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Scott Tavenner of Savino – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Scott Tavenner creator of the Savino wine saver system.

Today we are pleased to highlight Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member Scott Tavenner of Savino.

Scott Tavenner and Savino first caught the attention of Mutineer President Alan Kropf at the SF Vintners market. But, where he really had us captivated was on his wildly successful Kickstarter project for the Savino wine saving system. He has brought an idea to the table that is as elegant as it is innovative. Scott has diverse business experience, and brings an amalgam of experiences to the table.

What career were you in before you created the Savino wine preservation system?

I am a Californian native whose interest in building businesses is only met by my passion for food and wine. Before launching Savino, I spent more than 20 years creating and building companies focused on health care, IT and internet advertising in the innovative Silicon Valley.

Why did you create Savino?

Fifteen years ago, I opened our refrigerator to find a glass of wine sitting on the top shelf. When I asked my wife why she put a glass of wine in the refrigerator she responded, “I wanted to preserve it for later.” And so, began my journey to bring her Savino.

What experience in your past career or education helped you in the development of Savino?

My serial-entrepreneur background has taught me two clear things about starting any company – you need both passion for what you are doing and you need to create a great consumer experience. My passion for food and wine started during my childhood in Sonoma County and I still love sharing great food and wine with friends and family and Savino was designed to create a wonderful consumer experience. From our very first design meeting we set out to create a product that was effective, elegant and easy-to-use, and we succeeded. Education is also hugely important; I earned both a BS and MBA studying Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Finance at the University of Southern California.

What has been the reception for Savino by the wine industry?

Savino is the single most popular wine-related project in Kickstarter’s history, with more than 1,300 backers supporting us and consumers have continued to support Savino after Kickstarter allowing us to generate over 2000 pre-orders. In addition to a strong consumer response, many people from the wine industry recognize the value of Savino. To date, every consumer wine preservation product has fallen short – either it doesn’t work (now, not naming names here), it costs too much, is inelegant or it isn’t easy to use. We are very excited to be offering Savino, which we believe is the best product that can be produced to both serve and preserve wine, to everyone.

When will Savino be available to the general public?

Savinos will be available for purchase on our website at www.savinowine.com the week of March 25, 2013 – but you can also pre-order yours now!

Follow Savino on Twitter and Facebook.

Click here to back our Kickstarter project.

Brian Robinson of The Wormwood Society – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Brian Robinson of the Wormwood Society

It’s no secret the Mutineers love absinthe. Whether at the Wine Bloggers Conference or the Great American Beer Festival, the Mutineers usually have a stash of absinthe within arms reach that they’re more than happy to share. Clearly, Brian Robinson was a natural fit to be involved with Mutineer. With his help, on behalf of The Wormwood Society–one of the foremost authorities on absinthe–Mutineer was able to put together one of the coolest feature stories on absinthe ever. Brian brings a lot of really cool qualities to the table, and his absinthe knowledge is off the charts, but he also brings an interesting aspect of being a professional financial advisor, which good financial planning plays a paramount role in the decisions we make with education, employment, and more.

How does your work as a professional financial advisor apply to your work in the beverage industry?

I’ve always enjoyed teaching people. As a Financial Advisor, I’ve found a job where I can be in front of people every day, teaching them how to maximize their financial situation, and reach their goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. I’ve parlayed that love of teaching into my position at the Wormwood Society, where I regularly post reviews of new products, and more importantly, help to educate both consumers and industry folks about absinthe. I’ve gone even further in my private life, where I’m constantly holding tasting events and get-togethers, educating friends and clients about other types of spirits and cocktails as well. It’s such a natural progression and extension of my professional self.

What is your favorite aspect about the beverage industry?

You get to meet such an amazing array of individuals from all over the world. And so many of them have such a zest for life. It’s just a great culture to be involved with.

Any financial advice you’d give to students considering a job in the beverage industry, for education or otherwise?

It’s to easy to fall into the trap of spending all of the newfound money that you’re making, whether it’s tips, commission, hourly, or salary. But, it’s imperative that you sock away some of that on a regular basis. Begin by building a good cash reserve that will help you through any potential big-ticket problems, in order to keep you from having to rely upon debt (like credit cards) to get you out of the hole.

Also, invest in yourself. The longer you’re in the beverage industry, you’ll come to realize that the best people in each of their respective categories are always learning and researching new things. Not only will that help to keep the job fresh, but can help you stay at the forefront of relevancy.

What is the Wormwood Society, and what is your role with the organization?

The Wormwood Society is a nonprofit educational and consumer advocacy association focused on providing current, historically and scientifically accurate information about absinthe, helping to reform the laws impacting absinthe in the United States and encouraging the responsible enjoyment of a safe, rewarding and historically interesting beverage. We also provide guidance for spirits industry members who desire to produce and market authentic absinthe in a fair, honest and socially responsible way, including providing historically documented formulas and processes for making absinthe in the true Belle Époque style.

I wear multiple hats within the organization. I’m on the Advisory Board, which shapes the actions and provides content to the site, as well as moderates the forum section, which can get lively at times. I also am the Media Liaison, helping to provide journalists and reporters find accurate information about absinthe. Finally, I’m the Review Editor, where I both add my own reviews of products as well as make sure that other reviewers are using the scoring system properly and keep their reviews clean and meaningful. To date, I’ve reviewed about 150 brands for the site, and have informally reviewed another 150 or so over the past 16 years.

If you could have any job in the beverage industry, what would it be?

I envision myself opening my own gastropub and cocktail lounge after I retire from financial planning. I’ve been dabbling in signature cocktail creations and gourmet cooking for many years, so it would be nice to put it to the test in the world of business. It will be a long way off, as I love my job, but I’ve been keeping notes on ideas, designs, custom cocktails and such for several years now.

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Adam Seger of Rare Botanical Bitters – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member



Mutineer first ran into Adam Seger when we did our series of What People Drink articles based on influential beverage people from Chicago. Naturally, Adam was a great fit to be included in that article. We’ve bumped into him several time since then and have seen his name everywhere, from leading seminars at Tales of the Cocktail, to mixing cocktails on the Oscars’ Red Carpet when he won the inaugural Moet Oscar Cocktail Contest. He has more beverage related projects than we can keep up with and he’s a guy that is going to continue to do big things. We are proud to introduce to you our next Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board member, Mr. Adam Seger, Co-Founder/Partner of Rare Botanical Bitters.

How did you get into the beverage industry?

My freshman year at Cornell Hotel School, I was a Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Wines, the largest wine class in the world with 800 students. The TA’s didn’t really teach, we schlepped wine glasses and wine portions for tastings for the 800 students. But, we got to take the leftover wine with us, so I spent all four years as a TA drinking great wines with my fraternity brothers and serving as Delta Phi’s impromptu tutor for anyone taking the wine class. It was the best way to learn wine, tasting and talking to others about wine.

Late summer 1991 just after graduating from Cornell Hotel School and following a culinary stagiere at Michelin Star Chez Julien in Strasbourg, I joined Hilton Hotels as Banquet Manager of The Midland, Texas Hilton & Towers. Shortly after a major renovation, I became Assistant F&B Director then Director of Food & Beverage.

We created a modern Southwest concept in the hotel called Santa Fe Place with a Cafe, a Grill and a Bar. The Grill was my baby with an innovative wine program with the wine list organized by food pairings vs traditionally as well as flights and tasting portions available. For West Texas in 1992, this had never been seen before.

What has been the most rewarding experience of your beverage career?

Working for Thomas Keller gave me the priceless gift of developing a religious devotion to and respect for ingredients.

If you weren’t developing spirits or stirring up cocktails behind the stick, what else in the beverage industry interests you?

Being in the kitchen. Every amazing dish I eat or cooking technique I learn or ingredient I discover I automatically start to think of cocktail, bitters and spirit applications.

If you had one piece of advice for a student considering a career in the beverage industry, what would it be?

Start blind tasting every beverage possible including wine, beer, tea, water…Developing your critical pallet separates the men from the boys. If you are a gal, even better as women have in general better pallets than men.

You seem to be a man of many hats in the beverage industry. What kinds of projects are you involved with?

With Rare Tea Cellars Master Blender Rodrick Markus I have started a bitters company called ‘Rare Botanical Bitters’. Our first product is the world’s 1st Winter Black Perigord Truffle Bitters which we debuted at Eric Ripert’s Cayman Cookout at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman this January.

Our company’s next project is a joint venture with Boyd & Blair Distillery. We are reinventing the vermouth category with a spirit called Balsam. Balsam is everything that is in traditional vermouth with the exception of wine. Thus a restaurant can add a house wine to their Balsam to make just as much fresh vermouth as they need.

In additional to innovating in the craft spirit world, I also create and manage the cocktails for Ipic Entertainment, the leader in full service luxury movie theatres. Our locations from coast-to-coast offer craft cocktails, local beer and restaurant quality wine lists with service brought to guests’ seats in the theatres.

1 comment 03.06.2013 |

James Parker Huston of Wine Gallery– Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


James Parker Huston

We are pleased to highlight Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member James Parker Huston, a professional with a wealth of experience currently spanning several professional roles, including: Owner & Wine Director of Wine Gallery, Sommelier at Charlie Palmer, Wine Director at The Crow Bar & Kitchen, and private consulting work.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with James in Australia a few years back, and I really admired his passion and knowledge for his work with wine. The diverse range of platforms he works with allows him to bring his wine visions to life in creative and different ways, and I’m excited to see how his wine career evolves in the future.

What was your path into the beverage industry?

It all started back at my first hospitality job. I made my way from a short order cook at the Balboa Bay Club snack bar all the way to a Captain in the Main Cabin in just two years. Upon graduating from University of California at Santa Barbara, I tried a few other careers, including sales and talk radio. I was not feeling it, so I got together with a few friends who had opened up a wine store called Wine Gallery in 1999. I became a partner in June of 2000. We have since grown the Wine Gallery into a wine bar and restaurant. I have also worked as Sommelier/Wine Director for many other local restaurants over the years including Five Crowns, Rothschild’s, The Quiet Woman, The Crow Bar and Kitchen and Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s.

You spread your time amongst several restaurants, in addition to owning and running your own wine shop. How do you manage your multiple professional responsibilities?

It is a challenge, and organization and time management is the key. I have a home office that I work from in the morning to take care of my consulting clients. I usually spend an hour to three hours a day in the morning with consulting work. Owning my own business allows me set up my own schedule, which is imperative to make the consulting gigs successful. In addition, I can taste wine with distributors during the week and have each account in mind while doing so, so I can kill three or four birds with one stone.

Is there anything you haven’t done with wine that you’d like to do at some point?

I would love to make my own wine someday. Hopefully, god willing, I will earn the Master Sommelier Diploma down the line. That will free up some time to start the winemaking career. I would probably keep it small production, and Pinot Noir is my true love, with Grenache closely behind. A dry rose of Pinot Noir sounds tasty too.

Are there any aspects of being a Sommelier that you feel are misunderstood?

We are very approachable and not pretentious. We are not out to sell you the most expensive wine, and we will work with any budget in mind. In fact, I take pride in suggesting value wines that over deliver. Our main goal is to add value to the dining experience.

What is your favorite aspect of your work?

Ensuring my clients walk out with a big smile on their faces.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Making even the most difficult customers happy. Some people just won’t be happy, ever. However, I love it when I can make them do a 180.

What advice would you give college students considering a career as a Sommelier?

Start studying your wine theory early. Read as many books on wine as you can in your free time. The more you know, the more valuable you are to clients and potential employers. Start with a simple book, like “Windows on the World” by Kevin Zraly or Matt Kramer’s “Making Sense of Wine”. Also, start a fun blind wine tasting group with friends or other aspiring Sommeliers.

Click here to back our Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter project!

Comments Off on James Parker Huston of Wine Gallery– Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.05.2013 |

Brett Carlile and Orlin Sorensen Of Woodinville Whiskey Company– Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Brett Carlile & Orlin Sorensen of Woodinville Whiskey Co.

We are pleased to highlight Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Members Brett Carlile and Orlin Sorensen, co-owners of Woodinville Whiskey Company.

Brett and Orlin are longtime friends who decided to leave their jobs and pursue their passion, turning a love of whiskey into a career. In just three short years, the two have made their dream into reality, creating the first bourbon in Washington State since Prohibition.

Our Creative Director Julie Hadjinian first met them at a whiskey education night at Woodinville Whiskey Company. She admired the hard work they have done, in creating and building Woodinville Whiskey Co. into a respected, well-known craft spirits brand.

Why did you want to work in the spirits industry?
I’m a whiskey geek. I love everything about it–the history, the industry, and the product itself. I spent many years in the corporate world somewhat unfulfilled with where I was going. I broke away and spent a few years as an entrepreneur, which taught me a tremendous amount about business. When our state laws changed to allow small distilleries, it was something I was immediately drawn to, and I’ve never looked back.

What was the best moment you’ve had at Woodinville Whiskey Company?
Pulling into the distillery on the morning we released our first whiskey and seeing a line down the building. By the time we opened the doors the line was around the building and the local news stations were here. I’ll never forget that feeling of support from our fans.

What is your favorite thing about working in the spirits industry?
The creativity involved, from product development to marketing you are always challenging yourself in this area to stay ahead of the curve. It’s also a great industry because consumers of your products are typically in a social, off work environment, so everyone is having a great time, and pleasant to be around.

What do you think a college student should know about the beverage industry before choosing a major?
Be focused, I see so many people that want to be the XYZ vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey distillery. Not only do you never have time to perfect your product, you have no brand identity. Pick your passion be it soda, coffee, Cachaça, or whatever, and own it.

Check out this video to learn more about Brett and Orlin.

Check Woodinville Whiskey Co. on Facebook.

Click here to back our Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter project.

Comments Off on Brett Carlile and Orlin Sorensen Of Woodinville Whiskey Company– Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.04.2013 |

David Grega of Carlotta Cellars- Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board Member



We are pleased to highlight Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member David Grega, proprietor and winemaker at Carlotta Cellars.

After completing his enlistment in the United States Army, with service in Iraq, David Grega moved back to California. His interest in cigars led him to the wine industry where he has since worked in a variety of capacities, culminating with winemaking for his own wine label, Carlotta Cellars, as well as consulting for other wine brands.

I didn’t know David until after he had started Carlotta Cellars, but we already had one thing in common, which was service in the Army. We also share the common denominator of being young entrepreneurs in the beverage industry who are thirsty for more. His story is particularly interesting when looking at the type of people he chose to surround himself with. Being rather new to the wine industry, he managed to blind test his way into a group composed of working sommeliers that were studying for the Master Sommeliers diploma, all of which are Master Sommeliers today. Determined, he surrounded himself with the best and excelled, and to this day he has continued to succeed with that same state of mind.

How did you get into the wine industry?

I was first interested in cigars, which lead me to port wine and then eventually to dry wines. When I got out of the Army I headed back to Northern California with this crazy idea that I would be involved with the wine business. I was 21, and started off in a tasting room but I wanted to get involved with the wine community so I jumped on GoDaddy and started a wine blog/website. I spent two weeks writing, articles and wine-bar reviews and in a few weeks I had a wine website with content. So in essence I sort of placed myself in the business by starting as an amateur wine writer.

What has been the most rewarding experience of your beverage career?

This is a tough one because I’ve had so many moments when I felt like the happiest and luckiest man on earth but if I had to choose it would be the two tasting groups I have been apart of. One group was all sommeliers studying for the Master Sommelier Diploma. Everyone but myself went on to earn their Master Diploma (I got into winemaking and cut my studies short). They pushed me to the limits and looked after me, I owe much of my tasting abilities to the two and a half years I spent with them weekly.

The other group, comprised of winemakers, still meets for tastings and I couldn’t ask for a greater group of winemakers to learn from. There are winemakers and vineyard managers from Screaming Eagle, Ghost Horse Cellars, Cliff Lede, Dana Estate, Buccella, Araujo and many other amazing wineries. The time I spent, and spend, with both groups has been the most rewarding (and humbling) part of being in the wine business.

If you weren’t making wine, what else in the beverage industry interests you?

I LOVE classic cocktails and spirits! I would definitely get involved with distillation and/or spirits writing.

If you had one piece of advice for a student considering a career in the beverage industry, what would it be?

Jump in! Learn on the job, get internships and study at one of the many wine programs around the world. Work a harvest!

What kind of projects are you involved with right now in the beverage industry?

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire and the best way to keep up to date is to join my mailing list at www.sandandsociety.com (my personal website/blog)

Carlotta Cellars is wine label I started in 2008 with a my buddy Aran Healy and it’s been going very well for us. Our wines are released in small lots and sell out quickly. www.carlottawines.com

I’m involved with a wine brand called “Honor Wine” which donates money to veterans charities that support families of soldiers killed in combat. It combines two huge parts of my life: the military and wine.

Check out Carlotta Cellars on Facebook and Twitter.

Back our Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter here.

Comments Off on David Grega of Carlotta Cellars- Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board Member 03.01.2013 |

Mutineer Magazine President Alan Kropf on “Dine Around” with Joel Riddell


Joel Riddell

Alan Kropf, esteemed President of Mutineer Magazine sat down with Joel Riddell on “Dine Around” last Saturday. Listen as they discuss our Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter project. They touch on everything from the millennial job crisis, and careers around the beverage industry spectrum to Fritz Maytag and beyond, making a case for why this project needs to be brought to life.

Thank you very much to host Joel Riddell for having Alan on to discuss Drink Careers 101. Tune in here to listen to their conversation.

Click here to back our Kickstarter project!

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Gary Saperstein and Mark Vogler of Out In The Vineyard – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Gary Saperstein and Mark Vogler

We are pleased to highlight Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Members Gary Saperstein and Mark Vogler, co-founders of Out In The Vineyard of Sonoma, CA.

When I first met Gary at a dinner party in 2011, I had no clue that it would lead to one of the most important articles that I have ever written, “LGBT Pride In Wine Country.” Gary and Mark are making waves throughout Northern California wine country, putting on events that are both luxurious and ridiculously fun, through their LGBT focused travel and event company Out In The Vineyard.

Through Out In The Vineyard, Gary and Mark have created two wildly popular events, The Big Gay Train and Gay Wine Weekend. They have also been champions of Face to Face the Sonoma County HIV/AIDS network, raising money through their annual Gay Wine Auction & Recovery Brunch. Whether it is through philanthropy or fun, these two are making a difference in California wine country. Check out the interview below.

How did you get started in wine country travel and events?

GS: I got my start in wine country tourism when I moved out here from New York in 1995. My first job was at the beautiful Auberge Du Soleil in Napa. This is where my education on wine country tourism began, and what an amazing place to start at, a 5 star resort hotel and restaurant! From there I became the General Manager of the girl & the fig restaurant in Sonoma where I also was the wine buyer for its unique, Rhone-Alone wine list. Both these establishments helped get my footing in the hospitality industry here in wine country.

MV: I got hooked on travel at 5 years old, when my parents threw the kids into the Buick station wagon and we started hitting all the U.S. parks every summer until I graduated high school. The international travel bug bit me at 17 when I was an AFS Exchange student to Germany. I would then say I became a “traveler” (instead of a tourist) on my first solo trip to Kenya in Feb 2002, right after 9/11. I wrote a blog about it called Contracting Wanderlust & My First Solo Adventure, Kenya 2002.

Why did you decide to start a wine country tour and event company?

GS: Out In The Vineyard began primarily for two reasons. One, I was seeing the growth of our LGBT community here in wine country and two, no one was marketing to our community. With San Francisco only forty-five minutes south of us, and a mecca for the Gay World, I couldn’t understand why the wine industry wasn’t working with this group.

MV: As a global traveler, I have traveled with both gay and straight tour companies and solo. I took my first all gay cruise in 2005 and for the first time in my life I didn’t have to look over my shoulder when my partner and I shared a lounge chair by the pool or held hands when we walked through the dining room. I have a straight twin brother and for the first time in my life I finally felt what it must be like for him to not even think twice about how society would react to whom he is with. It was a very “normalizing” experience. I wanted this at home in wine country.

Who have been your strongest influences?

GS: The strongest influences in my hospitality career have always been women! I have worked with some amazing women in the restaurant world, most recently with Sondra Bernstein, the proprietor of the girl & the fig. I have always worked well side by side with women.

MV: From a travel perspective, luxury travel companies like Abercrombie & Kent influence us. They have amazing access to people and places for their guests to experience that you can’t get with most travel companies. We wanted to offer the same kind of experience for the LGBT community. With Gary’s background in hospitality and restaurants and mine in travel and wine, we have the connections to offer exclusive access that LGBT travelers can’t get anywhere else in the world.

What advice would you give to a student considering a career in the beverage travel and event industry?

GS: I think the best advice to give someone considering a career in wine country travel and events is to work in all aspects of the industry. In the beginning take any and every job/position that comes your way. Learn from the bottom up and continue to meet people and forge relationships along the way. Those relationships that you make in the beginning will benefit you in the long run as your career progresses. Always strive to be the best in what you do and treat people with respect.

MV: It’s a lot of work. A LOT of work, but the rewards of the lifestyle and the people in the industry are worth it!

What was your best moment at Out In The Vineyard?

GS: My best moment for Out In The Vineyard is actually not tied to one specific event but to the combination of moments. Opening up this area of wine country to our LGBT community has been so rewarding while also opening up the wine industry to this market all the while raising funds for Face to Face, the Sonoma County HIV/AIDS network.

MV: When The Mayor of Sonoma, Ken Brown and the Sonoma County Supervisor, Valerie Brown, attended our signature event Twilight T-Dance and read proclamations from both Sonoma City and County proclaiming Sonoma City and County as “Gay Friendly . . . regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” Growing up in rural Sonoma County, I never would have dreamed to hear those words spoken publicly.

Check out Out In The Vineyard on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to back our Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter project.

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