Carrie Boyle is the co-founder of River City Wine Week, a wine writer for Sacramento Magazine online and she has over 20 years in the wine industry. She has been a general manager for a national wine & spirits retailer, owned and operated her own fine wine shops, and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). She has judged wine competitions around Northern California, made her own wine, designed and taught classes, orchestrated large wine events and traveled to wine regions all over California, Oregon, Washington, Australia, New Zealand, France (Burgundy, Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Champagne, and Beaujolais), and Spain (Rioja and Ribera del Duero). Today, in addition to managing River City Wine Week, she acts as a broker representative for hand-crafted wineries from various corners of the world.
A huge fan of wine and spirits, Rich has been writing about adult beverages since 2008 and is currently a columnist and lead reviewer for WineReviewOnline.com and serves as co-editor of SpiritsReviewOnline.com. He is the founding Director of The Toast of The Coast Wine Competition, and also serves as the current Director of the Monterey International Wine & Spirits Competition, Distilled San Diego Spirits Competition and Robert Whitley's Challenge Series of wine and spirits competitions. Rich also enjoys "sitting on the other side of the curtain" and has judged at several major competitions, including East Meets West, Grand Harvest Awards, Long Beach Grand Cru, Riverside International, Central Coast, North of the Gate and the Foothill Wine Fest.
“TK,” as he is known to many, originally hails from Sacramento CA, where he created and hosted a radio show for three years called the “Golf & Grape Guys” on the most listened to station in Northern California. He launched the Golf, Grape & Grub Show in the Dallas/Fort Worth market a decade ago after moving there. The show was Nationally Syndicated on the BizTalk Radio Network. Catching the social media wave, the GGG Show is enjoyed Globally on FB Live. Podcasts are featured on BizVod.com and aired on all their networks including: Biztalk Radio, BizTV, and You Too America as well as all of their affiliates. Listening to him on air, you’ll never know what he’ll say next. In 19th hole fashion, it usually makes his co host blush. A wine aficionado and collector for over 30 years, TK was a proprietor of a wine bar and cafe that boasted a selection of 500 premium wines. He has been to hundreds of AVA tastings in California, Oregon & Texas.
John Compisi has been a freelance wine, food and travel writer for over 10 years. His website BitesFlightsandSights.com has been the locus of his writing for the past two years but previously Examiner.com and other print and digital media have featured his writing. His travels have allowed him to enjoy the wines of California, New York, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, New Mexico, the Okanagan in British Columbia, most of Italy, Burgundy, Alsace , the Rhône region of France, Germany, Slovenia and Croatia. A longtime resident of Sonoma County, he and his photographer wife, Linda, relocated to Reno, NV in 2021.
Level II Certified Sommelier
-Former Sommelier of Michelin starred restaurant
-Two-time Wine Spectator Best of Award of excellence
My roots in hospitality can really be traced back to my mom. My restaurant experience however, started from my time working at Morton's the Steakhouse. I moved on to other restaurants including Piatti and Ella dining room and bar. I became the Sommelier at the Kitchen and stayed there for almost 4 years. I transitioned into wine sales so I could focus on my growing family! After doing a year in wine sales (selling to restaurants), I was furloughed due to the pandemic.
That leads to now! I'm excited to put wines in front of you and your friends and family that you may not have had or heard of before! My goal truly is to bridge the gap between good people and good wine!
Mike Dunne began writing of wine 50 years ago as a reporter with the Amador Dispatch in Jackson. He has been following the evolution of the California wine scene ever since, with a continuing focus on wines, wine issues and wine personalities of the Sierra foothills. Today, he freelance writes for various publications and platforms, but for 30 years had been a writer and editor with The Sacramento Bee. When he retired from The Bee in 2008 he was the paper's food editor, wine columnist and restaurant critic. For more than a decade after retiring he continued to contribute a wine column to The Bee. He and his wife Martha, also a judge on the wine-competition circuit, live in Sacramento.
Martha is a Wine Enthusiast who has been practicing for 25 years as an evaluator – “judge” if you will – with her husband, Mike Dunne. In addition to her wine interests, she is an autism advocate and author of “’Wait, What Do You Mean?’ Asperger’s Tell and Show.” She also loves her art form as a professional interior designer.
Michael Kelly started collecting wine in 1978 and have always enjoyed tasting and meeting folks in the industry. Was in executive management for several Silicon Valley startups. He visited wineries in India, China, South America, Canada and almost every state in the United States as well as numerous countries in Europe. Upon retiring from the high-tech semiconductor world in 2013, he immersed himself into my hobby and passion dealing with wine. He has sold tons of grapes, judged wine competitions, Founded the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition, on average tasted 1500+ wines per year and exported wine to Michelin 3 Star restaurants in Asia. Founded the website https://californiawinesandwineries.com which publishes a minimum of twenty times a month, a guest blogger on over 65 BLOG’s & social media daily and published nationally in American Wine Society. The focus and scope of writing is on small artisan and handcrafted wineries. He is also a collector of wines focused on California Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and premiere Chardonnay’s. In addition he likes to spend time on the lesser known wines like Mencia, Nero d’ Avola, Vranac, Negroamaro, Picpoul, Saint Macaire, etc. Currently located in Copperopolis but spend a great amount of time traveling to Sierra Foothills, Lodi, Livermore, Napa and Sonoma wine regions.
Lorenzo grew up between Albania and Italy. After graduating from the Jesuit High School, he attended the Polytechnic University of Milan, studying Civil Engineering. His travels around the wine region of Tuscany caused him to fall in love with cooking and wine. He soon realized that wine was not just a liquid in a bottle but a way of life. After working for famous Florentine restaurants, he decided to open his own in 2011 and soon rated it as one of the region’s top ten restaurants.
"It was a bottle of the 2012 Andis Cabernet Franc that got me hooked on this land," he says. In 2015, Lorenzo joined the Andis team as a tasting room attendant and soon promoted to National Sales Manager. Today as Partner, he works directly with the winemaking team, putting together the best wines that our vineyards can offer. Every day is a challenge, finding new outlets for Andis Wines and sharing Amador's history with folks all over the country.
"Great wines taste as they come from somewhere. Lesser wines taste as they could come from anywhere".
G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski is a dynamic and exciting speaker and his enthusiasm for wine is balanced by his years of teaching and educating both consumers and members of the wine trade. In 2022, he will be celebrating his 50th Year in the Wine Industry. What began as an intense curiosity about wine and the industry decades earlier has turned into a lifelong passion for Pucilowski. Any “student” will get the facts they need to know to make an informed decision about how to taste wine and which wines to buy. He was the Chief Judge and Consultant to the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition for 26 years and was Awarded the prestigious Golden Bear Award for his service. In 2016 he was the recipient of Wine Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in California’s Wine Industry. The California State Fair is one of the largest and most respected tastings of “California only” wines in the country. As a Wine Judge he has been invited to some of the best: San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Fingerlakes International Wine Competition, Houston Livestock, Rodeo and Wine Competition, Michigan Wine Competition and Santa Rosa Press Democrat to name a few. He was the Wine Manager/Columnist for Sacramento Magazine writing a monthly column for consumers for nearly ten years. His articles also appeared in numerous consumer and trade publications. His unique blend of humor and expertise landed Pucilowski his own TV slot called “Pooch on Wine” television segment, airing weekly on Sacramento’s KOVR Channel 13. Today, he continues to make regular guest appearances on television and radio shows throughout the country. He is the Past-President of the Society of Wine Educators, an international organization of 1,500 wine educators from all over the world. He has earned their Certified Wine Educator (CWE) credential, which acknowledges an exceptional standard of both academic knowledge and sensory capability in the field of wine. He was a Charter Member of this Association and served on the Board of Directors for over 12 years. He has also earned the status of Supreme Knight in Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine.
Kara has been in the wine industry for over 15 years holding positions in every aspect from production assistant, through Tasting Room Manager to Executive Director of El Dorado Winery Association. I am passionate about the wines of the Sierra Foothills and the unique terroir we have allowing this region to produce wines of exceptional quality that can rival any wine region in the world.
Elizabeth is a former community college professor turned award-winning writer and journalist by way of a detour through the Napa Valley and Sonoma County wine industry. She is a contributing wine, food, travel, and lifestyle journalist to FWT Magazine, Napa Valley Life Magazine, and WineBulletin.net. She is also a content coordinator and writer for Best Version Media and a copywriter for Grovedale Winery, Matt Parish Wines, MonthlyClubs.com, and Scott Peterson Wines. Elizabeth won the 2017 Born Digital Wine Award for “Best Tourism Content with a Focus on Wine” for her feature entitled, “Lodi: Beyond the Zinfandel.” She holds a doctoral degree in community college education and Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s Level 3 advanced certification. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International Sacramento Chapter and the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association.
Jeff Back is a sommelier, chef and entrepreneur. He’s been in the restaurant industry for almost 30 years and currently owns a restaurant in Folsom with his wife called Back Bistro which has over 150 wine selections and has a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Back Wine Bar was started in Folsom in 2008 as the first wine bar in Folsom and has grown and transitioned into a full-service restaurant currently located at the Palladio.
Jeff is a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Masters and completed the Sommelier Diploma Program from the International Sommelier Guild where he studied under a master sommelier. He has held every position in the restaurant industry and continues to have a passion for all things wine, food and Bourbon related. As a devoted restauranteur, his newest concept coming soon is 24 Hour Kitchens which will be a place for startups to rent kitchen production space for their own life adventures.
Jeff & Mary Stai founded Twisted Oak Winery at the turn of the century, as the culmination of a long string of momentous decisions, including leaving a successful technical career, leaving the city life to move to a town of barely 2000 people, buying some really cool vacant land nearby, ripping our children out of high school, and deciding that starting a winery would be a really cool and fun thing to do.
Scott Litteral is owner of Pizzeria Classico and Il Forno Classico. Il Forno Classico has received many Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence and features close to 450 different wine labels on their list. Scott has been purchasing wine for many restaurants since 1990. Scott has attended the Windows on the World wine class, Oregon Pinot Camp, Paso Robles Cabernet Collective, multiple Family Winemakers Tastings, Premier Napa Valley Wine events, Zap wine tastings, Rhone Rangers Tastings, Evan Goldstein wine classes, Sterling Viticulture Seminar, and numerous trade tastings. Not to mention weekly tasting with local wine suppliers. Scott has been in the restaurant business since 11 years of age with his family and has owned and operated 15 restaurants. Pizzeria Classico has been on Sutter St. in Historic Folsom since 1985 and Il Forno Classico has been serving Gold River since 1995.
Lifetime Restaurateur/Wine Buyer, been working as a Professional Credentialed Judge, judging commercial competitions since 1989. Earned score of 93 on the UC Davis Sensory Evaluation Examination in 2000. Evan has lived in beautiful South Lake Tahoe California for 40 years. When his two restaurants aren’t keeping him busy, he enjoys skiing, sailing and golf, cooking, reading and sampling wines. He also loves to travel and always tries to include golf on the itinerary, and of course wine tasting, too! He and his wife Candice have owned Evan's American Gourmet Cafe for twenty-eight years and the Cantina Bar and Grill for eighteen.
Philip is the General Manager at Sierra Vista Winery and has over 15 years in the wine industry. His passion for wine and his wine career started at age 21 while in college in Fort Collins, CO and working for a large wine retailer. He began studying wines more and took and passed his introductory sommelier exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Realizing he did not desire to work in the restaurant industry as a sommelier, he saved up money and bought a small wine shop in Boulder County, Colorado. He owned and operated the shop for about 5 years specializing in boutique, high-end French, Italian, Spanish and American wines. To be closer to family, Philip sold the shop and moved back to California.
After moving back to California Philip’s spent time as the Tasting Room Manager at a winery in El Dorado County and then as Tasting Room Manager at an Amador County winery before the opportunity arose to become General Manager at Sierra Vista. In February of 2021 he took and passed the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 3 advanced certification. He is well versed in all areas of wine including history of the grapes and wines of the world and California, viticulture and viniculture.”
Laura Ness is an avid wine journalist for whom storytelling is second nature.
A visit to France shortly after college indelibly imprinted the concept of terroir, as she tasted wines in the very towns that bear their names. Sancerre, Chinon and Vouvray were not just wines, they were actual places you could taste.
Laura’s wine obsession eventually led her from high tech communications to the wine industry, where she is the wine columnist and regular contributor to Edible:Monterey, Los Gatos Magazine, the San Jose Mercury News, Edible:East Bay and The Livermore Independent. She judges wine competitions throughout California and has a corkscrew in every purse.
Certified Sommelier (CS) through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) through the Society of Wine Educators, and a Certified Wine Judge through the American Wine Society. I've opened and managed my own wine bar and boutique wine shop; I've worked in wine retail, distributing, and importing; I've participated as a wine judge in many competitions including the International Wine Challenge in London, England, the Indy International Wine Competition, the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association Competition, and many state's governor's cups. I've also operated as a freelance wine writer and columnist for various publications including the American Wine Journal, The Press of Atlantic City, and the Wine Industry Network.
Most recently I was the resident sommelier for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino properties in Atlantic City, NJ and Sacramento locations and am now proudly assisting the winemaking family and team at Lone Buffalo Vineyards while teaching restaurant management classes at Los Rios Community College!
Carrie grew up in the beautiful foothills of El Dorado County. A childhood rich with home winemaking, family picnics at local wineries, and always plenty of good wine at the dinner table, helped guide Carrie to pursue her career as a winemaker. She interned at local wineries, helped her family establish their commercial winery and vineyard, and earned a master’s degree in viticulture and enology at UC Davis.
Carrie’s passion for great wine and love of travel and continued learning led her to intern at prestigious wineries in Burgundy, New Zealand, Oregon and Sonoma Coast, honing her skills before starting her 10 year career at Continuum Estate in Napa Valley, where she worked with Tim Mondavi, starting as Cellar Master and working her way to Winemaker.
What has continued to inspire Carrie most through her diverse experiences is the importance of the vineyards themselves and the resulting unique terrior driven wines, never resulting in two ferments alike. Understanding and learning each individual vineyard or block and how to fine-tune the winemaking and viticulture decisions to gently coax each wine to its full potential and creating blends is what she enjoys most.
Through the years, Carrie has remained devoted to her family winery, working as a consultant and has a deep love and appreciation for the wines of the Sierra Foothills. She recognizes the endless potential coming from the region’s diverse microclimates, complex volcanic and decomposed granite soils, elevation and hillside vineyards. She is thrilled to have now made it full circle, with the opportunity to again work closely with her family at Findleton Estate and shift her focus back to her roots.
With over 20 years combined in the marketing, publishing and public relations industries in the United States and abroad, Michele Smith has specialized in helping authors and business owners achieve publishing success. She is an award-winning marketing professional with years of marketing experience in diverse markets. As a 5x published author, seasoned publicist, and national speaker; Michele Smith has appeared on Rachael Ray, Tamron Hall, CNN, FOX Business, ABC National News, Success Magazine and many national radio programs. She has been writing for over 7 years for Gold Country Media covering Northern California wineries and has previously judged wine for the Bottle Shock Open.
After moving to the Sierra Foothills in 2016, Guy Tucker was so captivated by the local wines, he created foothillswino.com to shine light on the world class wines and wineries of the region. Guy, a WSET Diploma student who is certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the International Sommelier Guild, assembled a panel of sommeliers to blind-taste Foothills wines and to anonymously visit Foothills wineries for the website ratings. Guy avidly collects old wines and is currently writing a book, Wine Alchemy: The Magic of Aged Wine. He regularly blogs about the topic and his favorite wines on Instagram @wine.alchemy.
Chelsea handles external affairs for The Raley's Companies, an innovative, digitally sophisticated retail company, operating more than 250 stores in the Western United States. In her role, she serves as the spokeswoman for the broader organization, while developing and executing the company's public affairs and brand reputation strategies. In her career in grocery retail, she has partnered with wineries and distributors to promote and inspire wine consumption through public relations, social media and event strategies. She has a passion for food, wine and promoting the greater Sacramento region as a destination for residents and visitors.