2020 Speakers

Dorothy J. Gaiter

Senior Editor of The Grape Collective

Dorothy J. Gaiter, senior editor of The Grape Collective, conceived and wrote The Wall Street Journal’s wine column, “Tastings,” from 1998 to 2010 with her husband, John Brecher.  She has been tasting and studying wine since 1973, and with Brecher has written four wine books. They appeared regularly on TV and radio, including Martha Stewart, CBS Sunday, the Today Show and “Fresh Air.”

 

Dorothy has had a distinguished career in journalism as a reporter, editor, columnist and editorial writer at The Miami Herald and The New York Times as well as The Wall Street Journal, which twice nominated her writing on race for the Pulitzer Prize and once for “Tastings.” She has won awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York and the National Association of Black Journalists. 

 

Dottie and John are well-known as the creators of the annual “Open That Bottle Night” celebration of wine and friendship. In February 2020, the University of California at Davis celebrated the donation of their papers to its Warren Winiarski Wine Writers Collection, which also includes the work of Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. More recently, Wine & Spirits Magazine called her a “Trailblazer” and Wine Business Monthly named her and Brecher 2020 Wine Industry Leaders. They have two daughters.
 

Victoria James

Director of Beverage and Partner at Cote & Co-Founder of Wine Empowered

Victoria James is the Director of Beverage and a partner at Cote (NYC and Miami), and recently received for the second year in a row a James Beard nomination for "Outstanding Wine Program." She has worked in restaurants since she was thirteen, fell in love with wine and when she was twenty-one became certified as a sommelier and continued to work at Michelin-starred restaurants. Victoria’s name has appeared on many notable lists and magazines: Forbes "30 Under 30," Food & Wine's "2018 Sommelier of the Year," Zagat’s “30 Under 30,” Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40,” Wine & Spirits’ “Best New Sommeliers,” and she has appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. She is the author of Drink Pink, A Celebration of Rosé (HarperCollins) and the international bestseller, Wine Girl, The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America's Youngest Sommelier (Ecco/HarperCollins). She has also co-founded Wine Empowered, a 501c3 non-profit that diversifies the hospitality industry by offering tuition-free wine classes to women and BIPOC.

Tonya Pitts

Sommelier, Wine & Food Consultant, Speaker, Writer

An industry changemaker and role model, Tonya Pitts is known as a multi-talented wine professional who catapults wineries, winemakers and brands into the mainstream. Equally important, she is a leader who champions diversity and inclusion in the hospitality, food and beverage industries. 

Tonya is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a by-invitation philanthropic organization of women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality. Her 30-year career—shaped primarily by women chefs and restaurant owners—spans fine-dining establishments in San Francisco. Since 2012, her award-winning wine programs have received Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, which recognizes the breadth and depth of her 600-selection list along with her superior wine knowledge and presentation skills.

Tonya’s current role is as Sommelier & Wine Director for One Market Restaurant in San Francisco. An artist and multi-tasker, Tonya specializes in the fusion of wine, travel and wellness. She also offers wine consulting services and blending sessions with wine brands to develop flavor profiles for vintages. 
 

Sandra Taylor

Founder of Sustainability Business International

Sandra Taylor is the president and CEO of Sustainable Business International, a consulting business that assists food, beverage and consumer products companies at various stages of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) practice. 

Sandra has studied wine extensively for many years, completed the French Wine Scholars course in 2010 and is a graduate of the Wine MBA program at The Bordeaux School of Management in France, a fully accredited international business school that also offers a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus on the study of the global wine industry. Her first book, The Business of Sustainable Wine, was published July 2017. 

She is the founder of Fine Wine Divas of Washington D.C., a learning experience for women wine enthusiasts. She is a member of the prestigious Magnum Club, based in Europe, composed of women leaders in the global wine business, which supports and inspires women in the industry worldwide. 

Sandra has had an extensive executive career in corporate public affairs, environmental sustainability, public relations and communications. She has held leadership positions with top tier organizations including Starbucks Coffee Company as senior vice president over Global Corporate Responsibility, ethical procurement and the Starbucks Foundation; and the Eastman Kodak Company where she led global government relations, foreign trade policy, and corporate citizenship; as well as government service with the U.S. State Department.

Sandra has a BA in French from Colorado Women’s College, and a law degree from Boston University School of Law.
 

Heather Fraser

Winemaker and Laboratory Manager, Yalumba and Hill-Smith Family Vineyards

After graduating with a degree in marine biology and chemistry, Heather moved to the Barossa, where she naturally grew curious about winemaking. Heather started working in Yalumba’s laboratory in 1999 and has moved from strength to strength ever since. Heather studied at Charles Sturt University in 2000 and quickly moved into the Yalumba Trainee Winemaker programme later that year. It wasn’t long before she was working in their cellar in 2001, moving quickly into production.

Heather has a passion for nature and sustainability and it seemed inevitable that she would be drawn to the practice of organic winemaking. In 2011, Heather was delighted to take on the winemaking responsibility of the Yalumba Organics collection, developing them to what they are today. In 2020, Heather became the driving force behind the company's sustainability program The Next 5, leading a team of dedicated individuals to achieve Yalumba’s social, economic and environmental sustainability goals now and for the next five generations.
 

Belén Iácono

Chief Agronomist, Adrianna Vineyard, Catena Zapata 

“When I started working with the Catena family, I spent a lot of time at the Adrianna Vineyard and I immediately fell in love with it - I was fascinated by the landscape, the vines, the grapes, the flavors... the diversity of soils and parcels in the vineyard. From that moment, I dreamed about being in charge of Adrianna. I wanted to experience the challenge of managing a vineyard with so many adverse conditions - the extreme height, the lack of water and the heterogeneity of the soil. Today I can say that my dream has come true.”

 

Belén began working with the Catena family in 2005. She currently oversees the family’s vineyards located in Tupungato, including Adrianna Vineyard, the most studied and awarded vineyard in South America. A fierce advocate of the expression of terroir in wines, Belén meticulously studies each parcel to make wines of place that are able to age. Belén is part of the Sustainability team of Catena Zapata. She is responsible for the Sustainability certifications. Belén is a member of the commission in charge of developing and reviewing the Sustainability Protocol of Bodegas de Argentina, since its creation in 2009.
 

Andrea León

Winemaker and Technical Director, Lapostolle

Andrea has had a lifelong passion for wine, which has led her to an adventurous and successful career in the world of wine. Ultimately her career path landed her the opportunity to craft premium Chilean wines at Domaines Bournet-Lapostolle.

Andrea began her wine studies with coursework in the Agriculture Engineering program at the Catholic University of Santiago, where she double majored in Economics and Oenology and Viticulture. After college, she spent some time traveling, working in wine regions in the United States, Europe and New Zealand before returning to Chile. 

After working at Santa Helena Winery, part of San Pedro Wine Group, in Colchagua Valley, Andrea joined the DBL team in 2005 as the on-site winemaker for Clos Apalta. In 2009, Andrea was promoted to DBL Communications Director, and developed the Collection wine range of Lapostolle to explore the numerous and wonderful terroirs of Chile. In 2018, she was promoted to Technical Director of Lapostolle and finally in July 2020, she took over all the Technical and Winemaking Operations of DBL.

Andrea resides near the winery located in Santa Cruz, the heart of the Colchagua Valley of Chile, with her husband and their two sons.
 

Giulia Migliorati

Manager, Valle Reale

Giulia Migliorati grew up in Abruzzo, and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in economics from the University LUISS in Rome. The main focus of her Master’s degree was International Business, for which she completed a thesis on sustainable eco-industrial clusters in China. After finishing her Master’s degree, she began to work in business administration, initially with a small company in Milan, and then with List Fashion Group in Rome, a well-known fashion Italian brand. 

In December 2012, she accepted a position with Valle Reale winery, returning to her hometown of Capestrano in Abruzzo. Giulia is the export manager of the estate, and together with Leonardo Pizzolo, the owner of the estate, oversees their distribution and sales.

Valle Reale is located between the provinces of Pescara and L’Aquila, where three national parks intersect: the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga to the north, the Parco Nazionale della Majella to the south, and the Parco Regionale Naturale del Sirente-Velino to the northwest. The winery produces organic and biodynamic wines, from native Abruzzo clones only. Fermentations are always spontaneous, thanks to the abundant presence of wild yeasts in the remote natural setting.
 

©2019 by WWLS.