My name is Darwin Oniyx Acosta (they, them). My preferred name is Oniyx Acosta.I identify with Latin-X & LGBTQIA+ community. I am the founder and current director for Co-Fermented, an organization dedicated to the representation of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the wine industry.
Rachel Adams is a 13-year veteran of the Oregon wine industry and led hospitality, sales, and marketing teams at some of the Willamette Valley’s best-loved wineries. Rachel founded ASSEMBLAGE in 2019, a nonprofit focused on equity in the wine industry. She now directs the wine arm at Play Nice PR.
Maryam Ahmed (she/her/hers) is a creative entrepreneur based in Napa, CA. Maryam + Company designs brand extension programs and educational experiences for purpose-driven clients that want to grow their business, increase engagement, and deepen their impact while celebrating food and wine. Maryam has experience in distribution, consumer education, dining, enology and viticulture, and events. Most often, her work takes place at the intersection of chefs, sommeliers, activists, sustainability experts, creatives, media, and visionary organizations. Prior to Maryam + Company, she was the director of public programs at the Culinary Institute of America in California.
Maryam co-founded the Diversity in Wine Leadership Forum in 2020 and last June, Maryam + Company launched Field Blends, an immersive food and wine travel experience focused on opening up conversations about what’s emerging in wine and agriculture. Field Blends features unique tastings, tangible takeaways, and local provisions with educational experiences and critical discourse.
Maryam was recently named a Wine Enthusiast Future 40 Tastemaker, listed as one of the Imbibe 75, and nominated for the Social Visionary Wine Star Award in 2022.
Tiffany Bobbs started in hospitality in 1999 and worked her way up from host at Char to current position as General Manager, Wine Director, and Sommelier at The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen. She is currently studying for WSET Level 3, CSS with SWE, and Oregon Wine Expert.
Dilek Caner currently is the Director of Tasting World/Dallas Wine Center, an organization that educates the wine trade and the consumer since 2005. Prior to the formation of Tasting World, Dilek taught at other organizations such as Institute of Culinary Education and American Sommelier Association. Earlier in her career, she has worked at Wine & Spirits Magazine and has been a sommelière at Restaurants Bruno Jamais and Alain Ducasse. Dilek is a Master of Wine, a title which has been earned only by 312 people in the world to date. She also holds a Ph.D. in Economics from New York University.
Katie earned her B.A. in Spanish and Global Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. She’s lived and worked in Chile, Spain, France, where she earned her M.Sc. degree in Wine Business, and the UK, working wine retail and writing for leading trade publication Harpers Wine and Spirit. After returning to her home state of California in 2014, Katie has focused her career on marketing and communications for the international luxury portfolios of Wilson Daniels, Paul Hobbs Wines, and now ODL, where she leads public relations and strategic planning for the company’s global clients. Katie has worked harvests in Chile, Burgundy, and Napa Valley, holds the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wine and Spirits, and is an MW candidate with the Institute of Masters of Wine.
Elaine Chukan Brown travels the world speaking and writing about wine. They love cockatiels, their rabbit Harrison, kid Ellaita, and long walks on the beach at sunset.
Jim Clarke is the U.S. Country Manager for Wines of South Africa. Prior to joining WOSA in 2013 Jim was the wine director at Armani Ristorante and Megu, both in New York City.
Jim has also been writing about wine for twenty years and has contributed to a wide range of trade and consumer publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, Fortune, World of Fine Wine and Club Oenologique.
In 2020 Jim received the International Louis Roederer Wine Writer Award for Feature Writing and in August of that year Wine Business Monthly named Jim as a Wine Industry Leader of the Year for his work supporting South African wine during the Covid pandemic.
Jim is the author of The Wines of South Africa, published by Infinite Ideas as part of the Classic Wine Library in July 2020.
Shana Clarke is a wine, sake, and travel journalist for consumer and trade publications such as Fortune, CNN Travel, Wine Enthusiast, NPR, Hemispheres, and VinePair. She’s served as a judge and a writing mentor at the TEXSOM Awards, holds a Level 3 Advanced certificate from Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and is a Certified Sake Sommelier. In addition, she is a contributing author to the book The Wine Lover’s Bucket List, which published in 2020 by Rizzoli. In December 2022 she released her book, 150 Vineyards You Need to Visit Before You Die. See her work at shanaspeakswine.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @shanaspeakswine
Julia Coney is a Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas-based wine writer, wine educator, speaker, and consultant. Her wine writing includes stories on wine, winemakers, and the intersection of race, wine, and language. She holds a WSET Level Two Certification in Wine and Spirits and is currently pursuing her Master Level Champagne Certification with the Wine Scholar Guild and WSET Level Three Certification. Julia is the recipient of Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 Social Visionary Award Winner for her work in writing and speaking on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wine industry.
Julia is the Founder of Black Wine Professionals, a resource for wine industry employers and gatekeepers, professionals, and the food and beverage community. Their goal is to lift up the multifaceted Black professionals in the world of wine.
Julia is the Wine Columnist for Sweet July. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, VinePair, Wine Enthusiast, Thrillist, The Tasting Panel, Plate Magazine, Forbes.com, WineEnthusiast.com, The Washington Post, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine Searcher, the Financial Times, JancisRobinson.com, Glamour, Essence, and numerous print and digital publications. Julia is a 2019 Fellow of the Professional Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Julia has spoken at conferences such as wine2wine, Assemblage Symposium, The Culinary Institute of America’s Summit for Sommeliers and Beverage Professionals, and Bâtonnage Forum. You can find her on all social media at @juliaconey and her website juliaconey.com.
Born in London, raised in Sydney Mark has over 40 years of experience in the hotel, restaurant and wine business, fifteen of those as a Sommelier. In 2001 he was name Sommelier of the Year at the Vancouver Wine Festival- also won the Spirited Industry Professional award in 2014.
As a Department Head and instructor with the International Sommelier Guild he was instrumental in the on-going development of the curriculum and has taught classes in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.
Mark is an annual judge at Texsom International Wine Awards and has judged many other competitions in both Canada and the US. His Wines of Australia book for Classic Wine Library will be available in 2023. Mark is currently Head of Education Development for Wine Australia in North America.
Nick Davis is a Master Sommelier and founder of two companies. With his first venture Medium Plus, Nick selects fine wine for private clients, and hosts educational events for industry students and enthusiasts. His second project is Unicorn Imports, offering Champagne and other fine wines from around the world to the Seattle restaurant and retail market. During his down-time, Nick enjoys language learning, jazz music, and visiting Red Pandas at the local zoo.
Rachel DelRocco Terrazas is a Tucson, Arizona-based writer, editor, speaker, and consultant with 20 years in the hospitality and beverage space. Her work includes writing and media content on wine, spirits, and the intersection of beverage with wellness, sobriety, art, and culture. She consults with clients on editorial programming, production, and communications. In July 2023 Rachel joined the TEXSOM team to assist with communications and social media content production.
Jessica is a Wine & Spirits columnist for Decanter, Forbes.com, and Texas Monthly. Her work has also appeared in Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast, Imbibe, GuildSomm, SevenFifty Daily, Southern Living, VinePair, and National Geographic Traveler. Dupuy also co-hosts a wine and spirits podcast, Another Bottle Down, with Mark Rashap of Broadbent Selections. She holds a Diploma with the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust, and is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and a Certified Specialist of Wine and Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators.
Jessica is the author of Uchi: The Cookbook, The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family and Love, Jack Allen’s Kitchen Cookbook, The United Tastes of Texas and The United Tastes of the South through Southern Living, and Tex-Mex: Traditions, Innovations, and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border with Atlanta-based chef Ford Fry. Her latest book, The Wines of Southwest U.S.A., a part of the Classic Wine Library, covers the emerging American wine regions in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado.
Dupuy holds a B.A. in History from Trinity University and an M.A. in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She is a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier–Austin and lives in the Texas Hill Country. Among the things she enjoys most are cooking with her kids, sharing great wine with friends, and fly fishing with her husband.
Follow her on Instagram at @jessicandupuy.
Sarah Jane Evans MW is a writer, broadcaster, speaker & consultant, Co–Chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards, former Chair IMW, and a Series Editor of the Classic Wine Library. Research focus on wines of Spain, and Chair of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino. WSET Outstanding Alumni Award.
Mary Gorman-McAdams is a Master of Wine, independent wine consultant, wine judge, educator, conference speaker, and wine business advisor. Elected Council Member of the Institute of Masters of Wine and served on Global Education Committee 2012-2023. Proud judge and speaker at TEXSOM.
Juliette Gust is the founder and president of Ethics Suite, a company that helps businesses identify, investigate and resolve alleged wrongdoing at their organization by providing a comprehensive solution for internal whistleblower reporting and tracking of workplace misconduct, fraud, or theft. Ethics Suite also provides expert support for internal investigations and ethics and compliance-related consulting services, and is the creator behind HotelEthics. com and RestaurantEthics.com.
Ms. Gust has personally conducted or led close to 2,000 investigations spanning 75 countries and has advised on more than 10,000 employee ethics line reports. She developed and was the Director of the Fraud & Investigations team for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide with 180,000 employees in more than 100 countries. She also served as the Project Manager and a core member of the company’s Anti-Corruption compliance program, leading the development of a best-in-class global anti-corruption risk assessment, audit plan, and third-party due diligence program.
Juliette has been a Certified Fraud Examiner since 2007, and was the 2003 recipient of the International Food & Beverage Forum’s Food & Wine Founder Michael Batterberry Award. She is also a former Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance Showcase of the Star’s “Star”, and the 2004 winner of the Wall Street Journal Award for Excellence in Accounting. She is fluent in Spanish.
Davon D. E. Hatchett is a multi-passionate wine professional forging a multi-disciplined career path in the industry as a published freelance writer; a wine law, trademarks, and brand development attorney; and CEO of a wine lifestyle company focused on normalizing diversity in the luxury wine space.
Brian Hay has been working and learning in the food service industry since the late 1980’s. As a young child in Ontario, Canada, he was a faithful viewer of “The Galloping Gourmet”, one of television’s earliest cooking shows. He moved on to more formal studies earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Hotel and Food Administration from the University of Guelph, Ontario, and a Master of Science degree in Restaurant Management from Purdue University.
A strong believer in life-long learning, he holds a number of professional certifications, including:
Sommelier diploma from the International Sommelier Guild
Certified Sommelier Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers
Certified Specialist in Wine and Certified Specialist in Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators
Certified Executive Chef along with a Certified Culinary Educator with the American Culinary Federation.
Brian has been the Program Director and Instructional Dean for 4 Culinary and Hospitality Programs around the country focusing on Culinary Fundamentals and Beverage Management for over 25 years. While doing this, in 2019, he started his own consulting business Art of the Pair.com, where he writes numerous articles related to Food and Beverage pairing along with Tea Reviews. He’s completing his first book on the art of food and beverage pairing.
Where does he get his energy from? He says his own inspiration comes from his family and a simple phrase from Anthony Bourdain: “Good food, good drink, good view, and good company. What else is there in life?”
Cat Nguyen fell in love with wine at an early age. She inherited her first wine program when she was only twenty-one years old. Over the next ten years, she ran successful wine programs from casual to fine dining restaurants all over Houston, Texas. In 2015, Cat left the restaurant floor to pursue a career in distribution as a Vanguard representative for Republic National Distributing Company. She holds an Advanced Certification with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators and a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is continuing her studies in the future to advance to the next levels with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
Chuck is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers & a Certified Specialist of Wine with The Society of Wine Educators. He has been working as a Sommelier/ wine buyer/ consultant in the South since 2016. He is currently the Wine Director/ Service Manager at BRAVO! Italian Restaurant.
Francis Percival writes on food and wine for The World of Fine Wine. With Bronwen Percival, he is the coauthor of Reinventing the Wheel: Milk. Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese. He is also a judge for the World of Fine Wine’s World’s Best Wine List Awards.
Scott Tyree is a sommelier, hospitality consultant and educator based in Freeport, Maine. A 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Tyree started his wine career as wine director at Michelin-starred Restaurant Tru, a James Beard Award winning restaurant in Chicago. During his 9-year tenure at Tru, he received numerous accolades including being named Best Sommelier in 2003 and 2005 by the Jean Banchet Awards, a peer-given award by the Chicago restaurant industry.
In 2004, Tyree was named a James Beard Semi-Finalist for Outstanding Wine Service. In 2007, Tyree joined Hart Davis Hart, an internationally recognized fine wine auction house, as a marketing specialist. After a return to the restaurant floor in 2009 as the wine director of Michelin-starred Sepia Restaurant in Chicago, he was once again chosen as Best Sommelier by the Jean Banchet Awards for a third time.
He is now a dual resident of the rocky Maine coast and Cape Town, South Africa. In April of 2019, he earned the Master Sommelier Diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers. He currently mentors several sommeliers and wine professionals throughout Maine and upper New England.
Michael Wangbickler is President of Balzac. With nearly 30 years of experience in marketing and public relations, Mike is a trusted advisor and strategic consultant to his clients. While others are frozen when faced with barriers, Mike is energized by it. He relishes analyzing problems for his clients, finding what is wrong, and providing them with innovative solutions. Mike’s strategic mind enables him to sort through the noise and find the best way forward. He embraces ambiguity and can identify paths to real progress.
Before following his heart to wine country, Mike followed his head to Silicon Valley where he spent 8 fast-paced years in technology communications, where he caught the bug for following the latest trends in marketing tech. Armed with a “live to eat” motto and an evident passion for craft food and beverages and the land, Mike entered Balzac’s life in 2004 and became the agency’s President in 2016.
As a studied disciple of Walt Disney, Mike thinks it’s fun to do the impossible. He believes leadership, imagination, and innovation require a certain level of fearlessness and he encourages his team to step off the worn pathways and break new ground. He leads a team who are driven forward by the stories that inspire people to share in a dream. It is with this philosophy that he’s guided successful marketing and communications campaigns for more than 70 global companies and trade associations from a dozen countries.