Meet tom at the Big tasting on  january 20

Meet tom at the Big tasting on january 20

Tom Gannon

After moving to New York City to write plays, Tom started work as a bartender. Figuring he might be behind the bar awhile, he began taking wine classes out of a desire to match his knowledge with the incredible wines he was tasting as the head bartender at Fleur de Sel. Wine classes through the American Sommelier Association led to his first sommelier job at Rothmann’s Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan in early 2002. After nine incredible years, he left Rothmann’s in the summer of 2011 to work for the Spire Collection. Now living in both Nashville and NYC he covers Tennessee as well as the Northeast Region with an emphasis on Boston, Portsmouth and New York City. He holds the Advanced Certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers, is a guest sommelier for the Nantucket Wine Festival and occasionally for special events at a private Italian gun club in NYC, Tiro a Segno.

Meet Tom at the Big Tasting on January 20

 Meet Geoff at the grand vintner's dinner on  February 4

Meet Geoff at the grand vintner's dinner on February 4

Geoff Whitman

After graduating from Dover High School in NH, Geoff, moved to Boston to continue his education where his passion for wine was born. He paid his way through college by working in various positions at some of the city’s most exciting restaurants. In 1994, he moved to Santa Barbara, California to explore wine on a deeper level.

Geoff had a strong desire to learn about making wine and gaining firsthand experience in a vineyard.  After taking on a management position at Wine Cask, a fine-dining, wine-centric restaurant the day after he arrived in California, he began to get involved in wine production. A winemaker himself, the owner of Wine Cask had introduced him to some notable local wineries, including Au Bon Climat and Qupé, where Geoff had his first opportunity to work the harvest and in the cellar.

After five years in Santa Barbara, Geoff entered into the distribution side of the business, joining Southern Wine & Spirits as a fine wine salesperson in Beverly Hills and Hollywood. This experience led him to Robert Mondavi Corporation in 2001, where he held key sales positions, first in Los Angeles and later in the southwest.

In October 2007, Geoff joined his friends Rob. Jr. & Lydia Mondavi as managing partner & assistant winemaker for their brands Spellbound and Medusa.  Geoff and his wife, Jemina, relocated to Napa, where Geoff could immerse himself in the vineyards and winery, working alongside winemaker Rob Mondavi, Jr.  Two years later, Michael Mondavi asked Geoff to take on the additional role of general manager for his Michael Mondavi Family Estate, calling on Geoff’s winemaking and production skills, along with his expertise in fine wine sales and marketing. Geoff joined John Anthony Family Wines in 2015.

Meet Geoff Whitman at the Grand Vintner's Dinner on February 4

 meet clement at the Grand Vintner's Dinner on  February 10

meet clement at the Grand Vintner's Dinner on February 10

Clement Calleja

Clement Calleja is a native of Alsace in France where he first developed his passion for wines and gastronomy. 

He holds a Master's degree in Management from Reims Management School with a major in Wine and Champagne Marketing. These four years spent in the Champagne region helped him develop a strong interest and knowledge for the wines of Champagne and truly understand their history, terroir and specificities.

Clement is passionate about the industry and has worked with different Champagne Houses in France and in the US. He joined Billecart-Salmon as a Brand Ambasador in 2013.

Clement lives in New York City and travels through the East Coast, Midwest and South of the United States. 

Meet Clement at the Grand Vintner's Dinner on February 10

 Meet randy at the Grand Vintner's Dinner on  February 18

Meet randy at the Grand Vintner's Dinner on February 18

Randy Ullom

Randy Ullom is well aware of the responsibility he has as Winemaster for Kendall-Jackson. “It’s a challenging job,” he says. “Fifteen years ago, I only dreamed I’d someday be the head winemaker for one of America’s most successful wineries.”

A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ullom became interested in wine during a three-year stay in Chile, while on sabbatical from college in the early 1970s. His stay inspired a cross-country trek through Chile’s vast wine-growing regions. It was an education in various climates and soils that has proved invaluable throughout Ullom’s winemaking career. On his return to the United States, Ullom entered Ohio State University to study Viticulture and Enology. He received his degree in 1975.

After six years as a vineyard manager and winemaker in Ohio and upstate New York, Ullom moved to California to become associate winemaker at De Loach Vineyards in Sonoma County. He was promoted to winemaker and vice president in 1991, and contributed to the winery’s meteoric growth from 10,000 to 120,000 cases. Ullom also spearheaded the development of De Loach’s reserve wines and vineyard-designated Zinfandels. The wines he produced during his tenure were consistent gold medal winners at wine competitions.

In 1993, Ullom was hired by Jess Jackson to be the winemaker at Camelot Vineyards. That same year, Jackson gave him the additional responsibility of heading up a new Chilean operation as founding winemaker and general manager of Viña Calina. In 1996, Ullom helped Jackson establish wine production in Argentina with the Tapiz label. Ullom now has the distinction of being one of the few winemakers in the world to work two harvests a year … in two different hemispheres.

In March of 1997, Ullom was handed his most prestigious assignment yet – Winemaster for Kendall-Jackson Winery. In 2006, he also became the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Ullom’s unusual title “Winemaster” reflects his intimate involvement in the intricacies of the viticultural and winemaking programs of Kendall-Jackson. Ullom’s impressive organizational and leadership skills, combined with exceptional winemaking talent, influence every wine Kendall-Jackson crafts, from grape to glass.

“Sometimes,” he says, “I look at all of the vineyards we own, and all of the individual lots of wines that we make, and the thousands of barrels we have sitting in our cellar and I think, You gotta be kidding me. Despite the scale of our winemaking programs, I do what any decent winemaker does: I just take off my coat, dig in my heels and take it one barrel at a time.”


Meet Randy at the Grand Vintner's Dinner on February 18

Mel MasterPicJPG1.png

Mel Master

Mel is from England but is now a US citizen. He has been in the wine business ever since leaving school. He met his wife, Janie, when they were 12 and 13 (she played the piano and he played the guitar!) and as they grew up together they shared a passion for food and wine. They married at 19 and 20. The couple left England for France in 1970 and started a company called Master Wines. They begun selling little known French wines in the USA. Mel was a pioneer in bringing great wine values to the USA and the UK from France.

IN addition to promoting small estates from the South of France and pioneering the wines from the Rhone Valley, Mel was also the person who first introduced and promoted the wines of Georges Duboeuf in the USA. While living in France in the 1970's, Mel co-authored the first major work on the wines of the Cotes du Rhone. Mel became one of the foremost authorities on the wines from the Rhone and Southern France. In 1980 Mel and Janie left France and opened the new Jordan winery in Sonoma County, California. After their success at Jordan the couple moved to New York and teamed up with friend Jonathan Waxman (who was the first chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California) and opened Jams (Jonathan and Melvyn's).  It was one of the hottest and most successful restaurants in New York in the 1980's and teh first Californian style restaurant. In 1989, after selling Jams, the couple introduced a line of varietal wines from the Languedoc under the label Les Jamelles (Janie and Mel). He was the first to start sourcing and selling single varietal wines from France. After building it into a 75,000 case line, he sold Les Jamelles in early 1996 and two years later began Tortoise Creek wines from California and Tiamo wines from Italy.

In early 1995 Mel, Janie, and their son Charles opened Mel's Bar and Grill in Denver. Mel's was named one of the top 25 new restaurants in the USA by Esquire Magazine, featured in a 5 page article in the February 1998 edition of Food and Wine Magazine and was also acclaimed in Gourmet, Bon Appetite and other national publications. In 2006 Mel and Janie were awarded the coveted Silver Spoon award from Food Arts Magazine for services to the wine and food industry. Mel's closed in 2008 and Mel once again returned to the wine business.

Master Wines, which is now run by Mel and his son Charlie, owns the Tortoise Creek and Tiamo wine brands as well as their newest wine lines from France called Le Charmel (Charlie and Mel!), Mont Gravet, and Exem Bordeaux.

Meet Mel at the Grand Vintner's Dinner on February 11


 Taste CHef Lingle's culinary creations  throughout the festival

Taste CHef Lingle's culinary creations throughout the festival

Chef Ken Lingle

Executive Chef Ken Lingle started cooking professionally over twenty years ago but his culinary passions started while still a child. Growing up on the coast of Maine where he learned to appreciate the bounty of the sea, Ken’s initial love for food was sparked. At the top of his class at the Culinary Institute of America, he followed this love of the sea to apprenticeships at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Hawaii and Caneel Bay in the Virgin Islands.
After graduation Ken had visions of heading west, but the east benefitted with his choice of the famed Woodstock Inn and Resort in Vermont. Garde Manger Chef, Banquet Tournant, and Sous Chef were the roles he assumed during his four-year stay there. Looking for a change, he moved to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa, a five-star luxury resort on 2,000 wooded acres in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania. Here he cooked for such celebrities as Joe Piscipo, Lynn Swan, President George Bush, and Wolfgang Puck.
After Nemacolin, Ken brought his talents to The Sagamore, a Victorian era resort located on a private island on Lake George in the Adirondack region of New York. Following his tenure at The Sagamore, Ken moved to Assistant General Manager and Executive Chef at the four-diamond Inn at Erlowest, a magnificent turn-of-the-century Queen Anne stone castle on Lake George, New York. 
Ken’s current position at the helm of the historic Wentworth by the Sea Hotel returns him to his early love, the seashore and its abundance of great, fresh local seafood.


Taste Chef Lingle's culinary creations throughout the Festival

Michele Duval

Michele Duval is an independent consultant with expertise in business development, special events, fundraising, and community outreach planning. She gained her experience first as a nationally recognized chef and successful restaurateur. She was the first female chef from Maine invited to the James Beard House, and has been honored with many awards including the American Culinary Federation Chef of the Year and the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.

After more than 25 years as a chef, she turned her enthusiasm for wine and spirits into her second career. She was hired at the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel when it reopened in 2003 becoming the wine director and starting the Winter Wine Festival the following year. Michele's passion for the industry has brought her to tour extensively in many of the world's great vineyards and to befriend vintners from all over. She passed the Master Sommelier Level 1 exam and received Advanced Spirits Certification.

Meet Michele at all Grand Vintner's Dinners, Big Tastings, and Shell-Shocked events