2018 Featured Speakers
Co-Founder & Chairman, WISE Academy
Lesley is an accomplished wine industry entrepreneur and CEO with a focus on change management. Over the past 27 years in the wine industry she has started the equivalent of nine new businesses, acquired and integrated four companies and led during periods of dramatic change. As co-founder and former CEO of the Ambrosia Wine Catalogue/the Winetasting Network (which she sold in 2004), she has deep experience in consumer direct marketing of fine wines.
Lesley has served on the board of eleven wine-related companies and trade associations. In 2008, she co-founded the WISE Academy, which provides education, training and certification for winery consumer direct professionals across wine regions throughout the United States and in New Zealand.
Partner/COO Latitude 38 Entertainment
Justin Dragoo is Partner/COO of Latitude 38 Entertainment, producer of BottleRock, Napa Valley.
In 2013, Justin and partners, Dave Graham and Jason Scoggins formed Latitude 38 Entertainment and acquired the BottleRock brand. Since becoming owners and producers of BottleRock Napa Valley, the festival has gained both national and international acclaim.
Justin is also President and General Manager of Gargiulo Vineyards in Napa Valley and a Level II Certified Sommelier. Before that he was VP/Global Technology Services at IBM for 11 years and was responsible for technology outsourcing services in the consumer products industry. He carried P&L responsibility for generating $500 million in revenue. Justin has an MBA from Arizona State University School of Business.
Senior Hospitality Manager, Rutherford Hill Winery
Joseph Foss has been in the winery hospitality business now for 13 years. He started at the Firestone Vineyard in Santa Ynez with the Firestone family. Shortly thereafter the Firestone family sold the winery to Mr. Bill Foley and Joseph began an 8 year adventure with Foley Family Wines. With Foley Family Wines, Joseph was the Regional Hospitality Manager overseeing 12 of Foley’s properties. Those properties included: Firestone, Lincourt, Foley, Baccara, Sebastiani, Chalk Hill, Lancaster, Kuleto, Foley-Johnson, Merus, Langtry, and the Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla Washington.
In 2013, Joseph left Foley Family wines to join the team at Domaine Chandon and learn about the world of sparkling wines.
In 2016, Joseph was honored to be asked to join the team at the beautiful Rutherford Hill Winery, a part of the Terlato Family of Wines, as Senior Hospitality Manager.
Before the wine industry Joseph was an Actor, stunt man and taught movement and clowning for actors.
Owner, NapaSport Restaurant and Bar
With over 28 years experience in the restaurant business, 20 of those in the Napa Valley, Michael Galyen has a background firmly rooted in food and wine. Michael began his career working for various restaurants throughout the Sacramento Valley while going through school. He moved to Napa in 1998 and began working at Bistro Don Giovanni. In 2003, he assumed the role of General Manager and Wine Buyer. During the next six years, he learned about Italian and local wines working with Giovanni Scala. During his time at Don Giovanni, Michael studied with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2008 and was awarded wine buyer of the year for Napa by Tasting Panel Magazine in 2009.
It was also in 2009 that Michael took a job as Manager and Assistant Wine Director at Bottega Ristorante under Chef Michael Chiarello. There he was reminded again of the importance of caring for the locals by way of the wine program. Later that year, he was recruited to be the General Manager of Cantinetta Piero in Yountville.
In May of 2010, Michael was contacted by celebrity chef, Masaharu Morimoto via Chef Chiarello. Chef Morimoto was in the hunt for a General Manager with an affinity for understanding local business. In his time at Morimoto Napa, he was promoted to Regional Director of Operations and had the opportunity to open seven restaurants from coast to coast and all the way to Bangkok, Thailand.
In 2017, Michael was presented the opportunity to open his own restaurant in South Napa’s Century Complex. He used that opportunity to create and design NapaSport, Napa’s first true sports bar and fine dining experience. He hopes to create the next great landing spot for Napa locals as well as visitors to the valley while also establishing South Napa as a viable fine dining destination.
Co-Owner, Contimo Provisions
Inspired by the constant cooking of his mother and grandmother, Ryan has always been around good food. Ryan left graduate school to pursue his passion for cooking and fell into work at a number of incredible kitchens. Working with greats like Christopher Kostow at The Restaurant at Meadowood and the Strategic Hospitality Restaurant Group in Nashville, he learned detail, discipline, and quality sourcing from numerous perspectives.
Ryan was honored as one of Zagat’s 30 under 30 in 2013 while managing Fatted Calf Charcuterie. After staging and working in Nashville, New York, and the Bay Area, Ryan made Napa home and opened Contimo Provisions in 2015. He and his business partner, Kevin Folan, dedicate time every year to further investigate their sourcing. Be it spending time on the Clemson Organic Research Farm in Charleston S.C., or growing wheat with farmer’s at U.C. Davis, they are always looking to learn more about the ingredients they work with.
Human Resources Director, The Meritage Resort and Spa | Vista Collina Resort | Vino Bello Resort
Tami Pacho is the Human Resources Director of the Meritage Resort and Spa | Vista Collina Resort | Vino Bello Resort. She holds the PHR and SHRM-CP Certifications and is skilled in talent acquisition, training and development, safety and risk management, employee relations, payroll and benefits.
Owner, Platypus Tours
Don is the founder and president of Platypus Tours, a transportation company that specializes in wine tours in the Napa Valley, the Sonoma Valley and also in the Russian River and Healdsburg areas of Northern California.
Founded in 2004, Platypus Tours has been recognized by TripAdvisor and the Napa Chamber of Commerce for extraordinary guest service. It currently employs about forty tour guides and nine reservation staff.
Previous to this company, Don was employed as a restaurant manager. He also co-founded a roommate referral agency with offices in San Francisco and in Seattle. Don now lives in Napa with his wife, Kathy and their three dogs.
Human Resources Director Las Alcobas, Napa Valley
Judith Rowlings is the HR Manager for Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel in the Napa Valley.
Prior to her position at Las Alcobas, she worked for ten years at Human Resources at Meadowood Napa Valley. Judth was originally hired as Meadowood’s training manager with an emphasis on helping create and train Meadowood’s service culture. Her role expanded to recruitment, safety and then benefits.
Before Meadowood, Judith worked at Thomas Keller Restaurant Group and Harvest Inn. She is at home in the hospitality world.
Instructor of Business & Entrepreneurship at Napa Valley College
Though she has lived in the heart of wine country since birth, Claudette did not become professionally involved in the wine industry until after college. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Sacramento State University in 1997 and then worked in the corporate communications field at AT&T for several years. After a chance encounter with a V. Sattui Winery tasting room employee, Claudette decided to embrace her passion for wine and lend her skills to the industry. She expanded her role and grew with the company for over a decade, eventually holding the position of Vice President of Marketing and expanding the V. Sattui Direct-to-Consumer Sales in the process.
Ever enthusiastic about growing her skill base, Claudette gained two degrees – an Associate of Science in Wine Sales and Marketing as well as a Master of Business Administration – while growing her family and making a home in the Napa Valley community. Coming full circle, Claudette now lists Instructor of Business and Small Business Advisor at Napa Valley College on her curriculum vitae, mentoring new acolytes to the industry with the same passion for wine that she first had so many years ago.
When not working, Claudette keeps extraordinarily busy as a chair and board member for various Napa Valley organizations and charities. A wife and mother of two young boys, Claudette is an involved parent in the school her sons attend, advocating the highest education standards for all students in the community. Intentional excursions to budding wine regions around the world, such as Croatia and Argentina, have mixed pleasure with the business of checking off bucket list experiences, also adding to her regional and global knowledge of flavor profiles and both boutique and corporate production.
Principal, Steinhart and Associates
Steven J. Steinhart, C.H.S.E., C.H.M.E., is recognized as one of America’s leading sales consultants. Since its inception, Steinhart & Associates has assisted over 5,000 hotels, convention and visitors bureaus, hotel management companies, trade associations, restaurants and hospitals. To date, Steinhart & Associates has had over 40,000 salespeople complete its acclaimed Accelerated Hospitality Sales Training programs.
Having spent twelve years with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Steven directed the sales and marketing efforts at airport locations, suburb properties and major city center convention destinations. He was also responsible for monitoring the sales and marketing efforts at resort destinations and pre-opening properties prior to establishing Steinhart & Associates in 1987.
A recipient of the California Society of Association Executives’ Associate of the Year Award, Steven has served on the Board of Directors of C.S.A.E., the Executive Board of the Western Conference of Association Executives, and the Special Task Force of the Federation of Association Executives.
General Manager, Bardessono Hotel and Spa
Hotelier, consultant, and advisor, Jim Treadway, most recently served as general manager of the renowned Bardessono in Yountville. Previously vice chairman of Benchmark and founder and chairman of MTM Luxury Lodging, which Benchmark purchased in 2011, he is well known and respected in the hospitality industry for his 23 years with Westin Hotels and Resorts, at which he rose to the position of president of the North American Division.
Jim is a leader in the U.S. hotel industry and has been a frequent speaker at industry events. He has guest lectured at Cornell, Florida State, Washington State, Nova University, and the University of Washington. He is a third generation hotelier, whose lodging roots began with Treadway Inns in New England. He attended Dartmouth College, served in the Marine Corps, and later graduated from Cornell University in Hotel Administration.
Human Resources Director, Hilton Hotel
Cheryl Velasquez is the Director of Human Resources at Embassy Suites by Hilton located in Napa Valley. Prior to joining the Napa team, Cheryl worked as the Director of Human Resources for the Waldorf Astoria Park City and Hilton Salt Lake City.
Cheryl is also the co-chair of Napa Hospitality Industry Partnership; an employer focused group working to solve employment issues in the Napa Valley. Cheryl holds a degree in Political Media with a minor in Radio/Television.
In her spare time, she is a writer. She has published one book and is working on her second.