1. Steve Monson, Early Mountain Vineyards
Steve Monson earned his Master’s from the University of Missouri where he was in charge of the creation and operation of the school’s experimental winery. Upon graduation, Steve worked as an intern at a small, premium Bordeaux blend producer just outside of Portland, Oregon. He is now excited to return to a more familiar climate and become part of the Virginia wine family. Steve and his wife, Alex, enjoy cooking, homebrewing, and being walked by their dogs Natty and Bacon.
2. Stephen Barnard, Keswick Vineyards
Stephen started working in the wine industry at Groot Constantia Winery, the oldest winery in South Africa, as a pourer and tour guide. Through various courses of events he managed to find a position in the cellar as a cellar worker and then eventually became the assistant winemaker there. He studied Enology and Viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural College. Upon completion of his studies Stephen became the assistant winemaker at Flagstone Winery where he worked exclusively with red wines.
Through the Ohio State Internship program he came to Virginia in 2002 and joined Keswick Vineyards as an intern and held that position until May 2004 when he took the position of Winemaker at Rappahannock Cellars. In June of 2006 he re-joined Keswick Vineyards as the Winemaker and General Manager.
Stephen’s philosophy for winemaking is minimal intervention. He prefers to focus on the vineyard to produce optimal fruit for wine making. Keswick Vineyards is one of the few wineries that ferments most of its wines without the addition of yeast and do not fine or filter any of their reds since the 2006 harvest.
3. Jason Hayman (on the left), First Colony Winery
Jason moved to Virginia from his home state of Louisiana in 2003 to attend Virginia Tech for Mechanical Engineering. While on break in 2008, Jason’s lifelong love of plants and the outdoors led him to seize an opportunity as vineyard manager at First Colony. From there, he took great interest in the vine to wine concept and furthered his knowledge by studying under First Colony winemaker Benoit Pineau and consultant Brad McCarthy. Upon Benoit’s departure to pursue new opportunities in 2009, Jason assumed the additional role of winemaker. The 2009 vintage started the beginning of a promising career, winning multiple medals including golds for his Zephyr and Petit Verdot Estate Reserve. In April of 2012, Jason married Martha, general manager of First Colony, and he is looking forward to an exciting and rewarding year in 2013.
4. Kirsty Harmon, Blenheim Vineyards
Born in the Netherlands, Kirsty has spent a majority of her life in Charlottesville. After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1998 with a degree in biology, Kirsty developed an appreciation for wine through a job that allowed her to apprentice with famed Virginia winemaker Gabriele Rausse.
After making wine for several years in Virginia, Kirsty moved west to pursue formal training at the University of California at Davis, where she graduated with an M.S. in Viticulture and Enology in 2007. After graduation, Kirsty spent six months at Domaine Faiveley in Nuits St. Georges, France as a recipient of the 2007 Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Scholarship. In Spring 2008, she worked as a harvest intern at Craggy Range Winery in New Zealand as a recipient of the Dough Wisor Memorial Scholarship. Kirsty officially joined Blenheim Vineyards as winemaker in June of 2008.
5. Graham Bell, Cooper Vineyards
A native of Swarthmore, PA, Graham spent time in California before moving to his family’s Fluvanna farm in the 1980s. Graham’s winemaking experience was with some of the earliest wineries established in Virginia including Montdomaine and Horton Cellars. In 1991, he was full time assistant winemaker at Montdomaine, in 1996 winemaker at Horton, 2001 winemaker at Lake Anna Winery. A true artist of wine, Graham has been winemaker for Cooper Vineyards since 2002.
6. Matthieu Finot, King Family Vineyards
Matthieu was born in Crozes Hermitage in the Rhone Valley of France. Coming from a family of viticulturists and wine lovers, Matthieu was predisposed to continue his family’s pursuit of making and enjoying wine. He first studied viticulture and oenology at Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy. After graduating in 1995, Matthieu worked in many different wine regions around France including Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, and Jura. He then worked in Italy and South Africa to gain experience around the world before settling in Virginia. Since arriving in 2003, Matthieu has worked with wineries throughout the state. He enjoys working in the Monticello Appellation most because he likes the excitement of the region’s growth and being close to Charlottesville. When not at the winery, or with his wife and son Gabin, Matthieu likes to play rugby, snow board, rock climb, cook, and drink wine with friends.
7. Brad Hansen, Prince Michel Vineyard
Prince Michel wines have obtained internationally acclaimed status due in part to the efforts of Winemaker Brad Hansen. Brad began his agricultural career with a bachelor’s degree in Botany from Marshall University. Following his undergraduate training, he worked with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Fruit Pathology Division in Maryland. While there, he directed research in grape diseases.
Brad then met Dr. Richard Vine, a renowned author and professor of Enology at Mississippi State University. In 1986, he left the USDA to study winemaking under Dr. Vine’s direction. As part of his graduate study, he apprenticed with both Chateau St. Michelle and Columbia Crest wineries in his home state of Washington. Immediately upon earning a Master’s degree in Enology in 1990, Brad accepted a position as Assistant Winemaker at Chateau Elan in Georgia. Promoted to Winemaker in 1992, Brad was later made Director of Winery and Vineyard Operations. While at Chateau Elan, Brad’s wines received over 250 awards.
Looking for a new challenge, Brad accepted the position of Assistant Winemaker for Prince Michel Vineyards in 1999. In just over a year he was promoted to Winemaker. Under his guidance, Prince Michel wines are now internationally recognized and have won over 400 awards.
In 2002, Brad was instrumental in developing a plan that focused on fostering relationships with many of Virginia’s premier family vineyards. His vision for Prince Michel has expanded their line of wines to include unique varietals and a boutique style series called Vineyard Designates. These wines showcase exceptional Virginia vineyards and emphasize the crucial relationship between excellent winemaking craftsmanship and vineyard microclimates.
Brad emphasizes the consistent quality of Prince Michel wines and credits this success to excellent ownership and the best grapes we can either grow or obtain from superior sources. “I have the opportunity to hand craft wines from the best grapes Virginia has to offer. I also have at my disposal the highest quality barrels available from around the world and the most technically advanced machinery in the industry.”
Brad is also a member of the American Wine Society and the American Society of Enology and Viticulture. He is a sought after judge at International Wine Competitions and consultant for winery design and production.
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