Podcasts with Jeff Cope and Amie Nemec
Texas Under Vine: Bonus Ep2 – TXWineLover.com
We Know Texas Vino: EPISODE 25 – TEXAS WINE LOVER
This is Texas Wine: Celebrating 10 Years of the Texas Wine Lover Website with Jeff Cope
Jeff Cope – Founder and Owner
Jeff Cope already drank wine when Gloria Schlanser led him into a deeper understanding and appreciation of wine, and in return, he introduced her to Fredericksburg, Texas. That shared interest started a hobby which became a passion and ultimately led to the creation of Texas Wine Lover.
Jeff is always learning more about the intricacies of wine by taking classes and attending seminars and conferences. He has judged at local and international wine competitions, and taken and passed the Level 1 Sommelier exam from the Court of Master Sommeliers. He is a member of the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) and was the recipient of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association’s 2014 Wine Press Award. He co-wrote an article on Texas wine which was published in the AmericasCuisine Dallas, Volume 2 edition.
Jeff will go to any lengths to further his wine knowledge, even making wine at home from a kit to understand more of the winemaking process. He and Gloria live in Houston. Jeff, Gloria, and David Skinner from Clear Creek Winery held their first wine festival, Discover Wine Festival, in Houston in 2015 featuring 19 Texas wineries followed by the second in 2016.
Amie Nemec – Business Advisor & Writer
With a degree in Aviation, a background as a pilot, and then a career in healthcare, Amie Nemec came to the Texas Hill Country wine industry with a dynamic personality and a love for digging deep into what interests her. She took her first Sommelier exam back in 2011 and used what she was learning about wine to host parties for her friends.
After 20 years in Austin, she and her husband sold their business and made a move to Fredericksburg to dive head-first into wine. As the founder of Perspective Cellars tasting room on Main Street, she aimed to learn Texas wine, inside and out. She focused on helping consumers appreciate what Texas has to offer as our wines compare to wines of the world. While this was a fun endeavor, it led her to feel the pull of wine production and she sold the wine shop to focus on learning how to make wine herself.
With Texas experience at Hilmy Cellars, Adega Vinho, and Whisper Path, Amie also worked on the crush pad at Gary Farrell in Sonoma County, California. This broad range of experience in a short time is allowing her to put the finishing touches on a book about her journey into winemaking. She plans to have her first wines, a Texas Montepulciano and a Sonoma Pinot Noir rosé, available in 2023.
CanvasRebel article about Amie.
Krista Hartman, aka KK, already a wine enthusiast at the time, moved to Texas in 2006. After living in Dallas for 2-3 years and exploring numerous Texas wineries and vineyards, her love for all-things wine and wine people deepened so significantly, she completed the Viticulture and Enology AAS program at Grayson College. In 2015, KK was one of five individuals to receive a Hoss Newsom Scholarship Fund award for future Texas Winemakers and Grape Growers.
The week before Grayson College graduation in December 2015, KK and her husband, Scott, closed on the purchase of a 30-acre farm near Sadler, Texas in the Texoma A.V.A. Since then, wine went from an avid hobby to her profession. She has become a full-time grape “FarmHer” and winemaker. Quality small production wine making from the grapes they’re growing is her goal. In addition to a Test Vineyard with 250 vines which includes 8 vinifera varieties and 4 root stock trials, since 2016 she’s grown the Hartman Vineyard to nearly 4 acres of Tempranillo, specifically Rioja and Ribera del Duero selections. She and Scott will be opening a rustic micro winery in 2024.
Krista served as a judge for the Lone Star International Wine Competitions, hosted by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Since 2016 she has also served annually as a judge for the Texas Non-Commercial Wine Maker competition and helps determine the T.V. Munson Cup winners.
In her past lives, KK has been a successful musician, professional golfer, real estate broker, and serial entrepreneur. She’s a member of TWGGA, Women of the Vine & Spirits and the Rotarian’s Wine Appreciation Fellowship. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 1989 with a B.S. in Marketing and Recreation Management.
Robin English-Bircher started her own wine blog, Vitis Poema, on the advice of her enabler and husband Sean. The blog allowed her to actually use her MFA in creative writing from Texas State University and give her an excuse to drink lots of wine.
Since starting her blog in 2012, Robin has written for Texas Wine and Trail Magazine, often as the events writer, and Lifestyle of Comanche Trace and the Texas Hill Country (no longer published). Of course, that is when she can find time from teaching far too many college composition classes.
These days, Robin spends far too much time in the Texas Hill Country and drinking a lot of wine. She joined the San Antonio Sommelier Association and the Texas Hill Country chapter of Women for WineSense to learn more about wine and spirits. When Robin isn’t grading papers or driving to the Hill Country, she edits for Sean (Wine and Savages), spoils her two cats, and plays a lot of games, especially games like Dungeons & Dragons and Cards Against Humanity.
Laurie Stevens Ware
Laurie Ware and her husband Shelly have been enjoying Texas wines since he discovered Texas HAD wine back in 2005. Since then they have visited probably three-quarters of the listed more than 350 wineries. Every vacation has been dedicated to visiting the next Texas winery, the next area that has wineries or vineyards, and even festivals so they could “visit” wineries in far flung areas that they know they could not get to physically. What started out as a curiosity, quickly turned into a hobby, and has since transformed into a passion.
As this passion grew Laurie decided that in order to appreciate the wine in her glass more, she needed to find out more about what it took to get it there. She began talking to winemakers, asking questions, and listening as they talked to other people. She began volunteering at local wineries as they harvested, crushed, and bottled. This way she learned the many steps that it took to bring the grape to the glass. You may have run into her at festivals as she’s also poured for various wineries.
Her day job is the bookkeeper for the Johnson County tax office in Cleburne, but her favorite gig is being the new Trail Director for the Way Out Wineries Wine Trail helping with their online marketing and promoting their wine trail events.
Carl W. Hudson
After earning a Ph.D. in chemistry (Univ. of Texas-Austin), Carl Hudson worked as a research scientist in the petroleum industry (LA & NJ) for 30 years. During that time, he organized and coordinated a fine wine tasting group for 16 years (LA) and managed the wine program for an upscale restaurant for 8+ years (NJ). After moving to NJ, Carl became involved with Heritage Vineyards of Mullica Hill, NJ, working with the Heritage family for 11 years to help build that wonderful venture from a few acres of grapes in a peach and apple orchard into an award-winning, top rated winery in New Jersey (80+ acres of vineyards, 35,000+ cases per year). Following retirement from his day job, Carl immersed himself in the business of growing grapes and making wine while serving as Heritage Vineyards assistant winemaker for four years.
Drawn back to his native Texas after full retirement, Carl re-entered the wine industry and serves as Wine Educator for 4.0 Cellars in Fredericksburg, TX. He works in the tasting room, for special events, writes informational blogs for staff education and the customer website, along with tending the small show and tell vineyard in front of the tasting room. Carl is excited to live in the Hill Country, working in, and supporting the vibrant and burgeoning Texas wine industry. He is active in several wine organizations, including Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) and Texas Hill Country Wineries (THCW). Carl continues to be challenged to learn more about wine, and passed the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) exam with a perfect score.
Robin Clark’s love of wine developed in college living in Germany. There she experienced first-hand the joy of local wine festivals. Upon returning to Texas in 1987, she frequently visited new wineries and expanded her interest in different styles of wine and grape varietals. While her career has been in education finance and e-learning management with a degree in Marketing and an MBA in Global Management, she has been an avid supporter of Texas food and wine, and local artisans.
While dating her husband, Mike, she delighted in introducing him to the many wonderful wineries and wines Texas had to offer. Together, they turned a little hobby into a larger one, with the intent on visiting every winery in the state. She estimates she has visited roughly 70%, however, the dramatic growth in new wineries, keeps this a moving target.
In addition to cultivating a love of Texas wine and wineries together, they created a wine blog Wine of the Moment in 2010 and have amassed an impressive collection of Texas wines, with many older bottles and a number from wineries no longer in operation.
Robin attained a Certificate in Viticulture from Texas Tech University in 2013, and currently tends a small plot of vines planted in her backyard garden. She and her husband have helped local wineries with pruning, harvesting, and planting, and have helped pour wines at wine festivals. Robin was a contributor to “Backroads of Texas,” a book her in-laws recently published. She enjoys continuing to expand her knowledge of wine and grape growing.
Shelly Wilfong is a Dallas wine enthusiast and a student of the grape. She earned the Certified Specialist of Wine certificate through the Society of Wine Educators in 2016, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Award with distinction in 2017, and the WSET Level 3 Award with merit in 2018. She joined the Texas Wine Lover team in 2017.
From trellising techniques to labeling laws, Shelly is keenly interested in all aspects of wine production, distribution, and marketing. She appreciates small businesses and handcrafted wines. Shelly wants to make wine education more fun and believes that knowing the stories and people behind the wines makes them more compelling. This goal led to the creation of a new business, Toast Wine Talk, through which Shelly leads wine education programs. Her previous professional experience was in development and healthcare consulting. Shelly is the host of the This Is Texas Wine podcast which is the definitive podcast about the Texas wine industry.
Shelly grew up in Waco, went to college in Fort Worth (Go Frogs!), and now lives in Dallas with her husband and two daughters. Her other interests include keeping backyard chickens, traveling to grape growing regions, and volunteering in Costa Rica and at a local elementary school. Her desert island wine is a dry rosé.
Jerry Smith is a retired public school administrator who is now combining his training and over 50 years of writing experience with his love for wine. He enjoys dry Rosé, white and red wines, and is especially excited about the ever-improving wines produced by Texas wine growers and winemakers.
Neal Addy is a native Texan, wine writer, and ardent supporter of the Texas wine industry. He holds a Level 2 Award in Wine from the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust (WSET), an Advanced Specialist of Texas Wine certificate from the Texas Wine School, and is certified as a Texas Wine Ambassador by the William Chris Wine School. He is currently studying for the Certified Specialist of Wine exam through the Society of Wine Educators. Neal’s day job is in the technology sector.
Neal is a hardcore “wine geek” with a passion for learning. He enjoys nothing more than talking to growers and winemakers about their craft. He and his wife Libby have traveled extensively across the Lone Star State to meet, support, and promote the people in the industry. As empty nesters they also enjoy leisure travel both domestic and abroad and are always ready to tackle the next great adventure.
Laurinda’s venture into the world of Texas wine really all started in 2015. After years of passing a billboard for Blue Ostrich Winery and Arché while on their way to WinStar, she and her mom decided to make the one-hour drive back into Texas to visit both wineries. The rest is history.
Originally visiting a winery meant at least a three-hour drive. So many extended weekends were spent blazing the Texas roads with her mom visiting their original favorite area (Texoma) and venturing to new areas. With the explosion of the wine industry, she now has a handful of wineries she gets to frequent for day trips while still hitting the road for extended weekend wine trips.
Over the years she had the absolute pleasure of meeting some amazing people that are either avid supporters like her or that are in the industry. Through a shared love of Texas wine, she forged new friendships that she cherishes. Having the opportunities to visit with grape growers, winemakers, and winery owners, she has gained a deeper appreciation for all of the hard work that goes into making her favorite bottle of wine. When time permits, she loves to help harvest and/or bottle as her small way to give back.
Eric Sigmund is a north Texas based wine and spirits expert. He is an experienced winery operations executive, sales director, sommelier, and adult beverage compliance attorney.
Most recently, Eric served as Chief Operating Officer for Reddy Vineyards, a leading vineyard and boutique winery based in Brownfield, Texas. In this capacity, Eric managed the build-out of the company’s estate winery, led the sales, marketing, and distribution of the Reddy Vineyards estate wine portfolio, and managed regulatory compliance, in addition to other operational matters.
Eric is also an Instructor for Texas Tech University’s Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute where he teaches wine licensing and compliance.
Previously, Eric served as the Assistant French Wine Buyer for Total Wine & More at its corporate headquarters in Bethesda Maryland. He also worked as a Wine Manager for Total Wine & More, where he managed an inventory of 8,000 distinct wines and a team of 30 sales associates in a high-volume retail store. Before transitioning into wine, Eric worked as an international law attorney in Washington, D.C.
Eric is a Certified Sommelier, a Certified Specialist of Wine, and holds the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Level III (Advanced) certification. He has also completed an Executive Certificate in Wine Business Management from Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute.
Mary lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in her 20s and 30s and spent many weekends exploring the wineries of Napa, Sonoma, and the nearby Livermore Valley. The first red wine she ever drank was a gift she received when she arrived in California and once she tasted it, she was hooked! She has also been fortunate to travel in France, Italy, and Greece where she visited beautiful family vineyards and wineries.
As a result of her years in Northern California and over 20 years in Texas tasting wine, attending classes, and talking and learning from winemakers at many wineries, she developed a strong interest in, and appreciation for, the culture and community in the winemaking industry. She is excited by the change and growth in the Texas wine landscape since she arrived and loves exploring different regions and the varietals they offer, as well as meeting winemakers and discovering new wineries.
This ignited a desire to share what she learned with others through writing and teaching. This included helping others to identify what kind of wines they like, encouraging them to branch out and try new grape varieties and wine styles, at all price points, that they might not be familiar with while supporting local winemakers.
Mary has earned several certifications in wine education: Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Award with Merit, Texas Wine Specialist Certification, and currently completing French and Italian Wine Specialist Certification. She is a member of the Dallas Chapter of the national nonprofit organization, Women for Wine Sense, where she participates in monthly education sessions and tastings of Texas wines as well as wines from throughout the world. She writes and speaks about wine, food, travel, and family, and teaches wine education classes.
Texas Wine Lover needs the help of more than just writers. One vital member is Ron Martin who is an administrator of the Texas Wine Lover Website Facebook group. In addition to the admin tasks, Ron is an Ambassador to the Texas wine industry and Texas Wine Lover (TWL), and enjoys showing people all the tools TWL has to find great wineries in Texas. He never misses an opportunity to educate tour groups and visitors at Kiepersol as well as people he meets while out visiting the nearly 200 Texas wineries he’s been to. Ron even carried TWL cards to Paso Robles on a recent visit and left them with several people he met who are moving to Texas.
Other Team Members
John Harvey (aka Johnny Wine!) has always been intrigued by wine since his college days in the 80s sitting on the banks of the Trinity River in Fort Worth, watching Shakespeare in the Park, and drinking bottles and bottles of Sutter Home White Zinfandel.
He traveled the world with the Navy, discovering wine from all over and making recommendations to wine lists for the Admiral he served. He was once almost run over by a commuter train in Chile, while running a case of Casillero del Diablo back to the ship. Luckily, both he and the wine survived.
He returned to Texas after retiring from the Navy in 2010 and was amazed at how Texas wine had blossomed since he had left 20 years ago. He was hired by Messina Hof Winery in 2013 as a Public Relations Liaison for their wholesale division. He then became their Regional Sales Manager for the Northern Houston Division.
He became a wine manager for H-E-B in 2016 where he received his WSET II certification. He is currently at the Tomball Market store and has the largest collection of Texas wines of any H-E-B. He spends his days convincing Texans to come back and try Texas wines again. “This is NOT your father’s Texas wine.”
John has a B.A. in History (Pre-Law) from U.T. Arlington (with a lousy GPA from all the wine drinking back then) and a B.S. in Strategic Communications from TCU (he stopped drinking long enough to graduate Cum Laude on that one).
John is Texas Wine Lover’s Restaurant Ambassador.