ICSWI is the first and only Conference dedicated to be “produced in the independent spirit” Champagnes and Sparkling Wine (C&SW) from all over the world and the only seamlessly interwoven public / industry conference entirely dedicated to the focus on Sparkling wines.
IN THE LIGHT OF A NEW ECONOMIC WORLD
In this new economy the public and industry at large are turning their focus to small production, we only have to see what is happening in the food industry with the “Slow Foods” movement. The public is shying away from their interest in "Brands with no soul", large headless institutions. They crave real quality on a human scale. There is power in having shaken the hand of the person who produced that bottle. It defines what you stand for not only as a person but also gives you a sense of supporting real people with families and kids.
ICSWI is the first, independent champagne and sparkling wine event in the World.
ICSWI will not only offer a serious and educated look at the sparkling wine grower producer world, but also offer plenty of opportunity for fun and festivity. We are combining a scholarly approach through designed educational seminars validated by top industry specialists, as well as unique opportunities to have pure unfettered fun with an impressive line-up of activities such as “Bubbles and Blues on Bourbon Street”, or “The Bubbly Block Party on Rue Royal”, or a Seminar on mixing sparkling wine based cocktails with award winning mixologists.
Board of Advisors
Growing up in greater New Orleans, Katie Callahan is a hospitality business veteran, with expertise in hospitality operations, communications and marketing. With a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration, Katie started her career at New Orleans’ legendary Fairmont Hotel, completing an extensive Hyatt Hotels Corporation hospitality training program in Houston, San Francisco, South Carolina and Atlanta. Her next stop was working as a national hospitality consultant for the US Navy, before she arrived in New York City as Director of Marketing and Catering for The Cornell Club-New York, owned by Cornell University, home to one of the most prestigious hotel schools in the United States. Katie has worked both the front and back of the house, opening the New York restaurant, Orsay, prior to starting her own hospitality-based communications company, VenuePR. VenuePR is a pure play hospitality communications agency, with a broad portfolio of food and beverage clients primarily located in New York and New Orleans.
CHARLES CURTIS, MW
Head of North American Wine Sales for Christie’s auction house, Charles Curtis MW has worked in a variety of capacities in the wine trade. Originally trained as a chef, Charles has also been the Director of Wine and Spirit Education for Moët Hennessy USA, and has worked throughout the wholesale distribution chain and as a journalist, author, consultant and wine judge. He is a frequent speaker at wine and food festivals throughout the United States and makes numerous college guest lecturer appearances. Charles earned his Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and in October 2004, became the 22nd Master of Wine in the United States. He continues his work with the Institute of Masters of Wine, serving on the board of the Institute in North America, speaking at their annual Education Seminar in Napa Valley, and organizing the Institute’s Annual Champagne Tasting, held in New York and San Francisco. Through the years, he has garnered a number of honors, including the prestigious “Bourse André Crispin” presented by the Commanderie de Bordeaux aux Etats-Unis, and has contributed to publications such as Harper’s (UK), the International Wine Review, and Santé magazine (US).
FRED DEXHEIMER, MS
Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer is an award winning sommelier and mixologist. Having spent the last ten years of his career in NYC, he first worked as a bartender, cellar rat and eventually sommelier with such esteemed restaurant establishments as Restaurant Daniel, Gramercy Tavern, the Jean Georges Group, and Laurent Tourondel. As beverage director for the BLT Restaurant Group, Fred created an internationally acclaimed wine and beverage program, opening and overseeing more than a dozen BLT restaurants locations in NYC, LA, DC, Miami, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Scottsdale and Puerto Rico. Now Fred is the founder of Juiceman Consulting, a restaurant, wine, spirits and cocktail consulting agency. Fred has been awarded a number of accolades including awards from Wines and Spirits, Starwine, and Star Chefs. In 2007, Fred passed the rigorous Court of Master Sommeliers Master Level Exam becoming the 79th Master Sommelier in the United States. In addition, Fred has competed in many sommelier competitions including the “Best Sommelier in World Competition” as the representative from the United States in 2007 in Rhodes, Greece. Fred regularly contributes to many of the world’s leading wine publications as a taster, commentator, contributor and panelist. His credits include the New York Times, Food and Wine, Wine and Spirits, Wine Spectator, Beverage Media, Food Arts, Sommelier Journal, Wine Enthusiast, Time, Men’s Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Newsweek, People, and he has been featured live on Martha Stewart Radio and MSNBC.
Kurt Eckert has been involved in fine wine for over 20 years, and has worked in nearly every aspect of the business. His work as a sommelier has encompassed many fine restaurants, culminating in New York City with the acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, where he was the inaugural wine director for the four-star “Jean Georges” while also managing several other wine programs within this group. Following this, he became the U.S. Ambassador and Director for Champagne Krug, guiding the hallowed brand in its re-launch across the country, and introducing a new segment of the wine-drinking public to the glories of this reference-point Champagne. From here, Mr. Eckert joined Frederick Wildman & Sons, an importer with a storied history, as their Director of Fine Wines. Working to enliven and coordinate Wildman’s brand strategy across a wide spectrum of fine wine producers, he travelled throughout the U.S. promoting and growing the presence of these producers in every region of the country. Most recently he has shifted his focus to his favorite regions within France, Italy and Germany, importing wines for the wholesale market produced by friends and colleagues who share a common appreciation for wine’s historical, geographical and cultural relevance. In addition to this, he has produced several vintages of his own wines, sourced from the emerging Long Island viticultural region just outside of New York City. Now working also with the International Champagne and Sparkling Wine Invitational event, he is able to further indulge his passion for all things bubbly and vinous. Kurt Eckert lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.
LISA GRANIK, MW
Lisa Granik was a practicing lawyer and law professor until she realized she had arrived in the right station to change career trains. Since entering the wine trade, she has worked as a consultant for wineries, importers, wine shops and restaurants and in 2006, became one of only 275 Masters of Wine worldwide. Lisa currently works in New York as Director of Fine Wine Initiatives for Empire Merchants of the Charmer-Sunbelt Group. A dynamic teacher, she is widely known in New York City for her advanced tasting classes, as well as for her work as an instructor for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust at the International Wine Center. Lisa is frequently a judge at international wine competitions and writes about wine for publications such as the New York Times, World of Fine Wine, and the Haute Life Press. Additional editorial roles include serving as the technical editor of the Professional Wine Reference (2006) and acting as a contributor to 1001 Wines You Must Try before You Die (2008). Lisa graduated from Georgetown University, with a joint degree in law and foreign service, and received a doctorate from Yale Law School. She was a Fulbright Scholar at Moscow State University and the Institute of State and Law in Tbilisi, Georgia. Additionally, she is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, the most recent being the 2008 Thomas Jefferson Award conferred by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, honoring remarkable women in the wine industry. But perhaps her greatest claim to fame is having more letters after her name than in her name.
LAURA MANIEC, MS
As B.R. Guest’s Director of Wine and Spirits, Laura Maniec ensures that every restaurant meets –and exceeds– the company’s high standards. She not only develops extensive wine and spirits program for 15 restaurants across the country, she also advises the creative design elements for each new location’s beverage initiatives. Growing up, Maniec looked forward to her grandmother’s Sunday night dinners where the entire family gathered for a great meal and wine, and she quickly knew this industry was in her genes. Maniec took her first step towards this career by earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management and at only 21, landed her first job as the sommelier at Blue Fin. Managing a 600 bottle wine list, her work was lauded at Food and Wine’s first “Best New Sommeliers” awards. In her present role as Director of Wine and Spirits, Laura holds intensive hands-on training sessions internally referred to as “Wine College.” She also teaches at the highly regarded French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. Most recently, Maniec earned the highest status for sommeliers and achieved the distinguished title of Master Sommelier, a distinction awarded to only 18 females worldwide. “Teaching what I love most gives me the opportunity to inspire others’ passion for wines, and in turn, I bring that excitement and knowledge to our guests,” says Maniec.
Organizing, staffing, and executing high level, international events is second nature for Alva Johnson. Whether staffing 22,000 temporary employees for the Olympic Games, or training Personal Assistants for clients such as Vera Wang or The Dave Matthews Band, Alva is the consummate planning professional. Alva was only a 21 year old college graduate, fresh off of the sand volleyball courts for Team Paul Mitchell, when she was offered a job as Staffing Leader at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. This once in a lifetime experience served as the foundation for Alva's accomplished career as a Human Resources Executive, where her reputation for being a stern, forward-thinking, and process-oriented leader yielded impactful results for organizations such as CARE International and the Atlanta Braves. Constantly moving forward, Alva channeled her multidimensional expertise into becoming a successful entrepreneur, co-founding Celebrity Personal Assistants, Inc, (CPAI), a female-led company focused on staffing and training Personal Assistants for leading celebrity clients including Grammy Award winning artists India Arie and Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band. Over the last five years, Alva has branched out on her own, organizing large scale international events in countries such as Brazil, Germany, and the US. Embodying a delicate balance of grace and fire, Alva recognizes the importance of creating amazing, fun event experiences while maintaining a keen eye for detail. At ICSWI 2010, Alva intends to bring the same energy and enthusiasm to bubbles that she’s used to ignite crowds worldwide. Alva passionately believes champagne isn’t just for special occasions – it’s the ultimate celebration of life!
With a mother who was one of the very first women in the wine industry to create a wine brokerage company, Peter developed a sophisticated palate at the early age of five when he began tasting burgundy wines. However, after 16 years in the film business, Peter could not contain his true passion for wine and champagne and transitioned to the wine industry. While it would have been natural for Peter to immediately join his mother in her well-established business, Selection Becky Wasserman (SBW), one of two premier Grower Champagne Selections in the United States, instead he chose to hold various positions in wine distribution. These multidimensional experiences, including retail, sommelier, and wholesale increased his awareness of what customers of SBW need and want, making him an invaluable asset as SBW’s sole US market Consultant. Peter is an active educator, developing and conducting focused wine and champagne seminars in the US and France for both industry professionals and the public. Sharing his vast knowledge of wine with others is what he considers the most rewarding aspect of his career.