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During the meals throughout the weekend, IPNC Maîtres d’Hôtel will share a selection of current and IPNC library wines with you. While there is always plenty of wine, there are usually no more than 12 bottles of any single wine. Those wines, which are small in quantity and high in demand, will be circulated among the tables by the Maîtres d’Hôtel, so that as many people as possible will have the chance to taste each wine. These individuals are distinguished sommeliers and wine directors who donate their time to ensure our guests experience the finest service. Our thanks to them for their outstanding efforts on behalf of this event.
Jessica Endsworth, ANGELA ESTATE WINERY (Dundee, OR)
Maître d'Hôtel Captain

Jessica began working in her family's restaurant in St. Charles, MO at ten years old. She worked the ranks of the St. Louis dining scene and spent five years in Chicago working in marquis restaurants and finishing her degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. After a trip out west, she was landed a position with Maysara winery under the direction of Jimi Brooks which began her migration to Oregon. She opened an Oregon-Washington boutique wine distributorship specializing in local, craft wineries. She sold the business and began working for Southern Wine and Spirits as a portfolio manager for Moet Hennessy. Three years later, Jessica accepted a position for Angela Estate winery in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. She was recently promoted to General Manager of the winery. Jessica's passion is educating about wine and spirits and gaining more knowledge personally. She has achieved her CSW and WSET Advanced Certification.
Bryan Hill, AMAURICE CELLARS (Walla Walla, WA)
Maître d'Hôtel Captain

Bryan Hill was formally schooled in accounting and hotel management at Ohio State University. As General Manager and Wine Director at Seattle's Campagne for four years, his keen interest in wine earned Campagne many accolades such as Wine Enthusiast Magazine's "Restaurant Wine Award" in 1995 and the Wine Spectator "Award for Excellence" three years in a row. In addition, Gourmet magazine in 1997 named his wine program the "Best in Seattle". Bryan demands gracious and intelligent service from his wait staff, which led to praise and recognition from publications such as Conde Naste, Esquire, The Atlantic, Gourmet magazine, Seattle Magazine, Northwest Best Places, and the Zagat Guide. As a previous co-owner of Brasa Restaurant, Bryan created a diverse, extensive wine list, which contributed greatly to Brasa being recognized by Food & Wine and Gourmet magazines as one of Seattle's top tables in 2008. Since 2003, Bryan has been involved in the Wine Service at IPNC. Since 2013, he has been working with áMaurice Cellars as their Sales Manager. Owned by the Schafer family, áMaurice Cellars is located on the Upper Eastside of Walla Walla and produces 4000 cases of wine from their own vineyard and premium vineyards in the Columbia Valley.
JEFF LINDSAY-THORSEN, RN74 (Seattle, WA)
Maître d'Hôtel Captain

Sommelier Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen’s passion for wine and fine cuisine has taken him around the world in pursuit of the ancient art and craft of winemaking. He has worked the harvest in Burgundy, New Zealand, Washington and Oregon. In 2007 Jeff took his passion to the next level founding WT Vintners and is currently crafting small lot, single vineyard wines in Woodinville, WA. Joining the team at RN74 Seattle and working with celebrated Wine Director Rajat Parr represents the next step in his pursuit of all things vine. Jeff has had the opportunity to work alongside several of the Pacific Northwest’s best chefs, restaurateurs, and sommeliers while honing his craft. His resume includes a laundry list of Seattle’s top restaurants in including Cascadia, and James Beard Award winning Lampreia and Café Juanita. Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen holds an "Advanced Sommelier Certification" from the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild. In 2008, he won the Pacific Northwest Super-Regional Best Young Sommelier Competition and competed as a finalist in the national competition hosted by La Chaine des Rotisseurs International Food & Wine Society. He is amidst the rigorous process that is the Master Sommelier examination.
SAVANNA RAY, RINGSIDE STEAKHOUSE (Portland, OR)
Maître d'Hôtel Captain

Savanna Ray is the Wine Director for RingSide Steakhouse, Portland’s premier classic downtown steakhouse since 1944. A native Oregonian, Ray began her career in the restaurant business as a busser at the historic Besaw's Café in Northwest Portland in 1997. Her love affair with wine began with a bottle of 2002 Didier Dagueneau Pur Sang. That wine evoked so much emotion from her Ray felt she must know more. She decided to enroll in classes with the International Sommelier Guild and received her pin in May of 2007. Ray has held the Sommelier position at several notable Portland restaurants including Wildwood, Mother's Bistro, Lucier, Tabla, and ten 01. She has been an instructor for the International Sommelier Guild, leading the next generation of sommeliers and wine enthusiasts. Since 2008 she had coordinated the sommeliers and wine service professionals at ¡Salud! A Benefit for Tuality Healthcare, which provides healthcare to Oregon's vineyard workers. Savanna sits on the Board of Directors for IPNC. This will be her tenth year as a Maître d'Hôtel and her fifth year as lead Captain, or as Amy Wesselman calls her “Boss Somm.”

Dawn Smith, JOHN HOWIE STEAK (Seattle, WA)
Maître d'Hôtel Captain

As professionally trained chef, Dawn’s passion for wine emerged as a direct result of her experiences in the kitchen. The daughter of a chef mother, Dawn grew up in the restaurant business. While working as an instructor at a culinary college, she was given the opportunity to take wine classes. Dawn has earned certifications from the International Sommelier Guild, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. She has worked as Assistant Wine Director at Canlis Restaurant in Seattle, Wine Director of three restaurants for the Heavy Restaurant Group in Bellevue, the Wine Director and General Manager at Café Juanita in Kirkland, and the Lead Sommelier at Stoneburner Restaurant in Ballard. Dawn currently works as a Sommelier at John Howie Steak Restaurant in Bellevue.
Kristen Young, BASTILLE (Seattle, WA)
Maître d'Hôtel Captain

Kristen Young is the Lead Sommelier at Bastille Café & Bar in Seattle, Washington. After moving to Seattle in 2001, she served at prominent Seattle restaurants such as Campagne and Nell's, developing her passion for fine food and wine. Previous to her work at Bastille, Kristen was Director of Wine at Aqua by El Gaucho and opened Tilth Restaurant with chef Maria Hines, overseeing the wine program and front-of-house operations. Kristen holds oenophilic accreditations from both Court of Master Sommeliers and International Sommelier Guild, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from The University of Toledo. Young was named 'Sommelier of the Year' 2011 by the Washington State Wine Commission. Kristen is also proud to participate as part of the Sommelier team for both Taste Washington and the International Pinot Noir Celebration and is also a judge for Seattle Wine Awards.
Vanessa Bazzani, BERGSTRÖM WINES (Portland, OR)

Vanessa Bazzani was raised in a restaurant family in New York City before moving to Portland, Oregon in 1994. Growing up in restaurants, it was only natural for her first job to be that of a busser at the age of 16. This very early introduction to the business quickly led to a career devoted to hospitality and there she fell for the magical world of wine. While working at several of Portland’s premiere restaurants, Vanessa’s hard work and passion for wine inevitably led to her pin from the International Sommelier Guild in November of 2005. Now the Hospitality Manager at Bergström Wines, Vanessa has married her experience in the restaurant business with her dedication to the wine industry. For the past 12 years, Vanessa’s love for the wine regions of the Northwest has made her a staple at the International Pinot Noir Celebration working as a Maître d'Hôtel.
Caryn Benke, SHIFTDRINKS (Portland, OR)

A born and raised Oregonian, Caryn fell in love with wine and food culture while living in France, both during and after her studies at the University of Oregon. She is currently very excited about her most recent gig working at Shiftdrinks in Portland, a bar with a strong wine program and service culture. She has previously worked as the wine director at Andina, as well as the wine educator for McMenamins and as an instructor for the International Sommelier Guild. Caryn has achieved her Advanced Sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers and hopes to sit the Master Sommelier exam in 2016. When not working in wine, Caryn enjoys cooking, running, yoga and reading, and is a crazy cat person, always.
Derek Bigham, ATAULA (Portland, OR)

Derek Bigham discovered his passion for wine immediately after graduating high school while living abroad in Provence, France. Tasting the wines of Provence and Burgundy at a very young age, with a very immature palate, he was intrigued and hooked. Returning to the states before his 21st birthday, the only option was to stick his nose in a book and read about wine. After studying with the Court of Master Sommeliers, he became Assistant Beverage Director at LUMA on Park in Winter Park, Florida. Pinot noir brought him to Oregon a few years later after several visits for Oregon Pinot Camp, IPNC, and harvest at Maysara Winery. Derek is currently working at Ataula in Portland, an authentic tapas restaurant with a exclusively Spanish wine list.
Tahlia Bolden, LOT NO. 3 (Seattle, WA)

From a young age, Tahlia has been interested in the culinary world from collecting cookbooks to preparing private dinners. Returning from college, she started working for a coffee roaster in her hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio learning the fine art of tasting and discerning coffee beans from around the world. After working in some of Cleveland's dining hotspots, she decided to hone in on her wine knowledge. She then enrolled in the WSET program and finished with her Advanced Certification and in 2010, moved to Seattle to get into the wine culture of Washington. She is now a manager for the Heavy Restaurant group in Seattle at Lot No. 3 and is sitting for her Advanced Sommelier exam in September.
Ken Bolick, JORY at the Allison Inn & Spa (Newberg, OR)

You’ll find Ken at The Allison Inn & Spa’s JORY restaurant where he is Restaurant Manager and Wine Director. JORY’s wine list is a perennial recipient of the esteemed Wine Spectator’s 'Best of Award of Excellenc'e and was recently honored as a James Beard semi-finalist for Outstanding Wine Program. A true Renaissance man with a degree in American literature, you can find Ken’s nose in a book, a glass of wine, or a simmering sauce. He is honored to attend IPNC as a Maître d'Hôtel for a sixth year. 
Brent Braun, CASTAGNA (Portland, OR)

Like so many in the wine industry, Braun moved to Portland to pursue a life of merry music making, but instantly fell in love with the world of wine. He was most recently one of the opening Wine Directors for East Burnside's Levant before accepting the same position at Portland institution, Castagna. He is a a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Masters Sommeliers and believes strongly in a list balanced between both small family producers from esoteric wine regions and benchmark producers from classic wine regions. He is a voracious gulper of Riesling and Oregon Pinot noir. And Sherry. And Northern Rhône Syrah…
Kyle Brierley, BRILEY'S (Lake Forest Park, WA)

Following in the footsteps of a family of wine enthusiasts and collectors, Kyle moved to Seattle in 2004 from Atlanta, Georgia and followed his own path into the wine and restaurant community. Spending the next eight years working at Café Juanita, once James Beard nominated “most outstanding restaurant” in the country. He moved his way up from a busser to become the General Manager and Wine Director. Now in 2015, he is going back to his roots. Kyle is pairing up with long time best friend Skyler Riley to open Brileys BBQ & Grill in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Combining Pacific Northwest wine from the tap and craft beer with Pit Master Riley’s southern comfort BBQ.
Gregory Cantu, NOSTRANA (Portland, OR)

Biography coming soon.
Tom Champine, MONTINORE ESTATE (Portland, OR)

Hailing from Motown, Tom discovered his passion for wine living in the Pacific Northwest. This enthusiasm grew from his love of entertaining and sharing meals with friends around a table. Beyond earning his certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Tom has had the privilege of serving as Manager and Sommelier at Vino Paradiso Wine Bar and Bistro from 2005-2011. Now the National Sales Manager for Montinore Estate in Forest Grove, Oregon, he can be found pushing cool climate, biodynamic, fermented grape juice around the U.S. This is Tom’s fifth IPNC.
Jackie Cooke, AVEC BISTRO (Calgary, AB Canada)

It was 1998 when Jackie decided she wanted to pursue a wine career after spending a month exploring the wine regions of the Pacific Northwest and California. In 2002, Jackie earned her sommelier diploma from the International Sommelier Guild in Vancouver. Since then, she has held various positions in the wine industry: cellar worker at Tinhorn Creek Winery, sommelier at Mission Hill Winery, sommelier at Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler. During this time, she took the opportunity to travel to wine regions in Italy, France, Spain, USA, and Canada. In 2006, Jackie moved to Calgary with her partner to fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant. Their restaurant, Avec Bistro, was awarded Best New Restaurant 2012 by John Gilchrist and, most recently, Top 10 Restaurant and Best French 2015 in Calgary by Avenue Magazine. In addition to running a wine consulting business, Jackie has been part of Bin 905, Vin Room, Metrovino, and Una. Since 2007, she has been an instructor for the International Sommelier Guild in Calgary and a judge for the Wine Access International Value Wine Awards (2007-2012). Also, she has been on the sommelier staff at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon since 2004 and the Wine Summit at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise in 2007.
Jason Crume, VINUM IMPORTING & DISTRIBUTING (Seattle, WA)

Jason was born to wear a tuxedo on really warm summer days in the Willamette Valley and pour Pinot noir for amazing people. His favorite toy as a young child was a champagne saber, and he was an expert at opening a Capri Sun with one. The first grouping of words Jason uttered as a toddler were "Pommard Clone yum”. He entered into the restaurant business while studying English in college and quickly realized that an English Degree was exactly what he needed to become a pretty good bartender. During a stint in New York City in his late 20s, Jason was introduced to the Nebbiolo grape and fell deeply in love. Soon after, a romance with Pinot noir started and the love affair continues. He loves being a dad.
Jane-Paige D'Huyvetter, B&B BUTCHERS AND RESTAURANT (Houston, TX)

For Jane-Paige, there was no “Ah ha!” moment regarding wine. It has always been there, a bond formed in childhood that only grew stronger as the years progressed. When nothing else makes sense, wine does. She has followed it, and those who command great knowledge of it, over the years. Her career has been part pilgrimage, part apprenticeship, with nothing but gratitude and respect for the programs with which she has been involved. Now heading her own program at B&B Butchers and Restaurant in Houston, Texas, Jane-Paige strives to create and nurture that bond in others through a list that values typicity, balance, and the beautiful dance between wine and food above all.
Cara DeLavallade, BARKING FROG (Woodinville, WA)

At home in the cellar, Cara has managed top wine lists locally, abroad, and on the high seas. In Mendoza, Argentina, she was fortunate to work alongside chef Pablo Renea at Restaurante Azafran while maintaining an extensive list of Argentinian producers. As part of the sommelier team for Silversea Cruises, Cara worked with top wines from around the world while sailing the Mediterranean. Here in Seattle, she feels privileged to have worked with chef Tamara Murphy, directing the wine program at Terra Plata. Currently managing on of the most comprehensive collections of Washington wines in the area at Barking Frog Restaurant in Woodinville, Cara is also preparing to sit for the challenging Advanced Examination with the Court of Master Sommeliers in September.
Sarah Egeland, SMALLWARES (Portland, OR)

Sarah Egeland is a WSET trained wine director and the GM and wine buyer at Smallwares and Lil'Wares restaurants. Her passion for wine started on the East coast while studying at Upenn, and working at Tria Café, a wine, cheese, and beer bar. Mandatory weekly fermentation school brought her into the crazy wine world. She has traveled to South Africa and Europe to work harvest. Her next crazy harvest adventure will be Sicily in Fall 2015. Sarah is also jumping into the Oregon wine scene with a new artisan wine label called Winters Ruin and Eskimo Kisses with her good friend Kelly Overly leading her the entire way. Sarah teaches wine classes for WSET at Vino Wine Shop, and she also hosts a lovely wine pop up bar called Copa- a wine bar. A brick and mortar wine bar is in the works, as she is collecting investors left and right who are inspired by her passion for natural, organic and bio-dynamic wines. Her long term goal is to make a little wine, be well traveled, and keep her friends happy and full.
Dana Frank, AVA GENE'S (Portland, OR)

Dana Frank is the wine and service director at Portland's lauded Ava Gene's on SE Division, and she is now overseeing her fifth wine program. Her list is an in-depth look into Italy, with an emphasis on small, organic, biodynamic, and natural farmers from all corners of the Italian countryside. When not at Ava Gene’s, Dana manages to spend most of her time in the wine world. This is her fifth IPNC. Dana also volunteers for Salud! and the Classic Wines Auction and mentors other young sommeliers. Under her guidance, Ava Gene's was twice named to the list of Wine & Spirits "Top 100 Wine Restaurants." Dana was named one of Bon Appétit's "Sommeliers to Watch" in 2015, and one of Food & Wine's 2015 "Sommeliers of the Year." She is happiest with her husband and three-year-old daughter, and a great bottle of champagne.
Patrick Gaffney, BAR AVIGNON (Portland, OR)

Patrick is thrilled to return to IPNC for the third year in a row to be a part of an amazing event and an incredible team of his peers. The extraordinary bounty of the Willamette Valley was a major drawing force in bringing Patrick and his wife to Portland. He feels that IPNC is the perfect environment to celebrate all that we have in the world of food and wine. Patrick is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers where he received the Broadbent Award for outstanding performance during his exams. Patrick is currently pouring rosé and anticipating tomato season at Bar Avignon where he has been manager and sommelier during his four years in Portland.
Michael Garofola, HOLDEN WINE COMPANY (Portland, OR)

Michael began his wine career in 2004 when he started waiting tables in a red sauce Italian restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2006, Michael moved to Santa Fe where he became assistant sommelier at The Compound Restaurant. He left his post as head sommelier in late 2007 and headed for the northwest. He landed temporarily at Ten-01 before he became the sommelier and GM at Tabla Mediterranean Bistro in early 2008. Michael became sommelier and GM of Genoa and Accanto in 2011. Michael has since focused on wine production, and in the fall of 2014, he became partner in Holden Wine Company, a Portland based wine label, with founder Sterling Whitted. Beyond Holden, he currently splits his time between Beast and wine classes at Chemeketa Community College.
Kyle Gartlan-Close, VIN ROOM (Vancouver, British Columbia)

This will be Kyle Gartlan-Close's fifth time working as a Maître d'Hôtel with the IPNC, and he is honored to be returning alongside such a distinguished class of sommeliers. Kyle resides in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where he works as a dining room server/ sommelier with Hy's Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar. A sommelier certified in 2009 under the tutelage of Barb Philip MW, Kyle has worked in all facets of hospitality. Also a certified sherry educator, he has hosted numerous pop-up sherry dinners and restaurants. When not working, Kyle can be found with a glass of wine in hand or in a vineyard.
Stacey Gibson, OLYMPIA PROVISIONS (Portland, OR)

After receiving a degree in political science from Boston College, Stacey relocated to Washington, DC and sought a career in public policy. Rather quickly, she realized that the world of politics was not her true calling. Stacey packed up and moved to New York City, where she started in the restaurant industry and fell in love with the energy of the restaurant floor. Before moving to Oregon in 2013, she was a sommelier at Momofuku Ma Pêche and Corkbuzz Wine Studio in New York. She is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Tyler Hauptman, FENRIR (Portland, OR)

Hailing from San Diego, Tyler Hauptman is the sommelier, bar manager, and co-owner of Fenrir, a semi-Scandinavian restaurant in inner Southeast Portland. He enjoys wine and fun and is returning for his second year at IPNC for more of those two things.
Jennifer Helmbold, COOPERS HALL (Portland, OR)

Jennifer Helmbold has spent her career in and around the restaurant and hospitality industry. When she moved back to the Northwest in 2009, the spark she had for wine ignited. She has a passion for learning about it and tasting broadly. She believes in the story each bottle has to tell you when you take a moment to listen. In her pursuit of knowledge, Jennifer has studied with the International Sommelier Guild and has recently become a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is currently working as the Assistant Manager and Assistant Sommelier at Coopers Hall in Portland where they serve wine exclusively from keg. It fits her philosophy of stripping wine of its pretense to drink what makes your soul happy.
Rebecca Koehler, THE METROPOLITAN GRILL (Seattle, WA)

Rebecca’s interest in wine started early when her parents would take the family on road trips to Washington wineries. She became enamored by the smell of barrel rooms and the rouge juice in glass stems. In 2004, Rebecca moved to Seattle to study oil painting and drawing at the University of Washington. While painting in Rome, Rebecca realized wine was a tenet to a good life. She studied for two years at the Northwest Wine Academy and became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Rebecca is a sommeiler at The Metropolitan Grill, and her current infatuation is the wines and the vineyards of the Willamette Valley. Having world-class Pinot noir and Riesling just a short drive away should be a sin, but that’s the beauty of The Pacific Northwest.
Kristen Koors, PLAZA DEL TORO (Portland, OR)

At the age of 18, "KK" left her home town of Naples, Florida to travel the world and elevate her wine knowledge (a.k.a headed straight to Europe to drink legally). After  six years of travelling, including a few stints in Europe and New Zealand, Pinot noir captured her heart and it was off to Portland, Oregon to plant some roots. The food and wine scene in Portland seemed the perfect place to settle and further her "oeno-cation" with The International Sommelier Guild. In April 2010, she was pinned Certified Sommelier by the Court of Masters in San Francisco, California. She's elated to be the Director of Affairs for restaurateur John Gorham at Plaza del Toro, Portland's first Gastronomic Society.
Cortney Lease, WILD GINGER & TRIPLE DOOR (Seattle, WA)

Cortney began her wine career as a Wine Advisor at Odd Bins in England, where she took the WSET's intermediate and advanced exams in London. Upon returning to Seattle, Washington Cortney worked at Wild Ginger as a sommelier, Cellar Master, Wine Director, and now Company Wine Director for Ginsing LLC.  In that time, Wild Ginger Seattle was awarded the Grand Award by Wine Spectator from 2009 to present, along with Wine Enthusiast's Award of Ultimate Distinction and Wine Enthusiast's 100 Best Wine Lists in the country. Cortney passed her Advanced exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2012, and is pursuing becoming a Master Sommelier. Cortney was named "Sommelier of the Year" by Seattle Magazine in their 0th Annual Washington Wine Awards.
Megan Moffatt, VINUM IMPORTING (Portland, OR)

Biography coming soon.
Julianne Nelson, KEN WRIGHT CELLARS (Portland, OR)

Originally hailing from Minnesota, Julianne's career in hospitality began at 15 in a small bistro in Wayzata. After college, she traveled to New York City to pursue a career in theater, but found she was destined for a life of studying and serving wine. Beginning her wine education in 2005 with the late Chris Goodheart, she ventured to Oregon in 2009 to work harvest with Ken Wright Cellars where she is now a full time sales representative and part time cellar rat. You will often find her buying bubbles, German and Alsatian Riesling, and of course Pinot noir.

Jeffrey Passerotti, RYE RESTAURANT (Eugene, OR)

A native Ohioian, Jeffery Passerotti has been in the hospitality industry for most of his adult life. Starting in kitchens as a pastry chef and sous chef, then on to being a operations/general manager – always with a avid interest in the culture of wine. He has worked in almost all aspects of the wine industry including retail, wholesale, and as a restaurant buyer. He has been responsible for many successful wine programs in the Eugene area over the last 15 years and is a committed wine geek with a keen interest in Oregon and Europe, with a focus on the Pinot noir grape. When not drinking, tasting, and buying wine you can find him on the golf course with dreams of the Senior Tour.
Phillip Patti, MARCHÉ RESTAURANT (Eugene, OR)

Phillip J. Patti, WSET Diploma candidate and Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, is the sommelier at Marché Restaurant in Eugene, Oregon. He began his career as a manager at one of Chicago’s best retail wine stores. He then became a manager at the James Beard Award-winning Spiaggia Restaurant, a restaurant housing an extensive and esoteric wine cellar. In Oregon, he has worked at Amity Vineyards, Northwest Wine Company, Brittan Vineyards, Domaine Danielle, and Laurent. He earned a Vineyard Management Certificate from the Northwest Viticulture Center in Salem. In Eugene, Phillip opened and managed Uva-a Wine Bar, where he oversaw all aspects of running a cutting-edge wine and food operation. Phillip has traveled extensively to evaluate wines and experience the terroir that produces them. He is excited to share with you his knowledge and passion for wine.
Jess Pierce, BROOKS WINES (Portland, OR)

Jess Pierce loves Riesling! Pierce holds a diploma from the International Sommeliers Guild and a BA from Louisiana State University in her hometown of Baton Rouge. Jess is also a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is currently the Director of Wine Education and Communications at Brooks Wines in Eola-Amity, Oregon. Did she mention she loves Riesling? Jess got her start with Brooks during the 2010 and 2011 harvest seasons, while simultaneously serving as GM and sommelier at chef Jason French’s restaurant – Ned Ludd. She departed in 2012 to pursue a masters degree in Food Culture and Communications with a focus on Human Ecology and Sustainability from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, Italy to further expand her views on the interdisciplinary nature of food. After graduation, Jess moved to Germany to intern at world-renown Mosel Valley Riesling producer Dr. Loosen. She remained in Germany to document the cultural landscape of the Mosel Valley and work the 2013 harvest with Weingut Selbach-Oster. With her new skills and reinvigorated enthusiasm for wine, she returned to Brooks to help lead the charge for Riesling education.
Vanessa Puglisi, TASTY N SONS (Portland, OR)

Vanessa was born and raised in Queens, New York by chef parents. After finishing college, she moved west to San Francisco, California and started working in restaurants for the cash. After realizing that the restaurant industry could provide community, a lifetime of learning, and endless fun, she decided to make a career of it. Vanessa became a certified sommelier with the International Sommelier Guild in May of 2012 and with the Court of Masters in November of 2013. Her first IPNC was in 2014 and she loved it so much, she moved to Portland , Oregon and now works as a manager at Tasty n Sons.
Ryan Robinson, RUTH'S CHRIS STEAKHOUSE (Boise, ID)

Ryan is a manager and Sommelier at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Boise, Idaho. He is studying for his Advanced Exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers in July and is determined to give Idaho some street cred. He works diligently to help other Somm's learn their craft. When not studying or working, Ryan is a cycling instructor at Zenergy Fitness.
Kirk Shaw, AVEC BISTRO (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

Kirk had an early interest in wine. He was a devoted reader of the weekly wine column in the Halifax Herald and always tried to track down value-driven Riojas. Upon moving to Toronto, he somehow found himself working at the bastion of nouvelle cuisine, Statlanders. This was where Kirk first met many kind souls who furthered his education in the world of the grape. After a year at Statlanders, Kirk headed off to Vancouver where a burgeoning wine industry had developed. Shortly thereafter, Kirk had the great fortune to meet Robert Simpson (his mentor), who was operating the lone-at the time-Liberty Wine shop in Point Roberts, Washington. Whistler was the next destination for Kirk who began working with the infamous Andre St. Jacques at the Bearfoot Bistro. Kirk was the Wine Director at the Bistro for over six years. A move to Calgary found him dedicated to exploring and nurturing the burgeoning food and wine scene-locally and globally-with Jackie Cooke. Kirk spent 2 years as the Events Coordinator at Bonterra before leaving to open Petite with Jackie, which from its inception was a popular addition to the Calgary dining scene, placing second behind Rush in Avenue Magazine’s Best New Restaurant of 2010. Kirk was responsible for all facets of restaurant development from design to construction and upon opening, execution of service and day-to-day operation. Most recently, he was directing the wine program at Kensington Riverside Inn before taking the plunge into ownership. Kirk brings his East Coast charm to the team and ensures every guest has an exceptional experience.
Christopher Sky-Westmoreland, RESTAURANT ST. JACK (Portland, OR)

Christopher’s passion for wine is all encompassing; he appreciates its place in history, in culture, and, of course, on the table. His initial interest was sparked working at a French restaurant in Seattle, Washington ten years ago. Inspired to join the discourse of his mentors, Christopher began his education at the Northwest Wine Academy, continued his study with the International Sommelier Guild, and went on to become a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. As Wine Director at Restaurant St. Jack in Portland, Oregon, Christopher curates a list showcasing local pioneers complimented by the canons of the old world. Christopher prides himself on his pursuit of knowledge, support of the community, and ongoing quest for the next bottle that will blow your bangs back.
David Speer, AMBONNAY CHAMPAGNE BAR (Portland, OR)

A certified sommelier with more than ten years of extensive training and worldwide wine knowledge, David Speer is the owner of Portland’s first and only champagne-focused bar, Ambonnay Champagne Bar and Ambonnay Cellar, through which he hosts wine classes and serves as a personal sommelier helping his clients create and maintain their wine cellars. Food & Wine Magazine chose David as one of ten "Sommeliers of the Year" for 2013. David and his businesses have been featured in Food & Wine, Eater.com, Sunset, Portland Monthly, The Oregonian, and MIX Magazine.
Chris Tanghe, VINUM IMPORTING (Seattle, WA)

Biography coming soon.
Joshua Thomas, PROSPECT RESTAURANT (San Francisco, CA)

Joshua Thomas is currently the wine director at Prospect Restaurant in San Francisco, California the sister restaurant of Boulevard. Having worked his entire life in restaurants, Joshua realized his passion for wine after several years spent in the back of the house cooking. Having established a firm understanding of what makes good food, Joshua has made the next step in his career a focus on learning all there is to know about wine. The more he learns, the more he finds there is to learn. Joshua has completed his International Sommelier Guild Diploma and has passed the Advanced exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers. In 2013 Wine & Spirits Magazine named Joshua has one of their “Best New Sommeliers.” In his spare time, Joshua travels as much as possible to gain a greater depth of knowledge on the subject of wine.
James Watkins, CORDUA RESTAURANT (Houston, TX)

An Advanced Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, and Certified Sake Professional, Watkins joined Pappas in June of 2015. Prior to that he served as the beverage director for all Cordúa restaurants, where he was responsible for developing the wine lists, cocktail programs, and pairing menus at all nine locations. He won the 2015 Somms Under Fire Wine & Food Pairing Competition in Austin, besting two other national finalists, and was a Somms Under Fire finalist in 2014. He frequently travels around the world to visit renowned vineyards, distilleries and wine and spirit experts. Before arriving at Cordúa, Watkins was general manager at L’Olivier Restaurant & Bar. He created the restaurant’s initial wine list, cocktail program and chef pairing menus. Watkins was beverage director at the Azuma Group from 2010-12. He oversaw the cocktail menus, wine lists, and spirits at Azuma’s five Houston restaurants, including Soma Sushi and Kata Robata Sushi + Grill, where he was nominated as a Rising Star Mixologist by Starchefs.com.
Jeffrey Wilson, LAURELHURST MARKET (Portland, OR)

Jeffrey has worked in the service industry since he was 15 years old. Over the years, he has done front of the house, back of the house, as well as winery production and distribution. Currently, Jeffrey is a manager at Laurelhurst Market in Portland, Oregon.
John Zoller, PALEY'S PLACE (Portland, OR)

John Zoller is currently working as a bartender for chef Vitaly Paley in his new restaurant Imperial. John is a native of the Pacific Northwest and started his journey and love of wine in the Willamette Valley. John has been lucky enough to be involved with IPNC for several years, and considers it one of his favorite weekends of the year.