Wine Hosts


Your Wine Expert

One of the most wonderful aspects of our Celebration of Wine River Cruises is the opportunity to sail with an experienced wine expert. Their refined palates will allow your clients to swirl their glass and discover the unique notes of each varietal they sip, gain pairing recommendations and get answers to their questions about viticulture and more. Our Wine Hosts proudly bring bottles from either their winery or their favorite winery to conduct tastings and stimulate discussions on board. Most often sailing with members of their wine club, these hosts focus on highlighting the growing conditions and production techniques that create the unique characteristics of their wines as well as the differences between their bottles and those of the Old-World regions we sail through.

Impressions of the Seine & ParisApr 1, 2023
David Akiyoshi
Director of Winemaking for LangeTwins Winery

David Akiyoshi followed his father’s path to become a second-generation winemaker. His father worked as a Lab Researcher in the UC Davis Enology Department for 25 years and then he worked for Gallo Winery until he retired. David attended UC Davis originally as an engineering student, but after taking a winemaking course, he changed to major in Enology and studied the academic theory of winemaking. After graduating in 1981, he was hired by Robert Mondavi Woodbridge to eventually become the Director of Winemaking. Working with the Mondavi family and their talented winemakers, he was able to experience the world’s winemaking regions where he developed his own artistic mastery of winemaking. In the simplest of terms, his winemaking respects the variety, the vineyard and the vintage. He currently works and lives in Lodi, CA as the Director of Winemaking for LangeTwins Winery and makes eponymous wines for Naked Wines.

Melodies of the DanubeApr 1, 2023
Nancy Bailey & Theresa Heredia
General Manager & Winemaker, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, Healdsburg, CA

Born in Syracuse, New York, Nancy Bailey spent a good portion of her school years overseas in England. Her interest in food and wine was sparked by family travels abroad. After attending Hamilton College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government and The Fletcher School at Tufts University earning a Master of Arts degree in international relations, Nancy ventured to California where she discovered a true passion for wine country living. She lent her many marketing talents to well-known brands as Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery, Champagne Perrier Jouët, and Kendall-Jackson. Her creativity and communication acumen placed her in high demand when she went on to work as a freelance marketing consultant for a number of Sonoma County wineries. Before accepting her current role at Gary Farrell in 2011, Nancy was General Manager of Wine Creek LLC (Quivira Vineyards & Winery, La Follette Wines and Torbreck Vintners) for 4 years.

Theresa Heredia joined Gary Farrell Winery team as winemaker in 2012. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, before becoming a Ph.D candidate in chemistry with an emphasis in enology at UC Davis. She left the program to follow her calling as a hands-on winemaker. Coming off a long stint as winemaker at Freestone Vineyards in Sonoma County, Heredia brings considerable experience working with cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and small-lot, single-vineyard wines. During her tenure at Freestone, Heredia’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brought the Joseph Phelps-owned winery significant critical acclaim. In early 2012 she was named “Winemaker to Watch” by the San Francisco Chronicle, reflecting her interest in wines that offer a pure expression of their vineyard site and her willingness to experiment with different winemaking techniques.

Taste of BordeauxApr 6, 2023
Family owned Robert Young Estate Winery, Alexander Valley, CA.
For over 165 years, the Young family have lived on and farmed their ranch in Sonoma County, becoming one of the largest family-owned growers of premium wines in Alexander Valley. Since 1997, the family have offered small lot Estate wines under the Robert Young name – big, lush Chardonnays, sublime Bordeaux Blends and powerful 100% Cabernet Sauvignons. Today, visitors to our winery in Alexander Valley are welcomed as members of the extended family and invited to experience the beauty of the vineyard ranch and the wines inspired by Robert Young. Join us as we explore the beauty of Bordeaux on this magical cruise beginning April 6, 2023.
Impressions of the Seine & Paris ‒ European Wine ImmersionApr 8, 2023
Helene Teboul
European Wine Expert
Helene was born in Marseille, France in the Provence Wine Region, well-known for its whites and rosés. As part of the French way of life, she describes falling into a glass of wine the same way Obelix fell into the Druid’s cauldron of magic potion when he was six years old. Under its spell, Helene went on to meet the owners and families of Bordeaux vineyards, and developed a strong passion for the harmony between food and wine. On a hot summer day, Helene recommends a cold Rose from Provence served with pasta or pizza. In autumn, she prefers a Red Bordeaux wine from the Medoc Region paired with her mother’s roast lamb. And to celebrate the holidays, a Sauternes wine to complement foie gras. She looks forward to sharing her passion for French wines with you!
Europe's Rivers & CastlesApr 11, 2023
Paul Wagner
American Wine Society

Paul Wagner, Wine Instructor, Napa Valley College Renowned Wine Expert and Author Paul Wagner, wine expert extraordinaire, has been an instructor for Napa Valley College’s Viticulture & Enology department for the past 17 years, is a regular columnist for Vineyards & Winery Management Magazine and is the president of Balzac Communications & Marketing.

Taste of BordeauxJun 1, 2023
John Bargetto
John Bargetto is part of the fourth generation Bargetto winemakers, which has been involved with winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains (SCM) since 1889. While in college, he decided to dedicate his life to winemaking. In 1984 he graduated from U.C. Davis with a degree in Enology and a minor in history. Thereafter, John took over the reins as winemaker at Bargetto Winery. Knowing the winery would benefit from some marketing, John returned to graduate school and earned an MBA from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. In 1991, John established the Regan Vineyards estate in the SCM. This cool climate vineyard is one of the largest and the most diverse vineyards in the SCM, most importantly, featuring cool-climate Pinot Noir. Today, two of John’s three adult children have graduated in enology at the university level and he hopes someday they will join him in the family business.
Taste of BordeauxJun 15, 2023
Anthony & Suzanne Truchard
Wine Educator & General Manager for Truchard Vineyards
Anthony, whose great-grandfather emigrated from France to the United States in the late 1800s, has always been proud of his French ancestry and is delighted to host this wine cruise through Bordeaux. Ever since he can remember, he has been working either in the vineyards or in the cellar at their Napa Valley vineyards. Whether pruning vines or racking wines, Anthony has experienced every aspect of winemaking from grape to bottle. He has traveled extensively through Bordeaux and the great wine regions of France to learn about French vineyards and winemaking techniques. Anthony pursued a career in law but always kept one foot in the wine business, whether as a consultant for restaurant wine programs or working weekends in a Manhattan wine shop. Anthony returned to Napa in 2005 to head the family’s winery. Join he and his wife Suzanne Marie Besu Truchard on this journey through Bordeaux.
Enticing DouroJul 1, 2023
Chris James
Owner, Chris James Cellars
Chris James Cellars is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery that produces unique and interesting wines in Carlton, Oregon. The vineyard was planted in 2012, with additional blocks planted in each year since. In 2015, the vineyard produced its first lots of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc and has since expanded its wine selection to offer handcrafted lots of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Dolcetto, Lagrein and more. Wine Host, Chris Barnes is an engineer who has worked in the technology sector for over 20 years. After taking classes in winemaking, He was able to fulfill his dream of winemaking with his first vintage of just 200 cases as Chris James Cellars in 2015 with the first grapes from their vineyard. Chris has become a fantastic winemaker receiving a variety of awards on his wines and in spring 2022, Chris James Cellars was named Oregon Winery of the year by Great Northwest Wine Magazine.
Impressions of the Seine & Paris ‒ European Wine ImmersionJul 1, 2023
Wine Host TBA
Join us aboard one of our unique Wine Cruises through Europe. You will have the choice to join special tours that are designed to bring Europe’s rich wine heritage to life and, what’s more, a dedicated wine expert will be on board to lead tastings and suggest pairings with our award-winning cuisine.
Europe's Rivers & CastlesJul 4, 2023
Mike & Linda McWilliams
Owners, San Pasqual Winery, La Mesa, CA
You wine hosts for our cruise are Linda and Mike McWilliams, owners of San Pasqual Winery located in La Mesa California, near San Diego. Linda is executive winemaker, holding the Certificate of Winemaking from the University of California, Davis, and Mike serves as manager of business operations. Linda is past president of the San Diego Vintners Association and Director for the Wine Institute representing Southern California. Since purchasing the winery in 2009, they have grown to three locations, including a bayfront tasting room at San Diego’s Seaport Village. Annual production at their La Mesa WineWorks facility is about four thousand cases, including their signature passionfruit wines. Their wines are consistent award winners in state and international competitions. As an urban winery, they source grapes from local vineyards and renowned growing regions throughout California. Linda and Mike look forward to sharing their passion for wine with you on this fantastic cruise.
Essence of Burgundy & ProvenceJul 6, 2023
Larry & Margie Dino
Proprietors, Cuda Ridge Wines, Livermore, CA
Larry and Margie Dino, the proprietors of Cuda Ridge Wines, have a passion for fine wines which led them to the Livermore Valley – a world-class wine region with wine roots dating back to the mid-1800’s. Over the years, they were inspired to learn more about the craft and traditions of making wine and founded Cuda Ridge in 2007 with a vision for producing premium wines. Small lot, handcrafted, Bordeaux style wines that bring out the wonderful terroir of Livermore Valley are their specialty. Since then each vintage has won many prestigious awards including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Orange County Fair, and Sunset International Wine Competition. Unique old-world style wines welcome you in each glass from Cuda Ridge.
Taste of BordeauxJul 6, 2023
Dr. Richard Becker
Owner of Becker Vineyards
Becker Vineyards was founded by Dr. Richard Becker, a physician in San Antonio, and his wife Bunny. Established in 1992, Becker is one of the original four wineries in Fredericksburg and today they are among the best known and highly respected brands in the state of Texas. Becker Vineyards’ wine has been served in the stateliest of settings, including seven times in the White House, the James Beard Foundation in New York, the Texas Governor’s Mansion and many other famous restaurants in Texas and the United States.
Rhine & Moselle SplendorsJul 11, 2023
Chik & Polly Brenneman
Winemakers, Baker Family Wines
Chik and Polly Brenneman are the winemakers and managing partners for Baker Family Wines in West Sacramento, California. Baker Family Wines gets its name from fellow owner and partner, Dusty Baker, who celebrates over 50 years in major league baseball as a player, coach, and manager. Baker Family Wines is a small urban based craft winery that produces about 1,200 cases per year. The winery produces small lot wines from varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Barbera, Sangiovese. Chik and Polly have been making wine together for over 25 years in both amateur and commercial settings. Polly is a retired Clinical Laboratory Scientist and Chik managed the Teaching and Research Winery at the world-renowned UC Davis School of Viticulture and Enology, where he taught winemaking courses there and also in France. He retired from UC Davis in 2019. In his ‘spare’ time, he has been a contributing columnist, for the last 15 years, for WineMaker’s Magazine. The duo also lead the local chapter of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine, an international wine brotherhood whose mission is to promote the wine industry and educate our members to the benefits and enjoyment of wine.
Medieval TreasuresJul 18, 2023
Chik & Polly Brenneman
Winemakers, Baker Family Wines
Chik and Polly Brenneman are the winemakers and managing partners for Baker Family Wines in West Sacramento, California. Baker Family Wines gets its name from fellow owner and partner, Dusty Baker, who celebrates over 50 years in major league baseball as a player, coach, and manager. Baker Family Wines is a small urban based craft winery that produces about 1,200 cases per year. The winery produces small lot wines from varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Barbera, Sangiovese. Chik and Polly have been making wine together for over 25 years in both amateur and commercial settings. Polly is a retired Clinical Laboratory Scientist and Chik managed the Teaching and Research Winery at the world-renowned UC Davis School of Viticulture and Enology, where he taught winemaking courses there and also in France. He retired from UC Davis in 2019. In his ‘spare’ time, he has been a contributing columnist, for the last 15 years, for WineMaker’s Magazine. The duo also lead the local chapter of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine, an international wine brotherhood whose mission is to promote the wine industry and educate our members to the benefits and enjoyment of wine.
Colors of ProvenceJul 20, 2023
Charles McKahn
Winemaker, Owner of McKahn Family Cellars
Winemaker Charles is the first in his family to become a winemaker. He chose the wine life as a young 15-year-old when none of his classmates were discussing the wine industry as a career. He graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with an Enology degree in 2011 and immediately found a job in St. Helena, Napa Valley with the prestigious Chappellet Winery. After working his way up to Assistant Winemaker over the course of 5 years, at the young age of 26 he became the Winemaker at William Harrison Winery in Rutherford, Napa Valley. His dream was to always have his own wine brand and with the help of his family, he realized that dream in 2014
Colors of Provence ‒ European Wine ImmersionJul 27, 2023
James King
Sommelier, Wine educator
Sommelier James King is a wine educator who offers custom wine experiences for people to enjoy and learn about wine. Whether a wine tasting, an event, group tour or developing a wine list for a restaurant, James specifically designs each for the customer, with wines, food, location and package selected with their palate and budget in mind. James can also consult with you about almost anything related to wine.
Impressions of the Seine & ParisJul 29, 2023
L. Paul Vezzetti II
Co-Owner & Winemaker, The Vineyard at Hershey, Middletown, PA

Carving out a niche for signature white wines in an unconventional wine region can be tough, but Mr. Vezzetti has done just that. His wine philosophy revolves around handcrafting approachable vintages that focus on aromatics and balance. Since opening, The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey has been committed to experiential interactions with wine, and more recently, craft beer and cider. Every sip is an opportunity to discover whats new, and rediscover some of the long-lost favorites, and underneath that experience, a knowledgeable and trusted guide to take you on the journey. An added bonus, Mr. Vezzetti is an experienced chef, having made numerous guest appearances at local establishments for one-time-only wine pairings.
Enticing DouroJul 29, 2023
Mick Schroeter
Winemaking Director, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, Windsor, CA

Winemaking is often a trade passed down from generation to generation, and Mick Schroeter is no exception. Following in his father and uncle’s footsteps, Mick joined the family business at the Penfold Winery in 1982. With his love and passion for winemaking, he rose rapidly within the Penfold Winery, and later accepted a position as Vice President of Winemaking at Geyser Peak Winery in California where he remained for 17 years. His long track record of success and illustrious career in Australia and California, along with twice being named “Winemaker of the Year” at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, have given Mick the knowledge and experience to take the reins as Winemaking Director at Sonoma-Cutrer.
Flavors of Portugal & SpainAug 1, 2023
Michael Lewellen
Managing Partner at Lucas & Lewellen Winery, Solvang, CA
Founded by retired Judge Royce Lewellen, and long-time grape grower Louis Lucas in 1996, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards has been producing fine grapes and wine for many years. Royce’s son Mike Lewellen became a minority owner of the company in 1999 and joined the company full-time in 2009 to help manage the operation as it grows into the future. As Managing Partner, Mike carries out business planning and analysis and works with all departments at the winery; Marketing & Sales, Finance, the Tasting Rooms, and of course the Winery. Prior to Lucas and Lewellen, Mike worked for over 16 years in the multi-channel retail business. Working at different times as Marketing Director, Circulation Manager and Inventory Planner, he gained valuable experience that he has applied toward the wine business. Mike was raised in Solvang, California near the vineyards, has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado, a Professional Designation in Business Management from UCLA, and has furthered his wine education through programs at U.C. Davis.
Taste of BordeauxAug 3, 2023
Rich Olsen-Harbich
Winemaker, Bedell Cellars
Bedell Cellars is an esteemed family-owned estate winery in the North Fork of Long Island AVA. The winery was founded in 1980 by Kip and Susan Bedell and was purchased by the current owners, The Lynne family, in 2000. We are dedicated to quality and creativity in everything we do. With a commitment to sustainable farming, we have hand-crafted our wines in small batches for over forty years using methods that define the regional style — artistically blending grapes grown in our unique maritime terroir. Winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich is a veritable pioneer of winemaking on Long Island. Over the past 40 years this accomplished winemaker has crafted award-winning and highly regarded wines. Join Rich Olsen-Harbich on this special wine cruise along the waterways of Bordeaux.
Rhine & Moselle Splendors ‒ European Wine ImmersionAug 8, 2023
Mike & Mary Ward
Owners, WOW Promotions & Ward on Wine

Mike & Mary Ward own WOW Productions as well as Ward on Wine, a wine education and consulting company. Mike Ward is a Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Spirits, Certified Wine Educator and has successfully completed the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level 2 Intermediate exam. Mike completed certification at the Napa Valley Wine Educators Academy. His passion and expertise have led him to become a member of the Society of Wine Educators. He is also a member in the Chaine des Rotisseurs.

Ward on Wine can be a great friend, learning tool, or reference as you explore on this amazing wine cruise.

Colors of ProvenceAug 10, 2023
Jean-Pierre & Elke Wolff
Principal Owners, Wolff Vineyards
Wolff Vineyards is located on 125 acres of ecologically friendly, certified sustainable farm just minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo California, scenic beaches, and major tourist attractions. The vineyard and winery are in the Edna Valley and San Luis Obispo Coast Appellation, 4.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean providing a coastal marine influence. The vineyard was planted in 1976 and the winery opened in 1999. Wolff Vineyards is family-owned where every member brings their own passion and unique talents consistently producing high accolade wines. Jean-Pierre Wolff Ph.D. and Elke Wolff are the principal owners, their two sons Clint and Mark are respectively tasting room-events manager and assistant winemaker. Elke bringing her public accounting background and Jean-Pierre his engineering and scientific background managing the vineyard, winery, as well as being head of the “Wolff Pack”. Jean-Pierre is fluent in French and a frequent host of vineyard tours and “vines to wine” educational presentations with an emphasis on cool climate and Rhone wine grape varieties. The overall business philosophy is reconnecting farming with nature, having a passion in wine making, being European influenced and Central Coast California inspired.
Taste of Bordeaux ‒ European Wine ImmersionAug 10, 2023
Alejandro María Lopez
Owner & Winemaker, PIENSA Wines

Alejandro Lopez, Owner & Winemaker of PIENSA Wines, is not only passionate about his craft but is always looking for new perspectives in the world of wine. He began his wine journey in Argentina over 19 years ago working for one of the most prestigious wineries in the country, and after five years of mainly learning what's "outside" of the bottle: the design, the image and how to communicate it, he decided to move to France and learn the other half: the wine itself and how to produce it. He arrived at the internationally renowned Château Léoville Las Cases, a Second Growth winery, where he started winemaking, understanding the vineyard and the optimal grape maturity. Tireless traveller, Alejandro flew back to Argentina and then lived in the USA for a couple years for his final wrap up: improving sales skills and having a 360 degree understanding of the wine industry before jumping into his own project.

Alejandro is now living in France with his family, runs and directs PIENSA Wines and has been chosen among the 20 most influential wine personalities in 2021 by the prestigious french magazine, Vitisphere. Alejandro has a Master Degree in Biology and did a Solo Moto trip from Miami to Buenos Aires. Alejandro is looking forward to sharing his wines, his passion and knowledge on this fantastic cruise.

Enchanting RhineAug 10, 2023
Ryan Levy & Ian Eastveld
Certified Sommeliers, Wine Educators & Le Cordon Bleu Trained Chefs, The Nice Winery, Houston, TX

Foodie superduo Ryan Levy and Ian Eastveld of The Nice Winery are Certified Sommeliers, wine educators, and Le Cordon Bleu trained chefs. Their hand crafted, boutique wines are poured in top restaurants and have won gold medals in internationally recognized wine competitions. Two of their wines have received 94 point and 92 point ratings from Wine Enthusiast Magazine and the Beverage Testing Institute, and were selected as Top 100 Cellar Selections. Ryan and Ian built their epicurean pedigree first while studying in Paris, France, then directing culinary education for Viking Ranges, teaching cuisine to thousands of students at Central Market, and operating their restaurant and catering companies, Republic and Nuance. They craft 14 award winning varietal wines in Texas, Argentina, and California’s Napa Valley and Paso Robles regions.
Gems of Southeast EuropeAug 14, 2023
Steve Cass
Owner, Cass Winery, Paso Robles, CA

Steve Cass began his journey into wine after retiring from Charles Schwab in 1999. Originally planning great escapades of sailing the world with his beautiful wife, Alice, the dream quickly shifted to an adventure not requiring sturdy sea-legs and a wandering spirit. Beginning an exploration of Paso Robles, CA, Steve discovered a new passion that sated his craving for adventure while letting his family put down deep roots. Forever the heart of an investor, the sweet little burgeoning wine country offered the thrill of new feats. In 2000, Alice and Steve established the 145 acre CASS Vineyard. A fateful trip to South Africa with his contractor, and now business partner, Ted Plemons, fleshed out the full dream of the Vineyard. Syrah inspired late-night conversations led them to the steps of the University of Stellenbosch where they vetted their first winemaker and the journey of true, old-world winemaking began.
Captivating RhineAug 17, 2023
John Boich
Owner, Boich Family Cellar

Boich Family Cellar is a boutique Napa Valley winery with a keen focus on extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignon. At the Boich Wall Road Estate, the family offers a unique tasting experience high on a mountainside, providing a breathtaking view of a “hidden valley” in the Mount Veeder AVA. The winery was founded by John Boich, a visionary and renaissance-style innovator who discovered the winery’s secluded site and assembled a talented team including Winemaker Jeff Ames.

Melodies of the DanubeAug 21, 2023
Gary & Karen Stewart
Co-Owners, Four Brix Winery, Ventura County, CA
In 2008, Gary & Karen Stewart partnered with some dear friends and fellow home winemakers to start Four Brix Winery in Ventura, California. Gary Stewart first learned winemaking in his garage with friends. His weekend hobby turned into a lifetime foray in the wine industry. After taking classes at UC Davis, Gary studied with prominent California wineries, learning that a light touch of the grape will produce the best wines and allow the best expression of terroir. These journeys abroad continue to provide the inspiration for many of the wines made at Four Brix Winery. Four Brix wines are produced in Ventura, California from Central Coast grapes, grown from vineyards in Paso Robles and south to Santa Ynez and the Ojai valleys. Many of the Four Brix wines are blends, including a Scosso – a Super Tuscan blend, and Rhondezvous – a tribute to the Rhone region with Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre. Four Brix also produces Zinfandel, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Viognier and Grenache Blanc. Join Gary & Karen Stewart on a 7-night voyage along the Danube, Europe’s most scenic river cruise and an historic and important wine production region for over 2,000 years
Vineyards of the Rhine & MoselleAug 22, 2023
Curt Pipes
Assistant General Manager, Las Positas Vineyards, Livermore, CA
Curtis Pipes is the Chef and Assistant General Manager of Las Positas Vineyards in California’s Livermore Valley. His new wine label, Phenom, was created to honor his mother. His first release, 2017 Inciptis, is a unique French and Spanish blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, Garnacha, and Graciano. Aged in French oak barrels for 32 months with all the fruit coming from Las Positas Estate Vineyards. Inciptis features aromas of black cherries, boysenberries, and plums with flavors of cherry cola, white peppercorns, and a touch of vanilla. Phenom 2 – “Fuhgeddaboudit“ – is a red blend featuring the Italian varietals of Barbera, Nebbelio and Sangiovese and will be released later this fall with Phenom 3 scheduled for next year.
Colors of ProvenceOct 5, 2023
John & Carolyn Aver
Owners, Aver Family Vineyards

Under his grandmother’s influence, John Aver developed a passion for wine at an early age. John ventured into planting vineyards and making wine which evolved into a professional venture for both John and Carolyn. The highly-rated wines from Aver Family Vineyards feature Rhône varietals crafted from grapes that John grew on their estate using holistic farming practices. The Rhône region, especially Châteauneuf-du-Pape, produces his favorite wines.

Magna on the DanubeOct 22, 2023
Jean-Noel Fourmeaux & Matthew Regan
Proprietor and Managing Director, VGS Chateau Potelle

Jean-Noel Fourmeaux

Sent to the Napa Valley by the French government “to spy” for six months, Jean-Noel Fourmeaux reported back home “Looks good, I stay”. This son of Bordeaux created VGS Chateau Potelle 39 years ago on Mount Veeder in Napa Valley. Originally seduced by the exuberance and generosity of the Napa Valley fruit, Jean-Noel makes wines that have dimension, subtlety and definitive character. A true French-American blend, he travels the world sharing the culture of wine with his customers and friends, from Bordeaux where he is from, to South Africa, Europe, and beyond.

Matthew Regan

With 22 years experience at Chateau Potelle, Matthew has become the right hand to Jean-Noel’s left. Born and raised in New England, educated at the CIA in Hyde Park, New York, seasoned at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee and maturing (at least trying) in the Napa Valley with his amazing wife Lindsay and twin daughters, Aubrey James & Madison Anne Marie. When not working at or drinking VGS, Matthew can be found in the hot tub or sleeping!

Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps ‒ European Wine ImmersionOct 30, 2023
Elizabeth Filippi & Liz Barrett
Certified Specialists of Wine, Society of Wine Educators

Join Liz Barrett and Elizabeth Filippi, Certified Specialists of Wine awarded through the Society of Wine Educators, on an insider’s journey through the rich history and culture of wine, beer and cuisine of 5 countries along the beautiful Rhine river.

For more than 7 years Liz managed AmaWaterways’ Wine Cruises and helped build it to the award-winning level and experience it offers today. Elizabeth holds the degrees of Advanced Certified Sommelier with the International Sommelier Guild, French Wine Scholar with the Wine Scholar Guild, and is also pursuing her Italian Wine Scholar advanced certification.

They will be your co-hosts on the ship to combine their incredible passion and expertise for shining a light into the world of European wine culture with their fellow adventurers on board the elegant AmaSerena. This unique sailing is sure to dazzle all the senses and create extraordinary travel memories that will last a lifetime.

Paris & NormandyNov 2, 2023
Jody Elsom
Owner & co-Winemaker for Elsom Cellars, Washington
Jody’s a travelling spirit. If you ask her what inspires her, you get a million glimpses of the world she’s seen. This old world teaches us a lot, if we slow down and let it. And, if we sit across a table from a stranger with a couple glasses of great wine, before long, it’s surprising how much we all share. Wine gathers its taste from everything it encounters. The earth. The air. Everything leaves a mark. So do people. Jody’s passion for wine began in the Napa Valley and further explored through numerous experiences in the vineyards and wineries throughout Italy and France. Formally educated as one of the first graduates from WSU’s extension studies of Enology. Jody has a passion for developing wines that best represent the possibilities for Washington Wines.
Enchanting RhineNov 2, 2023
Chris Brundrett
CEO, William Chris Wine Company
Chris Brundrett has established himself in the Texas wine industry as one of the state's fastest-rising young winemakers. While earning a horticulture degree from Texas A&M University, Chris spent time in the Hill Country, acquiring experience in the winery and the vineyard. He then quickly proceeded to take on head winemaking responsibilities for several wine labels, managing vineyard properties in both the Hill Country and the High Plains of Texas before deciding to start William Chris with partner Bill Blackmon in 2008. Ten years later in 2018, Wine Enthusiast Magazine tapped him as a winemaker that is changing the face of American wine, and in 2020 Chris was selected as one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40, an honor that highlights individuals who are shaping the future of the beverage and hospitality industry. Today, Chris is the Chief Executive Officer for William Chris Wine Company, which he co-founded with fellow winemaker and business partner Andrew Sides in October 2020.
Essence of Burgundy & ProvenceNov 2, 2023
Jeff & Sonya Branco
Owners, Branco Cellars

Jeff Branco is the third American to graduate from the University of Bordeaux’s prestigious Master of Science in Viticulture and Enology program since its founding by Louis Pasteur over 140 years ago. He translated the university’s Handbook of Enology, a worldwide winemaker’s reference.

Jeff has helped shape quality grape growing and winemaking in Paso Robles. He is the first winemaker in the Paso Robles region to make the Wine Spectator Top 10 list out of over 15,000 wines and the only Justin winemaker to have every received a 95 Robert Parker score. He has garnered over thirty scores in the 90’s in the Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast. Jeff fuses his French training with his Californian winemaking experience to create Bordeaux style wines with a California twist.

Taste of BordeauxNov 2, 2023
Marty & Mimi Moseley
Owners, Mosely Family Cellars
Marty and Mimi Moseley came to California in 1989, where their love of California wines began. Marty and a friend started making wine in his garage, discovering quickly Marty’s gift in winemaking. In 2009, Marty and Mimi moved to Northern California where they were encouraged by friends and family to open a winery. The town they settled in was not conducive for growing grapes so the Moseleys continued to source the best grapes from the best wine regions in California and Oregon, bringing the grapes back to their winery in Redding and doing everything from the crush to the bottle. Manufactoring wine in Redding was well received as they helped the economy as well as brought finely crafted wines to the area. They are the largest winery between Sacramento and Oregon. Moseley Family Cellars is a staple in the Northern California city of Redding where they pour into the community supporting nonprofits as well as various events in the area. The wines produced have an “old world” style to them. Just to name two, Marty has had huge success with making wines that reflect his love of the Merlots and Cabernets of Saint-Emilion France in the Bordeaux region. Marty’s love of winemaking is evident in every bottle.
Enticing DouroNov 4, 2023
Karl & Carole Dinger
Owners of Terra Vina Wines, Wilsonville, Oregon
In their early 20’s, Karl & Carole moved to California’s Bay Area, enjoying the region’s big red wines. A trip to Italy in the early 80’s inspired them to become home winemakers as their grandfathers once did. Relocating to Oregon in 1996, they found the local Pinot Noirs dissatisfying, so they planted a small vineyard to produce wine for their own consumption. Soon, as fermenting wine carboys took over the house, they transitioned to a custom crush facility nearby. For the last 16 years this boutique winery has produced award winning reds year after year. The first to plant Cabernet Franc in the valley, their signature wine is produced from their Estate vineyard as well as vineyards in Washington. Current offerings include Estate Grown Pinot Noir Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Dolcetto, and Eastern Washington sourced Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Sangiovese, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo. Join them on this Enticing Douro Wine Cruise.
Paris & Normandy ‒ European Wine ImmersionNov 4, 2023
Peter Marks
VP of Education & Partner Master of Wine, Napa Valley Wine Academy

Peter Marks is one of only 24 Masters of Wine residing in the U.S. and was the first American to win the Madame Bollinger Foundation Award for having the highest tasting score on the rigorous MW exam. He has served as Director of Wine at the upscale Draeger’s Supermarkets in the San Francisco area, Chief Wine Merchant for online wine retailer, and Senior Vice President of Wine at COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts. Peter is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, sits on the Board of Directors of the Napa Valley Wine Library and judges many international wine competitions.
Melodies of the DanubeNov 5, 2023
Marc & Marta Chase
Owners, Barons Creek Vineyards, Fredericksburg, TX
Barons Creek Vineyards was started back in 2016 as an extended family venture of the Chase Family. In 2018, Marc and Marta Chase took over full ownership and management of Barons Creek with the help of Texas Wine Maker Russell Smith, Certified Sommelier Anthony Makoujy and a team of over 50 employees that operate four separate locations throughout Texas. Certified Sommelier Anthony Makoujy relocated from Napa Valley, CA to join the BCV team back in 2016 and will officially represent Barons Creek throughout all educational components of the cruise along with several other members of the Barons Creek Vineyards team. Club members tell us that Anthony has a very entertaining & engaging way of making wine much more approachable and fun for wine lovers across the board
Gems of Southeast Europe ‒ European Wine ImmersionNov 6, 2023
Holly Howell
Journalist & Wine Expert, Finger Lakes, NY

Holly Howell writes a wine column for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester and is a well-respected New York-based authority on the wines of the Finger Lakes region, particularly Rieslings. She spent a year in France studying French food and wine, teaches wine and food pairing classes, and has served as a judge for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and also writes a popular blog. Holly is currently pursuing her Wine Spirit Education & Trust diploma.
Europe's Rivers & CastlesNov 7, 2023
Paul & Merrill Bonarrigo
Owners & Winemakers Messina Hof Winery, Bryan, Texas

Founders of Messina Hof, Paul & Merrill Bonarrigo, married and settled in Bryan, Texas and together would re-introduce the concept of winemaking in Texas. The Bonarrigo family began making wine in the 1800s in Sicily. Paul & Merrill planted their first vineyard in 1977 and named it Messina Hof, after their family origins of Messina, Sicily and Hof, Germany. The Bonarrigos became pioneers of the Texas wine industry having established Messina Hof as the 4th winery in the state. Today, their son, Paul Mitchell Bonarrrigo and his wife, Karen, continue the legacy of world-class wines and hospitality with the same founding principles of family, tradition and romance. Messina Hof remains a leader in the Texas wine industry, which now has over 350 registered wineries. The Messina Hof brand has also grown from producing only 1,300 gallons to now over 130,000 gallons per year with three locations in Texas: Bryan, Fredericksburg, and Grapevine.
Taste of Bordeaux ‒ European Wine ImmersionNov 9, 2023
Mark A. Newman
CEO of Accolade Brands Inc. & SteakHouse Vineyards
Mark A. Newman is CEO of Accolade Brands Inc. & SteakHouse Vineyards. In addition to producing wine in California, Mark also has produced wine in the Loire Valley in France called Perle de Mer Muscadet. Additionally, Mark has recently judged with Gambero Rosso for the prestigious Tre Bicchieri awards in Rome, Italy.

In his over 40 years in the wine industry, he has owned the largest wine & spirits retail chain in Arizona, held key California winery positions as well as senior level executive positions in the wine distributing business. He received his education at the University of Southern California and is a member of several wine industry trade groups. Mark was inducted into the prestigious Commanderie de Bontemps du Medoc et Graves recognizing his years of dedication to the Bordeaux wine industry, and is Maitre-Conseil of Gastronomy, an honor bestowed by the French Minister of Agriculture, a member of the Society of Wine Educators. Mark has judged the Los Angeles International Wine Competition for 26 consecutive years, and he also judges the California State Fair, the San Diego International Wine Competition, and the San Diego Toast of the Coast Competition.
Essence of Burgundy & ProvenceNov 9, 2023
Theodora Lee
Owner, Theopolis Vineyards, Yorkville, CA
Ms. Theodora Lee, known in the wine world as Theopatra, Queen of the Vineyards is the founder and owner of Theopolis Vineyards. In 2001 she bought land in Anderson Valley, California and planted her first grapes in 2003. In an ode to her Greek sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, she named her vineyard, Theopolis Vineyards. Her first harvest received 94-96 points from Wine Critic Robert Parker. Ms. Lee decided to bottle her own wines in 2014. In addition to bottling Petite Sirah, Theopolis Vineyards strikes a lighter note by bottling a Symphony, a white wine grape, which is a crossing of Muscat and Grenache Gris. Ms. Lee also bottles the unique Rosé of Petite Sirah, a Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir, a Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, a Cuvee Blanc and a Cuvee Cerise. The 2018 Estate Grown Theopolis Vineyards Petite Sirah has received 96 Points from Wine Enthusiast, and Cellar Selection, ranking it No. 16 in the Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2021.
Melodies of the DanubeNov 11, 2023
Tim Mosher
Winemaker, School House Vineyard, St Helena, CA
School House Vineyard is a Napa Valley treasure, an historic, boutique winery that has produced vintages every year since the 1950’s, with a specialty in fine Pinot Noir. Native Iowan Tim Mosher came to Napa in 1981 to learn about wine, working the harvest and crush at the historic Beringer Brothers Winery. That experience turned into a remarkable career. Since 2016 Tim has overseen winemaking and production at School House Vineyard, high on Spring Mountain in St. Helena.
Magna on the DanubeNov 12, 2023
Guy Davis
Owner & Winemaker
Guy Davis' wine roots run deep, reaching back to the age of nineteen when he worked in a French restaurant in Seattle while pursuing an economics degree at the University of Washington.
Guy worked as an assistant to the chef, arriving each afternoon to work late into the night. After the last customer left, and the doors closed, Guy would retire to the kitchen to make dinner for the owner and chef before joining them for a night of food, wine and conversation.
Guy was an eager, open listener. And over glasses of wine, his enthusiasm grew. As he drank from the classic wine regions of France, from Bordeaux to Burgundy, the men schooled him on the origins and characteristics of each particular region.
"It is all very European--and it opened my eyes. I had no idea that these experiences would lead to my life-long affair with wine and to a career that would ultimately lead me to becoming a winemaker in my own vineyard."
Romantic DanubeNov 12, 2023
Chris Zazo
Hailstone Vineyards
Chris Zazo grew up on a farm and has long understood the inextricable link between the earth, elements, and what it provides. In fact, it was weather that helped his Dallas-based company Aspemark Roofing & Solar experience tremendous growth over the past 15 years. Chris has always wanted to pay homage to what helped him achieve personal and professional success, with weather the driving force. Hailstone Vineyards is the realization of that dream. Hailstone Vineyards is a boutique winery with a line of vintages that seamlessly transition from a sunset boat cruise to fine dining. Since its start in 2012, Hailstone's unique vintages are a direct result of producing small lots of premium wine from varying regions of the valley. From a Napa-style sauvignon blanc to their unique take on a classic Napa Valley cabernet, Hailstone boasts professional nods from TEXSOM International Wine Awards.
Rhine & Moselle SplendorsNov 14, 2023
John & Jody Wrigley
Owners of J Wrigley Wines
Twelve years ago, a girl from Arizona decided to head to Oregon to sip Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley. It was there she met an ambitious wine enthusiast who had a dream to plant his own vineyard and make World Class Wine. It was on that very weekend, John and Jody Wrigley met, fell in love, purchased 200 acres and started on a lifetime adventure. Twelve years later, and a whole lot of passion, these two have built a beautiful life in the heart of Oregon’s wine country. John has amassed numerous wine awards and Jody continues to promote and cheerlead her favorite winemaker. They invite you to join them on their adventure.
Colors of ProvenceNov 16, 2023
Byron Dooley
Co-Owner, Seven of Hearts Winery
Byron and Dana Dooley transitioned from high tech in 2001 to follow their passions in wine and chocolate. He studied enology and viticulture at Napa Valley College, interned for a respected Pinot noir producer in Sonoma, planted a small vineyard on Howell Mountain in Napa, and produced wine from that vineyard. After Byron earned his winemaking degree, he and Dana were drawn to Oregon’s Willamette Valley for its beauty, climate, and remarkable Pinot noir. In 2004, they purchased and planted the 12-acre Luminous Hills Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, a property once owned by Steve Jobs, co-founder Apple Computers.
Byron works with many growers and sources Pinot noir from distinctive vineyards within the sub-AVAs of the Willamette Valley, producing single vineyard Pinot noirs, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling with site focus as well as blends that capture the broader expression of each vintage in the Willamette Valley. Byron also makes wines from the Columbia Valley (both Oregon and Washington) from sources that are ideal for the warm weather varietals he also loves, including Bordeaux varietals, Rhone varietals, and many others. The winemaking philosophy and approach for each wine to reflect the place and vintage where it was grown, modeled after traditional old-world wines. What this means in terms of practice is natural methods such as native yeast fermentation, whole cluster fermentation where appropriate, minimal intervention and no additives.
Captivating RhineNov 16, 2023
Randy Fitzpatrick
Owner & Sommelier, Petit Bill’s Bistro
Randy, an AC Business and Hospitality Management Program graduate, has opened dozens of various restaurants and food service operations including O’Toole’s, Olive Garden, Famous Players Theatres, Dave & Buster’s, and many independent operations throughout Ontario and the United States before, In 2007, opening Petit Bill’s Bistro with his brother Terry. Petit Bill’s has been recognized numerous times for their wine list, especially for supporting local (Ontario) VQA wines. In addition to teaching the advanced Sommelier program since 2009, Randy has helped develop the Sommelier program from a Community College Certificate program to a provincially-recognized Ontario College Certificate program. He currently teaches the Sommelier Advanced course.
Experience More Connections
Tulips are not the only product for which the Dutch are world-famous. When in the Netherlands, just say ‘Cheese’
Read more
“Drinking a Kölsch beer is more than just drinking a beer: it’s like drinking an entire culture.”
Read more
Our very own Jasmina shares unique Orthodox traditions and highlights of Serbia’s Winter Markets.
Read more