Resiliency 2020: Learnings from the Dual Influences of COVID & Fire
Winemaking Breakout Session

Winemaking in 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult vintages in recent memory. Between the arrival of COVID and the fires/smoke incidents that much of the West Coast of America experienced, vintners were required to devise contingency plans for which there had never been a precedent.

This session will discuss the many facets involved protections around COVID alongside the urgency and danger of the forest fires, not only during harvest but also in daily wine operations, from the laboratory to the cellar. We’ll also delve into the silver linings: new efficiencies, technologies and communication capabilities that surprised us, and how vintners continued to foster the ever-important human element of winemaking.

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Gilian Handelman
Jackson Family Wines, California

With a career that began as a Sommelier in the Finger Lakes region of New York in 1987, Gilian Handelman moved in 1988 to production, working seven harvests in Washington State and California at Columbia and Kendall-Jackson wineries, among others. In 1996, she transitioned to a relatively new industry position, where she was tapped to create a National education program for Kendall-Jackson. During the next four years, she built a renowned platform of seminars, materials and outreach for trade and consumers alike.

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Chris Carpenter
Cardinale Winery, California

Chris Carpenter is winemaker for many of Napa Valley’s most prestigious wineries, including Cardinale, Lokoya, La Jota Vineyard Co., Mt. Brave, Caladan, and Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard in South Australia’s McLaren Vale. Over the past two decades, Chris has earned a reputation for taming Napa Valley’s mountain tannins and creating legendary Cabernet Sauvignon. He works closely with the vineyard team to nurture and then manifest the unique character of each vineyard block in elegant wines with great depth, mountain character and historic pedigree.


Melissa Stackhouse
Simi Winery, California

A native of Michigan, Melissa Stackhouse discovered winemaking while living in Bellingham, WA in 1994. While wine tasting one day on Lopez Island, she discovered that a person could go to school to learn how to make wine. It was an ah hah moment that led her to the Napa Valley and a degree in Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis.


Tyler Thomas
Star Lane and Dierberg Vineyard, California

Tyler started editing a standard bio the company has frequently used. After 10 minutes of trying to cut down the long form standard biographical drivel, he gave up and started this memo. Besides, hasn’t the pandemic encouraged us to consider what people really care about? 


Nate Weis
Silver Oak & Twomey Cellars, California

A Napa Valley native whose father is also a winemaker, Nate grew up with wine on the table and a drawer full of t‐shirts emblazoned with winery logos. His first job after graduating with honors from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Biopsychology was as a “cellar rat” at Groth Vineyards & Winery. “I loved that first harvest, so I packed my bags, dropped my application for UC Davis in the mail and went off to Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand to work another.”

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