Rick Kushman is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-wining journalist who is the wine commentator and a guest host for Capital Public Radio, Sacramento’s NPR affiliate. He is also the creator and co-host of the popular national podcast “Bottle Talk with Rick and Paul,” which is featured on the Capital Public Radio podcast lineup among many others.
Rick was a longtime columnist for The Sacramento Bee and his writing has appeared in publications ranging from Time Magazine to Sommelier Journal to Daily Variety. He has worked in the wine industry as a consultant on service and communication and as a Napa Valley-based Communications Strategist for E&J Gallo Winery.
He is the author of two books, and the second, “The Barefoot Spirit,” a business book set in the wine world, spent two months on the New York Times Bestseller list and was a national 2020 Audie Award nominee for best audio business book. He also offers inventive, light-hearted, anti-winespeak programs and tastings for corporate events and for the public and conducts media trainings and public speaking seminars for wineries, corporate clients and industry groups. Rick has served as Co-Chief Judge for the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition and is currently Chief Judge of the State Fair’s Home Winemaker’s Competition. He is also a judge for the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, among many others.
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.
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.
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.
Marco has worked in the wine industry since 1981. For the last 18 years he has grown grapes and consulted for local wineries in the Sierra foothills. Prior to that he was Winemaker at Swanson vineyards in Rutherford for 17 years.
Carrie Findleton comes to the Foothill Wine Festival with a Masters degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis and 18 years of winemaking experience rooted in her family’s winery in Eldorado County. Carrie’s passion in winemaking and love for travel has led her to opportunities in Burgundy, New Zealand, Oregon, Sonoma Coast, and most recently Napa Valley as the former winemaker at the Continuum Estate.
Sharing the experience of being alive through wine, with a tilt towards the existential. Writer, Influencer, Wine judge, Consultant.
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".
Since 1996, Christian O’Kuinghttons has been developing Atlantis Casino Resort Spa’s impressive and award-winning wine list as Sommelier d’Hotel. During his tenure at Atlantis, Christian has perfected the wine list for two Wine Spectator Award of Excellence restaurants. As Sommelier d’Hotel, Christian searches for wines that come from small producers of beautiful grapes. He fully immerses himself in the process by walking the vineyard with the winemaker to see firsthand how the wine is made. A regular columnist in the Reno Gazette Journal, Christian is eager to share his wine philosophy, and enjoys talking to guests about the process he took to become a Sommelier. In addition to his role as the AAA Four Diamond resort’s Sommelier d’Hotel, Christian has been an integral part of Atlantis’ cocktail program. He believes in teaching up and coming Sommeliers the ways of the industry, and has trained more than 500 students at various levels, conducted seminars, and taught courses at a college level.
Passionate promoter of all libations originating in the Sierra Foothills.
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 Smith is a contributing food, wine, and travel writer to the Napa Valley Register and Napa Valley Life Magazine as well a project writer for Naked Wines USA. She has also written for American Winery Guide and WIN Advisor. In 2017, she won the Born Digital Wine Award for Best Tourism Content with a Focus on Wine for her story entitled, “Lodi: Beyond the Zinfandel.” In addition to her writing, Elizabeth is the communications and social media specialist for Matt Parish Wines and Vinture LLC. Her past professional experience includes community college teaching, wine club management, social media marketing, and remote travel management. Elizabeth 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’s Sacramento Chapter and the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association.
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.