Contributors

 

TIM GAISER MS

Tim Gaiser MSTim Gaiser is one of fewer than 200 individuals in the world who have passed the Master Sommelier exam—an amazing accomplishment by any standard. Another amazing thing is that wine was not his first career choice, which should tell you how brilliant he is.

He’s actually trained (Master’s Degree and everything) as a classical trumpet player. While he was putting himself through school, he worked in restaurants doing everything from busing tables to bartending. Reality hit home when he realized that even in his best year of playing music, it was never even close to paying the bills. So he went back to bartending, which then became wine buying and eventually working on the floor as a sommelier. Wine took root in his heart and flourished.

As the former Education Director for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Tim has taught thousands of the wine world’s brightest minds. Many of them are now Master Sommeliers themselves. He’ll tell you that the best moments in his career are getting to tell a student they’ve passed the Master’s Exam, and then presenting them as a new Master Sommelier to the rest of the candidates taking the exam. The look on their faces is priceless. Teaching about wine, at any level, is what drives Tim today. Creating that “aha!” moment for a student is better than just about anything.

“Wine is the great connector,” says Tim. “It brings people together like nothing else.” Amen, brother.

Among his many other responsibilities, Tim pens the eponymous blog TimGaiser.com.

Tim can be reached at tgaiser (AT) earthlink (DOT) net.

TRACY ELLEN KAMENS CWE AIWS

Tracy Ellen Kamens - Wine EducatorTracy Ellen Kamens adores wine and loves to teach. So much so that when the idea to combine her passion for teaching with her love of wine presented itself, she jumped at the opportunity and quit her pesky day job. As founder and owner of her own wine education company, she is truly living la vita del vino, teaching, consulting and writing about wine for consumers and professionals.

Over the past several years, Tracy has pursued wine studies in earnest (yes, life is tough) to add to her background in higher education. And, while she is committed to making wine more approachable for consumers, she is proud of her wine credentials, which include the Certified Wine Educator certification from SWE and the Wine & Spirits Education Trust’s Diploma of Wine & Spirits.

Tracy is a self-professed wine geek, but certainly not a wine snob. In fact, she considers herself to be an equal opportunity drinker, ferreting out wonderful wines at all price points. However, she does draw the line at anything out of a jug.

In addition to contributing to Through the Bunghole, she also writes the blog It’s a Winederful Life and contributes to Palate Press.

Tracy can be reached at tracy (AT) grandcruclasses (DOT) com.

CATHERINE (SEDA) BUGUE AIWS

Catherine Bugue - Wine Educator and WriterCatherine (Seda) Bugue found herself grinning from ear to ear just cleaning out wine tanks as she volunteered for wineries back East.  All that grinning propelled her into a career change and move to the Napa Valley. While she doesn’t make her New York salary anymore, “being downwardly mobile can be quite invigorating” Catherine says, “especially since I can drink wine at lunch and get away with it”.

Catherine landed at Cain Vineyard & Winery (where she met her future husband) before working for and co-authoring The Wine Lovers Calendar with Karen MacNeil. Some fierce studying for several years with the Wine & Spirits Trust (WSET) gave her a shiny diploma and she now teaches courses for the organization.  Catherine sits on the Napa Vintners and St. Helena Star Tasting Panel and  also scratches out several wine columns for local Napa Valley newspapers.

Whenever we catch her not smiling, we just direct her to the nearest wine cellar with a water hose, and all is well again.

Catherine can be reached at cbugue (AT) balzac (DOT) com.

PAUL WAGNER

Paul Wagner - Wine Educator - Marketer - AuthorPaul Wagner formed Balzac Communications & Marketing on April Fools’ Day, and for good reason.  He wanted to have fun in the wine business.  And while his clients include a broad range of national and international companies and organizations, he’s never lost sight of the fun.  He’s an instructor for Napa Valley College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is a guest lecturer at universities famous throughout the world—known both for his lectures on wine and wine marketing and his enormous repertoire of bad jokes.

But he does know a thing or two about wine and marketing.  He co-authored a book:  Wine Marketing & Sales, Strategies for a Saturated Market, that won the Gourmand International Award in 2008 for the best wine book of the year for professionals. And it sold out in three years, so they released a second edition in 2011.  So there.

Paul is a founding member of the Academy of Wine Communications, a member of the nominations committee of the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Spadarini della Castellania di Soave in 2005.  And in 2009 he was honored with a “Life Dedicated to Wine” award at the Feria Nacional del Vino (FENAVIN) in Spain.  While he was still alive.  Go figure.

Paul can be reached at pwagner (AT) balzac (DOT) com.

MICHAEL WANGBICKLER CWE AIWS (EDITOR)

Michael Wangbickler - Marketer - Editor - Wine EducatorBefore moving to wine country a decade ago, Michael Wangbickler knew virtually nothing about wine. Oh sure, he knew which was red and which was white (most of the time), but he was no expert by any stretch of the imagination. He does, however, have an obsession for the good life and that certainly includes wine.

Undaunted by his ignorance, he threw himself into learning everything he could about the subject and now holds a Level 4 Diploma in Wine & Spirits from London-based Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), is a WSET Certified Educator, and a Certified Wine Educator (CWE). They even let him teach now. In addition to teaching wine appreciation and WSET classes, Mike is also in hot demand at conferences around the world and presents on wine and food, and social media. While he hates the word “expert”, he is Balzac’s social media whiz. We just call him “expert” behind his back when he’s not listening.

Mike currently holds a position (not sure whether it’s warrior pose or downward-facing dog) at Balzac Communications and Marketing in Napa, California. He is lead instructor at Discover Wine & Spirits Academy where he teaches WSET Level 2 and Level 3 certification courses in his spare time. In addition, he is also President of the Board of Directors for the non-profit advocacy organization, Drink Local Wine Inc.

Mike can be reached at mwangbickler (AT) balzac (DOT) com.