior roles within the AWRI, the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, Victorian Government and CSIRO. Mark is also an Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University. He chairs the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference Inc. and is on the Boards of the National Wine Foundation and the South Australian Genomics Centre. Mark is also a past President of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology and graduate of the Wine Industry Future Leaders Program.

Steven Kukesh, Director of Winemaking Research & Development at Delicato Family Wines since 2015, brings over 15 years of research winemaking expertise to the industry. A graduate in Biological Sciences from California State University, Stanislaus, Steven’s commitment to winemaking is reflected in his leadership. Upon joining Delicato, he undertook the task of building the research program from scratch. Since then, he has collaborated with the entire winegrowing team to implement a diverse array of projects spanning processing, ingredients, equipment, and vineyard evaluations, ensuring a comprehensive approach to advancing winemaking practices while prioritizing wine quality. Steven has also introduced a sensory program, both internally and externally, and has spearheaded product development initiatives.

A Chilean with Greek roots, Matías was a Marine officer, Special Forces, and Naval Engineer in Chile for more than seven years when he realized that it was time to change the course of his career. In 2005, he started studying Agricultural Engineering at the University of Chile, where he graduated with distinction and a major in Viticulture and Enology. He worked in Chile for a few years and in 2011 he decided to start traveling the world on a quest to learn new wine-making techniques. After several harvests in Oceania, Europe and Africa, he settled down in France, to do his post degrees at the Universities of Bordeaux and Montpellier. He also performed for two years as a Maître de Chai for one of the oldest and most reputable wineries in Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie.

After years of traveling and over 15 harvests, he came to the United States in 2016 and joined Gård Vintners/Lawrence Vineyards as a Winemaker and Viticulturist, and is currently head winemaker for Gård Vintners, Desert Wind Winery, Valo, and his own label, Massalto. He also consults for 5 wineries in Washington, is a WSU advisor for the Washington Soil Health Initiative and is the Head Viticulturist for Lawrence Vineyards managing over 1500 acres of vineyards across Washington State.

Craig Ledbetter graduated from California State University, Fresno; with a BS in Agriculture Economics. He is the part of the third generation that has joined Vino Farms, LLC, and the fourth generation in California farming.

Craig joined Vino Farms, Inc May 1st, 2006 as Vice President of Sales. While he manages the day-to-day operations of the family and clients 5300 acres of vineyards in Lodi, he also handles all winery relations and grape sales for Lodi and Paso Robles areas. He is part of the G3 generation that operates roughly 16,000 acres of vineyards throughout CA. He is also closely tied to several of Vino Farms large clients which requires him to travel the state.

Rachel Martin: Winemaker and Nonalcoholic Wine Pioneer

Rachel Martin brings over two decades of winemaking experience, beginning with her education at the University of Bordeaux’s School of Enology. She applied her expertise to expand her family’s Boxwood Estate in Virginia, elevating it to international recognition and securing Middleburg’s designation as the state’s seventh AVA.

In 2016, Rachel launched Oceano Wines on California’s San Luis Obispo coast, leveraging the unique climate of the Spanish Springs vineyard to produce wines with a notable freshness and elegance.

Building on her success, Rachel introduced Oceano Zero Pinot Noir last October. This product stands out as the market’s first luxury nonalcoholic wine, distinguished by an innovative method that maintains the complex flavors and aromas of traditional wine, sans alcohol. Rachel’s work with Oceano Zero caters to a growing demand for premium nonalcoholic options, reflecting her pioneering spirit in winemaking.

Michelle is a professor and Statewide Viticulture Extension Specialist for Washington State University. Her extension and research programs focus on proactive approaches to grape growing and decision support for individuals at all stages of grape production, with an emphasis on integrated vineyard management. She is a Senior Editor for Plant Disease, an Associate Editor for the American Journal for Enology and Viticulture and is currently the president of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, and the ASEV Foundation.

Over a career spanning almost 30 years, Kimberlee Nicholls has earned a reputation as one of Napa Valley’s most respected winemakers. With a gifted palate, and three decades of Napa Valley winemaking knowledge and experience, Kim crafts wines of character and complexity from Markham’s 350 acres of certified sustainable estate vineyards in Yountville, Oak Knoll and Calistoga.

From this prized fruit, Kim continues Markham’s unapologetic fascination with Merlot, its flagship varietal, and dedication to exceptional Bordeaux blends. Markham was one of the first wineries in Napa Valley to grow and specialize in Merlot, long recognized for its structure and vineyard-inspired sophistication. Each Markham Merlot, along with its acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, is a nuanced expression of the region’s character and nurtured with respect for yesterday’s successes and a passion for tomorrow’s discoveries.

She spearheaded a shift from “reserve” to estate wines, driving focus on the importance of sourcing and sustainability as major contributors to quality. In the 2000s, Kimberlee initiated a full review of the winery’s packaging and recycling efforts as part of the winery’s commitment to deliverer excellence beyond just the wine inside the bottle. Lightweight glass, USA-manufactured paper, corks and capsules closed the circle in the long-held Markham ethos of respecting the environment to produce better wines. Today, sustainability is woven into the fabric of Markham and considered at every touchpoint, from soil to fruit and cellar to glass.

Kim supports her community including the Napa Valley Vintners Napa Green Land and Napa Green Winery initiatives, and by collaborating with and mentoring her team and fellow female winemakers, especially through the last several seasons of devastating wildfires. She also finds inspiration in her love of pairing great food and wine. An accomplished cook and baker, Kim enjoys hosting small dinner parties for family and friends with the goal of creating wonderful memories that showcase the relationship between lovingly prepared food and artfully made wines.

After earning a degree in biology from Willamette University in 1989, Kim’s fascination with the science of winemaking led her to the lab at Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, where she honed her craft before joining Markham Vineyards in 1993. After four years of hands-on experience in the vineyards and in the winery, she was promoted to associate winemaker in 1997 and then to winemaker in 2001. In the two decades since, Kim’s artistry, innovative spirit and encyclopedic knowledge of winegrowing and winemaking have helped Markham Vineyards to earn countless accolades, and an enduring place as one of Napa Valley’s great wineries. In 2020, Kimberlee celebrated her 29th harvest at Markham Vineyards.

Justin Noland is the Senior Director of DTC Marketing and E-Commerce at Treasury Wine Estates, one of the global leaders in wine. From the start of Justin’s career in wine, he has worked to bring digital transformation to marketing and consumer experiences. He, working with an incredible team, is enabling new technology and building better ways to connect with customers online.

With vast experience in marketing, Justin specializes in a channel-agnostic approach to digital marketing, giving brands the opportunity to deepen their engagement with a consumer, explore new experiences, learn through data, and support the customer towards the purchase path of their choice. He is a marketing leader with a vision to drive positive change in the wine industry and help new generations of wine drinkers engage with brands through digitally native channels.

Researcher in Viticulture, Vine Physiology and Grape Quality at INTA in Argentina (1993-2003) and then at INRAE in France (2003-present). Author of numerous publications at scientific international magazines and interventions in congresses and in scientific and technical meetings. He has been The Director of the Mastery in Viticulture and Enology in Argentine, and his educational activity is wide and varied since it takes parts in international post-degree courses. Vice President of GiESCO (International Group of international Experts of vitivinicultural Systems for Co-Operation). Likewise, he is an international consultant on grapevine irrigation management in different countries.

Devin Parr is a leading personality in the wine industry. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Devin Parr & Associates, a PR, marketing, and content agency in the beverage, travel and tourism space. She holds her Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma as well as a certification in wine expertise from the Apicius International School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy, and a B.A. in political science and economics from UC San Diego. In 2017, she was named one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers.

A passionate storyteller, Devin regularly contributes to wine and lifestyle publications, including VinePair, WineCountry.com, NapaValley.com, Sonoma.com, and The Gourmet Insider, and her own blog on DevinParr.com, where she covers the business of wine. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Vintner Project, and co-founder of online wine community Grapeloop. When she’s not traveling the world in search of memorable wines, she moonlights as an aspiring ninja, pursuing her black belt in Shorin Ryu karate.

Devin is based in Temecula, California with her husband, two sons, and two bossy Shih Tzus. Follow her wine, parenting, and martial arts adventures at @thesocalwinegal.

Ross Patrick, a seasoned creative professional in branding and advertising, launched his career at Nike as a graphic designer. There, he developed a profound affinity for merging artistry with technology within the realm of brand strategy and design.

His journey led him to Capitol Records, where he honed the craft of visual storytelling, collaborating with iconic bands like Radiohead, Foo Fighters, and Paul McCartney. This experience propelled Ross into the big leagues of advertising at Deutsch LA, setting the stage for remarkable adventures with renowned brands like Starbucks, Amazon, and Anheuser-Busch.

Ross transitioned into pioneering cutting-edge social media advertising campaigns, venturing into the innovative world of Artificial Intelligence. He has emerged as a visionary in AI-driven creativity, now sharing his insights as a professor at the Academy of Art University, where he guides emerging creative leaders into the transformative realm of Generative AI. Ross’s legacy is defined by brand transformations, ignited artistic innovation, and the nurturing of tomorrow’s pioneers.

Dan Petroski was born in Brooklyn, NY, and has the swagger and the accent to prove it. After attending Columbia University where he played football, Petroski went to work for TIME magazine. While there, he earned his MBA from. When the Wall Street Journal tried to poach him, Dan took a moment to reflect. He jettisoned to Sicily for a year, where he interned at Valle dell’Acate. While Petroski’s intention was to return to New York to sell wine, a harvest invitation in 2006 brought him to California. After harvest, Petroski was hired as Larkmead’s cellarmaster, ultimately claiming the winemaker title in 2012. Petroski spent nearly 15 years at Larkmead, but during that period he launched a white wine only brand called Massican, an ode to the Mediterranean and Petroski’s time spent living in Italy.

Petroski’s approach and ability to craft wines as diverse as Cabernet Sauvignon and Tocai Friulano earned him the recognition as San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year in 2017 and Food & Wine magazine’s Drinks Innovator of the Year in 2022. In 2023, E. & J. Gallo purchased Massican. Growing and developing Massican to become California’s greatest white wine brand is Petroski’s primary focus now.

Jennifer Purcell is the CEO of Avaline, a wine company founded by Cameron Diaz and Katherine Power that is raising the standard in the industry by making organic wine more accessible. While at the helm, Avaline has grown to the #2 organic wine brand in the country and become the third fastest growing wine brand within the top 200 wine brands nationally.

Before joining Avaline, Jen was CFO of Lumi, a high growth packaging sourcing and management platform serving DTC companies, and VP, Finance & Corporate Strategy at Thrive Market for nearly four years as it grew from $25MM to over $200MM in revenue. Jen also spent time at The Bouqs Company, a DTC floral retailer, and co-founded a startup that focused on educational software used by speech language pathology practitioners and patients. Prior to joining the startup world, Jen spent the early part of her career in transactional finance, including distressed debt and investment banking.

Her pedigree in DTC consumer businesses and finance makes her a strategic, data-driven leader who natively understands the constantly changing digital landscape. Having worked with several great leaders in the past, Jen prides herself on being a strong mentor that seeks to get the best out of her team. Her past experiences working with high growth, distressed, and mature companies has allowed her to understand the strategic decisions that must be made at various stages of a company’s lifecycle.

After many years as head sommelier and consultant for some of the best restaurants in his native Tel-Aviv, Omri decided to cross the lines, and study viticulture and winemaking in France and Spain. Working in wineries in Spain, Israel and New-Zealand, Omri finally joined the Guinaudeau family in 2013 and started working at the two family estates: Château Lafleur and Château Grand Village.

Today Omri is a part of a very small and skillful team who manages simultaneously the viticulture, winemaking and even the distribution for both properties.

Karen Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 9, 2019, by Governor Gavin Newsom. In re-appointing Secretary Ross, Governor Newsom cited her unmatched leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California, in areas including environmental stewardship, climate change adaptation, and trade. Secretary Ross was initially appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2011.

Before joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Prior to that appointment, she served as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996- 2009, and as Vice-President of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996. Her prior experience before moving to California included staff work for a United States Senator, a presidential candidate, and government relations for rural electric cooperatives and public power districts.

Secretary Ross is passionate about fostering the reconnection of consumers to the land and the people who produce their food, and to improving the access of all California citizens to healthy, nutritious California-grown agricultural products, celebrated for their diversity and abundance in serving local, national and global markets.

During Secretary Ross’ tenure, the Department has focused on core functions to protect and promote California agriculture, investing in the Department’s employees to provide the best service to farmers, ranchers and consumers and fostering an agricultural industry that embraces its role as a global leader on everything from the most technical aspects of farming to the broadest environmental imperatives.

Secretary Ross has strengthened partnerships across government, academia and the non- profit sector in the drive to maintain and improve environmental stewardship and to develop adaptation strategies for the specific impacts of climate change. She has initiated programs to provide greater opportunities for farmers and ranchers to engage in sustainable environmental stewardship practices through water conservation, energy efficiency, nutrient management, and ecosystem services; and she has worked to provide greater access to farm-fresh foods at school cafeterias through CDFA’s Farm to Fork Program.

Secretary Ross grew up as a 4-H kid on a farm in western Nebraska. She owns 800 acres of the family farm where her recently retired younger brother, a fourth-generation farmer, is mentoring a new, beginning farmer in growing no-till wheat and feed grains, incorporating cover crops and rotational grazing for beef production. The Secretary has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a graduate of the Nebraska Ag Leadership Program. She has served on numerous boards and committees in California agriculture and with various academic institutions.

Emily Saladino is a journalist and recipe developer based in New York. Previously the Culinary Editor at Food Network, Editor in Chief of VinePair, and Managing Editor of Wine Enthusiast, she currently works as a Writer at Large for Wine Enthusiast. She reviews wines from Georgia, Greece, and Hungary for Wine Enthusiast, and contributes to The Washington Post, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, BBC, and many others. She also tests and develops recipes for cookbooks and brands. A graduate of French Culinary Institute, she is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and Circle of Wine Writers.

Reed has been a CPA for more than 30 years and is a Managing Director with alliantgroup for the past 18 years. Reed is a national practice leader with alliantgroup’s agriculture, software, and manufacturing. Reed has worked with hundreds of small to mid-sized businesses in the area of the Employee Retention Credit and Research & Development Tax Credits.

Gustavo Sotelo is the Director of Winemaking for Scribe Winery in Sonoma, California. During his 8-year tenure at Scribe, Sotelo has worked on expanding the winemaking program, improving quality, brand development, and developing innovative wine styles and bottling formats for all brands under his purview.

Sotelo joined the wine industry in 2010 after an initial career in New York with a focus in Finance and Business Development. Originally from Mexico City, Sotelo has worked at Treasury Wine Estates – USA, Mumm Napa, and White Rock Vineyards.

Sotelo obtained a degree from the University of California, Davis Viticulture & Enology program. Upon graduating Sotelo followed his interest in Iberian wine and travelled to Spain to work at the prestigious Bodegas Mauro in the Ribera del Duero. Upon his return to California, Sotelo joined the Scribe. production team as their first Assistant Winemaker. Within a few short years, Sotelo took over the helm of the wine program and transformed it into one of the most innovative one’s in California.

In 2019, Sotelo and his wife founded their own project Orixe Sotelo, focused on Spanish grape varieties grown in California. Sotelo’s goal is to provide more diversity to California wines and import Spanish varieties non-existent in California.

Mireia was born and raised in Catalunya, in the northeastern part of Spain. Her interest in wine started at a very young age. Growing up in Spain, wine is considered a food and was part of almost every meal. Mireia knew from a young age that she wanted to learn more about wine.

Mireia graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Barcelona, and then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Enology at the University of Rovira and Virgili. When she was in her last year of studies, she came to California as an intern for a harvest season, which is where she met her wife, Tara Gomez. When that harvest finished, Mireia went back to Spain. In 2008, she accepted a harvest position at Castell d’Encus, a start-up winery in the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain. She quickly earned a winemaker position and worked there until 2014. While working at Castell d’Encus, Mireia went back to school to earn her Masters in Enology, Viticulture, and Marketing of Wine. Meanwhile her relationship with Tara grew and they traveled the world and visited all the wine regions together. In 2014, Mireia moved to California and began working as a wine broker and wine consultant.

In 2017, she started Camins 2 Dreams, a new adventure with her wife, Tara Gomez, making hand-crafted, terroir-driven wines that are fermented with natural yeast and use minimal intervention in the winery, and sourcing from organic, biodynamic and regenerative farmed vineyards that share the same values of respect for the land and their workers.

Mireia serves on the board of directors for the Sta Rita Hills Wine Alliance since 2019.

Dr. Oliver Trapp is the grapevine breeder at the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI), the Federal Research Center for Cultivated Plants in Germany. He studied biology with a focus on molecular biology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and received his PhD in 2013 in the group of Prof. Holger Puchta. Since 2016, he works as grapevine breeder at the Institute for Grapevine Breeding at the JKI and since 2021 he is Deputy Head of the Institute. His work focuses on breeding new grapevine varieties adapted to climate change with high levels of resistance against grapevine pathogens and high wine quality.

As Vice President of Global Winemaking and Sourcing at WX Brands, Linda Trotta oversees a nine-member winemaking team, positioned globally and in California, collectively sourcing grapes and wine from 14 countries to produce over 3 million cases annually.

In her 38-year wine industry career, Linda has made wine in Napa and Sonoma, as well as in Washington state, Chile, and South Africa; and has forged a path as an inspiring and impactful leader. Her introduction to wine came at a young age, making wine in her grandparents’ garage and sipping at the dinner table. Upon earning her degree in Fermentation Science from UC Davis, Linda’s path took her through the winery cellar, lab and vineyards to positions of increasing winemaking responsibility. Along that path she leaves a trail of superb wines of balance, substance and distinction. Being named the North Bay Business Journal’s 2018 Napa Valley Winemaker of the Year is just one of the many accolades Linda has received over her career.

With a deep sense of gratitude for the mentoring and support she has received over the years; Linda believes very strongly in paying it forward. The industry organizations with which she has held leadership positions include Women for WineSense, Wine Women, and the Washington Wine Technical Group. She currently serves on the board of directors for the start-up business BarrelWise.

And the journey continues.

Nicole Walsh, Director of Winemaking, WarRoom Cellars
Owner, Winemaker of Ser Winery

Winemaking, grower relations and vineyard management with 25 years’ experience including California, New Zealand and Michigan. Most notably worked closely with Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard of Santa Cruz, CA for 20 years. B.S. Horticulture with emphasis in Viticulture & Enology from Michigan State University.