Michael Wangbickler


Sommeliers Rebecca Miles-Steiner and Stacey Land selected to attend ProWein 2019

Irving, Texas (September 11, 2018) –– TEXSOM today announced that Sommeliers Rebecca Miles-Steiner and Stacey Land were selected as winners of the ProWein social media contest that took place during TEXSOM 2018. The two winners will attend ProWein 2019, the world’s leading trade fair for wines and spirits, to be held from March 17 – 19, 2019 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Rebecca Miles-Steiner graduated from Wells College, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, with a degree in Theatre.  While working as a Stage Manager in Chicago, her college-sparked love of Riesling and a Jancis Robinson book convinced her to pursue a career in wine retail sales.  She helped to open and then managed a boutique wine and spirit store in Lincoln Park, and currently is the wine and spirit buyer for the Whole Foods store in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.  She is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and a recipient of the Walter Clore scholarship, a French Wine Scholar, and is starting the WSET Diploma program in Autumn 2018.  In her spare time, she tends her vegetable garden, practices barebow archery, and plans her next wine adventure.

Rebecca Miles-Steiner (left) and Stacey Land (right)Rebecca Miles-Steiner (left) and Stacey Land (right)

Stacey Land went back to Greensboro, North Carolina from New York where her father attended the CIA. This return to the south saw Stacey marry, buy a restaurant and further develop her passion for food and wine. She has been seeking knowledge and training not only for herself but for the staff of 1618 Concepts, her current restaurant family. Stacey is the General Manager of 1618 Midtown, the educational leader through classes for the staff and guests, and she uses her Certifications to help guide their fledgling wine club to success. Stacey is currently studying for the Advanced Sommelier Certificate and looking forward to travelling to every wine region-for learning.

“Rebecca and Stacy embody everything we hope for in our TEXSOM volunteers and more,” said June Rodil, Master Sommelier and member of the TEXSOM Conference leadership team. “They were both new to the conference and had never volunteered before. They jumped in, head first, ready for all the challenges and reveling in all the experiences they could find. They worked endless hours, were passionate about education, and were always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need. Their professionalism was impressive and, more so, their enthusiasm for the industry was contagious. It was a true pleasure working with them.”

“There is a unique joy that comes from seeing those succeed that truly deserve it, and thus it is particularly poignant and wonderful to see Rebecca and Stacey rewarded for their hard work,” said David Keck, Master Sommelier and member of the TEXSOM Conference leadership team. “These two beverage professionals demonstrated, not only passion for the work and dove full-on into the educational opportunities afforded them, but also did so with the humility that comes from a sincere understanding of hospitality. It was wonderful getting to know them in their first year of volunteering, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with them more in the future!”

The contest was open to those individuals on the TEXSOM service team who devoted their time and energy to making TEXSOM 2018 a great success. To qualify, entrants had to:

  • Follow ProWein (@prowein_tradefair) and TEXSOM (@texsom) on Instagram & Twitter
  • Post a photo on Instagram and/or Twitter showcasing the partnership between ProWein & Texsom
  • Tag ProWein & Texsom
  • Use hashtag #PROWEINxTEXSOM

The two winners were selected from among all entries.

Held August 11 to 13 at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, TEXSOM is the only event of its kind in the United States.  The speakers and judges constitute a who’s who list of the nation’s top wine professionals. Dozens of Master Sommeliers (MS), Certified Wine Educators (CWE), Masters of Wine (MW) and other respected industry professionals continue to be integral parts of the conference. Key not-for-profit educational organizations GuildSomm, SOMMFoundation, Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, and Wine & Spirit Education Trust are presenting sponsors.

As the world’s leading trade fair for wines and spirits, ProWein is the largest industry meeting for professionals from viticulture, trade and gastronomy. Every year, more than 6,800 exhibitors from 64 nations and 60,000+ trade visitors from around the world gather at ProWein to conduct business, discuss industry trends and recognize excellence in the world of wines and spirits. The high international attendance and quality is a trademark of ProWein, providing a unique business platform and global overview of the current wines and spirits ranges. www.prowein.com

Information about the TEXSOM Conference, including a conference schedule, list of speakers, list of sponsors, and certification opportunities are available on the website at texsom.com.

Michael Wangbickler


Court of Master Sommeliers

Years of preparation finally pay off for the twenty-four newest members of the Court of Master Sommeliers

ST LOUIS, MO (September 5, 2018) –The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas ™ welcomes 24 new members to the organization: Tyler Alden of Heavy Restaurant Group/Purple Cafe & Wine Bar in Seattle, WA; Scott Barber of Green Pin Wines, LLC in St. in Helena, CA; Peter Bothwell of Continuum Estate in New York, NY; Dana Gaiser of Lauber Imports in New York, NY; Morgan Harris of Saison Hospitality in San Francisco, CA; Andrey Ivanov of Bliss Wine Imports in San Francisco, CA; Maximilian Kast of Broadbent Selections in Chapel Hill, NC; Douglas Kim of Piccaso in Las Vegas, NV; James Lechner of Bastille/Stoneburner in Seattle, WA; Jane Lopes of Attica in Ripponlea, VIC; Steven McDonald of Pappas Brothers Steakhouse in Houston, TX; Vincent Morrow of One 65 in San Francisco, CA; Elton Nichols of Canlis in Seattle, WA; Robert Ord of Treasury Wine Estate in Napa, CA; Joshua Orr of Epic Wines and Spirits in San Diego, CA; Daniel Pilkey of Paul Hobbs Winery in Chicago, IL; Christopher Ramelb of Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits in Honolulu, HI; Steven Robinson of Atelier Restaurant in Ottawa, ON ; Justin Timsit of Martine’s Wines in Los Angeles, CA; Mia Van de Water of Eleven Madison Park in New York, NY; Greg Van Wagner of Jimmy’s and Jimmy’s Bodega in Aspen, CO; Steven Washuta of The Pool in New York, NY; Jessica Waugh of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits in Las Vegas, NV; and Jill Zimorski a Champagne Specialist for Moet Hennessy Portfolio in Chicago, IL.

New Master Sommeliers

Held at the Four Seasons Resort in St. Louis, Missouri from September 3rd – 5th, the invitation-only Master Sommelier Diploma Examination was attempted by 141 individuals from 23 states and three countries. The results were announced at the Krug Reception where new Master Sommelier, Greg Van Wagner, was also awarded with the coveted Krug Cup by passing all three sections of the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination with the highest aggregate score on his first attempt.

“This was, without doubt, the most successful Master Sommelier Diploma Examination the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas has ever administered,” said Devon Broglie, MS, Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. “We commend the efforts of all candidates who attempted the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination this year and continue to be inspired by their passion and dedication to the hospitality industry. The Master Sommelier Diploma Examination is extremely demanding.  After years of rigorous preparation, these twenty-four professionals have demonstrated the highest level of excellence within the hospitality industry with their exemplary service skill, beverage knowledge, and deductive tasting ability. On behalf of the Court of Master Sommeliers, I am thrilled to welcome these 24 new members with our most sincere congratulations.”

The Master Sommelier Diploma is the highest distinction a professional can attain in the beverage service industry. The Master Sommelier Diploma Examination consists of three sections: a verbal theory examination, a blind tasting of six wines in 25 minutes, and a practical service component that focuses on restaurant beverage service and salesmanship. Candidates must receive passing scores in each category in order to earn the highly coveted title of Master Sommelier.

Michael Wangbickler



2018 TEXSOM Best Sommelier Competition Presented by Texas Monthly


Irving, Texas (August 14, 2018) –– TEXSOM co-founders and Master Sommeliers Drew Hendricks and James Tidwell yesterday announced at the TEXSOM Grand Tasting presented by ProWein that Kenneth Freeman of Sixty Vines in Uptown Dallas is the 2018 TEXSOM Best Sommelier. The 2018 TEXSOM Best Sommelier Competition, presented by Texas Monthly, takes place during TEXSOM, the most prominent and influential wine education conference in the United States, held annually at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.


Freeman topped an impressive field of 25 other competitors in a rigorous three-part wine examination involving service, blind tasting and theory. An elite panel of Master Sommelier judges named Freeman the 2018 TEXSOM Best Sommelier at a ceremony on Monday evening.  The competition is a traditional part of TEXSOM. To participate, candidates must be a current resident of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, or Texas and must not have passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier Examination or won the competition previously.

“Though we’ve grown over the past 14 years, the mission of TEXSOM continues to be the advancement of our industry and the elevation of service standards in a constant quest for excellence,” said Tidwell. “The TEXSOM Best Sommelier Competition is an opportunity for those individuals who show both a drive to learn and a commitment to these principles. We offer wholehearted congratulations to Kenneth for winning the competition this year. We see a bright future for him and will follow with interest, his accomplishments over the next few years.”

In addition to laying claim to the title of “2018 TEXSOM Best Sommelier,” Freeman received a scholarship of $2,500 from SOMMFoundation to be used for a Court of Master Sommeliers certification program. Lindsay Drew of Guild in Austin was the runner up and will receive a $1,500 scholarship, and the 3rd place winner Morgan Gray of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Held August 10th to 13th at Four Seasons Resort and Club Las Colinas and co-presented by the not-for-profit organizations GuildSomm, SOMMFoundation, Court of Master Sommeliers – Americas, and Wine & Spirit Education Trust—TEXSOM is the only event of its kind in the United States.  The speakers and judges constitute a who’s who list of the nation’s top wine professionals. Dozens of Master Sommeliers (MS), Masters of Wine (MW), Certified Wine Educators (CWE), and other respected industry professionals were integral parts of the conference.

The 2018 TEXSOM conference featured a stellar line-up of speakers, mentors, and competition judges, including:

•    Serafin Alvarado MS
•    Gillian Ballance MS
•    Christopher Bates MS
•    Wayne Belding MS
•    John Blazon MS
•    Bree Boskov MW
•    Devon Broglie MS
•    Jim Bube MS
•    Dilek Caner PhD MW
•    Christy Canterbury MW
•    Elaine Chukan Brown
•    Matt Citriglia MS
•    Jim Clarke
•    Craig Collins MS
•    Brian Cronin MS
•    Charles Curtis MW
•    Ian D’Agata
•    Frederick L. Dame MS
•    Mark Davidson
•    Laura DePasquale MS
•    Jessica Dupuy
•    Sarah Jane Evans MW
•    Michael Franz Ph.D.
•    Keith Goldston MS
•    Mary Gorman-McAdams MW
•    Peter Granoff MS
•    Greg Harrington MS
•    Ian Harris DipWSET MBE
•    Drew Hendricks MS
•    Jay James MS
•    David Keck MS
•    Geoff Kruth MS
•    Ernst Loosen
•    Jack Mason MS
•    Mary Margaret McCamic MW
•    Andrew McNamara MS
•    Melissa Monosoff MS
•    Sheri Morano MW
•    Antony Moss DipWSET MW
•    Nicholas Paris MW
•    Aaron Patrick MS
•    Francis Percival
•    Thomas Price MS
•    Josh Raynolds
•    Jean K. Reilly MW
•    Laura Rhys MS
•    Treve Ring DipWSET
•    June Rodil MS
•    Joseph Spellman MS
•    Guy Stout MS
•    Chris Tanghe MS
•    Liz Thach Ph.D. MW
•    Dirceu Vianna Junior MW
•    Kelli White
•    Nigel Wilkinson MS
•    Virginia Wilcock
•    David Wrigley DipWSET MW
•    Debbie Zachareas

2018 Sponsors: The event is made possible by the generous support of many sponsors, with scholarships provided by the SOMMFoundation.

 Sponsors include: 

(Presenting Sponsors) Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas; GuildSomm; SOMMFoundation; Wine & Spirits Education Trust.

(Platinum Sponsors) Aqua Panna; Balzac Communications & Marketing; Broadbent Selections; Classic Wine Merchants; E&J Gallo Winery; Fortessa; Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas; ProWein; Republic National Distributing Company; Ribera y Rueda; San Pellegrino; Silver Oak/Twomey; The Sorting Table; Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits; TEXSOM International Wine Awards; TRU Estates and Vineyards; Washington State Wine; Wine Australia; Wines from Spain.

(Gold Sponsors) Australia Classic & Rare; Banfi Vintners; Banville Wine Merchants; Barossa Australia; Classified Wine Imports; Champagne Taittinger; Chappellet Winery; Coravin; Dreyfus, Ashby & Co.; GoVino; Irving Texas Convention & Visitors Bureau; Kistler Vineyards; Loosen Bros. USA; Louis Jadot; Lux Wines; Massanois; Mutual Trading Company; Old Bridge Cellars; Oregon Wine Board; Rhone Valley Vineyards; Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans; Texas Fine Wine; Repour Winesaver; Vintus; Wilson Daniels; Wines of South Africa.

(Silver Sponsors) Bliss Wine Imports; Cape Classics; Crimson Wine Group; DSWS; Domaines Albert Bichot; Empson USA; Esprit du Vin; Europvin; Folio Fine Wine Partners; Gerard Bertrand; Gimblett Gravels Wine Growing District; Graves – Sauternes; Helen & Joey Estate; Iron Horse Vineyards; Jackson Family Wines; Jeroboam; Kobrand Fine Wine and Spirits; C. N. Kopke; Lake County Winegrape Commission; Lodi Wines; Multicarte Inc.; MundoVino; Napa Valley Vintners; New Zealand Wine; North Berkeley Imports; Old World Vines; Ole Imports; Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance; Provence Rose Group; Serendipity Wines; Sideshow Wine Freaks Tour; The Cultured Cup; The Wine Group; Vina Cobos by Paul Hobbs; Vini Fantini by Farnese; Vinos D.O. Navarra; West Sonoma Coast Vintners; Willamette Valley Wine; Wines of Chile; Wines of Georgia; Wines of Germany; Wines of Greece; Wines of Turkey; Wine of Uruguay; Winesellers, Ltd; Yraden Inc.

(Bronze Sponsors) Achaval Ferrer; Alexander Valley Vineyards; Almaviva; Arinzano; Austrian Wine; Barnett Vineyards; Becker Vineyards; Bellavista; Bending Branch Winery; Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana; Brazos Wine; Champagne Collet; Chapel Down; Charles Krug; Clos du Val; Craft + Estate; Crown Point Vineyards; Dalla Terra Winery District; Dashe; Delectatio; Domaine Roy & Fils; Dry Creek Vineyard; DuMol; Ehlers Estate; Emeritus Vineyards; Faustino; Fisher Vineyards; Foley Family Wines; Fredrick Wildman & Sons; Freemark Abbey; Gonzales Byass; Groth Vineyards & Winery; Gruet; Hahn Family Wines; Hartford Family Winery; Hope Family Wines; Hundred Acre; Jax; Joseph Phelps Vineyards; Lange Twins; Lede Family Wines; Left Coast Cellars; Lewis Wines; Mad Fritz; McPherson; Messina Hof Winery & Resort; Mionetto USA; Montagu; Murrieta’s Well; O’Neill Vintners & Distillers; Ontanon; Obsidian Wine Co.; Pahlmeyer Wayfarer; Patz & Hall; Pedernales Cellars; Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance; Premium Port Wines; Quivara Vineyards; R & R Selections; Ramey Wine Cellars; Ranchos de Ontiveros; Revana Family Vineyard; Rex Hill; Siduri; SM Wine Group; Ste. Michelle Wine Estates; Tamber Bey; The Hess Collection; Third Leaf; Torbreck; Trefethen Family Vineyards; Villa Maria; Ventisquero; Vineyard Brands; Vintage Point; William Chris Vineyards; ZD Wines; Zuccardi.



Michael Wangbickler

O’Neill Vintners Looks Toward Future

Executive Team Adds Beverage Marketing Expert Christine Moll

Larkspur, California (August 9, 2018) – O’Neill Vintners & Distillers announces that Christine Moll is joining the executive team as Vice President of Marketing. Moll has over 16 years in the industry with a proven track record of building brands.

“Christine is a superstar, with the expertise, energy and drive necessary for us to rise to the next level,” says Jeff O’Neill, Founder and CEO. “I’m impressed with her accomplishments in her previous roles, which is why we asked her to join the team. Her affinity for not only building brands, but also effective and efficient teams will help us realize the future vision for our company.”

Christine Moll

At O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, Moll will be responsible for leading the development and execution of all marketing objectives, strategies, and plans across the organization. This includes brand and company communications, consumer and trade marketing strategies and plans, digital and direct-to-consumer initiatives, as well as working with Jeff O’Neill and the executive team to develop the long-term strategic plan to unlock new sources of growth for the company.

Moll spent her formative years in Guatemala. At an early age, she was encouraged to develop a strong work ethic and pursue her dreams. In 2001, she landed an internship at a spirits company, rising to Senior Marketing Manager within seven years—an impressive accomplishment. Her most recent position, before joining O’Neill, was as Category Marketing Director at Campari America. There she built the brand Espolòn Tequila and set it on a course to transcend the category. Through strong strategy, leadership and striving for continuous improvement, she’s risen quickly to where she is today.

“Jeff’s a visionary,” says Moll. “He doesn’t look at the wine business the same way as everyone else. He’s progressive and likes to challenge the status quo. So do I. O’Neill Vintners & Distillers has a strong portfolio of brands, which are a strong foundation for the future. I’m looking forward to applying my expertise in building successful brands and working with the O’Neill Vintners & Distillers team to achieve Jeff’s vision. It’s going to be fun.”

Michael Wangbickler

O’Neill Vintners & Distillers Launches Exitus

Leading California Wine Producer Expands Portfolio with New Bourbon Barrel-Aged Red Blend

Larkspur, California (July 23, 2018) – O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, a family-owned and operated producer of fine wines and spirits, has announced the launch of Exitus, a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Red Blend. Available nationally, the 2016 vintage of Exitus, a blend of Zinfandel, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Merlot, is aged for three months in Kentucky Bourbon barrels.

“Bourbon barrel-aged wines are one of the fastest growing wine categories today and part of what makes them fascinating is that they appeal to both wine and spirit drinkers. Given our expertise in both wine and spirits, crafting Exitus has been one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on – it’s simply a stunning wine,” exudes Steven DeCosta, winemaker.

Fermented in American stainless steel, and then aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, Exitus is deep ruby in color with aromas of blackberry compote, leather and dark chocolate. Bourbon barrel aging imparts aromas of fire toasted oak, baking spice, caramel and loose-leaf tobacco. Exitus is the perfect wine for consumers seeking a bold, rich red blend combining the best of both worlds.

The Exitus packaging was designed to match the impressive wine quality. Bottled in an elegant, tall clear bourbon-style bottle with a sophisticated and premium label design in black and gold topped off with a traditional spirits-style ribbon seal, communicates sophistication, style and quality. Exitus retails at $25.99.


Michael Wangbickler

Napa County Agricultural Preserve Celebrates 50 Years

Napa County Agricultural Preserve Celebrates 50 Years

Activities planned throughout the year to celebrate golden anniversary


Napa, CA (February 22, 2018): The Napa County Agricultural Preserve marks its 50-year anniversary in 2018. To celebrate this momentous milestone, community leaders from the Jack L. Davies Napa Valley Agricultural Land Preservation Fund and other organizations from throughout Napa County will work together to educate both residents and visitors on the significance of this remarkable achievement.

A landmark ruling, passed in 1968 by the Napa County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, created the Ag Preserve – the first of its kind in the U.S. This innovative statute launched a succession of progressive land-use policies to protect farmland from encroaching urbanization. County leaders and voters overcame initial dissent to prioritize agriculture as the best use of the land. This ground-breaking action protects 31,609 acres of Ag Preserve farmlands from urban development until 2058.

“Today, we are all the beneficiaries of the Agricultural Preserve’s visionary leaders,” says Hugh Davies, Jack L. Davies Ag Fund Board Chair and President of Schramsberg Vineyards. “The Board of Supervisors vote was controversial in 1968, but it is widely celebrated today. By protecting the rich farmland and open space of this world-renowned winegrowing region, the Napa County Agricultural Preserve has helped make the region what it is today—a national treasure and a very special place to live, work and visit.”

To help celebrate this special anniversary, and being reflective of the cooperative spirit embraced by the citizens of Napa County, the JLD Ag Fund is collaborating with organizations throughout the county to educate the public and raise awareness of the Napa County Ag Preserve. These include the County of Napa, Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Visit Napa Valley, Napa Farm Bureau, Napa Valley Museum and Napa Valley Vine Trail.

Among the various activities in the works are:

  • The launch of a new website: napaagpreserve.org
  • A series of short films documenting personal testimonies from  three generations of locals describing the economic, cultural and environmental  importance of the Ag Preserve to the County
  • Four new highway signs on Highway 29 and Silverado will welcome visitors as they enter the Ag Preserve
  • A new kiosk on the Napa Valley Vine Trail, located near Oak Knoll Avenue, will help inform the public of the importance of the Ag Preserve for future  generations
  • A new exhibit at the Napa Valley Museum which will highlight the historical significance of the Ag Preserve and its impact on the present day

For this year’s Auction Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Vintners have included a special auction lot where the lucky bidder will receive a collection of 300 magnums from around the valley, as well as a day in the Napa County Agricultural Preserve with friends experiencing its wines, its vines and its people. Many wineries located in and around the Ag Preserve will also be distributing educational materials in their tasting rooms to further promote the Napa County Ag Preserve to locals and guests.

Additional programs and activities are planned for 2018 and will be announced as more information becomes available. Those interested in finding out more about the Napa Ag Preserve and the activities planned around the 50th anniversary are encouraged to visit NapaAgPreserve.org.

About the Jack L. Davies Napa Valley Agricultural Land Preservation Fund:
In 2003, recognizing a mutual commitment to preserving the agricultural lands and heritage that are fundamental to Napa County’s rural character, the Jack L. Davies Fund, the Napa Valley Foundation and the Napa Valley Agricultural Land Preservation Fund united to create The Jack L. Davies Napa Valley Agricultural Land Preservation Fund. Guided by a volunteer board of directors, the JLD Ag Fund operates under the premise that only an educated electorate can protect the integrity of the land, and is dedicated to a mission of preserving, protecting, and promoting agricultural land in Napa County. More information about the Jack L. Davies Ag Fund are available at JLDAgFund.org.