Authentic Wine Selections’ Team
Robert has been interested in food and wine since he began managing restaurants at the age of 21. However, the desire to own and operate a restaurant eventually gave-way to a career in the wine business. While Robert was managing the wine programs for The WineSellar & Brasserie (Wine Spectator Grand Award) and Laurel Restaurant & Bar in San Diego, he came to know Fran Kysela, MS. After traveling and tasting extensively with Fran, Robert joined Fran’s company Kysela Pere et Fils as a sales representative in southern California. After a year, Robert moved to the San Francisco Bay area to open that market for Kysela. Two years later Robert was recruited by a small Importation/distribution company to work as Vice President Sales and Marketing. Eight years later, coming full-circle, Robert seized the opportunity to open his own firm based on the import portfolio of Fran Kysela, inclusive of high quality domestic wine producers as well. Robert has travelled the world tasting and evaluating wine in the countries and regions he now represents: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Oregon, Washington and of course, California.
Natalie Morrison, wife and co-owner of AWS got her first start in the wine business in Southern California while working towards her graduate degree in Speech and Language Disorders. While attending classes in the mornings and working in fine dining in the evenings, she was offered the opportunity to begin working with Grapevine Wine Company which included the import portfolio of Martine Saunier. It was during this busy time that her love of wines and her future husband, Robert Morrison, began to grow. Grapevine Wine Company led way to a full time supplier job with Honig Winery and she too relocated to the Bay Area where she managed the Peninsula, half of San Francisco and the East Bay territories for fifteen years. With the success of their young company and a growing family Natalie is now very proud to be working with Authentic Wine Selections maintaining her long relationships with her East Bay accounts and is excited by what the future holds.
Migrating from the Philippines to California, Marybeth discovered the beauty of art, music, food, and wine in the Bay Area during her time at UC Berkeley. She believes cooking to be her most important pastime, with the focus on instilling indigenous Filipino recipes. Try crispy lechon pork with rice and a chilled white zin at your next picnic! She also spends over 12 hours a week training for competition, known to some as the purple-haired powerlifter.
Northern California Reps
East Bay/San Francisco
Chuck began his career in wine almost 15 years ago working part time in the wine department at Whole Foods Market. After a few years of attending tastings he found he had the skills to depict wines based on value and complexity and became wine buyer at Whole Foods. His next move would further his global wine education working as a sales associate for Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits. After a couple of years Chuck moved to the distributor side and worked for two of California’s top wine wholesalers. Prior to entering the wine world Chuck was road racing motorcycles professionally where he won the National Title 3 times in the AMA 250GP class. Chuck still races on a local level in the Superbike class for Team Skylark Bar Racing in his spare time.
Mendel was preparing for the last year of Chiropractic school in 1977 when due to national pressure to conform, Cleveland Chiropractic School closed the night school. Working at a clinic during the day, Mendel would need to now work nights while going to school during the day. One of the patients suggested getting a restaurant job, and recommended some of the better restaurants in Kansas City, MO.Mendel got hired to be a waiter at Harry Starker’s on the Country Club Plaza. It was soon clear that he had no background in food and wine, service, etc. He decided to take a semester off to focus on learning a new craft. Two weeks later, an invitation to a waiter’s house after work, a bottle of 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley, and game over.
In 1978 Mendel was asked to revamp the wine list. In 1981 he was offered a job with a national wholesaler. In 1984 he made the move to California, where he continued in wholesale. He took a timeout from wholesale to run the west coast division of an internet wine startup. Following that he was hired to open a wine bar. Eventually the call of wholesale rang true again.
Spanish born, Juan Antonio Perez was raised between Madrid and Madrigal de las Altas Torres. The birthplace of Queen Isabel of Spain and where the King of Castilla planted the first verdejo grapes brought to the region in the 11th century. Since he can remember, wine has been central to his family’s culture. He got started at a young age “cutting his teeth” on old vines, rolling around in the terroir, and helping to harvest and select the best grapes, to produce the local wines. He comes to the Bay Area with a unique professional background, which includes management of international projects for the European Commission and Government of Spain in Central America for many years; management consulting for the corporate sector; and project management/sales specializing in energy efficiency for Spain’s largest Energy Company, Gas Natural Fenosa. Before making the decision to follow his passion for wine and the culinary arts, he worked as Director of the Contemporary Arts Division of the Government of Andalucía, managing international projects, which led him on a global wine and gastronomic tour, further cementing his interest in pursuing a career in the wine and food industry in Spain, which he did for a few years.
Since moving to the Bay Area, his professional opportunities include sales with San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants, and representation for Vin-Ambassador, a company based in San Francisco, specialized in wine travel, education and immersion experiences in California and Europe.
Juan Antonio has a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration, from Universidad Carlos III, Spain; and wine studies from UC Berkeley. He is currently pursuing W.S.E.T advanced certification.
Alex Tamez fell in love with wine during her First Communion at the ripe age of 7, but was unable to drink anything other than mass wine for quite a few years. While going to school for Engineering at the University of Washington, she helped open the first Starbucks that sold beer and wine, opening an opportunity to continue the wine education she had started many years before. The rest, as they say, is history. In Seattle and then Austin, Alex has worked nearly every front of house position in a plethora of fine dining establishments. In each, however, her passion for selling interesting bottles of wine to customers and for food pairing were her driving force, eventually leading her to pursue a career in wine sales. Alex’s favorite pairing is fried chicken and mashed potatoes with Champagne.
A native of the South Bay Area, Joel grew up within close proximity of the Santa Cruz Mountain and Santa Clara Valley wine regions and became intrigued by food and wine at an early age. Working various stints in restaurants and hotels during the earlier part of college further fueled that interest, so he decided to change his major from finance to wine and viticulture his third year of college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to pursue a career in the wine business. For the past decade plus, Joel has been passionate about building wine brands, working San Francisco’s dynamic on premise market while perfecting his palate along the way.
Aside from wine, Joel is an avid rocket yoga practictioner. In fact, he had the opportunity to complete a vigorous 200 hour ashtanga yoga teacher training program in Bali for three weeks last summer, one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences in his life. He also loves being at the beach and snow whenever possible, riding his bike to Dolores Park, running obstacle course races, trying new restaurants, attending music festivals (Desert Hearts, Lightning in a Bottle, and Burning Man are his top three) and intends to explore the rest of the world.
Marlena Creasy has been working in the wine industry just shy of 15 years starting at a local Sacramento Winery. In 2001, she started working on the distributor side as a Corporate Retail Rep and shortly after promoted to Manager for Northern California. Marlena’s experience continued to grow working the state of California for an East Coast French Wine importer providing the exposure to some great wines and the opportunity to travel to France. From there Marlena decided to settled down and concentrate on the Sacramento/Central Valley area closer to home where she continues to grow her wine expertise.
Having grown up in the restaurant business, Chelsea has spent a good portion of her life planning her next food and wine pairing. After spending a few years in the recruiting industry in San Francisco, the siren’s call of the wine business was too strong, and she made her way to Napa Valley. With boots on the ground, she broke into the direct-to-consumer market at a luxury retailer selling rare wine and spirits to clients across the country. The most rewarding part of this job was making the recommendation for someone’s new favorite wine, which she continues to do across the Napa/Sonoma territory with her AWS clients.
Grapes and wine have always been a part of David’s life. His grandparents (on both sides) grew raisin grapes in Fresno County and also kept a few rows of wine grapes for personal consumption at the family table. After pursuing a degree in Enology at UC Davis and working in 2 crushes, he found his passion not in wine production but in wine sales. After spending 14 years in Southern California, first selling wine for SWS in LA and then representing J. Lohr wines, David migrated north and sold wine throughout the Northwest and Nationally for Guenoc Vineyards. Since then he has been a sales and marketing consultant for wineries throughout California, specializing in the Central Coast AVA. Traveling to wine destinations has always been a passion, most recently to the Wachau and Kamptal regions of Austria. Other trips include Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne and Chile. His curiosity leads him to discover new and interesting wines from around the world.
Ruben Rodriguez brings over 25 years of wine & spirits sales and marketing experience. He specializes in increasing retail and restaurant revenues through innovative approaches. He has conducted numerous trainings with restaurant staff to develop various incentive programs and contests designed to support achievement of sales goals. He is a certified Entry Level Sommelier (2008). Through his tenure with Regal Wine Company he achieved many accomplishments including the companies’ highest award; President’s Circle of Success (2) and consistent Sales Representative of the Month. Ruben strives to continue his growth in wine knowledge and looks to provide outstanding customer service.
Southern California Reps
Born and raised in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, Rory McMahon has been in the restaurant trade since he was a teenager, working from casual bistro to very fine dining establishments. Since 2005, he has worked as the San Diego representative for a wine importer/wholesaler based out of the Bay Area, where he distinguished himself annually as that company’s top salesman. An obsessive reader and researcher, Rory has educated himself deeply in the world of wine. From his travels to wine regions in Europe and throughout the United States he has gained insight into the needs and special concerns of people at all points of the wine distribution process, from the winemakers themselves to restaurant managers and sommeliers to their clients. Rory provides an exemplary level of service and is a model of integrity. He is eager to provide a unique and carefully selected portfolio of hand-crafted wines to his retail and restaurant customers.
Cynthia fell in love with wine while studying at the London Academy of Music and Drama. Upon graduating from university at UCLA, she was fortunate enough to land her first job in the industry by selling wines from the Valle de Guadalupe. After traveling to the burgeoning region and learning about what it had to offer, she built a sales territory in the city of Los Angeles. It was through that and visiting various vineyards up and down the California Coast that made her fall deeper in love with wines and the stories about the people who make them. She finds that the relationships with her buyers are more important to her than anything and loves nothing more than helping her clients find beautiful and interesting wines. She’s received her Introductory CMS certification this past fall (2016) and is excited to move forward with the program
Los Angeles/East- Glendale/Pasadena
Tim’s interest in wine started in France while on a two year assignment, as an international marketing specialist, at his employer’s European office in Paris. One responsibility was to organize dinners for the company’s distributor network in different European cities. Looking forward to these events, he started his wine education by visiting wineries throughout Europe accompanied by his wife, Patricia and a copy of Alexis Lichine’s Wine Encyclopedia. Upon returning to the US, Tim continued working in international marketing, enjoying the travel and access to great food and wine. A conversation with a friend who sold wine in the Boston area led to a career change and he entered the wine business in 1999. Tim has experience as a sales representative and also as a regional manager. He holds level one certificate of the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Advanced Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.
Palm Springs/Desert/Inland Empire/OC
“I was born to be in the wine business.” Ricco grew up working with his family’s restaurant where he not only learned the ins and outs of running a business but also developed a passion for fine cuisine, unique flavors, and the art of pleasing the customer.He spent many of his professional years working in some of Palm Springs’ finest and well known restaurants. This allowed him the opportunity to train and work under world class chefs as a Sous chef and fine dining server. After many years working in such a capacity, he developed a palate and extensive knowledge of wine having tasted, shared and studied thousands of fine wines over the years. One of his favorite things to do is help a restaurant plan the wine list, as he has a talent for pairing today’s sophisticated and “infused” menus with fine wines from all over the world and is frequently sought after to do just that. He first entered the wholesale wine business with Free Run Juice where he worked for several years as a sales representative, and now has brought his knowledge and experience to the team at Authentic Wine Selections where he continues to share his knowledge and love of wine with the Coachella Valley and beyond!