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Donald Gillette Senior Wine Specialist
Yes, the rumors are true, I have been selling wine retail since the Flood. My tasting notebooks began accumulating sometime around 1972. People say that my opinions are strong and I confess that I spend little time on the fence. If there is a desert island somewhere, stocked with old Riesling, I shall retire there.
I first began tasting and selling wine in Santa Barbara more than thirty years ago. I liked the job from the beginning and enjoy it even more working in San Francisco. During my first fifteen years in the industry I tasted and sold wines from around the world, learning to appreciate the best examples from Europe's great appellations, while experiencing first hand the explosive growth of our local wine industry. Since 1988 I have sold small production California wines almost exclusively. My first and most important function at NVWE is to taste wine.
I evaluate wine in a straightforward, orderly manner. I first survey impressions of scent, then flavor and it's ability to linger on the palate; then I progress to the wine's mouthfeel and textural impact; this leads to decisions about its varietal accuracy, internal harmony and overall appeal. All these impressions are tallied before I make judgments concerning its value, appropriate drinking times, market demand or appropriateness for our store.
Kristen Leonardini Wine Sales
I have been raised to enjoy food and wine. I love different varietals and especially like matching them with first courses.
I have been at the Napa Valley Winery Exchange since the day we opened the doors. I have a practical approach to the wine tasting, drinking and buying. I don't look for chemical components in wine or dissect a wine to the point where I can't enjoy it. If a wine is good, I will drink it. If a wine is not so great, well that's another story. One of my favorite times for wine is when I am either cooking, eating or getting together with family. There is a place for wine in everyone's life and I can help you whether you are looking to consume, collect or give wine as a gift.
John Sumners General Manager
Being originally from the Hoosier State, one would expect a propensity for basketball and corn-dogs. But as fate would have it, I instead gravitated toward classical music and fine wine.
After surviving a six-year stint in the cutthroat NYC restaurant business, I set my sights on the West Coast. Sunny days, foggy nights, exquisite food, and a world of beautiful wines beckoned. I brought my sales experience and wine knowledge with me to Napa Valley Winery Exchange. Fortunately for my colleagues and customers, I left the hard-edged attitude back East.
As for my free time, an ideal day consists of a Colts or Saints game on the TV, a bottle of bubbly on the table, and a pot of gumbo on the stove...that is, when I'm not out in the vineyards tasting through everything in sight.
William Duplain Wine Specialist
Although my occupational experience in the wine industry may seem to lack focus, from selling fire security to Napa storage facilities, working and managing various wine-centric restaurants, to outright peddling of alcoholic wares to shops around the bay area, one thing has remained steady: a pursuit of knowledge and intrigue by placing one's nose in a glass.
I fell in love with fine wine and California at the tender age of nineteen. Ever since I have been working to align this juvenile crush turned passionate obsession into a career, and after forays in Italian form and the battlefield of Australia find myself back in those familiar arms and close to success.
I have always likened wine to people. At times immature, beautiful, brash, elegant, or misunderstood, but the second you think you have someone figured out is the moment you realize there is so much more to learn.
James Jackson Wine Sales
My sojourn in the wine business started in the mid-seventies when I was enrolled in Culinary school in San Francisco. I was introduced to a class on wine that was part of the curriculum. Over the years I have worked in food and wine service at the University Club and the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon. I was head baker at Acme Bakery in Berkeley for ten years. While there, I had a friend who worked at NVWE in San Francisco. On weekends I would visit with warm bread and apple tarts. We would taste a little wine and I thought about what a great place this would be to work and before I knew it I had a part time position! That was about 12 years ago and I am still here.
One of my favorite pastimes is to take a drive to different wine regions and look for new vineyards and wineries. This led to my nickname at Napa Valley Winery Exchange - "Vineyard Sleuth!"
Should you wish to call me, I am usually at the wine store on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lisa Owens Graphic Designer
I have experience working as a professional designer for over 14 years in both digital and print mediums. My love of wine and desire to learn about California micro-production wineries led me to Napa Valley Winery Exchange. Here at NVWE, I have found a way to combine two of my passions - good wine and creativity.
I enjoy time sharing food, wine, and conversation with family and friends. I'm a fan of celebration and enjoy making custom labels for your events and special days. Please contact me at email@example.com or call the shop for details.
Midori Iwamoto Wine Sales - Japanese Specialist
Yukari Matsuhisa Wine Sales - Japanese Specialist
こんにちは。由香里です。長野県の田舎で生まれ。山と田んぼとリンゴ畑に囲まれて育った、筋金入りの田舎っ娘。 大自然の中でのんびり伸び伸び培った五感で（たまに第６感で）、ビビビッと感じたことを最優先に行動する感覚人間。 感性に従って生きてきたところ、気づいたら私の五感が一番喜ぶモノ＝ワインになっていました。
渡米して間もなく、サンタバーバラへ小旅行に行き、そこで飲んだピノノワールに感動して以降、カリフォルニアワインにすっかりどっぷりハマり、今日に至っています。 ワインのクオリティはもちろん、ワインの作り手さんやワイナリーそのものについて、知れば知るほど、ワイン1本1本に込められた愛情の大きさ・深さを実感する日々。 「ワインとは・・・愛だよねぇ～。」なんて大真面目に思いながら、一口一口、１杯１杯・・・気づけばボトルが空いている毎日。
美味しいものも大好き。食いしん坊万歳！ その日開けたワインと、作ったお料理のペアリングがうまくいったときは、ものすごくテンションが上がります。 お気に入りの音楽を流しながら、美味しいワインとおいしいお料理を、おしゃべりしながらゆっくりと時間をかけて楽しむのが何よりの至福の時。 週末には、お気に入りのレストラン（リストは増え続ける一方・・・）で、美味しいワインとお料理に舌鼓をうつ日々。