Adrian Bentley Nettles
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC)
Adrian Bentley Nettles was appointed TABC Executive Director in 2017 following successful careers as an attorney and as a brigadier general in the Texas Army National Guard. Nettles graduated from Texas A&M University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in business management and earned his law degree from the South Texas College of Law in 1987. While attending Texas A&M, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was made platoon leader and later company commander for multiple National Guard units. Nettles has deployed to multiple combat theaters around the world, including Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and has received numerous military decorations including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Purple Heart. Prior to his retirement from the military, Nettles served as General Counsel for the Army Element Joint Force Headquarters in Austin. Following his separation from the Army in 2015, Nettles operated a successful law firm in Bryan assisting small businesses and veterans. He is a founding member and chairman of Brazos Valley Cares, a non-profit group dedicated to serving military veterans and their families, as well as many other boards and organizations in the Brazos Valley.
Tasting Room Operations Manager & Wine Educator, WSET III
Lost Oak Winery
Angela Chapman has been in the wine and spirits industry for 8 years and has been studying wine, wine making, and spirits even longer. She got her start working at Centennial Fine Wine and Spirits, where she discovered her real passion for wine. Her extensive knowledge of wine is thanks, in part, to the prestigious Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level III Certification she earned in 2013. She passed the tasting portion of the exam with distinction and the written portion with merit. Having a natural love for her home state of Texas and of Texas wine, she came to Lost Oak to learn hands on about all things grapes and wine. Angela joined Lost Oak Winery in June of 2014 bringing her expertise to our daily Operations. Working at Lost Oak Winery, Angela has acquired experience in all aspects of the business from the vineyard and winemaking to the Tasting Room and Wine Club. When Angela is not at Lost Oak Winery she is spending time with her husband Nick, stepson Xander and their house full of animals.
Senior Wine Business Consultant
Moss Adams LLP
Bill has been working with clients in the wine industry for more than 25 years, and has been solving operational challenges for vineyard and winery clients since 2006. He works with owners and managers to successfully develop and manage their winery operations and build their brands, providing guidance in strategic planning, sales and marketing, and winery and vineyard production and development.
Prior to joining Moss Adams, Bill held executive management positions leading and running estate winery operations ranging from start-ups and turnarounds to highly successful winery businesses. Earlier in his career, he was a lender and an appraiser with Farm Credit, where he was involved with large, complex loans and financing a diverse array of agricultural operations, including vineyard, winery, dairy, cattle, rice, hay, row, tree fruit and nut crop operations.
Dr. Justin Scheiner
Dr. Justin Scheiner is an Assistant Professor and Extension Viticulture Specialist in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. In his Extension role, Justin provides educational programming and technical support for grape growers in the Gulf Coast Region and North Texas. His research program focuses on best management practices for vineyards in areas affected by Pierce’s Disease. Justin also teaches undergraduate courses in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M and is a member of the graduate faculty. Previously, he served as the Director of the Viticulture and Enology Program at Grayson College in Denison, Texas where he taught a variety of viticulture and enology courses.
Justin received his B.S. in Horticulture and Crop Science from Sam Houston State University and his M.S. in Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences from Texas A&M University. He holds a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Cornell University where his dissertation research focused on viticultural factors that affect methoxpyrazines.
Dr. Ed Hellman
Dr. Ed Hellman is Professor of Viticulture at Texas Tech University, based at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg. Dr. Hellman teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in viticulture and enology, and a course in sustainable fruit and nut crop production. He provides local coordination for plant and soil science programs, oversee student recruitment, and provides leadership for outreach and engagement activities including continuation of Tech’s successful Viticulture Certificate and Winemaking Certificate programs. Dr. Hellman also conducts research focused on critical needs of the Texas grape and wine industry, and is initiating a new program investigating sustainable production practices for several fruit crops. He developed The Vineyard Advisor, a mobile application for grape disease and pest management recommendations.
Grower Outreach Specialist
E&J Gallo Winery
Keith Striegler received his Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science degrees from the University of Arkansas in the area of Horticultural Food Science. Continuing his studies in Horticulture, Keith received his PhD from Michigan State University.
He has a leader in the grape growing industry, serving as Grower Outreach Specialist for E&J Gallo Winery; Outreach Coordinator for the National Clean Plant Network; and various viticulture positions at the University of Missouri, Missouri State University, University of Arkansas and California State University.
Keith’s major research is in the areas of vineyard mechanization, sustainable vineyard production systems, influence of cultural practices on wine and grape composition. He provides science based information to growers in a variety of media platforms.
Keith is widely published with articles, reports and publications covering grape growing and vineyard mechanization. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, specifically the Nesbitt Award which is presented to an individual recognizing their significant research and/or extension contributions to the grape industry in the Southern Region.
Martin Frost & Hill, Texas Liquor Lawyers
As a former legislative aide to a state representative and “big firm” lawyer, Kimberly is a seasoned administrative law attorney who represented clients before many state agencies prior to focusing her practice on alcoholic beverage regulatory matters.
- Represents a number of Texas wineries, distilleries, and breweries on federal and state permitting, compliance and labeling matters
- Represents importers of beer, wine and distilled spirits on federal and state permitting, compliance and labeling matters
- Advises the country’s largest wine and spirits wholesaler on Texas regulatory and legislative matters
- Advises a major grocery store chain on licensing, marketing practices and legislative matters affecting its alcoholic beverage operations
- Advises a nationwide discount retailer on national permitting and regulatory compliance matters.
- Successfully challenged the state’s requirement that alcoholic beverage permits and licenses be held only by Texas residents as a violation of the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution
- Successfully defended a national provider of in-home wine sampling events against a cease and desist order from the TABC on commercial free speech grounds
- Assisted a major grocery store chain in restructuring its alcoholic beverage operations and other government-regulated operations to obtain the benefits of tax law changes
- Advised the owner of a professional sports team on (the design of a new arena to facilitate alcoholic beverage permitting and its concession agreement with a concessionaire to sell food and alcoholic beverages in the team’s arena
- Represented a major California winery on Texas regulatory matters
- Represented a major U.S. beer brewery on Texas regulatory matters
- Represented a bankruptcy trustee representing an estate that included a chain of convenience stores holding a variety of alcoholic beverage and other state and local permits
- Supervises and coordinates the renewal of hundreds of state and local food establishment permits for a nationwide discount retailer.
Education & Professional Background
- The University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with honors, May 1998
- The University of Texas, B.A. in Government with highest honors, May 1994
- Angelo State University, 1990–1992
- Admitted to Practice: Texas, 1998; U.S. District Court for the Western District, 2006
- Associate in the Administrative and Environmental Law section of Vinson & Elkins LLP in Austin.
Executive Administrator & Marketing
Lost Oak Family Brands/Lost Oak Winery
Mariam Copeland has a B.S. degree in Zoology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked both in a forensic lab and as a full-time horse trainer and riding instructor before joining Lost Oak Winery in May of 2012. Mariam handles the daily behind-the-scenes activities that help keep Lost Oak Winery running smoothly. From the details of wines, to website and Social Media marketing, to accounts receivable, she does a little bit of it all. Mariam handles online and print media and advertising for Lost Oak Winery. If you can’t find Mariam at Lost Oak Winery, she’s either at home with her husband Chris and 2 dogs, or at the barn riding jumpers and dressage horses.
Messina Hof Winery
Merrill Bonarrigo, a native of Bryan-College Station, Texas, graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Business Management. She and her husband Paul V. Bonarrigo founded Messina Hof Winery & Resort in 1977 in Bryan, Texas, and helped pioneer the wine industry of Texas.
Under Merrill’s management, Messina Hof took the lead in wine tourism, offered the first full service event company; developed with the Parks and Recreation Department of TAMU the first wine hospitality internship program; taught wine marketing at the University of Houston; founded and produced the Brazos Valley Cattle Baron’s Ball; developed and produced a TWGGA annual wine marketing conference, developed “Vineyard Cuisine” and wrote the first Texas wine and food pairing cookbook.
She and husband Paul are now developing a vineyard lifestyle community in The Vineyard District of the Brazos Valley.
In 2013, Messina Hof earned a “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Merrill has been honored with the Louis F. Qualia award, the Blazing Star Award, TAMU Women’s Former Student Legacy Award, and was the first Texas winery Supreme Master Lady of the Vine in the Knights of the Vine.
Southwest Regional Manager
Michael Kolsky is the Southwest Regional Manager for Ganau America, an Italian Cork Producer. In his role at Ganau, Michael is responsible for all wineries in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. Since 2004 when he first started at Ganau, Michael has opened up over 850 new accounts.
Michael’s experience extends to beverage companies and wineries dating back to the 1980’s. His extensive industry knowledge makes him the perfect expert to talk about wines and corks.
What you may not know about Michael is that he started his career out of college as a College Basketball and Baseball Coach, Athletic Director and Promotion Director for the Los Angeles Aztecs, a professional soccer team.
Michael has a Master of Education from Temple University and a Bachelor of Science, Health and Physical Education, from Penn State University attending on an academic scholarship.
Owner, Burning Daylight Vineyards
Burning Daylight Vineyards is a 2-acre vineyard in Johnson County, which was planted in 2013. Missy and her husband David currently manage 1800 vines with a split canopy system that has 22000 linear feet of canopy and has produced an average of 12 tons per year since 2014. David grew up on a farm and is a Civil Engineer. Missy has a B.A. in French and completed the 2-year Viticulture Certificate at Grayson College in December of 2013. Since neither of them had any previous experience with grapevines they sought out every chance to add additional learning to their trial by fire. Grape Camp, Agri-Life workshops and seminars at the TWGGA conference as well as advice from consultants and other growers have been an invaluable part of their experience.
Paul W. McCallum
Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau
Paul McCallum has been the CEO at the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau for the past 30 years. Prior to that he held sales and marketing positions at the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau and Europort Trade Shows B.V. Amsterdam.
He is past Chairman of the Texas Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, past Chairman and Charter Board member of the Texas Festivals Association, past Chairman of the Dallas Fort Worth Area Tourism Council, in 2008 was awarded the Gene Phillips Hospitality Award, in 2011 awarded the TTIA Tall in Texas Award and in 2005 the Lifetime Achievement Award by Texas Festivals and Events Association. He also served on the Board of Governors for the University of North Texas’ School of Hospitality and Merchandising.
Paul was born and raised in Australia and was educated in Melbourne, Victoria and Houston, Texas.
Susie Tucker comes to the wine industry with over ten years of education and training experience. Her passion for learning and education has continued as she stepped into the role of lead trainer and business development for VingDirect. Susie helps family wineries grow their Direct to Consumer business by creating and providing training and education to winery teams through live webinars and trainings. Susie lives in Bastrop, TX with her family and enjoys visiting Texas Wine Country as often as possible!
Washington Winegrowers Association
Vicky has served as the Executive Director for the Washington Winegrowers Association since 1999, building the non-profit from just over $100,000 to nearly $800,000 while developing a proactive education program addressing industry-identified “knowledge areas” and grass-roots based government affairs effort for vintners and growers
Over the past 40 years, Vicky developed and managed organizations, projects, and programs across the US and Mexico and currently uses her experience and skills to benefit non-profits as President of the company she started in 1994, 501 Consultants Inc., that now has a staff of nine. The company consults for and manages non-profits including the Washington Winegrowers Association.
Her skills include non-profit association and project management, non-profit board training, facilitation, strategic planning, organization and project budgeting, grant writing and managing, marketing and communications. Her extensive grant writing and grant administration experience includes procurement and management of nearly $3,000,000 in research, education and outreach grants benefiting Washington’s agricultural industries.
Her range and depth of professional experience have earned Vicky a reputation as a leader, strategist, advisor, and communications specialist. She has a demonstrated ability to implement sound and effective management practices and deliver programs with a refined level of methodology and professionalism.
Vicky’s work experience includes stints with the Washington Apple Commission, Washington State Horticultural Association, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Gerald Dryer and Associates (Madison, Wisconsin), Image Management (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and two Wisconsin State Representatives. She earned a BS in Ag Journalism and Ag Economics from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs. She is a Class 10 graduate of the Washington Ag and Forestry Leadership Program.
She serves, advises or facilitates multiple committees and boards including: National Grape and Wine Initiative, National Clean Plant Network Grape Board, Winegrape Growers of America, National Clean Plant Network Education and Outreach Committee, and the Northwest Foundation Block Advisory Group. She has also twice served on a USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative stakeholder review panel and was then selected for USDA’s Specialty Crop Committee, a Congressionally-mandated body of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board to provide guidance on policies and priorities for agricultural research, extension, education, and economics. The board sponsors stakeholder listening sessions, reviews draft guidance for competitive grant programs, and conducts annual reviews of the agency portfolio for relevance and adequacy of funding.
Digital Brand Makeover
Travis has been producing forward thinking marketing, training and fund-raising media for more than 20 years. Travis is able to quickly understand the business focus and marketing needs of his clients then lead a team to innovate media products that move the mission forward. Travis and his wife Lori have 2 teenage girls.
Colonel Jim Brooks, USA, Ret.
Owner, Cat Spring Vineyards
Jim Brooks ranching may have had some influence on his decision to attend Texas A&M University where he earned an Engineering degree. Following college, he was with the US Army Corps of Engineers for 27 years and, after retiring from the military, served five years as a civilian Engineering Program Manager.
Jim decided to go back to farming and ranching. After years of wine drinking around the world, he and his wife, Ruth, decided to plant a vineyard and make their own wine. In 2014, having no previous viticulture experience, Jim initially established a 6-acre vineyard in Cat Spring, the Gulf Coast Region of Texas. He planted 5-acres of Blanc du Bois and 1-acre of Black Spanish.
Jim says his viticulture experience is hands on coupled with participation in county and state grape camps, A&M AgriLife workshops, tailgates, and experienced Grape Grower mentorship.
Janet B. Butler, Ph.D., CPA, CITP, CGMA
Janet is a professor of accounting in the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State University, and is the Assistant Chair of the Department of Accounting. She is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive), a Certified Information Technology Professional, and a Chartered Global Management Accountant. Her publications include articles on internal controls, fraud, and internal auditing, and her articles have appeared in journals including Business Horizons, Strategic Finance, Management Accounting Quarterly, and Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance.
Linda Campbell, Ph.D., CPA, CGMA
Linda is an associate professor of accounting in the McCoy College of Business at Texas State University. She previously worked as a Director of Finance in South Texas for a major real estate development company and Tax Manager in London, England for one of the then Big Eight international public accounting firms. Her articles have appeared in journals including Journal of Legal Tax Research, Journal of Accounting and Finance, International Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Performance Evaluation, Research in Accounting Regulations, The CPA Journal, Strategic Finance, Management Accounting Quarterly, Journal of Accounting, and Today’s CPA.
Cecily Raiborn, Ph.D, CPA, CMA, CFE
Dr. Cecily Raiborn is the McCoy Endowed Chair in Accounting at Texas State University. She is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Certified Fraud Examiner. Dr. Raiborn has published articles about internal controls, corporate governance and ethics, and organizational fraud in (among others) Strategic Finance, Corporate Reputation Review, Business and Society Review, Journal of Business Ethics, and Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance.
Westover Vineyard Advising
Fritz Westover has been working hands-on in the viticulture industry since 1999, assisting growers in the eastern, southern, and western United States. He began as a vineyard worker for the Chaddsford Winery in southeastern Pennsylvania, while obtaining his BS in horticulture from Penn State University. Fritz completed his MS in 2003 from the Penn State Department of Plant Pathology, where he worked on projects including grapevine decline in replanted vineyards, grape disease management, and the science of compost application in vineyards.
Fritz has worked internationally as an assistant winemaker for the 2004 harvest at Caiarossa Vineyards and Winery in Pisa, Italy. From 2005 to 2007, Fritz served as Virginia Tech’s Viticulture Research-Extension Associate at the Alson H. Smith Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Winchester, Virginia. From 2007 to 2013 he served as Viticulture Extension Program Specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service where he worked statewide on developing viticulture education and research programs. Fritz worked in California from 2013 to 2015 as Technical Program Coordinator with the Vineyard Team, a leading grower group in the Central Coast of California, where he developed hands-on educational programs and applied research demonstrations to enhance vineyard sustainability. Fritz continues to consult for vineyard clients in more than five states in the southeastern US, serving as a leading resource for growers of Pierce’s disease tolerant and vinifera winegrapes.
Fritz contributes to several national viticulture education projects including content contribution to the national eXtension web page for commercial grape production. He has been a member of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) since 2005 and served on the board of directors and as chair of the board for the eastern section of the ASEV.
Event Sales Manager
Messina Hof Grapevine Winery
Garrett Gomez serves as the Event Sales Manager at Messina Hof Winery in Grapevine, TX. Garrett has enjoyed being in various realms of Event Planning and Management for the last 6 years. He joined the Messina Hof team in November of 2015 and has loved growing with the company ever since. From festivals and corporate gatherings to small intimate weddings, Garrett enjoys working with his clients to dream up and execute their perfect event.
Jillian Johnson DeLeon
West Coast Sales Manager, Technical Winemaker
Jillian found her passion for wine while studying neurobiology at UC Davis. She graduated with her Viticulture & Enology degree in 2001 and soon thereafter found herself traveling the globe making wine in McLaren Vale (South Australia), Margaret River (Western Australia), and Stellenbosch (South Africa). After three years of hopping hemispheres, she settled at the infamous Bonny Doon Vineyards in 2004 where she had the opportunity to make a wide range of wine styles from over 30 different grape varieties.
Now a seasoned winemaker, she works as a Technical Consultant for Laffort USA and has her own small wine brand, Onesta. Her experience working in large and small-scale wineries has given her the expertise to find solutions to most winemaking situations in the cellar. Jillian enjoys helping winemakers improve their protocols, trouble shoot difficult wines, and educate people on the technologies available today.
Paul V. Bonarrigo
Messina Hof Winery
Paul Vincent Bonarrigo, along with his wife Merrill, have pioneered the Texas wine and grape industry since planting their one-acre vineyard in 1977. Since that time Paul has dedicated himself to building a successful family-owned business that produces high quality grapes and award-winning wines.
Now, 40 years later, Paul Vincent and Merrill work side-by-side with their son, Paul Mitchell and his family, Karen, Sophia and Paul Anthony producing over 130,000 gallons of wine annually and staying in the forefront of the Texas wine and grape industry.
Neal Newsom, who grew up in Yoakum County, took a chance when he decided to grow grapes on the Texas High Plains. Today his vineyard is one of the largest in Texas, serving more than a dozen of the state’s top wineries.
The Newsom Family has more than 100 years of cotton farming experience and when Neal started his own cotton farm he also decided to plant alternative crops – peanuts, alfalfa, pumpkins and soybeans. But Neal remembered his chemistry professor at Texas Tech University, Dr. Roy Mitchell, who said grapes would be a good crop for the High Plains. Neal visited a new winery in the area who listed all the reasons why planting a vineyard was a smart move. The rest, so they say, is history.
In 1989, Neal harvested the first real grape crop. As his vineyard grew, he added a machine harvester that allowed planting more, harvesting faster and with less labor. Newsom Vineyards has a unique way of doing business – true partnerships with wineries where both the grower and the winemakers have full investments. Today, many of the wineries they work with are growing faster than what Neal can plant so keeping up with the demand is what keeps him going and growing.
Kyle Frazier Consulting
Kyle Frazier serves as the lobbyist for the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association. He represents the Association before the Texas Legislature and various state agencies on issues concerning alcohol regulation, environmental regulation and agricultural regulations impacting wine manufacturing and the grape growing industry.
Kyle is the Executive Director of the Texas Desalination Association.
Associate Professor & Extension Horticulturist- Pomology & Viticulture
Texas Pierce’s Disease Program Outreach Coordinator
Department of Horticultural Sciences
Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service
Jim received his B.S. in horticulture from Texas A&M in 1977 and his M.S. in horticulture from Texas A&M working on perennial food crops. Jim has served as a research associate and instructor in the A&M Hort. department, was a commercial peach grower for ten years and was the extension team leader of the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program for Cornell University from 1988 to 1996. In 1996, Jim returned to Texas to serve as an extension specialist in Fredericksburg.
Jim serves as a farm advisor to fruit growers across the state with an emphasis in the Texas Hill Country. He has and continues to conduct applied research to address the needs of commercial and home fruit producers. His current activities include an aggressive program to evaluate Pierce’s disease resistant varieties and rootstocks, work on chemical and cultural control of cotton root rot and the evaluation of fruit varieties in sustainable orchard settings.
Technical Marketing Supervisor
Eglantine Chauffour, technical winemaker at Enartis USA, is responsible of research projects, technical support and consulting services for the wine industry. After graduating with a double Masters Degree in Viticulture-Oenology and Agronomic engineering from Montpellier SupAgro (France), Eglantine traveled the globe making wine in France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and now USA. Her international experiences working with diverse varieties, various wine styles, in large and small-scale wineries has given her the expertise to find solutions to most winemaking situations. Eglantine enjoys helping winemakers optimizing their process, troubleshoot difficult wines and making rosé and sparkling wines!
Dr. Tim Dodd
Texas Tech University
Dr. Tim Dodd is the James Young Regents Professor of Hospitality Management, and Director of the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute at Texas Tech University. He also serves as the Associate Dean of Administration in the College of Human Sciences.
Dr. Dodd worked with the New Zealand grape and wine industry before becoming involved with the Texas industry in the late 1980s. He served as the President of TWGGA in 1996-1997 and was active in a number of other roles within the Association.
Tim completed his dissertation work on winery tourism and continues to conduct research on various marketing and economic issues related to wine. He has also published numerous articles concerning wine marketing and winery tourism in a variety of journals and has presented at a number of international conferences.
William Chris Vineyards
Bill Blackmon has over 30 years of winegrowing experience in Texas, having planted and managed several of the state’s earliest and finest vineyards in both the High Plains and the Hill Country. Beginning in the late 1970’s, after graduating from Texas Tech with a degree in agriculture and economics, Bill worked with some of the early wineries in the Lubbock area. In the following decade he planted and managed vineyards in the High Plains. In the 1990’s he moved to the Fredericksburg area to plant some of the first and longest running vineyards in the Hill Country, including a William Chris estate vineyard in Willow City, Granite Hill Vineyards.
Grayson Davies is the winemaker for Arché, pronounced [ar-khay], a family owned and operated vineyard and winery situated in the Red River Valley of north Texas. Grayson Davies received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture from Texas Tech University and was the first graduate of the TTU Viticulture and Enology program in December 2011.
Grayson has been involved in the Texas wine industry since 1999, with the planting of his family’s vineyard, then, while attending TTU he became head winemaker for Arché in 2010. Today he continues to promote growing and producing quality Texas wines by encouraging education and information sharing.
Meredith Eaton found her passion in winemaking as a hobby winemaker over 10 years ago. In 2011 she enrolled in the Viticulture and Enology program at Grayson College and received an Associate of Applied Science degree in both Viticulture and Enology with Summa Cum Laude honors in the spring of 2014.
In June 2015 Meredith, and her husband George opened Firelight Vineyards, a full production commercial vineyard, winery and tasting room. The tasting room is located on a quaint town square in Valley View, Texas just off of I-35. Firelight Vineyards has received community recognition over the past few years including Small Business of the Year in 2016 by the Valley View Chamber of Commerce, and New Business of the Year in 2016 by the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce. Meredith plays an active role in her local community, and is the former president of Pilot Point ISD PTO, the former president of the Valley View Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as a board member of the Texoma Craft Beverage Alliance.
Helena A. Williams
Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute
Texas Tech University
Helena A. Williams, MPSSc is a PhD Graduate Student, Part-time Instructor and Research Assistant at Texas Tech University. Her research interests include sustainable gastro-tourism destination development as an economic driver, particularly in developing areas. Helena studies the characteristics and practices that gastro-tourists attribute to memorable food and beverage related experiences. This work includes examining food and wine synergies and the importance of wineries to regional gastro-tourism trails and clusters.
Helena is a recognized international gastro-tourism expert assisting destinations design, market, deliver, and evaluate food- and beverage-related experiences that gastro-tourist stakeholders value. A recent project includes working within India to benchmark micro and macro gastro-tourism readiness. Her current research on sustainable gastro-tourism destination has been published in peer reviewed journals, cited, and featured at multiple international conferences in the US, the UK and Europe.
Helena is also a Research Assistant for the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute where she concentrates on best practices in winery/vineyard and restaurant/distributor relationships. Previous experience includes 20-years of entrepreneurial management as President of a multi-million-dollar educational training, event and conference-planning firm in Pennsylvania; owner and executive chef of Baltimore’s first gastro cafe and gallery; and Partner and Co-founder at Mar-Kadam Associates, a firm that specializes in branding, rebranding, and renaming in service, hospitality and entrepreneurial ventures. Helena also holds a Certificate De Cuisine de Base, De L’Ecole Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.
Business Development Manager
David Randall is the Business Development Manager for Ball Corporation and has worked within the can industry for over 18 years. His work the last two decades has taken him to over 60 countries as he has helped hundreds of beverage companies grow through the adoption of new and innovative cans and specialty decorative effects. Currently he focuses much of his efforts on new and emerging beverage categories, including the wine category within the Western and Midwest US.