2023 Sommeliers and panelists
Check back for updates.
Michael Jordan, MS
Jackson Family Fine Wines
MICHAEL JORDAN, MS, CWE
Director of Global Key Accounts
“Sommelier for the People”
Host of CRN DIGITAL TALK RADIO’S “The Word on Wine”
• 2008 International Sommelier of the Year – Whitefish Wine & Food Summit
• 2007 General Manager of the Year – Southern California Restaurant Writers
• 2006 Restaurant Professional of the Year – Orange Coast Magazine
• 2003 & 2005 Sommelier of the Year – Southern California Restaurant Writers
• 2005 Wine Educator of the Year – Starwine
• 2001 & 2002 Sommelier of the Year – California Restaurant Writers Association
• 2022 ‘KNIGHTED’ in France – by L’Echansonnerie du Vin du Pape de France
Five-time Sommelier of the Year and Veteran Restaurateur affectionately named “Sommelier for the People” Michael Jordan is Director of Global Key Accounts for Jackson Family Wines.
Jordan travels the globe to work with key decision makers and hospitality industry leaders. Passionate and friendly, Jordan demystifies the world of wines as a true “Ambassador of Flavor” for wine lovers across the globe. With over forty years working in hospitality Michael holds both Certified Wine Educator and Master Sommelier Diplomas (one of only 15 people in the world to hold both).
Starting in the kitchens of his father’s famous Matteo’s Italian Restaurants in Hollywood and Waikiki, Jordan worked his way up to executive chef and has also done every job in the front and back of the house. Jordan fine tuned his hospitality skills at Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach and opened restaurants for Chef Joachim Splichal in California and Nevada. Overall, Jordan has opened 17 restaurants.
Jordan was Chairman and Chief Judge of the Los Angeles International Wine Competition for15 years and Hosts the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival every year on the island of Maui – this will be the festival’s 42nd year.
Jordan also hosts a weekly radio show, The Word on Wine – in many AM radio markets across the country and podcast on CRN Digital Talk Radio.
Jordan’s previous roles include:
• Global Manager of Wine, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Worldwide
• President of The Beachcomber Restaurant Group
• Vice President of THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon (Zagat 28-29-28),
• GM/Somm of Napa Rose Restaurant, Disneyland Resort (Zagat 29-28-28)
• GM/Sommelier of the award-winning Pinot Provence Restaurant
• GM/Sommelier of the “AAA Five Diamond” Pavilion Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach
Jordan has proctored examinations for the Court of Master Sommeliers to hundreds of Master Candidates, also taught wine education, service and hospitality to thousands of people in restaurants, hotels and cruise lines internationally, across the globe.
Michael was in the documentary movie called SOMM and was responsible for the concept and creation of the series of three SOMM movies – when filmmaker Jason Wise took Michael’s Wine Education Class at the Napa Rose Restaurant at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. Wise was inspired by Michael’s wine course to create the films that tell the story about the culture and dedication of service obsessed restauranteurs and hospitality professionals.
“Michael Jordan is one of just 15 people in the world awarded both Master Sommelier and CWE (Certified Wine Educator) Diplomas. And if there were an equivalent for farming heirloom tomato expertise, he’d have that, too.”
– Priscilla Mayfield’s column in Orange Coast Magazine – August 2013
Josh Orr, MS
European Wine Tour
Ladies of the West
Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Joshua Orr got his start in the wine industry while attending Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, California. He worked for Breakaway Wine Tours as well as at Taste Wine Bar, a tasting bar for the Edna Valley Vintners Association.
Following graduation from Cal Poly, he lived and worked for a year in the famed Burgundy wine region of France. Upon returning from France, Orr moved directly to Las Vegas to begin work as a sommelier at B&B Ristorante in the Venetian and then Fiamma Trattoria in the MGM Grand. He left Vegas for San Diego where he was wine director for Vineagogo as well as the Marina Kitchen at the San Diego Marriott Marquis. With the birth of his first son, Brady, in 2015 he moved to the sales side of the industry with Epic Wines and now works for Broadbent Selections, a national wine importer.
Orr is one of the US’s newest Master Sommeliers, having passed the exam in 2019. He also was top of his class when passing the advanced exam for the Court of Master Sommeliers. He is also a certified specialist of Sake from the Sake Education Council. Orr was named Ranch and Coast’s Best Sommelier in San Diego in 2012 and 2014. Also in 2014 he won the Top I Somm competition for best sommelier in the US.
Orr currently lives with his wife and two sons in San Diego and is the Director of Education as well as manages sales for SoCal, Hawaii and Nevada for the importer, Broadbent Selections.
Christopher Ramelb, MS
Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits
A Lifetime of Achievement with Pierre Seillan
Champagne & Caviar
Christopher Ramelb MS, a native of Kaua’i, started his wine career as a business analyst for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits after earning a Computer Science degree at University of Hawaii-Manoa. He has twice since represented Hawaii at the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs National Young Somm competition and earned the coveted Johnston Medal in 2016, achieving the highest score for all Advanced Sommelier examinations in the calendar year. After stints at Vino Italian Tapas and Alan Wong’s, he took the post of opening Wine Director at Senia, where he helped earn the restaurant a James Beard nomination for “Best New Restaurant” and a spot in Wine Enthusiast’s 2017 “America’s Top 100 Wine Restaurants”. He rejoined Southern Glazer’s as the Restaurant Sales Manager in 2018, the same year he first passed the Master Sommelier examination.
Greg Brewer, Wine Enthusiast 2020 Winemaker of the year
Greg Brewer ’s primary focus in the winery is the pursuit of refinement. He is engaged in every aspect of his work from vineyards to market, and every level of the process is given equal attention. To him, a mindful approach where strategic and efficient actions are taken to incorporate the needs of the entire ecosystem is essential. This pursuit creates a confident and calming environment, yielding a space where everyone and everything is appreciated.The goal is the synchronicity of the system. The result is wine that is honest and driven, expressive of the place and the team who collectively stewards them.
Greg has always followed a distinct and deliberate arc in his work, where the priority is service, subtracting extraneous elements and minimizing the insertion of self. He reveres the repetitive and monastic nature of the winemaking craft, and after thirty years in the business is firmly committed to the immediate task at hand. This focus shifts the motivation behind the wine from ego towards humility. For Greg, it is only along this path that the resultant product conveys the sincerity and vulnerability that are his goals, both professionally and personally.
Greg started his career as a French instructor at UC Santa Barbara before being trained in wine production at Santa Barbara Winery starting in 1991. He created his eponymous label, Brewer-Clifton with original partner Steve Clifton in 1996 and later designed Melville where he worked as winemaker from inception in 1997 through the end of 2015. Greg created diatom in 2005 focusing on starkly raised Chardonnay and additionally Ex Post Facto in 2016 dedicated to cold climate Syrah. In 2020, Greg was named Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Wine Star Awards. The entirety of his career has been rooted in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation which he helped to map, define and establish in 1997.
Champagne Louis Roederer
Champagne & Caviar
Ladies of the West
Proprietor, Winemaker, Head Fiddle
Founded in 1989, Fiddlehead Cellars defines founder and winemaker Kathy Joseph’s commitment to produce wines from Santa Barbara County and the Willamette Valley that capture the essence of their bi-state roots. As a grape grower and winemaker of undeniable grace, her wines embrace sustainable farming and offer textural, age-worthy expressions of place.
Kathy is a pioneer in the domestic evolution of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Grüner Veltliner. As architect, grower, and on-site manager of the iconic Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills, she has earned recognition for her early vision, dedicated to captivating the essence of these varieties through a fusion of Old-World pedigree with New-World opportunity.
For over three decades, Kathy has operated Fiddlehead Cellars as a one woman show, assuming the roles of winemaker, farmer, scientist and “Headfiddle.” Her passion and guiding light encompass not only the marriage of art and science, but more accurately, the artistry of the science within the natural world of plants and fermentation.
Champagne & Caviar
Broadbent Selections – European Wine Tour
Christopher P. Lavin, C.W.E. is a highly respected wine expert and professional wine taster, with a long and illustrious career in the wine industry. With certifications from both the Society of Wine Educators and the Court of Master Sommeliers, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of wine and the global wine industry.
Currently serving as the Senior Vice President and Director of Sales for Broadbent Selections, a global wine importer representing 43 family wineries from 15 countries and over 100 appellations, Christopher has been with the company for almost 11 years. Prior to joining Broadbent Selections, Christopher worked as the Wine Director for Michael Mina’s XIV in Los Angeles, and consulted on various wine programs for a number of different restaurant groups on the West Coast.
Christopher has won numerous awards for his wine lists and has frequently been profiled in wine and food magazines. He is a master of the wine-and-food pairing, and a talented cook in his own right. He has also founded his own wine and travel consulting company, Insiders Wine Guide, and is involved in wine cellar management and wine education.
With an international background that includes living in Chile, Singapore, and Brazil before moving to the United States, Christopher brings a unique perspective to his approach to wine. He has been to every major viticultural region on the planet and is excited to finally make it to the Ancient World later this year for a trip to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and a visit to the legendary Chateau Musar.
A regular on the Food & Wine circuit, he was one of the lead sommeliers and speakers for 10 consecutive years at Pebble Beach Food & Wine as well as Los Angeles Food & Wine.
Christopher believes that the more you know about a wine’s origins, character, value, and ability to add magic to an already magical dinner, the greater and more lasting your pleasure. He has been coming to Hawaii since he was three years old and has family living in Oahu, making him a frequent visitor to the beautiful islands.
Ladies of the West
Inheriting her father’s vision and verve, Cleo Pahlmeyer is the new generation of Wayfarer.
Raised in Napa, her education took her east where she received a BA in Art History from the University of Virginia, and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Connoisseurship of Fine and Decorative Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London.
Ladies of the West
Kristy Melton, Winemaker
Kristy Melton has more than a decade of experience crafting wines with structure, finesse, and age-worthiness. Before joining Freemark Abbey, Kristy held winemaking roles at several Napa Valley and Sonoma County wineries, including Clos Du Val, Bootleg, Kendall-Jackson, Saintsbury, and others. In her role as Director of Winemaking at Napa Valley’s iconic Clos Du Val, her exceptional ability to craft modern wines of balance and elegance was widely credited for the winery’s reemergence as a leader in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon production.
An El Paso, Texas native, Kristy graduated with a BS in Biology and Animal Science from Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Following a passion for science, she began her career as a research scientist at the prestigious National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. To afford to live in the metropolitan area, she supplemented her wages by bartending and working at a winery in Maryland. This brought her into contact with food and wine aficionados and piqued her interest in both. A family trip to Napa Valley brought the realization of the science that underlies winemaking and inspired her to shift her focus toward wine. She enrolled at the University of California at Davis, where she earned a Masters in Viticulture and Enology in 2007.
Kristy joined the team at Jackson Family Wines in 2016 and was named among Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s “Top 40 under 40 Tastemakers” as well as Drinks Business’ “Top 30 under 40 Winemakers to Watch.” As of January 2020, she became head winemaker for Freemark Abbey Winery. She is the first female winemaker at Freemark since its founding in 1886 by Josephine Tychson, one of the first female winery owners in California.
A Lifetime of Achievement Wine Tasting Seminar
Vigneron Pierre Seillan carefully crafts each blend of Verite from more than 50 “micro-crus” sourced throughout four appellations. This mosaic of micro-crus provides Seillan with the palette of aromatics, flavors, textures and structural elements he needs to craft the wines of Vérité.
Each micro-cru is harvested and fermented separately, then aged in French Oak barrels of various custom toasts.
Seillan carefully tailors his winemaking techniques and oak regimens to the personality of each lot, providing him with hundreds of unique components, to create the architecture of the final blends of La Muse, La Joie and Le Désir.
Pierre Seillan has spent the past five decades perfecting his micro-cru philosophy to create world-class wines. His passion lies in crafting wines from diverse terroirs, using the same approach to capture the unique expressions of Sonoma County, Bordeaux, and Tuscany in each vintage.
Seillan’s career in the wine industry began at Bellevue, his family’s estate in Gascony, France, where he learned to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and several white varieties. Later he focused on Cabernet Franc at Château de Targé in the Loire Valley. Seillan then spent two decades in Bordeaux making wine at several châteaux for Raoul and Jean Quancard. While working across eight different appellations, he quickly discovered the many nuances within various vineyard sites. This became the backbone of his micro-cru philosophy and allowed him to build the elegant and complex architecture of his wines.
A Lifetime of Achievement Wine Tasting Seminar
Born in 1987, Hélène Seillan spent her childhood in both France and California, surrounded by family and friends for whom winemaking was as much a passion as it was a profession. Following in her father’s footsteps, Hélène pursued a career in winemaking and began splitting her time between Sonoma County and Saint-Émilion. Starting in 2006, she served as assistant winemaker for her father at the family’s Bordeaux estate, where she worked on all aspects of winery management showing the same talent, passion and ability as her father. Hélène studied Viticulture and Oenology at the Institut Rural de Vayres in Bordeaux.
Born and raised in South Lake Tahoe, California, Jeff Stewart is, not surprisingly, an avid skier. But it was a summer trip to France and an enthusiastic chemistry teacher that enticed him away from the mountains and into winemaking. “My summer in France was really my first experience with wine as part of the family meal. I was fascinated with the lifestyle and the importance of wine in that culture,” says Hartford Family Winemaker and General Manager, Jeff Stewart. “I knew I wanted to pursue a career in science and are several conversations with my high school chemistry teacher, I was soon enrolled in the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis. The idea of combining agriculture, science and the creativity of making wine, something celebrated and revered in many cultures for thousands of years, was mesmerizing.”
A UC Davis graduate with a degree in fermentation science, viticulture, and enology, Jeff has been making Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and old vine Zinfandel in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma County for over 25 years. Jeff began to learn the character of the vineyards and the distinct subregions of the Russian River Valley in the early 1990s when he joined
some of the earliest winemakers to study the region.