Our Team

Liz Palmer, the Texas Wine School
Liz Palmer

Liz is an avid learner and has amassed four graduate level degrees (including both a JD and LLM) as well as a number of certifications (including a CPA).

Liz recently combined her love of learning with her love of wine, and now holds the WSET Diploma, Bourgogne Ambassador, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Certified Rioja Educator, Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar, Spanish Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Professional Certifications.

In 2014, Liz joined the Texas Wine School to manage day-to-day operations. She became a partner in 2015, assumed control of the school in 2016, spun it into a non-profit corporation in 2019 and now serves as the Executive Director.

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Walden Pemantle

Walden caught the wine bug while working through the kitchens of Philadelphia and it followed him all the way to Houston. While studying at Rice University, Walden taught a 15-week wine basics course, ran the school paper’s Arts & Entertainment section, and co-enrolled in Rutgers University’s food science department to study the microbiology of cheese and wine. After leaving Rice, he went to work in wine distribution, meeting with the city’s sommeliers and traveling to Italy to source new wines as a representative for Vino Vero Wine Company. He now serves as Manager of The Texas Wine School.

Since 2018, Walden has passed the Wine and Spirits Education Trust’s Advanced level certification with distinction and earned the Walter Clore Scholarship for top score at his Certified Sommelier examination. He is thrilled to be a part of the Texas Wine School and continue turning his love of food and wine into a full-time gig.

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Brad Fox

Brad discovered his palate early- while traveling through Italy during college.  Wine, travel and education have since become his passions. Brad attained his WSET- Level III Certification through the Texas Wine School, and has also studied with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and International Sommelier Guild- his studies continue.

 

Brad has been serving the Terroir Group, LLC in operations, purchasing and sales since 2018;  is active in collaboration with Members of the Art of Cellaring;  and assists in management of the Texas Wine School.

 

Since 2011, Brad has opened tens of thousands of bottles during his employment as a Sommelier in restaurants and tasting rooms.  He has assisted importers, wineries, distributors and collectors; hosted tourists through wine regions in the U.S. and abroad; traveled and tasted; worked harvest; and judged wines at the Houston Rodeo.

Stephanie Earthman Baird, the Texas Wine School
Stephanie Earthman Baird Instructor

The wine bug hit big! While still working at Exxon, she began moonlighting for Houston Wine Merchant in 1994. This part-time position afforded her the opportunity to learn more about wine as well as the wine business.

After 8 years of moonlighting in the wine business, she resigned from Exxon Mobil and with her husband, started a new wine import and distribution company – BevCo International. Today, she not only leads the efforts of her own company but enjoys sharing her knowledge of and passion for wine with others.

Stephanie is a Certified Specialist of Wine (through the Society of Wine Educators), a Certified Executive Sommelier (through the International Wine Guild), and has received the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Diploma. She has earned a wine judge certification, is a regular wine judge, serves on the Board of Directors for Women of Wine Charities, and is known to local TV and radio stations as “the wine lady.”

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Bryan Blackmur Instructor

Even though Bryan Blackmur is an instructor at the Texas Wine School, he’ll always be a student of wine. With every bottle, he’s found there’s something new to learn about the time, place, art, and craftsmanship that went into it, and knowing a bit more about each of those elements makes every sip all the richer.

In enriching his own experience of wine, Bryan has earned an WSET Advanced Certificate, and become a French Wine Scholar and is Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. As an engineer in the oil and gas industry by day, Bryan loves to understand how a wine came to be and his passion is sparking that same joy and deepened appreciation for others.

JW Boyden, the Texas Wine School
JW Boyden Instructor

JW is an energy professional by day and wine educator by night. When asked, he will tell you wine is his first passion but second job. JW has been collecting and studying wine at the Texas Wine School for years. He has earned his WSET Advanced certificate (with distinction) and is a French Wine Scholar. He has also served as a Judge for the Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition.

Currently, JW is pursuing his Master Level certification for Bourgogne through the French Wine Society. He prefers to drink Burgundy and the Rhone but he could never pass up an opportunity to drink something sweet.

Georgio Caflisch, the Texas Wine School
Giorgio Caflisch Instructor

Giorgio “George” Caflisch, a/k/a “The Italian Wine Guru,” started his wine journey as many Italians kids do, with a little glass of watered-down wine at family dinners.  And the rest is history.  In 2012, Giorgio obtained a WSET Level 3 Advanced Certification with Distinction through the Texas Wine School.  In 2016, he was recognized as a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers.  He received the Italian Wine Specialist certification, with Honors, from the North American Sommelier Association, in 2013.

In 2015, he was awarded the Italian Wine Professional certification, with Honors, from the Italian Wine Central.  In 2017 he completed the Italian Wine Scholar Certification from the Wine Scholar Guild, with highest honors.  In 2018, Giorgio was awarded the coveted Italian Wine Ambassador certification from the Vinitaly International Academy in Verona, Italy, and in 2019 he successfully passed the VIA Educator Certification program. Giorgio has been a volunteer judge at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Uncorked International Wine Competition every year since 2011.

He is a Master Knight of the Houston Chapter of the Knights of the Vine and a Doppel Member of the Wine Century Club, having tasted more than 200 different international grape varieties.  A prolific writer, Giorgio has written thousands of tasting notes on CellarTracker as the “TannicBeast.”

Daniela
Daniela DaSuta Instructor

Raised on a Texas vineyard, Daniela fostered a love of viticulture that later bloomed into a full-fledged wine career. Because of her love of administering wine education, she founded Sekt Wine Consultation, a company that offers wine training, classes, and wine list analysis.

Daniela is also the wine buyer for three independent Austin-based wine stores and a social media coordinator for Pen and Tell Us, an ad agency specializing in food and beverage campaigns. She currently holds a Diploma in Wines from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and plans on pursuing the coveted Master of Wine title.

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Trienet del Valle Instructor

Trienet del Valle is an accredited wine educator and certified sommelier (Sommelier Society of America, New York City.) She was awarded the Advanced Certificate (with Distinction) by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), an international leader in wine and spirits education based out of the UK. Trienet also holds the California Wine Appellation Certification (CWAS) offered by the San Francisco Wine School, and the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) offered by the Society of Wine Educators.

Prior to a career in the wine industry, Trienet enjoyed working in higher education at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and Engineering School at the University of Virginia. She is currently pursuing the WSET Diploma while teaching at the Texas Wine School and consulting for private and corporate clients in Houston and New York City. She has a keen interest in geography, viticulture, food and wine pairing, wine tourism, and the business of wine.

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Ginny Endecott Instructor

Ginny’s interest in wine began while working as a server in an upscale restaurant while in college.  Although she spent the next decade and a half at her “day job” after graduation, she continued learning about wine and worked weekends at a catering company to stay in the business.  She formed a women’s wine education group called “The Cellar Belles” in Katy, TX, which met monthly and swelled to 40 members with a waiting list. She ran the group from 2008-2013, and began studying at the Texas Wine School during that period.

She has obtained a WSET Level 3 Advanced Certification with Distinction, Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) from the Society of Educators, French Wine Scholar from the Wine Scholar Guild, and is continuing Master classes with the Wine Scholar Guild in Champagne and Bordeaux.

She spent 2015-2016 working with a wine retailer, and has served as a judge for the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show Wine Competition since 2012.  Ginny writes a column called “Wine Smarts” for a local Houston magazine, and has been teaching for the Texas Wine School since 2016.

Jesse
Jesse Filipi Instructor

Jesse is an engineer who works at an energy technology firm, and is an avid traveler having visited all seven of the New 7 Wonders of the World. However, his favorite country is France, where he and his wife go every year to explore new towns and places. Being a huge francophile, Jesse had been interested in wine for a long time. It was only after taking the Wines of France class at the Texas Wine School that he caught the wine bug.

Since then, Jesse has achieved the French Wine Scholar, Wine & Spirit Educator Trust (WSET) Level III, and Master Level in Champagne certifications. He is also a registered instructor with the Wine Scholar Guild. In the evenings, Jesse teaches consumer and certification classes involving French wines for the Texas Wine School. He also enjoys reading about French food and wine since the history and quality of both are second to none! He holds an MBA and MS in Materials Science from Rice University and a BS from McGill University.

Erica Fine Instructor

Erica has worked in the wine industry for 12 years, serving as a distributor, wine buyer and floor sommelier. She helped found both a wine distribution company and a chemical solvents company.  While keeping her toe in the chemical solvents business, she currently works as a consultant to a number of boutique wine distributors and serves as a wine educator. She has traveled extensively and has a passion for the small wineries, maintaining connections with wine growers around the world.  She has also served as a wine judge for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s Wine Competition.

Robert Gilroy, the Texas Wine School
Robert Gilroy Instructor

Robert Gilroy has been a professional member of the Houston wine scene for over 25 years and is currently employed by Moët Hennessy USA. Robert has earned certifications in 3 distinct wine and spirits education organizations including The Guild of Master Sommeliers, Certified; Wine and Sprits Education Trust, Advanced; Certified Specialist of Wine & Certified Specialist of Spirits from The Society of Wine Educators, and continues to pursue The Certified Wine Educator accreditation from this organization.

He has earned an internal certification within Moët Hennessy USA as “Master of Champagne”. Robert is also the current Head Judge for The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition, one of the top 5 competitions in The U.S. based on # of entries submitted. Robert continues to be involved in multiple wine, spirit, and Champagne educational organizations and leads classes as well.

Dr. Russel Kane, the Texas Wine School
Russell Kane Instructor

Dr. Russell Kane is an award-winning Texas writer, author and wine aficionado with articles, tasting notes and quotes that have appeared in local, regional and national publications over the past 20 years. His bestselling book, The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine, was released by Texas Tech Press in 2012. His newly completed book, Texas Hill Country Wineries – a wine trail guide and pictorial history of the Texas Hill Country Wineries, was released January 2015 by Arcadia Publications.

Dr. Kane has served as the executive director of the Wine Society of Texas, as a board member of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA), and a member of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Wine Industry Development Advisory Committee. He is a two-time awardee of the TWGGA Press Award for media coverage of the Texas wine industry. He currently contributes articles for Edible Austin and Edible Houston, provides Texas wine recommendations in the Houston Chronicle and blogs at www.vintagetexas.com.

Dr. Kane received his first level certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2002. He is also Ph.D. and an experienced and awarded technical researcher and writer with over 250 technical publications as author or co-author, and editor on five technical books. In 2015, Dr. Kane received his certification as a Texas Master Naturalist.

James King, the Texas Wine School
James King Instructor

James King has been in the wine industry, from winery to educator, for 21 years. Over these 21 years, James has worked in London, Sydney, Los Angles, Houston and now Bentonville. For the last 10 years, James has been an educator, starting in LA, running the prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the French Wine Society Certifications.

In 2010, James started the Texas Wine School in Houston. The School now teaches, in addition to the WSET & FWS, the Certified Specialist of Wine, Italian Wine Professional and Specialist of Texas Wine courses. The school is also very proud of its non-certification classes that run 4 times a week, covering topics as diverse as California, France, Italy, Food and Wine Pairing, Wine 101, Varietal Comparative Classes, Mature Tastings and How to Taste.

James has also conducted multiple trade seminars as the representative of the regions of Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Provence and Rioja and is a Speaker at the Annual Society of Wine Educators Conference. James also runs Corporate / Private Wine Events and works with people on their personal cellars. James, now residing in Rogers, AR, is looking to take this experience and start teaching classes for NWA Culinary College in their degree program, starting August 2016, and also consumer classes and Corporate / Private Wine Events in the Fall of 2015. He remains actively involved in the WSET program at The Texas Wine School and, more generally, serves in an advisory capacity to the school.

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Osvaldo Pascolini Instructor

Osvaldo Pascolini was born and raised in Italy. Sommelier, Master Taster, Master of Terroir and professional Geologist. He was certified in Milano, from two different institutions: the Istituto di Cultura del Vino and the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS), the largest Sommelier Association in the world.

He has lived, worked and traveled in 19 of the 20 Italian Regions, visiting dozens of wineries and producers and tasting hundreds of wines, from Alto Adige down to Sicily. Osvaldo currently serves as the Texas delegate of the North American Sommelier Association (based in Los Angeles, California). His passion is the wine and food culture that he had the opportunity to nurture while growing in Italy.

Osvaldo has given general wine classes and seminars about the role of geology and soils as distinctive wine quality factors. He served as a Judge for the 2017 and 2018 Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition.

Sheri Pattillo
Sheri Pattillo Instructor

Sheri holds the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma as well as being a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators. She’s worked both in the vineyard and in the winery and enjoys discussing all aspects of wine production. Her current studies include enrollment in Texas Tech’s Enology Program.

Sheri’s wine and business background (MBA) give her a unique perspective in the industry and in consulting work. In addition to teaching wine courses, Sheri enjoys wine judging and writing articles for Rock and Vine. She leads Sales & Marketing for Calais Winery, a boutique winery producing premier wines in the Texas Hill Country.

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Fred Salumunek Instructor

Fred Salumunek is a Houston native, retired from a 33 year career with Exxon-Mobil in 2013.  He developed a passion for wine during tours of California wine country in the 1990s.

A few years before retiring he began formal study about wine, and has earned a variety of professional certifications: Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Certified Specialist of Wine, Wine and Spirits Education Trust level 3 (advanced), and French Wine Scholar.

Since his retirement, Fred has worked for a wine distributor, consulted with retail wine shops and restaurants, hosted wine dinners, and judged wine for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition.  His favorite activity is teaching consumer wine classes, which gives him the opportunity to share his passion, so he’s excited to have joined the team at the Texas Wine School!