Our Team

Partners

Liz Palmer

Liz Palmer, the Texas Wine SchoolLiz 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 certification, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Certified Rioja Educator, Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar and Italian Wine Professional Certifications.

In 2014, Liz joined the Texas Wine School to manage day-to-day operations. She became a partner in 2015 and assumed control of the school in 2016.

James King

James King, the Texas Wine SchoolJames 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.

Instructors

Stephanie Earthman Baird

Stephanie Earthman Baird, the Texas Wine SchoolThe 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 Advanced Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. 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.”

JW Boyden

JW Boyden, the Texas Wine SchoolJW 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.

Giorgio Caflisch

Georgio Caflisch, the Texas Wine SchoolGiorgio “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.  Giorgio has been a volunteer judge at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Uncorked International Wine Competition every year since 2011.  He is a member of the Houston Chapter of the Knights of the Vine and of the Wine Century Club, having tasted more than 100 different international varietals.  Giorgio has written thousands of tasting notes on CellarTracker as the “TannicBeast,” and is only a couple of varietals away from reaching his Double Century.

Trienet del Valle

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.

Robert Gilroy

Robert Gilroy, the Texas Wine SchoolRobert 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

Dr. Russel Kane, the Texas Wine SchoolDr. 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.

Osvaldo Pascolini  

Osvaldo Pascolini is a native Italian, Sommelier and professional Geologist. He was certified in Milano, Italy, from the Istituto di Cultura del Vino and the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS), the largest Sommelier Association in the world. Osvaldo currently serves as the Texas delegate of the North American Sommelier Association (based in Los Angeles, California), and is a Master Taster candidate. He is a wine educator who has given general wine classes and seminars about the role of geology and soils as distinctive quality factors in the wine production. He was one of the Judges for the 2017 Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition.

 

Sheri Pattillo     
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.

 

 

Christian Varas

Christian was born in the Flower Hospital on 5th avenue and 106th street in the same month as the famous “Thrilla in Manila”.  Fast forward 19 years to when he seized an opportunity to work as the wine runner at Carltun on the Park in Westbury, NY.  His memory for producer names and labels piqued his interest enough to volunteer and study as a teacher’s assistant for: Kevin Zraly of the Windows on the World wine course at The World Trade Center; Andrew Bell for the American Sommelier Association Viticulture/Vinification Advanced Certification course; and Mary Ewing-Mulligan for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust – successfully receiving certifications from all three. After putting a healthy amount of sommelier miles on his pedometer working for Regent Las Vegas, Stanhope Park Hyatt, Rothmann’s NYC, and several chef-driven restaurants; Christian left New York City in 2003 to sunny Anguilla, British West Indies, to serve as wine director for the exclusive Cap Juluca Resort – a time best described as his “Fauvist period”. He was lured back from the fountain of youth in October of 2007 to become the Wine Director for The Tasting Room Wine Bars and Max’s Wine Dive in Houston before accepting the privilege of managing the wine program for the fine members of the River Oaks Country Club.