2017 Speakers

2017 Keynote Speakers

Steve Gross, Vice President, State Relations for Wine Institute

Steve Gross Vice President, State Relations Wine Institute Speaker’s Biography Steve Gross is Vice President, State Relations at Wine Institute, where he has been employed since 1986. Steve’s duties entail overseeing the activities of Wine Institute’s six State Relations Regional Counsels and Regional Managers as they address state legislation affecting the wine industry, as well as coordinating Wine Institute’s legislative and regulatory activities with staff, contract lobbyists and member wineries. Steve regularly participates in many national programs dealing with issues facing the wine industry, both on the legislative and regulatory levels. Steve serves on the Board of Directors of the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance (CCEEB). He also serves on the Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute’s Executive Board. A native of Nebraska, Steve brought to Wine Institute knowledge garnered during his ten years of employment in the on-sale food and beverage industry, as well as extensive experience in political campaigns and legislative activism.

Lulie Halstead, Chief Executive Officer of London-based Wine Intelligence Ltd

Lulie is co-founder and CEO of Wine Intelligence and regarded as a leading thinker in the world of wine business strategy. Prior to co-founding Wine Intelligence, she developed expertise in the wine industry, with hands-on roles in importing, marketing & retailing. Her passion for wine started during summer holidays as a child, when she was frequently taken to the vineyards of France.

She is an established marketing academic, focusing on wine consumer behaviour and continues to teach and supervise on Masters programmes around the world. Alongside her passions are food & wine, she focuses on exploring what makes consumers behave in the way they do. She specialises in qualitative research practices and trend research, constantly developing new ways to uncover the processes of the subconscious mind.

Lulie is a frequent and valued speaker at many international wine industry and academic conferences around the world and the proud Mum of two teenage children. She holds a Masters in Marketing from Kingston Business School, and is a Certified Member of the Market Research Society.

Drew Huening, Director of Strategy, Planning & Optimization

A digital native, Drew has developed marketing strategies and driven advertising results for Fortune 100 corporations and small businesses alike. In his current role at the second largest media agency in the world, Drew vets and tests new advertising and marketing technologies from the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon. His driving passion is providing clarity and direction to those adrift in a sea of acronyms and buzzwords. Drew’s areas of expertise include: customer analytics, search, social, and emerging trends. He is an occasional guest lecturer at the University of Chicago and a regular contributor to the quarterly financial analyst calls of Nomura Securities.

Kent Nowlin, General Manager, Sovos ShipCompliant

Kent joined the ShipCompliant team in 2008 to oversee company’s accounting and finance responsibilities in its startup stage. Through the years, Kent has headed other departments in the company such as administration, sales, and operations. His diverse background allowed him to easily transition to his latest role at Sovos, Vice President of Product Management for ShipCompliant, in which he oversees the development of the ShipCompliant product and provides strategic direction for the beverage alcohol product line.

Kent began his professional career with the United States Marine Corps at age 18. He was stationed in 29 Palms, CA. After his four-year term, he moved to Boulder, CO and worked for several startups before he found ShipCompliant. During this time, he completed his MBA at the University of Colorado Denver, celebrated the birth of his third child, and welcomed the conversion of his hair color from brown to gray!

ShipCompliant, which was acquired by Sovos Compliance in 2015, has been dedicated to solving tax and compliance burdens for the beverage alcohol industry and helping suppliers get products to market more efficiently and reliably, allowing them to efficiently scale their operations.

2017 Moderators and Panelists

Meg Barkley, Director of Hospitality & Wine Club, Clif Family Winery

Born on the Bayou, Meg hails from Louisiana the land of Hospitality. Wanderlust struck as Meg completed her Bachelor of Liberal Arts/Art History degree at Louisiana State University. She lived & worked in the Restaurant, Retail & Hotel industry in Nantucket, Hyde Park, Dallas, Tucson & Mountain View before landing in Napa Valley. Meg a.k.a. the Motivational Goddess grew up in the wine industry at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, joining Clif Family Winery in 2013 as Director of Hospitality & Wine Club. She loves creating and sharing authentic experiences for guests especially when it involves Clif’s Bruschetteria Food Truck. When not at Clif Family she’s usually traveling, cooking or hunting for the perfect meal with her husband, John.

Tammy Boatright, Founder and President, VingDirect

Prior to founding VingDirect in 2009, Tammy served as the head of Foster’s Wine Estates U.S. Direct to Consumer division. In this role, she was acting President of Windsor Vineyards from 2005-2007 and President of International Wine Accessories from 2004-2007. Windsor Vineyards is the largest U.S. shipper of wine direct to consumer and utilizes outbound telemarketing as the primary sales channel. Tammy has 20+ years direct marketing and general management experience, beginning with her position at Collin Street Bakery in 1990 as General Manager of Cryer Creek Kitchens, a producer of specialty baked goods. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. VingDirect is the recipient of the North Bay Business Journal’s 2014 award for direct to consumer in the wine industry.

Jenny Childers, Director of Sales & Marketing, Sullivan Vineyards

Jenny Childers is a twenty-year veteran of the wine industry, with experience in sales, marketing and hospitality.

Childers start to the wine industry began during her studies at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, first working for the Niven Family Estates in their hospitality and marketing programs. After serving almost a decade for the Niven Family Estates, she starts her next chapter with taking a leadership role in the largest Rhone festival in the world, Hospice du Rhone. Working with Rhone producers from France, Australia, Spain, California and Washington helped her to gain insight into the wine industry on a global scale.

In 2008, Childers relocated to Napa where she began working for the Chappellet family as their Director of DTC Sales & Marketing. Childers was recruited by Mollydooker Wines of Australia in 2012 to oversee all USA DTC operations, covering three time zones.

Now serving as the Director of Sales & Marketing for Sullivan Vineyards, Childers leads the efforts in sales and marketing for both direct-to-consumer and wholesale operations for the company.

Chris Denny, Founder, The Engine is Red

With a background in both design and entrepreneurship, Chris Denny founded The Engine is Red in 2008. Now at 17 full-time staff between Santa Rosa and Minneapolis studios, Chris leads the Engine team—developing inspired brand strategies, campaigns, and interactive experiences for national and regional clients. Chris has been named one of North Bay Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and has also been featured by a variety of media, including Fox Business News, USA Today, and CNN Money.

Anisya Fritz, Proprietor & Director of Consumer Experience at Lynmar Estate

In 2008, Anisya Fritz was on hiatus from a demanding international career as an academic and CEO in the humanitarian relief field when her husband arrived home with an interesting proposition. “Lynn was managing Lynmar Estate directly for the first time,” Anisya recalls, “and he realized the direct to consumer portion of the business was going to be crucial to the winery’s success.”Over the years, Anisya has directed the expansion of the gardens at Lynmar, the remodeling of the Tasting Room, the creation of a full private event program and the evolution of an entirely new wine & food tasting experience that continues to expand under the expert hands of Executive Chef David Frakes. Alongside her role at the estate, Anisya continues to teach Wine Business courses at nearby Sonoma State University, consult with several global humanitarian relief organizations and lecture worldwide on humanitarian logistics.

Emily Harrison, Director of Marketing, HALL & WALT Wines

Emily Harrison is the Director of Marketing for HALL<http://hallwines.com/> & WALT<http://waltwines.com/> Wines where she leads one of the most dynamic marketing teams in the wine industry. Harrison utilizes her wide-ranging experience as a strategist to execute marketing and communication plans promoting leading luxury wine brands across all consumer channels. As a digital marketing innovator with 10 years of in-house and agency experience, she is responsible for all marketing decisions, implementation, and adoption. Harrison spearheads marketing efforts that include in-house creative, traditional and digital media placement, email marketing, social media and e-commerce, to name a few.

Harrison has a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising from The Academy of Art University and is an active member of the Napa Valley arts community. She resides with her husband, daughter, and their two dogs in Napa Valley, California.

Sandra Hess, Founder, DTC Wine Workshops


Sandra Hess, founder of DTC Wine Workshops, supports wineries of all sizes in the areas of E-Commerce, CRM, DTC Strategic Planning and Training Services to grow direct-to-consumer wine sales and retain loyal customers. Prior to joining the wine industry, Sandra served business nationally and globally in the areas of CRM software implementations, compliance management, workflow automation, online marketing and public relations. Sandra founded DTC Wine Workshops in July, 2013 to assist winery stakeholders and management teams ready to leverage ideal blends of technology with best practices to capitalize on what is now over a $2 billion dollar industry in wines shipped in the United States. Sandra launched the DTC Consultant Network in August, 2014 to offer a full-service solution by matching direct wine specialists with winery teams on a project or retainer basis. Sandra has been featured in Forbes, Wine Business Monthly, Wines & Vines, Silicon Valley Bank on Wine and was a guest speaker Google’s Start Up Grind event in May 2015. Sandra launched the Direct-to-Consumer Roadshows for Vin65, WineDirect and The Winery CRM (Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution). Sandra is the Board President of Women for WineSense Napa Sonoma, is an Advisory Board member for WIVI Central Coast and has served as a steering committee member for the DTC Wine Symposium since 2013.

Michael Kaiser, Public Affairs Director, WineAmerica

Michael manages all external communications for WineAmerica. This includes press outreach and membership communication. Michael also actively recruits new membership for WineAmerica while getting the association’s message out to the masses. Michael is a regular fixture at industry trade shows and conferences throughout the country. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine, Wines and Vines and Wine Spectator.

Michael is also the main point of contact between the organization and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and handles general regulatory concerns for WineAmerica members. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Drink Local Wine and the Advisory Board of the Craft Beverage Expo.

Prior to joining WineAmerica, Michael provided research and logistical support to two DC based lobbying firms. He also handled compliance issues with a major political party. Michael earned his BA in American Studies and Political Science from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ and a MA in Political Science from American University in Washington, DC.

Christian K. Mullen, General Manager, Chatterbox Wine Marketing

With over 15 years of experience, Christian Mullen has developed a dynamic background in wine sales, marketing, hospitality, and operations management. Honing his skills in the tasting room and restaurant business, Christian has a strong understanding of luxury products and services and a demonstrated ability to recruit and build strong teams that execute organization goals. Starting at Chatterbox Wine Marketing Services in 2009, he has spent the past seven years serving in nearly every position in the agency. Currently as the General Manager, Christian oversees the day-to- day operations, including sales, marketing strategy, client relations, and business development.

Rich Richardson, CEO & General Manager, Turley Wine Cellars

A California native born in Burlingame, Rich has lived throughout the state and finds great joy and fulfillment living and working in beautiful Napa Valley. Early on Rich had a passion for wine and food. While attending California State University Fresno and working in restaurants to pay the college bills, Rich took a wine appreciation class that inspired a lifelong passion for wine. His enthusiasm for the wine industry and its people is as robust today as it was the first day his wine career began. The wine industry has taken him all over the world. Rich has been immersed in family owned wineries from Napa Valley to Paso Robles, Spain and France. Rich worked for Robert Mondavi Winery and Opus One for 15 years, Justin Vineyards and Winery for 10 years, and two other family wine businesses before his good fortune brought him to Turley Wine Cellars as General Manager. Rich enjoys the passion and the dynamic energy of family wineries; working with charismatic wine visionary entrepreneurs is a study in future success and a vast learning experience, as you never know how tomorrow is going to unfold. Rich is at his happiest when he is near the vines and co-workers who share his passion for growing and making outstanding wine.

Ron Scharman, CEO, Astra Digital Marketing Services

Ron Scharman is currently CEO of Astra Digital Marketing Services, headquartered in Napa,California. This full service agency specializes in social media and content marketing, email marketing, and other digital solutions for wineries. Prior to that, he was COO of Chatterbox Wine Marketing and VinoVisit.com, Napa-based companies which offer digital marketing, relationship-based wine telesales, visitor reservation services, and other DTC marketing services. Previously, for 7 years he was President of eWinery Solutions, a leading provider of complete DTC wine ecommerce, POS, and CRM software for wineries. Prior to that, he was COO for New Vine Logistics, a Napa based DTC wine fulfillment company, and served as CEO of the Morrell Wine Group in New York, as well as holding major COO and CEO positions with several national specialty retail chains. He also spent 7 years in corporate and investment banking in New York City with major financial institutions. Mr. Scharman received his MBA in finance and accounting from Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management, and his B.S. degree in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University.

Clark Z. Terry, Marketing Director, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

Clark Z. Terry’s career in wine began in the fall of 2006 when he worked as a cellar intern at Monticello Vineyards and Trefethen Family Vineyards. Soon after finishing his internship at Trefethen, he started work at the retail store of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, an importer of French and Italian wines based in Berkeley, California. First handling shipping and stocking duties and soon after transferring to a full-time sales position, Clark is now the Marketing Director at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, overseeing DTC and DTT marketing initiatives. Clark grew up in Napa with his parents and two brothers. In 2005 he graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Music.

Damian Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of Wine Business Education, Sonoma State University

Damien Wilson was appointed in August as the inaugural Hamel Family Chair of Wine Business Education with SSU’s Wine Business Institute. Dr. Wilson arrived in California with 20 years of professional experience in the wine sector. Dr. Wilson’s research background started with the prestigious Wine Marketing Group, where he worked on a series of projects investigating wine consumer adoption patterns, purchasing motivations and retailing strategies. The client list extended from global organizations such as Pernod-Ricard and the Fosters group, through to generic bodies and boutique wine producers. His professional and research interests have realized an extensive list of trade, consumer and academic publications on crowdfunding, wine consumer behavior, tourism and technology. Dr Wilson’s recent book chapter from Goodfellow publishers: ‘Selling Culture: Growth of Wine Tourism’ was the culmination of years of work to identify and encapsulate the key observations and influential sales tools used by successful wine businesses in this field.

2017 Sponsor Session Speakers

Lesley Berglund, WISE Academy Co-Founder & Chairman


Lesley is an accomplished wine industry entrepreneur and CEO with a focus on change management. Over the past 25 years in the wine industry she has started up 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 11 wine-related companies and trade associations, and served as co-chair of the Wine Industry Technology Symposium from 2005 until 2015. In 2008, she co-founded the WISE Academy, which provides education, training and certification for winery consumer direct professionals. In 2014, she co-founded SOLVE Services, which provides financial analysis, planning and decision support services for wineries. Today, she spends most of her time coaching winery leaders through growth related challenges and opportunities. Beyond wine, Lesley is a member of the Young Presidents Organization and serves in various leadership positions including its International Forum Committee. Lesley is also a third generation Napa Valley native from a grape growing family, with a BA from Wesleyan University and a MBA from Harvard Business School.

Matthew Walsh, Vice President, Tax, Sovos


Matthew is Vice President of Tax at Sovos. He has 16 years of indirect tax experience and is responsible for ensuring that all Sovos tax and reporting solutions are compliant with both domestic and international indirect tax laws. He is responsible for providing strategic direction, guidance and recommendations with the product management team for product enhancement and development. He was named to Technical Advisory Group of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Working Party #9, to draft model legislation for the taxation of cross border services in VAT regimes. Matt is an attorney, a member of the Massachusetts Bar, and additionally, was admitted to the U.S. Federal District Court – District of Massachusetts and the State Bar of Vermont. He has a B.S in Business Administration from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a J.D. from the New England School of Law. Matt works out of the Sovos offices located in Wilmington, MA.

Charles Maniace, Director, Tax, Sovos


Charles Maniace is the Director of Tax Research at Sovos Compliance. An attorney by trade, Chuck leads a team of attorneys and other tax professionals responsible for all tax content that is incorporated into indirect tax software offerings for all the Sovos business units. Over his 12 year career in tax automation, he has given talks and presentations on a variety of topics including Sarbanes Oxley and Sales Tax Liability, The Tax Treatment of Drop Shipments, The Taxation of High Tech Transactions, the Growth of Sales Tax Holidays, Taxation and Remote Commerce, The Changing Transaction Tax Landscape in Canada, and Utilizing Tax Automation to Effectively Address Use Tax Liabilities. Chuck is a member of the Massachusetts Bar and holds a BS in Business Economics from Bentley College, a JD from Boston University School of Law, and an LL.M in Taxation from Boston University School of Law.