• Melanie Mann, Principal Category Manager at Whole Food 
  • Gretchen Thomas, Chief Creative Officer for Barcelona Wine Bars
  • Wendy Stanford, Director of Imported Wine (excluding France and Italy) at wine.com
  • Karen MacNeil, wine writer
  • Eric Solomon founder of European Cellars 
  • Gillian Sciaretta, corporate wine buyer for Gary's Wine & Marketplace
  • Michael Preis, adult beverage executive in Taub Family Companies
  • Aaron Sherman is a Provi Executive and CEO of SevenFifty

Wine pannel Members

  • Danny Brager, Brager Beverage Alcohol Consulting 
  • Melanie Mann, Principal Category Manager at Whole Food 
  • Alison Napjus, Editor at Wine Spectator


  • Kat Craddock, Editor-in-chief & CEO at SAVEUR  (Moderator)
  • Andrew Booth, owned The Spanish Table
  • Emil Rufolo, Director of Business Development at Atalanta Corporation
  • Andy Nusser, owner Casa Mono and Bar Jamon
  • Luis Claramonte, CEO / Founder, Catalan Gourmet
  • Michele Buster, VP & Co-founder, Forever Cheese
  • Nicolás López, Chef & Partner at Jose Andres Group

Food pannel Members

  • Tim Harris, CEO at LaTienda.com
  • Nicolas Lopez, Chef & Partner at Jose Andres Group
  • Michele Buster, VP & Co-founder, Forever Cheese





Gretchen Thomas is the Chief Creative Officer for Barcelona Wine Bars. Thomas was previously and for over 17 years, the Wine & Spirits Director of Barteca Restaurant Group, the parent company of Barcelona Wine Bar and Bartaco.


For Barcelona, she oversees one of the largest Spanish wine programs in the United States which has received numerous awards including "Best Organic Wine List in the World" by World of Fine Wine Magazine. Thomas also manages all spirits and beer selections and all cocktail creations. As head of the creative team, she manages all innovations and creative initiatives from their inception to implementation and marketing. She has developed and taught numerous staff and public wine classes and frequently leads seminars at trade conferences, such as Somm Con. Most recently she co-created the brand Conserva, an e-commerce site that is a retail and online lifestyle extension of Barcelona Wine Bars.


She has obtained various levels of certifications from WSET, CMS, CSW, WSG, and NOSA. She is a certified Sherry Specialist, a certified Spanish Wine Educator from the Wine Academy of Spain, where she scored in the top 15 in the world, as well as earned the highest honors as a Spanish Wine Scholar.




Wendy Stanford is the Director of Imported Wine (excluding France and Italy) at Wine.com, holds a Diploma of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust of London, and is a recurring judge at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.  She has traveled to some of the most remote and fascinating parts of the world to learn about wine, food, and culture.  Having lived in San Francisco for 28 years, she has recently moved to where her work in the wine business began almost 20 years ago, Napa, CA.  With 17 years of experience at Wine.com, she continues to explore new wine regions, uncommon grape varieties and changing wine styles, with a particular affinity for the wines of Germany, Spain and Beaujolais




Karen MacNeil is the only American to have won every major wine award given in the English Language. These include the prestigious James Beard Award for Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year, the Louis Roederer Award for Best Consumer Wine Writing, the International Wine and Spirits Award as the Global Wine Communicator of the Year, and the Wine Appreciation Guild’s Wine Literary Award. In a full-page profile on her, TIME Magazine called Karen “America’s Missionary of the Vine.” Karen has been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Wine in the United States.” Karen is the author of the award-winning book, THE WINE BIBLE (now in its third edition), praised as “a masterpiece of wine writing.” THE WINE BIBLE has sold more than one million copies and was featured in the 2020 Netflix series Uncorked and the Starz series Sweet Bitter.


Karen was the creator of the Culinary Institute of America’s Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies and is now Chair Emerita of the wine school. She also currently teaches a wine course at Stanford University. The course—Exploring Wine’s Connection to Place and Culture: Stories in a Bottle—is one of the university’s most popular Continuing Education courses.


In 2023 Karen was honored by the Wine History Project as “the most influential wine educator and writer in the United States.




In 1990, Eric Solomon founded European Cellars, having recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, Eric Solomon Selections remains one of the most significant import portfolios in the United States.  


Many of the first properties Eric imported into the US remain in this portfolio, along with his appellation-defining custom cuvées. Over the last three decades, Eric has watched many of his earliest growers not only achieve international fame, but he has watched as parents have turned the reigns over to their children.


For his pioneering efforts, Eric has been recognized by Robert Parker as his Wine Personality of the Year for 2002, remarking, “Solomon has a great talent for ferreting out spectacular wines from France and Spain. The quality of these selections is remarkable.” In 2006 he was awarded Best Importer of the Year by Food and Wine Magazine and he has been a James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Writing in celebration of European Cellars’ 25th anniversary, Robert Parker followed on his earlier praise, writing, “I first tasted with Eric in 1991/1992, and I have watched him grow as an importer to the point where he may be the finest in the United States.” Eric Solomon Selections remains and will continue to be one of the most reliable and innovative French & Spanish import portfolios in the United States.




Gillian Sciaretta is a corporate wine buyer for Gary's Wine & Marketplace, a leading wine, spirits, and beer retailer with four locations in New Jersey. At Gary's, Gillian focuses on the wines of Spain, Portugal, Israel, and the Southern Hemisphere.


Prior to Gary's Wine & Marketplace, Gillian was an editor and wine critic for Wine Spectator magazine for 10 years. At Wine Spectator, she focused on the wines of Spain, Portugal, and Southern France and was also the director of Wine Spectator's Restaurant Awards Program. 


Born and raised in Bernardsville, NJ, Gillian graduated from Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration in 2007. She also completed the Level 3 Advanced Degree from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust with distinction in 2014.




Michael has over 22 years of experience as an adult beverage executive, having spent his entire career with Taub Family Companies, one of the leading US importers of wines & spirits representing over 100 wineries and distilleries from 15 countries.  


For over two decades, Taub Family Companies was the US importer of Bodegas Faustino in Rioja as well as their properties in La Mancha and Ribera del Duero. The current portfolio includes some of the world’s best-known brands as Bertani, Planeta, Ferrari, Col d’Orcia, Fontanafredda, and Cavit, the #1 selling Italian brand in the US. Spanish brands include Palacios Raimundo, Grandes Vinos, Serra da Estrella, and Williams & Humbert from Spain. 


Michael’s career has encompassed Marketing / Brand Management, Portfolio Development, and most recently Sales where he currently the company; 's National Account Off Trade team which sells to Walmart, Costco, Publix, Kroger, Target, Albertson’s, Sam’s Club, and HEB among many others.  Michael also oversees E-Commerce sales efforts for Wine.com, Amazon, and Go Brands as well as our developing DTC channel efforts.




Aaron Sherman is a Provi Executive and CEO of SevenFifty. In his role at Provi, Aaron oversees the marketing functions and the company’s publications, SevenFifty Daily and Beverage Media where he is instrumental in the content and GTM strategies.


In 2011, Aaron co-founded SevenFifty, a software solution to better connect each tier acrossthe beverage alcohol industry. In 2022, SevenFifty joined forces with Provi to create a unifiedand best-in-class online marketplace for the bev-alc ecosystem.


Prior to the launch of SevenFifty, Aaron had more than a decade of experience throughout the beverage alcohol, and hospitality industries. He worked in a range of capacities, from sommelier at New York City restaurants WD~50 and L’Artusi to beverage director at the SLSHotel in Los Angeles, overseeing multiple food and beverage outlets.
He graduated from New York University and currently resides in Austin Texas.




Danny Brager has a wealth of experience in the Beverage Alcohol industry, analyzing trends over many years.  He formerly headed Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area in the U.S. for over 20 years, leading teams that supported relationships with Nielsen’s clients as well as key industry groups and the media.


In his current consulting role, Danny provides data-driven analysis to beverage alcohol companies seeking to translate information into authoritative, fact-based insights in support of their corporate and brand goals.  Each year, he presents at a large number of industry and individual company events and is a frequent thought leader contributor to the media/press.


His informed opinions are highly respected by beverage alcohol producers, importers, distributors, retailers, and financiers. Danny is also a Special Advisor to the Wine Market Council and is Managing Director of Category & Consumer Insights at Azur Associates, founded to bring comprehensive advisory & consulting services - including strategic advisory, mergers & acquisitions, and route-to-market solutions - to wine and spirits companies.  



Principal Category Manager at Whole Foods 


Melanie Mann  Melanie Mann, is the Principal Category Merchant for Wine at Whole Foods Market. With a relentless dedication to sourcing wines that weave compelling narratives and uphold impeccable quality, Melanie stands at the forefront of crafting a wine selection that resonates with the values of Whole Foods Market's discerning customers.


In her role as the leader of the team responsible for curating imported still and sparkling wines stocked in over 350 stores across the United States, Melanie's passion for her work shines through in the rich diversity of wines available to Whole Foods Market patrons. Alongside her colleagues who specialize in domestic wines, she shares a common commitment to delivering a truly memorable wine experience.


One of the pivotal areas of focus for Melanie and her team is the organic and biodynamic sector. Wines crafted with certified organic grapes or eco-certified practices hold a special place in their hearts. However, it's not merely about certifications or flavors; it involves probing into a winery's practices related to worker responsibility, social responsibility initiatives, environmental impact, and much more




Alison Napjus is a senior editor for Wine Spectator, as well as the magazine’s tasting director, overseeing the tasting departments in the New York and Napa offices. She is the lead taster for wines from Spain, Champagne and South Africa; she also tastes wines from regions throughout Italy.


Alison first fell in love with wine while living in Florence, Italy, where she studied as part of her degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University. She spent a year working as a manager at New York's Tribeca Grill before joining Wine Spectator in 2000 as an assistant tasting coordinator.


Alison’s career at Wine Spectator has given her the opportunity to explore her love of wine and to constantly learn more about this ever-evolving subject. She has written numerous tasting reports and feature stories for Wine Spectator andWineSpectator.com. She began tasting for the magazine in 2006, with a promotion to senior editor in 2012 and tasting director in 2016. 


Currently, Alison divides her time between New York City and Tampa, Florida. Additionally, she travels abroad regularly each year, both professionally and personally.





Andrew Booth grew up in Germany and Spain and fell in love with food and cooking at a young age.  He spent time in Florida, Spain, and California pursuing a culinary career including a stint at Michelin 3-star, Restaurante Arzak in San Sebastian.


Until recently, Booth owned and operated (for 18 years) The Spanish Table, a highly regarded, three-store chain of specialty grocery and wine shops in the San Francisco Bay Area that was recognized nationally for its wide selection of all things Spanish as well as one of the most diverse wine selections available in the US. Having spent over 20 years traveling to Spain with an eye to finding new foods and wine that would excite customers, he is well-known for his in-depth knowledge regarding the food and wines from the Iberian Peninsula.




Kat Craddock is a New York City-based editor, writer, and recipe developer with over 18 years of experience in food and food media. A former chef, she joined SAVEUR in 2015 as a Test Kitchen Freelancer and worked her way up to Editorial Director in 2020. In 2023, Kat acquired SAVEUR and is now the brand's Editor-in-Chief and CEO.




Emil Rufolo is the Director of Business Development at Atalanta Corporation, the largest privately held food importer in the United States.

For the past 8 years at Atalanta, Emil has been focused on pioneering Spanish and Greek cheeses, meats, and specialty goods in the US. He has worked directly with some of the largest US retailers and food service institutions to launch large-scale Spanish and Greek initiatives. He is focused on building strong relationships between US organizations and European producers. 

Prior to Atalanta, Emil worked in specialty food retail for popular brands including Dean & Deluca, Di Bruno Bros., and Agata & Valentina. 




Andy Nusser grew up in California until 1972 when his parents sold everything and moved to Cadaques Spain. While living in the small fishing village on the Costa Brava he was homeschooled by chain-smoking Spanish tutors, he acted in plays at L’Hostal and walked his dog Jango with his macaw on his shoulder. 


When money was a worry, they moved to New York where he started High School excelling in Spanish and art classes. After finishing his education in Santa Barbara Andy bought a ten-speed bike and a one-way ticket to Lisbon, Portugal. He rode his bike along the coast of the Iberian Peninsula in a newly democratic Spain until he finally reached his destination back in Cadaques where he met Salvador Dali and his wife Gala. He became enmeshed in the restaurant culture and Spanish food by getting his first restaurant job as a dishwasher at Casa Nun.


He returned to Santa Barbara to work as an electrical designer until he realized that cubicles and engineering were not his calling and that restaurants were. He graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park in 1995. Andy was the opening Chef at Babbo where he helped it earn James Beard’s Best New Restaurant and three stars from The New York Times in 1998. In 2003 Andy opened Casa Mono and Bar Jamon in Gramercy Park featuring an open kitchen with Catalan specialties on small plates inspired by Barcelona and the Boqueria. His extensive seasonal menu encompasses produce from the Union Square Farmer’s Market, sustainable fish from the New Fulton Fish Market, and a whole animal butchery program from local Hudson Valley farms. An impressive all-Spanish wine list of nearly 600 wines completes the dining experience. 



Michelin 1 Star (2009-2022)

NY Times 3 Stars (2015)

NY Times Top 100 List (#24) (2022)




Nicolás López is the Director of Culinary Development for Chef José Andrés’ Mercado Little Spain. In his role at Mercado Little Spain, Nicolas works on menu development, recipe creation, and collaboration within the José Andrés Group restaurant group. 


Prior to focusing on Mercado Little Spain, Nicolas worked in the R&D kitchen at José Andrés Group developing recipes for Jaleo and working with chefs from different cultures to expand his skillset and culinary knowledge. Nicolas began cooking professionally at 16, studying in Madrid and doing stage in Zalacain, The Fat Duck in London and then working with Paco Roncero in Madrid. During his time with Paco, Nicolas worked in the R&D department for La Terazza, helped develop and conceptualize a month-long pop-up called Sublimotion in Ibiza, and opened Version Original in Bogota, Colombia. Nicolas stayed in Colombia for several years before moving to DC where he began at the St. Regis before joining José Andrés Group. 


During his time at José Andrés Group, Nicolas has collaborated with chefs from different cultures in the R&D kitchen, developing his skills and working with new ingredients to incorporate into his culinary repertoire. Focusing his culinary development on Mercado Little Spain has allowed Nicolas to learn more about Spanish cuisine and techniques, including exhaustive research on Spanish history and the traditional ways of preparing classic dishes. Nicolas oversees the culinary development of Mercado Little Spain and larger R&D collaboration across José Andrés Group.




Born in Virginia, and raised as a boy in Cadiz, Tim started LaTienda.com with his family in 1996.   The largest online source of Spanish food in the USA,  La Tienda offers over 800 products from over 110 suppliers in Spain.


Tim also co-founded Teetimes.com, a golf tech company; Texas Iberico, based in Austin;  Virginia Packing, a boutique USDA plant, and most recently formed Costa Brava USA, a Joint Venture with Grupo Cañigueral in Girona.  The Harris family provides scholarships to University students looking to travel the Camino de Santiago, and La Tienda donates a portion of the sales of their Peregrino line of products to support the Camino.



CEO / Founder, Catalan Gourmet


Luis Claramonte  Luis Claramonte is the founder and CEO of Catalan Gourmet, a remarkable global organization with an extensive network of small food producers spanning Spain, Italy, and Belgium. As a passionate epicurean and a connoisseur of authentic flavors, Luis has made it his mission to introduce the finest European culinary traditions to the United States through his unique venture. 


Catalan Gourmet is committed not only to delivering exceptional food but also to promoting the development of their regions and the well-being of their people, all while respecting the environment, local history, culture, and traditions. 


With offices in Barcelona, New York City, and Miami, and warehouses located in the Bronx, New York; Miami, Florida; and Los Angeles, California, the organization's integrated approach, from the farm to the table, allows it to provide customers with nothing short of exceptional and premium.



VP & Co- Founder, Forever Cheese


Over the past two decades, Michele Buster has been instrumental in shaping theemergence of Mediterranean cheese and cheese accompaniment products in theAmerican marketplace. She first lived in Valencia, Spain as a student and then her firstcareer, in the sports industry, brought her back to Spain and Italy in the early ’90s,where she met her now-business partner Pierluigi Sini.  


@Sini’s family had been making Pecorino Romano cheese in the Roman countryside forgenerations. Michele moved to New York to be with Pierluigi and ended up selling hisfamily’s cheeses. She had only one condition and that was that when they weresuccessful with them she was able to go to Spain to find quality Manchego cheese.They started a new company together in 1998 called Forever Cheese and soonexpanded to other products from Spain besides cheese. Today, they import cheesesand specialty products from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, and most recentlySwitzerland. 


Michele is a member of the prestigious International Guilde des Fromagers, the PDO Sao Jorge Consortium in Portugal inducted her as an honorary member, and she was also recognized with an award from Murcia, Spain, for being the person who most stimulated the agronomy of the region. In 2019, on behalf of Forever Cheese, she accepted a Whole Foods Market Global Supplier Award for Raising the Bar for Quality.