Meet our 2016 Speakers!


Melba Allen

International Communication Coordinator, VESTA Instructor

Melba Allen


Leaving the USA for Europe after her studies at the University of Houston, Melba fell in love with the wine and food culture in France and decided to stay. She obtained a diploma from the well-known Université-du-vin, Suze la Rousse in the Rhone Valley and at the same time succeeded in obtaining Beginning and Advance Certificates from the WSET [Wine & Spirits Education Trust] Program of London in the same year. As a passionate enthusiast, Melba dedicates herself to wine communication and education. Operating her own wine company in France in 1997, Melba has been involved with buying and selling wines Internationally, judging wines in tasting competitions, and writing on-line articles for and Vin & Cuisine Ask an Expert. Melba was also the Director of the Wine Department of the Alain and Marie LeNotre Culinary Institute, a member of the Wine Society of Texas and the Chain des Rotisseurs de l’Etoile Solitaire in Houston, Texas.

Session Schedule:

  • VESTA: Sensory Evaluation Workshop Part 1 - Wednesday, Feb. 3, 8am-5pm
  • VESTA: Sensory Evaluation Workshop Part 2 - Thursday, Feb. 4, 8am-5pm



Karen Binder

Co-owner and Head Distiller, Grand River Spirits, craft distillers of Red Eye Corn Whiskey and Grand River Bourbon, Carbondale, Illinois

Binder Karen MUG

Karen Binder's distillery's production is currently focused on whiskey and has plans for gin, rum and brandy. Trained as a journalist, her business journalism led to a tenure as the executive director of the Illinois Grape and Wine Resources Council, where she marketed the Illinois Wine brand and worked with wineries on business and marketing plans. Sipping a traminette grappa which "perfectly captured" the essence of these delicately floral grapes introduced her to craft distilling. 




Session Schedule:

  • Nuts and Bolts of Distillery Startup - Friday, Feb. 5, 9am-12pm



Jamie Bogner

Cheif Contect Officer, Craft Beer & Brewing magazine

Jamie Bogner Cmyk

Jamie launched his first magazine, Ska-tastrophe, from his college dorm room during his senior year. After the third wave crashed, he went on to found and edit the Central Florida culture and lifestyle magazine MCO in 1999, then relocated to New York City in 2001 where he worked for Professional Sports Publications on NBA Hoop & Inside Stuff magazines before joining the iconic figurative art magazine American Artist in 2005. AA was acquired in 2008 by Interweave, and quick promotions ensued- from group art director, to editorial director of the jewelry media group, to VP of Content for all of Interweave, then VP/Group Publisher for the Interweave and Martha Pullen division of F+W Media after the departure of John Bolton. In addition to his publishing career, Jamie is an avid mountain biker and obsessive about craft beer since 1995, and leans toward big beers and sours.

Session Schedule:

  • Acidity Analysis - Wednesday, Feb. 3, 3pm-3:45pm
  • Branding Your Craft Brewing Business for Success with 10 Simple Steps - Thursday, Feb. 4, 9am-9:45am



John Bolton

CEO, Craft Beer & Brewing magazine

John Bolton Cmyk

John built the niche craft publisher from shoestrings into a multimillion dollar business. John first publishing business was acquired by craft publishing heavyweight Interweave in 2007, and John remained with the business as Senior Vice President/Group Publisher, ultimately responsible for the entire P&L of this business, and leading the transition from print-centric publishing model to a diversified media approach featuring 17 frequency magazine titles plus over 25 yearly SIPs, a 40 books per year book publishing program, an internal video studio producing 75+ workshop videos per year, three PBS television programs, nine major online communities sending over 1.5 million emails per day, and more. Interweave was acquired in 2012 by F+W Media, upon which John became a member of the senior executive team, directing strategy and execution for the Interweave and Martha Pullen divisions of F+W Media. John left F+W Media in April 2013 and Co-Founded Unfiltered Media in November of 2013. John has been a craft beer aficionado for many years. He also loves to homebrew. John Enjoys all types if craft beer including IPA’s, Sour, Lagers, Stouts, and Pilsners.

Session Schedule:

  • Exploring Additional Revenue Opportunities in the Craft Beer Marketplace - Thursday, Feb. 4, 10-10:45am


Eglantine Chauffour

Winemaker, Enartis Vinquiry, Sonoma County, California


Eglantine ChauffourEglantine is responsible for the research, technical support and consulting services for the wine industry. She holds a double Master Degree in Viticulture-Oenology and Agronomic engineering from Montpellier SupAgro (France). Her international background, with experiences in France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and now USA, gives her a large view of wines and processes around the world. Working as a winemaker, research projects manager and winemaking consultant, she loves to make Roses and Sparkling!





Session Schedule:

  • Improving Color Stability: Impact of tannins, polysaccharides and micro-oxygenation. Speaker: Eglantine Chaffour, Winemaker, Enartis/Vinquiry - Thursday, Feb 4, 1 - 2 pm


Alexia Gannon

Operations Officer, Clover Meadow Winery, Wisconsin

Alexia GannonClover Meadow is the only certified organic, travel green garage winery in the midwest. Nestled within some of the oldest forests in Wisconsin’s Bashaw Valley, Clover Meadow exemplifies sustainable, natural practices in land management and wine making. Specializing in Wisconsin wines, Clover Meadow focuses on wines made from Northern Wisconsin grown fruit, grapes, and botanicals. As a garage winery it is able to focus on the fruit vs. the process and are proudly producing and distributing the finest quality organic wines for those who only want the best. Its wines range from the eclectic dandelion and onion wine to the wonderful nouveau style and table wines. Clover Meadow has a wine for everyone.  Alexia Gannon also provides strategic consulting through Gannon Consulting providing PM and BA skills that can assist business in creating organizational structure change/development,business process development and enhancement, M&A program set up and execution, supervison and oversight design and implementation.

Session Schedule:

  • Sustainable and Organic Viticulture in the Midwest - Friday, Feb. 5, 10-10:45am


Colleen Gerke

President & CEO, Jowler Creek Vineyard & Winery, Platte City, Missouri

Colleen GerkeColleen grew up in the heart of California’s Central Coast wine country. In fact, the movie "Sideways" was filmed in and around her hometown – Santa Maria. While in college at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, she studied viticulture and enology and started crafting her own wines. She later met and married her husband, Jason, who majored in Agriculture Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  The pair first settled in Kansas City, Missouri making wine as a hobby in their basement. In 2003, the they moved to historic Jowler Creek in Platte County.  Jowler Creek’s vineyard includes Norton, Vignoles, Traminette, and Cabernet Franc varities.


Session Schedule:

  • Sustainable and Organic Viticulture in the Midwest - Friday, Feb. 5, 10-10:45am




Dr. Barry Gump

Professor of Beverage Management, Harvey Chaplain Eminent Scholar Chair, VESTA Instructor

Barry H Gump Full View StaffDr. Barry H. Gump is the first holder of the Harvey R. Chaplin Eminent Scholar’s Chair in Beverage Management at Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.  In this position Dr. Gump has developed new brewing classes and two new wine classes to expand the offerings of the Beverage Management curriculum.

He is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Emeritus Adjunct Professor of Enology at California State University, Fresno, where he taught courses in chemistry, brewing, and wine analysis for almost 40 years.  More recently he has instructed on-line wine chemistry/analysis classes for several programs.  He also gives workshops, seminars, and lectures to grape and wine industry groups.

Dr. Gump serves as a co-Principle Investigator and Enology Curriculum Coordinator for the VESTA program (Viticulture & Enology Science & Technology Alliance - a consortium of Mid-western colleges and universities providing instruction in viticulture and enology).

Dr. Gump has had over 30 years with the wine industry, conducting research in analytical methodology applied to grapes, juices, and wines.  He has led fifty-nine Masters Degree graduate research committees, and served on many more.  Dr. Gump reviews technical manuscripts for a number of national, international, and trade publications. 

Dr. Gump has also been a professional wine judge for many years at a number of major wine competitions (San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, International Eastern Wine Competition, Florida State Fair Wine Competition, American Fine Wine Competition, California State Fair Wine Competition, etc.). 

Session Schedule:

  • VESTA: Wine Chemistry Workshop, Part 1 - Thursday, Feb. 4, 1-5pm
  • VESTA: Wine Chemistry Workshop, Part 2 - Friday, Feb. 5, 8am-12pm



Stan Hieronymus

Noted brewing author including "All About Beer" and other works

Stan Hieronymus

Stan Hieronymus is a professional journalist and amateur brewer who has made beer his beat since 1993.  The editor at, he’s written hundreds of articles for periodicals, co-authored four books with his wife, Daria Labinsky, written Brewing with Wheat (2010) and Brew like a Monk (2005) for Brewers Publications and contributed to several other publications, including 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die. His travels have taken him to breweries in every state in the country as well as behind the scenes in internationally famous breweries such as De Sint-Sixtusadij Westvleterten and Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn.


Session Schedule:

  • How To Taste Beer - Thursday, Feb. 4, 11-11:45am



Gary Hinegardener

Owner and distiller, Wood Hat Spirits LLC – New Florence, Missouri

 Garybio HeadshotGary grew up on a livestock/timber farm and cut white oak stave bolts for barrels in Neosho, MO. He has received an Associatate's Degree in Science at College of the Ozarks, a Bachelor of Science in Biology at SMSU, and a Master of Science in Agronomy from the University of Illonois. He worked his way through collegeas a printer, and spent 5 years with the Peace Corps (3 years as an agricultural volunteer in India). Gary later moved on to numerous agricultural positions as an expert in his field. In the last 3 years, he has built and operated a vertically integrated craft distillery in New Florence Mo., from selecting and planting heirloom corns to distributing product.  We are a wood fired distillery and sometimes even select logs and air dry staves for making barrels. His distillery, Wood Hat Spirits, makes 4 bourbons, 4 corn whiskeys, and 3 Cordials/Liqueurs, all from locally grown grain, nuts, and berries.

Session Schedule:

  • Craft Distilling in Missouri: Past, Present, and Future - Thursday, Feb. 4, 10am-12pm



Dr. Chin-Feng Hwang

Professor, Grape Breeding & Genetics, Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station

Chin Feng Hwang Headshot

Dr. Chin-Feng Hwang is a Professor working on the development of molecular genetic tools for marker-assisted selection (MAS) to expedite a Vitis aestivalis-derived ‘Norton’ grape breeding program in the Darr School of Agriculture at Missouri State University.  The current research in the Hwang lab emphasizes the development and release of new V. aestivalis -derived ‘Norton’/V. vinifera hybrids with enhanced pathogen resistance, cold hardiness and improved fruit quality for winemaking.  Norton is a unique grape.  Although it is grown in U.S. regions where V. vinifera production requires extensive pesticide use, it has naturally evolved resistance to powdery mildew, downy mildew and phylloxera.  It is cold hardy and produces wine approaching the quality of V. vinifera-based wine.  The integration of effective genetic resistance from Norton into V. vinifera cultivars would reduce growers’ dependence on chemical inputs and have significant environmental, health and financial benefits.  The overall goals of Dr. Hwang’s research program are to use genetic markers to rapidly deploy favorable alleles, accelerate breeding cycles for new cultivar release and train a new generation of plant breeders.  Laboratory activities include classical breeding and inheritance studies, plant-pathogen interactions, DNA marker analysis, linkage map construction, map-based positional cloning and characterization of genes of interest.

Session Schedule:

  • Grape Breeding Across the Midwest: Emerging Grape Varieties and Optimizing Norton - Friday, Feb. 5, 11:15am-12:30pm

Cory King

Brewer and Owner, Side Project Brewing Company

Cory KingCory King, brewer and co-owner at Side Project Brewing, is in charge of all the production of our barrel-fermented and barrel-aged beers. His first love was for wine and the winemaking process, and that passion can be seen in his brewing at Side Project. Cory originally considered seeking a profession as an assistant winemaker, but he decided to start homebrewing after his brother-in-law introduced him to the craft. Discovering that the production of beer, the experimentation with fermentation and interpretations of beer styles could be explored in the kitchen, he was hooked on brewing. Cory's first professional brewing job was with Perennial Artisan Ales where he is still employed as the Head Brewer and Director of Oak. His love for oak began with wine, was developed at Perennial, and is now his focus with all the beers at Side Project Brewing.

Session Schedule:

  • Acidity Analysis - Wed., Feb. 3, 3:00pm-5:00pm 
  • Creative Ownership Strategies for Building Longevity - Wed., Feb. 3, 4:00pm - 4:45pm


Dan Kopman

Co-Founder of Schlafly Beer

Dan KopmanRaised in St. Louis, Dan Kopman has a degree in Economics from Kenyon College and an MSc in Policy Studies from Edinburgh University. He worked for Scottish Brewers in Edinburgh, Young’s Brewery in London and the National Health Service in Scotland. In 2011, Dan was honored by the Brewers Association with the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award for his leadership role in the craft brewing industry and his work to promote federal excise tax reform for small brewers.



Session Schedule:

  • Branding Your Craft Beer Business for Success with 10 Simple Steps - Thursday, Feb. 4, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Exploring Additional Revenue Opportunities in the Craft Beer Marketplace - Thursday, Feb. 4, 10:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.


Dr. Dan McCole

Associate Professor, Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University

Dan Mccole

Dan's teaching, research, outreach and consulting focus on the contribution of natural resource and agricultural-based tourism toward community sustainability. His work combines the foundations and principles of business and management systems with a deep understanding of the role leisure in peoples’ lives. As a social scientist, he brings together business fields of study (marketing, human resources, organizational development, finance and operations) with other social sciences related to the field of leisure (e.g., psychology, sociology and economics). Further, he uses research methods and analysis to bring a scientific approach to solving problems related to the development and management of tourism organizations. Some of his recent work involves the identification of sustainability indicators and impact assessment of programs that aim to improve community sustainability.

Session Schedule:

  • Are You Prepared to Understand Today's Tasting Room Visitor? Research and Results - Friday, Feb. 5, 9-9:45am



Bill Owens

Founder and Persident of the American Distilling Institute

Bill Owens Web

Bill Owens has many achievements to his credit in his life so far—among them are: photographer, photojournalist, brewer, distiller and publisher.

A recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and two NEA grants for his photography, Bill is best known for his work "Suburbia," considered one of the top 100 seminal photographic books of the twentieth century. Seven monograms of his photographic work have been released by various publishers. His photographic work is collected by many museums internationally.

In 1983, Owens founded Buffalo Bill's Brewery in Hayward, CA—the first brewpub in California since prohibition. In 1992 he wrote "How to Build a Small Brewery" which sold 30,000 copies. He later founded Beer and American Brewer, which he published for 14 years reaching a circulation of 7,000.

In 2003 Bill founded the American Distilling Institute (ADI) which promotes the art of craft distilling. Attendance at its annual conference has grown exponentially from 86 attendees the first year to over 900 at last year's 10th anniversary conference. He has been responsible for creating a vibrant community of distillers and vendors who are all contributing to the recent boon in the craft distilling movement. ADI's Distiller magazine is a quarterly with a press run of 4,000 and produces an annual Resource Guide and Directory of craft distillers and suppliers to the industry. The book-publishing arm of ADI, White Mule Press, has 20 titles in its library that cover technique, history and appreciation of craft distilled spirits.

For his dedication to educating and inspiring young brewers and distillers while being an innovator in the craft distilling industry, in 2013 Owens received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Craft Distilling at The International Craft Brewing and Distilling Convention in Dublin, Ireland.

Session Schedule:

  • Craft Distilling in Missouri: Past, Present, and Future - Thursday, Feb. 4, 10am-12pm
  • Distilling Field Trip to Still 630, St. Louis, MO - Thursday Feb. 4, 1-4pm



Steve Parkes

Owner and Lead Instructor, American Brewers Guild

Steve Parkes

Steve Parkes is an industry icon. Among his accomplishments, Steve was awarded the 2009 Russell Schehrer award by the Brewers Association for Innovation in Craft Brewing, the industry equivalent of a “Hall of Fame”. He has been a regular speaker on the National Craft Brewers Conference and National Brewpub Conference stage. He has hosted the Institute of Brewing Studies “Ask the Expert” Q & A forum and is a former member of the IBS troubleshooting committee, and National Board of Advisors. He has served as chairman of the Northern California Section of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, and Technical chair in California and New England. The Ronn Owens FM radio show has hosted Steve twice a year as their featured beer expert guest. He was also technical editor of the highly successful Brewpub magazine, and contributing columnist to American Brewer Magazine, and All About Beer magazine. Steve has contributed material to two brewing science textbooks, including the chapter on brewhouse practices to the Master Brewers Association of the Americas book Practical Handbook for the Specialty Brewer Vol. 1, and provided several entries to the Oxford Companion to Beer. He has served as a technical editor on several textbooks published by the Brewers Association. Parkes also serves as a judge for the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.

Session Schedule:

  • Challenges the Brewer Faces Going Pro - Wednesday, Feb. 3, 1-2:45pm



Tom Plocher

Minnesota-based Grape Breeder

Tom Plocher Headshot

Tom has been breeding grapes in Hugo, Minnesota since 1996.   But his interest in grapes and wine goes back to 1980 when he met long-time friend and mentor, Elmer Swenson. One lesson from Elmer was to deeply understand the varieties you are using for parents. During the 1980’s and 90’s, Tom grew over 100 grape varieties-French Hybrids, and selections from the U of MN. Elmer Swenson, and others. Tom evaluated these in the vineyard.  He also produced and evaluated wine samples from them.  Together with his close friend, winemaker Gordon Rouse, he conducted controlled freezing tests on dormant buds from a host of grape selections. From these experiments, he selected the cultivars that he would go on to use as “hardy parents” in his crosses. A series of nasty 40 below zero winters validated the controlled freezing results. From the wine samples he produced, he identified the cultivars he would use as “quality parents” in his crosses.  These 15 years of experimentation with many different grape varieties set the stage for the first crosses in 1996, which would lead to ‘Petite Pearl’ and two new 2015 releases, ‘Crimson Pearl’ and ‘Verona’.

In addition to his grape breeding work, Tom is perhaps best known for co-authoring (with Bob Parke) the book Northern Winework: Growing Grapes and Making Wine in Cold Climates. Tom also has been instrumental in organizing the VitiNord series of international cold climate viticulture conferences. Finally, he is currently the Principal Investigator on a USDA SBIR grant to use low cost 3D imaging to perform grapevine canopy density and light penetration measurements to support vine management for wine quality.

Until 2011, Tom worked as a staff scientist at the corporate laboratory of Honeywell International, Inc.  Since retiring from Honeywell in December, 2011, he has had much more time to devote to his grape breeding endeavors, which he continues to support with his own time, resources, and personal enthusiasm.

Session Schedule:

  • Grape Breeding Across the Midwest: Emerging Grape Varieties and Optimizing Norton - Friday, Feb. 5, 11:15am-12:30pm



Dr. Peter Salamone

Technical Manager, North America for Laffort USA

Peter SalamoneDr. Salamone has broad experience in Industrial Biotechnology and the Wine Industry both in production settings with E&J Gallo Winery and Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines as well as wine industry service experience with enological product and enzyme vendors. Coupled with his diverse production winery exposure Peter’s depth of biotech experience in molecular biosciences including microbiology, enzymology and genetics provides Laffort USA clients with an outstanding technical resource.



Session Schedule:

  • Extracting Quality with Enzymes - Thursday, Feb. 4, 11:15am-12pm



Piero Spada

Wisconsin-based Winery and Vineyard consultant

Piero Spada 2016

Piero Spada’s passion for wine stems from the intersection of his deep-rooted Italian heritage and his inherent interest in the biological sciences. Piero received his BS in Biology from UW-Madison, and later received his MS from Cornell’s Viticulture & Enology program. Today, Piero is a Midwest Vineyard & Winery Consultant and for

the past six years has focused on guiding clients towards the production of superior quality wines. Whether it’s maximizing a varietal’s potential in the vineyard or actualizing that potential in the cellar, Piero leaves no stone unturned and prides himself on developing his clients to define their own unique fingerprint. For more information, please visit


Session Schedule:

  • Tannins and Hybrid Winemaking: The Latest Research - Friday, Feb. 5, 10:15-11am



Todd Steiner

Enologist, Ohio State University

Todd Steiner

Todd Steiner has been with The Ohio State University/OARDC for 23 years, and has been the leader of the Enology program since 2001. He serves as the state Enologist to the Ohio commercial wine industry with both research and extension responsibilities.

Todd received a B.A. in Biology from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. He went on to specialize in enology under the direction of Dr. Jim Gallander at The Ohio Sate University/OARDC. His research and extension efforts are focused on various vineyard cultural practices in addition to enological procedures including both yeast and malolactic studies enhancing wine quality and consistency for the Ohio grape and wine industry.

Extension responsibilities include co-organizing the annual Ohio Grape and Wine Conference, coordinating the annual Ohio Wine Competition, organizing state workshops, and being a featured presenter at both in-state and out-of-state meetings.

Winery consultation is also a very important aspect of his responsibilities in extension. Todd is also responsible for initializing a wine analysis program in working with quality control and troubleshooting for the Ohio commercial wine industry. He has helped develop the groundwork for the Ohio Quality Wine Program (OQW) that started with wines being evaluated in 2007. Todd has also been honored in being asked to judge in numerous National and International wine competitions throughout the United States. He recently served on the Board of Directors for The American Society of Enology and Viticulture–Eastern Section (ASEV-ES).

Session Schedule:

  • Midwest Vineyards and Wineries: Guide to Current Best Practices - Thursday, Feb. 4, 9-11am



Dr. Dean Volenberg

Assistant Extension Professor, Viticulture and Winery Operations, Grape and Wine Institute, University of Missouri

Dean Volenberg

Grape quality can be quantified using a number of metrics, the same can be said of wine quality. Since wine quality is directly impacted by grape quality, viticultural management practices play an important role in elevating wine quality. Dean Volenberg's applied research viticulture program examines the impact of canopy management, vine balance, and integrated pest management practices on grape quality. Although his research is often directed at specific industry concerns having long term implications, his Extension program is dynamic and responsive to seasonal industry needs.  Dean has an Extension and research appointment in viticulture and winery operations. His appointment is collaborative effort of the Grape and Wine Institute (GWI) and Plant Sciences Extension. Dean provides viticulture and winery Extension outreach throughout the state that includes grape production and processing. In his position Dean works closely with other members of the viticulture and enology program to transfer knowledge gained through GWI research to grape producers and winery operators.  Mr. Volenberg holds a B.S., Horticulture Natural Sciences, University of Wisconsin, an M.S., Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, and Ph.D., Agronomy, University of Wisconsin.

Session Schedule:

  • Midwest Vineyards and Wineries: Guide to Current Best Practices - Thursday, Feb. 4, 9-11am
  • Vineyard Pest Management: Latest Issues - Thursday, Feb. 4, 11:15am-12pm

David Wolfe

Co-Founder, Urban Chestnut Brewing

David WolfeUrban Chestnut Brewing Co (UCBC) is a brewery located in St. Louis, MO. My partner and I co-founded the company in 2010, and as President my primary roles are general business management and to act as the sales and marketing principal.





Session Schedule:

  • Branding Your Craft Beer Business for Success with 10 Simple Steps - Thursday, Feb. 4, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Exploring Additional Revenue Opportunities in the Craft Beer Marketplace - Thursday, Feb. 4, 10:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.


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Illinois Wine Indiana Winegrape Council Kansas Grapegrowers Missouri Grapegrowers Missouri Vintners Association Kentucky Vineyard Society Kentucky Wine Illinois Craft Distillers Association VESTA Wine America American Wine Society Midwest Wine Press Oklahoma Wines Oklahoma Grape Industry Council Michigan Grape and Wine Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine American Distilling Institute Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Assn