The Vines is an explorer's club for winemakers and aficionados. Our members come from across the globe to join us in the world’s most famed winemaking regions - Champagne, Willamette Valley, Priorat, The Mosel, Napa, Montalcino, and Mendoza - and make wine with our innovative, award-winning partners. We’re adventurers who believe that a region’s true culture is best unveiled over a great bottle of wine and transformative local cuisine.
A few of our members
Born in upstate NY, Carlos grew up in Ecuador, then moved back to the US after high school. After starting his career in investment banking, he was involved with a variety of start-up ventures in various industries all over the world. He is currently at a boutique investment bank that he co-founded over 22 years ago, while enjoying life in Reston, VA with his 2 daughters.
In his spare time, Carlos enjoys mountaineering, and competing in marathons, ultramarathons, on- and off-road triathlons, obstacle and adventure races. He is also a classically trained guitarist who has recently stepped into music production. He’s fascinated by meditation, existential risk, metaethics of AI, biohacking and healthspan... and, of course, wine.
Having grown up in a family that always enjoyed a house red wine at the dinner table, Carlos was completely enchanted by the variety of international wine and food adventures that later came his way. He craved further immersion in wine culture and education, and at that moment (2006) he found The Vines of Mendoza--a perfect way for him to embark upon a wine education adventure and eventually produce his own wines. He’s very proud of his wines, which have garnered various accolades and stellar reviews - but most importantly, he loves sharing them with great friends, including the Vines team, who made it all possible.
Kay and Steve Armstrong
Originally from the UK, Kay and Steve have spent the last 20 years moving around the world (South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa) with Steve’s career as a senior executive at Ford Motor Company. He is currently CEO of Changan Ford so they are based in Chongqing, China. They have two grown children, Matthew and Charlotte, who both live and work overseas too. According to Steve, Kay is the backbone of this geographically spread family and keeps it all together!
The couple’s love of wine started a long time ago but they fell in love with the Vines when they travelled to Mendoza while living in South America. They bought their little piece of paradise with their good friends Karen and Stuart Duncan and are regular visitors to the Vines resort. While of course they enjoy the classic Argentine Malbec and Cabernet Franc, they also love to experience different wines and are very much looking forward to visiting the Vines sites in Europe and around the world.
A native of England, raised by parents who gifted her a life of navigating around much of the developing world, Alison has never lost her spirit of adventure. It was this spirit that initially drew her to join as one of the Founding Members of The Vines of Mendoza in 2014. She learned to blend wine with the team, and created her own Chardonnay under the label La Niebla (“fog”, her surname, in Spanish). She also discovered a unique community full of authentic people who have made the decision to be part of a globally shared journey of wine lovers and makers, and has decided to become one of the Founders of the new global Vines.
Alison is also an author and mother, and has made her home in San Francisco for the past 35 years. She sits on the International Churchill Centre Board, and is Director of Development of The Josephine Fogg School in Kafue, Zambia. As a storyteller and adventurer she appreciates the varied stories of the many kindred spirits she has met as part of The Vines.
Carol and Wayne Tamarelli
Wayne Tamarelli is a bicoastal angel investor in early stage technology businesses. He also serves on a number of for-profit and nonprofit boards of directors and advisory boards. As a CEO, entrepreneur, private company owner, and public company officer his experience has encompassed general management, entrepreneurship, new ventures, mergers and acquisitions, advanced materials, electronics, environmental protection, specialty chemicals, energy conservation, technology transfer, education, and other business, scientific and policy areas. Before all this, he was a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University and a captain in the U.S. Army.
Wayne’s wife Carol is a former elementary school teacher whose hobbies include cooking, gardening, photography, and crafts. They have 2 children and 10 grandchildren, and divide their time among homes in New Jersey, California, and New Hampshire. The couple especially enjoy international travel and have visited over 150 countries, many repeatedly, and often visiting wineries throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Australia.
Wayne and Carols are partners in Calluna Vineyards in Chalk Hill, Sonoma, California, and happily own vineyards and a villa at The Vines in Mendoza, where they make their Tamarelli wines (www.tamarellivineyards.com)
Colleen Johnson and Derek Maxwell
Derek, a transplant from Scotland, and Colleen, originally from upstate New York, live in Houston, Texas and work in the oil and gas industry. They enjoy their busy life with family and friends, including of course wine, and they began to develop a dream: to make their own great wine--a tall order they thought, as drinking rather than making it was their strength!
After a good deal of research they began to search worldwide and came across the stunning vineyard area in the Uco Valley, The Vines of Mendoza. In April 2018 a visit was arranged, they met the “team”, and were overwhelmed by the down to earth nature and willingness to help teach the art of winemaking. They immediately felt a part of the Vines family, and they truly treasure all the close friends they have made through The Vines.
Cathy and Wright Lassiter
Wright and Cathy Lassiter are true wine lovers ecstatic about recently becoming winemakers. Wright is President/CEO of a large integrated healthcare company based in Detroit. With a 30-year career in healthcare executive leadership and a degree in Chemistry, Wright sees the intricacies of winemaking as a welcome distraction from the demands of the corporate world. Cathy is a retired school psychologist with a background in clinical psychology. She enjoys the range of exposures in winemaking, such as the terroir and the vines, the weather and the grapes, and the winemakers.
The couple also travel across the globe exploring culture and the arts, music, and food and wine, and have developed an eclectic, adventurous palate. They enjoy a broad range of wine styles and regions. Their journey into winemaking began in 2018 with The Vines of Mendoza, producing Malbec on a 1.2 acre plot. Their shared philosophy as winemakers is to produce high-quality, well-balanced wines that are vibrant and expressive, with long aging potential. Lassiter Family Vineyards (LFV) and their wines embody their love of family, friends, and the relationships developed while sharing wine. It encompasses the journey of continuous learning and knowledge, and the experiences that come with winemaking.
Emily and Art
Emily and Art have always been passionate about food, travel, and of course, drinking wine! Fortunate to have traveled the world for both work and pleasure, their Tres Très Bien label is inspired by their three sons and the three elements that they aim to capture in their wine - Argentine terroir, French inspiration and American dreams.
Looking ahead, Art and Emily are excited to be part of a unique community of fellow wine lovers – and eager to share the experience of making, learning, and enjoying wine with their friends.
Scott Miller & Sharon Virts
Scott & Sharon recently joined our Mosel Blending Escape, and quickly decided to become members. The couple resides in Leesburg, Virginia in a historic mansion that they restored from near ruin. With a second residence in Yountville, they are true wine lovers and make their own Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley under their Amlés Wines label. They plan to expand their portfolio with the addition of their Mosel Riesling and the other wines they will make with us.
Rob & Robin Wilder
Rob and Robin live in Austin, TX with three dogs and a cat, and are parents to two adult children. Rob is the co-founder of ThinkFood Group, the restaurant group and media company of internationally known chef Jose Andres. Since 1993 They have continued to work closely together including founding and leading the non-profit World Central Kitchen. Robin also leads a Charitable Foundation and supports several arts and education nonprofits. They have been active in Chevaliers du Tastevin and the Wine Network of YPO and have a lifelong dream to have their own wine label. Rob and Robin are especially looking forward to making wine with us in Priorat, and be sure to ask them about the fun wine tasting game app they developed!
Greg grew up in South Africa and after heading to the US to play NCAA college tennis, stayed on and started his financial services career. It was upon moving to San Francisco that he fell in love with wine, spending many a weekend in Napa and Sonoma. It is also where he met his wife and life partner Luciane, and together they began their winemaking journey at The Vines in 2017.
Greg has held numerous consulting, audit, risk management and chief operating officer type roles, and has spent many a year as a financial crime and fraud specialist. He has held numerous senior executive and C-Suite level roles in various financial services institutions globally.
Having traversed the globe in various banking and broker dealer roles, Greg and Luciane are currently based in London. Whenever possible they love spending time at the beach and in the surf of Luciane’s native Brazil and at their home in Portugal. They additionally seek out off the beaten track adventures in far flung regions of the world, particularly where vines are found, or wildlife is waiting to be discovered and photographed!
In 2005, Michael went on what he thought would be a three-week vacation to Argentina. Falling in love with the Mendoza wine region, he co-founded (with Pablo Gimenez-Riili) The Vines of Mendoza. Their idea was to allow people who are passionate about wine to own small vineyards and transform themselves into winemakers. They now have over 230 vineyard owners, more than 170 award-winning wines, and the celebrated Vines Resort & Spa (ranked as the best hotel in Argentina and #25 in the world by Travel & Leisure). The Vines of Mendoza has become a unique community of winemakers who share a sense of adventure and the belief that “nada es imposible”.
Now Michael, as CEO also of The Vines, is leading the expansion efforts, creating a global membership network of vineyards and wineries, which will enable wine lovers to become winemakers in 12 iconic wine regions throughout the world.
Michael’s personal wines are called Uco’s Playground, after his black Lab, Maria Uco, who has been his constant companion in this wine adventure at the foot of the Andes.
Duffy arrived in Mendoza in April 2006, after Michael convinced her to "temporarily" leave her 10-year commercial litigation law practice in Austin, Texas, to help him start a new company. Prior to joining The Vines of Mendoza, Duffy also served as a logistics specialist on political campaigns at the local, state and national levels, including two United States presidential campaigns.
As General Counsel for The Vines she is facing the legal and business challenges that are part of an international wine business with her signature creative, but no-nonsense, style.
Duffy lives full-time in Mendoza with her husband, daughters and dogs, where she makes her Estrella Sola (Lone Star) wines and enjoys the many vineyard asados with family and Vines friends.
Bryan went to Mendoza in 2006, supposedly for a one-year, pre-business school adventure. That one-year adventure turned into a career with The Vines of Mendoza, and now as a partner and head of overall sales for The Vines. Splitting time between his hometown of Boston and Mendoza, Bryan has been overseeing and will continue to oversee the international sales and marketing efforts for The Vines of Mendoza. These efforts have resulted in over 230 vineyard owners from 18 countries owning 1,000 acres of vineyards at the base of the towering Andes mountains. And now Bryan will expand the offering and help turn wine lovers into winemakers across the globe as Head of Sales for the overall organization The Vines.
A Mendoza vineyard owner himself, Bryan makes Pasatiempo wines, dedicated to his grandfather’s belief that living in the moment and sharing with family and friends is what life’s all about. When not on a plane or sharing wines, you can find Bryan rooting for his favorite Boston sports teams.
Michael was born to a military family in Bermuda. After moving around the world, his family settled at Travis Air Force Base near Napa Valley. His first exposure to wine came with family trips to the wine country. He later had a career in financial services, including as president and CEO of Chase Manhattan and as one of the heads of the private banking group at JP Morgan.
In 2003 Michael turned to “the business of leisure” with the acquisition of Blackbird Vineyards and the creation of its ultra-premium wine label. He then founded The Bespoke Collection, comprising Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley, ÆRENA Galleries and three highly regarded wine projects: Blackbird Vineyards, ÆRENA Wines and The Vines of Mendoza’s own Recuerdo Wines. Bespoke Collection also creates private label wines for industry partners and for several well-known musicians.
With The Vines Michael is responsible for all aspects of affiliate relationships. Calling upon his extensive network of wine relationships, he is also highly involved in The Vines site selection and new winemaker partner development, as well as acting as spokesperson at wine and luxury lifestyle events around the country.
When not traveling, Michael splits his time between San Francisco and his farmhouse on the Blackbird Vineyards in Napa Valley, where he walks the vineyard daily with friends and family.
13 years ago John Voigtmann did what so many have dreamed of: he left a high-flying New York job chasing rock stars around the world for Sony Music and moved to the Tuscan countryside. This “crazy” idea resulted in two of Tuscany’s top luxury boutique hotels, La Bandita Townhouse (including its acclaimed restaurant La Bandita Townhouse Caffe) in the historic center of the beautiful village Pienza, and La Bandita Countryhouse. John has also acted as a hospitality consultant for various projects around the world, specializing in bold design, relaxed personalized service and lots of fine wine.
As Director of European Operations for The Vines, John manages all member hospitality and assists in seeking additional Vines winemaking partners around Europe.
John grew up in Asia, studied in both the UK and New York and has been just about everywhere. These days, you’re most likely to find him in the little village of Pienza, overlooking the Val D’Orcia, with a negroni in hand.
Marie Cecilie von Ahm
A luxury sales and marketing expert with experience in startups, international distribution and media, Marie consults for several top wineries in Europe, advising them on developing their global export markets. She is also an Ambassador for micro-luxury brands, and develops promotional and educational content for wineries, importers and other wine professionals.
Marie is also a wine journalist and critic, having worked alongside James Suckling for www.jamessuckling.com. She was the youngest member to be named to the Grand Jury Européen and continues this work across the globe.
As Director of Site Selection & Wine Educator, Marie selects The Vines’ international winemaking partners, facilitating member visits to these sites. She also coordinates the curated member trips to the world’s great wine regions, and co-develops creative ways to educate members on all things wine-related.
Marie has been passionate about wine from a young age thanks to her Danish family’s globetrotting, and speaks several languages. After a stint in Miami Beach while pursuing her kickboxing career and honing her Champagne sabering skills, since 2006 she has been based just south of Barcelona in Sitges. From this idyllic base she continues her Viking ways, traveling the world singing the praises of Champagne and generally crusading for a better world of wine.
Fran was previously a Vice President at The Vines of Mendoza, where she managed the development of the Vines Resort & Spa and directed the company's Corporate Social Responsibility programs. She then moved to Miami Beach, where as Executive Director at Faena Hotels & Residences, she oversaw all programming and operations for The Residences and Faena Rose, an arts and culture based private members club. Most recently Fran served as Vice President of Membership and Operations at Virgin Management in New York, where she developed a plan for a new residential business and membership community. Fran has also consulted for US and international philanthropic and non-profit organizations, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies.
Now back with The Vines as Director of Membership, Fran will be calling on her extensive background in project management and strategic communications in a variety of industries to ensure that our members’ experiences are of the absolute highest caliber.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Fran currently lives on the beaches of Miami with her Mendocino rescue puppy Jack. She is passionate about giving and volunteers for or sits on the boards of several health and children's advocacy organizations. She is also an arts junkie, and loves soaking up the culture, whether in her own backyard or while world traveling.
One of the first certified sommeliers in Argentina, Mariana began her influential wine career as Sommelier at the famed La Bourgogne restaurant in Mendoza and Uruguay. She also did winemaking internships in Napa and France, including at Château La Violette in Pomerol, Bordeaux.
Mariana started with The Vines of Mendoza in 2007 as Tasting Room Manager and soon became Wine Director. She guides private vineyard owners through their winemaking adventure, including customizing style and varietals, blending sessions and wine education. She is also responsible for wine selection and wine experience planning for the resort’s Siete Fuegos restaurant and The Vines Tasting Room.
Now as Wine Director of The Vines, she works closely with winery partners around the world to ensure that The Vines members’ winemaking experience, from harvest to to blending to labeling, is as enjoyable as possible. Mariana is also co-responsible for The Vines education program, always seeking fresh ways to teach about wine.
Mariana has launched her own wine brand, Onofri Wines, and in just a few years most of her wines have already obtained awards from wine journalists, and can be found in many of the best Latin American restaurants. Mariana lives with her husband in her hometown of Mendoza and is always available to share a glass of wine with Vines members!
Heather’s wine career began in 1999 after a short stint as a New York corporate lawyer. She began in wine retail, while getting her American Sommelier Association degree. She then worked in New York and national sales for renowned Burgundy importer Daniel Johnnes. In 2004 Heather moved to Buenos Aires and started her own small consulting business helping a group of family-owned wineries sell all over the US. She also created her own wine brand Dos Minas with an Argentine winery partner.
Heather moved to Los Angeles and acted as the sole Southern California sales representative for a few well-regarded wine and spirits importers. In 2016 she moved to Lisbon, Portugal and since that time has focused on the writing and marketing side of the wine business.
As the Copywriting piece of The Vines team, she uses her extensive wine knowledge, curiosity and writing skills to create detailed Member Guides and educational wine materials for each new site chosen by The Vines, as well as materials for the various trips, events, wine education and other benefits The Vines offers its members throughout the year.
Heather lives in Lisbon with her family, and is just as happy drinking refreshing Vinho Verde on the beaches of Portugal as drinking fine Burgundy or Barolo on the many European travel adventures she embarks upon.
April started her professional career as a marketing coordinator at Wine Spectator Magazine and from that moment she always hoped her career path would lead her back to wine. For a time it didn't seem obvious, as that path led her from catering, then back to marketing, then to event production for various companies (including a Covid testing company!), but now she is happily back in the world of wine. And we are happy to have her, as all of these jobs had one thing in common: the ability to put together several moving parts to build a vision. April is not easily flustered when organizing chaos and is always anticipating needs, so you’ll feel extremely comfortable with April at the helm on our Blending Escapes. When not traveling with The Vines, April lives in San Diego, where she enjoys being outdoors in the sunshine and is currently training to summit a California 14er.
Giacomo Neri, born and raised in Montalcino, took the reins of the family wine estate Casanova di Neri from his retiring father Giovanni in 1991. Since then, the estate has grown to include seven vineyards in various parts of the wine region, now comprising 156 acres of vines. He has had an amazing five wines awarded a perfect score of 100.
He was also among the first Brunello producers to focus on creating either single vineyard or multi-site bottlings, believing that wines from different parcels should be vinified separately to express the terroir and show the uniqueness of the vineyards. Meanwhile, he tirelessly worked toward a goal achieved in 2018, the first vintage in conversion to full organic certification. Casanova di Neri’s eight different wines are among the most consistently and widely lauded Brunellos produced in the modern era.
Ernst Loosen, or Erni as he prefers to be called, came relatively late into his family’s 200-year old wine business, but felt passionate about bringing the family’s focus back to top-end, highly concentrated and terroir-focused wines.
When he took the reins in 1988, he quickly realized that his family’s ungrafted old (some over 100 years old) vines and their incredibly low yields were perfectly suited for the crafting of such wines. Armed with his recently completed vinicultural degree, Ernst set out to travel around the great wine regions of the world, seeking out the best winemakers to discover what they had in common.
When he returned home, he had a newly honed dedication to producing wines that boldly proclaim their heritage and respect tradition. In the vineyards, he committed to shifting the family’s practices to organic to best allow this world-class terroir to shine through.
He also inherited the old-school cellar, which left him no choice but to use more traditional, non-interventionist methods, ideal for making some of the most complex, elegant Rieslings out there. Dr. Loosen and their wines have since received countless awards and high scores from all the international wine publications.
German-born Dominik Huber had his first eye-opening culinary experience traveling around Italy at 19, and returned home to be a chef.
In 1996 he branched out into wine with his first internship at the Priorat winery Mas Martinet. He returned for two more harvests with the pioneering Perez family, during which time he and his then-partner, South African Eben Sadie, conceived of the Terroir al Limit project.
After their humble beginnings making just 500 bottles with purchased grapes, the adventurous pair sought out and bought their own vineyards and cellar in Torroja del Priorat, where they continued their quest to keep the old Priorat winemaking traditions alive. This meant working with only the classic grapes, using no new oak in aging, and none of the typical interventionist techniques.
When the partners amicably separated in 2011, Dominik stayed in Torroja to run the project. Since then, he has expanded into neighboring Montsant with a new line of wines called Terroir Sense Fronteres--and turned his focus to producing only biodynamic wines in an elegant, fresh style that pairs perfectly with the local cuisine. Dominik's internationally acclaimed wines (including one awarded a coveted 100-point rating from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate) have solidified his reputation as the star of Priorat's second generation.
Born in Bassano del Grappa, Roberto Cipresso began his illustrious winemaking career in 1987 when he relocated to Montalcino, working with Case Basse, Poggio Antico and Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona. He has subsequently worked with more than thirty wineries throughout Italy, as well as collaborated with Santiago Achaval in the Achaval-Ferrer and Matervini wineries in Argentina.
Cipresso, the founder of the La Fiorita winery in the heart of Montalcino, is also the founder of the Winecircus project, a Montalcino-based cellar and laboratory dedicated to viticultural research in collaboration with six universities in Italy.
The Vines of Mendoza’s winemaker, Pablo Martorell is young but already heavily awarded from The Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast for The Vines’ Recuerdo Wines. Born and raised in Tunuyán, he has worked at some of the most important wineries in Mendoza, including Bodega Nieto Senetiner, Catena Zapata, Trivento and Bodega Flecha de los Andes, under the esteemed Michel Rolland’s tutelage. He has also worked in wineries internationally: in 2006, he worked for Château de Lauret in Pomerol, Bordeaux, and in 2007, for Château Peyre Lebade and Château Clarke (both part of the Rothschild Group) in Medoc, Bordeaux. In 2009, he worked for Napa Wine Company in California.
Jeff Smith and Tony Biagi
Back in the 1970s, Jeff Smith was a San Francisco indie rock band frontman, while his father sold his high quality Zinfandel grapes to Napa wineries. When his father passed away, Jeff decided to give up the rock life to realize his father’s dream of making great wine from the family’s very special vineyard. In 1992 he replanted the vineyard to a single clone of Cabernet Sauvignon and named it the Hourglass Estate. In 2006, Jeff and his partners acquired the nearby Blueline Estate and planted it to all five original Bordeaux varietals. It is also where they built their highly unconventional "nature-inspired" winery.
Bringing Tony on as winemaker in 2012 was a no-brainer. A fourth-generation Californian, Tony studied winemaking at UC Davis, then went on to be the winemaker for a veritable who’s who of Napa Valley wineries: first on the team at Duckhorn Vineyards, then as head winemaker for Paraduxx, Neal Family Vineyards, PlumpJack and CADE, and consulting winemaker for the legendary Clos du Val. At Hourglass, he brings this vast experience and knowledge of Napa’s grapes to play, and for his part Jeff brings a lovely “musical” touch to the winemaking — as he says, “harmony and dissonance, texture and spacing, balance, color, resonance, vibrancy, and ultimately finding a unique voice, all play out in wine as they do in music.”
The “lightbulb” went off for Bryan, and a lifelong passion for wine and food adventures was born, in a wine and food pairing course at an Oregon culinary school. He never looked back--after graduating he worked for some of the finest restaurants and wineries in the Willamette Valley, and it was there that he gained a deeper appreciation for Oregon Pinot Noir. Realizing he wanted to take that passion even further, he went back to school and in 2008 graduated with a degree in Enology and Viticulture. Since then he has gained broad and varied winemaking experience, working with some of the world’s best wineries up and down the west coast of the US as well as in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2012 with this experience under his belt he returned to his true love, Oregon Pinot Noir, and happily joined the nascent Alexana, where today he oversees winemaking, ensuring that the wines always speak to the diverse top-notch quality of their vineyards.
Being the 7th generation winemaker of a venerable Champagne family is not something to be taken lightly, and Michel Drappier is fully aware of this. Michel takes great care to live up to the legacy of his winemaking parents, who were pioneers in the Aube region of Champagne. He began his path by studying at the prestigious Beaune (Burgundy) winemaking school, then furthering his education after graduation by working in winemaking at Napa’s sparkling wine great Domaine Chandon. By 1979 he felt ready to take on the family mantle, and assumed the winemaking duties at Drappier. Today Michel oversees the 57-hectare Drappier estate, including 15 organically farmed hectares. Now working with his son Hugo, he carries on the family tradition of a strong emphasis on the Pinot Noir grape, as well as his own mission to rescue several otherwise forgotten local grape varietals, while always doing his best to protect the centuries-old sacred vineyard land he’s been given.