Executive Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine
In addition to managing the editorial direction of the print magazine, Kostrzewa oversees all digital initiatives for the media company and is a formal taster on the magazine wine tasting panel. She is the author of numerous food, wine and travel books such as Opus Vino, a comprehensive volume of worldwide wines and wine regions, Greatest Escapes, a series of books on literary travel, and Pairings, a guide on matching the eclectic wines and foods of the world. Before relocating from Sonoma to Manhattan in 2005, Kostrzewa was senior editor of Wine Country Living, as well as a contributing writer and/or editor for Savor Wine Country, Marin Magazine, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and several travel magazines.
Female Wine Maker:
Winemaker, Chandon California
As winemaker and leader of the #ChandonSquad at Chandon California, Pauline Lhote is responsible for every part of the winemaking process from grape to glass. To say that Pauline is passionate about bubbles is an understatement as she grew up in the Champagne region of France. At just 14 years old, she told her parents she wanted to be a winemaker, and specifically that she wanted to make sparkling wine.
While earning a National Diploma of winemaking in Reims, Pauline gained hands-on experience at Moët & Chandon where she focused on crafting rosé champagnes.
Pauline then set her sights on Chandon California in the Napa Valley, the first French-owned sparkling wine house in California. She arrived in Yountville for a three-month contract in 2006, fell in love with the region and stayed. At just 34 years old she is currently heading into her 13th harvest at Chandon. Since she was promoted to winemaker two years ago, Pauline has been working to create a new wine style, playing up the California brightness and increasing the vibrancy and intensity of Chandon’s flavors and aromas. She also works closely with the other Chandon wineries throughout the world, especially Chandon Australia and Chandon Argentina, collaborating, sharing and learning from their challenges and successes.
She has been hailed as a female leader in the industry by the likes of Glamour, Marie Claire and Nylon as well as “Rising Star“ by The Drinks Business and acknowledged in Wine Enthusiast’s 2017 40 Under 40. Pauline has also spoken at various wine conferences and continues to share her experience and knowledge beyond just bubbles as an expert in chic sipping and pairing.
Photo credit: Dawn Heumann
Female Brand Owner:
La Caravelle Champagne
Rita and her husband André Jammet owned and operated the iconic New York French restaurant, La Caravelle. The New York Times described La Caravelle as a “French Legend and a Paris in Manhattan experience to food enthusiasts and the A-list of American society.” Rita oversaw all aspects of this restaurant’s business management, legal, financial, marketing and public relations, many of the operational details that made La Caravelle excel. As all working mothers, Rita learned to juggle successfully her family and professional duties.
After closing La Caravelle restaurant in 2004, and pursuing her passion for Champagne, Rita started to market and distribute La Caravelle Champagne and Bordeaux, available in a growing number of distinguished New York (and other States) hospitality, restaurant and retail establishments. An avid Champagne lover, Rita promotes not only her La Caravelle Champagne but the Champagne region and wines in general. Capitalizing on her 25+ years of hospitality experience and her extensive network of colleagues that include chefs and restaurateurs worldwide, Rita formed Bouquet Ventures Hospitality Consulting in 2004, undertaking various industry projects.
Giving back to her community is a major component of Rita’s life. Rita was a principal architect of “The Days of Taste”, “Spoons Across America”, a wonderful program teaching young students about food in conjunction with AIWF and the James Beard Foundation. In addition to being a member of the Restaurant Committee of NYC and Company , Rita takes an active part in Les Dames d’Escoffier, New York Chapter.
Female Brand Owner:
Le Grand Courtage
Tawnya Falkner took the leap and gave up her career as a designer/real estate developer in San Francisco and moved to Burgundy, France to study the wine regions, learn the business and develop a sparkling wine blend that embodies the French spirit of ‘joie de vivre’. Her journey resulted in Le Grand Courtâge, a 90+ point winning French sparkling wine, and the newly launched, Très Chic Rosé.
Females purchase some 80% of consumer goods, and as a consumer Tawnya was surprised by the prevalence of the ‘old world’ style of French wines, with traditional packaging and palate profiles, combined with expensive prices. Tawnya felt by having access to some of the best grapes and producers in the world, she could disrupt this staid market by providing consumers with an approachable, affordable, versatile French wine designed to celebrate life’s everyday moments.
Tawnya is deeply engaged in all aspects of LGC’s operations, sales, positioning and marketing. Given her design background, she conceived the label and all the packaging details. Tawnya worked with her team of vintners in France to create a blend that achieved the fruit forward balance she believed would most appeal to the American palate. Tawnya’s vision, passion and energy have propelled Le Grand Courtâge to impressive growth and distribution in restaurants and retailers in 44 states.
Tawnya's background in real estate development and design honed her skills for the complexity of running an imported wine company. Development is very multi-faceted and blends creative, legal, financial and logistical skills; the same is true of wine. Tawnya was educated at University of California Los Angeles and later became a co-founder of two firms, Strategic Development Solutions and Domus Development, both of which are still successfully operating. She has acted as both a developer and a consultant for government agencies, corporations and nonprofit groups. Tawnya understands what is necessary to implement a vision and address market opportunity, while balancing financial realities and navigating complex regulatory requirements.
Tawnya is a member of Women of the Vine, NAWBO, and speaks regularly at industry and women’s events. Her 2018 engagements include speaking on panels for Women of the Vine, Fempire, Fizz is Female and writing articles for Forbes.com and Beverage Journal.
Female Marketing Expert:
Director of Marketing & Communications
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Lisa Mattson possesses twenty years of experience in writing, event planning, public relations, marketing and media strategy in the wine industry. She is considered a thoughtful leader in video storytelling, social media and digital brand strategy for luxury wines and is the creator and curator behind Jordan Winery’s award-winning videos and dynamic blog, The Journey of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s new food, wine and travel website, Wine Country Table.
Under her leadership, The Journey of Jordan and its videos have won four Wine Blog Awards, Best Wine Themed Video at the 2015 Born Digital Wine Awards, Best Music Video at the 2016 International Wine Film Festival and “Films That Make Us Think” at the 2017 Windsor International Film Festival.
Prior to joining Jordan, she worked in public relations and event marketing for a wine importer, a corporate wine company and two wine distributors. She graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University in 1997 and served as a new editor of a wine magazine for four years after college. Her memoir, The Exes in My Glass: How I Refined My Taste in Men & Alcohol, was published in 2016.
Jen Pelka of The Riddler SF
Jen Pelka is the owner of The Riddler, a Champagne bar in San Francisco, which was named “Wine Bar of the Year” this year by Eater. The Riddler offers over 100 Champagnes by the bottle and dozens of sparkling wines by the glass. The Riddler's investor group is made up entirely of women, as is her leadership team. Jen is also the CEO and Founder of Magnum PR, San Francisco’s #1 restaurant PR agency (just ask google), leading media relations, social media strategy and digital marketing for powerhouse brands including Mister Jiu’s, AL’s Place, Rich Table, Souvla, Robin, and chefs including Traci Des Jardins, Mourad, and Michael Mina. Pelka’s career in restaurants began at Chef Daniel Boulud’s Restaurant DANIEL, where she served for 5 years across a broad range of roles—kitchen stagier, Chef Boulud’s Research Assistant, and the US Competition Director for the Bocuse d’Or. She went on to lead influencer marketing, content strategy, and media relations in-house at OpenTable, Gilt Taste, and Tumblr. She has been named Forbes “30 Under 30” for Food & Wine, a Details “Digital Maverick, and a Cherry Bombe “It Girl.” Pelka won an IACP Award for Best Culinary or Brand Site in 2012 for Gilt Taste, and was a James Beard Award nominee for Best Food Coverage in a Food Focused Publication.