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Ronald Plunkett of Hakkasan – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Ronald Plunkett

We are pleased to highlight Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member Ronald Plunkett, Sommelier at Hakkasan in San Francisco, California.

I first met Ronald a few years back when he was working as the Director of Education and Sales at Vezer Family Vineyard. He had established himself as both an ambassador and evangelist for the Suisun Valley region where Vezer is located, and he’s one of those guys I’d see at ALL of the wine events shaking hands and eager to connect with others in the industry. With his career in wine coming after spending decades in law enforcement, I was so impressed by how quickly Ronald established himself as a presence in the industry and culture. His path has ultimately lead to his current role of Sommelier at Hakkasan, and he is an outstanding example of what you can accomplish in the beverage industry with determination and passion.

How did you get into the beverage industry?
I got started in the beverage industry about three years ago. I was retiring from a career in law enforcement after working for the Solano County Sheriff’s Department for over 20 years. I was disabled in the line of duty and knew I was going to have find a new career path. I have had a passion for fine beverage my entire adult life but had no clue where to start. I was lucky enough to have friends in the industry. I started to ask around and one of them recommended a program run by Master Sommelier Emily Wines at The Fifth Floor Restaurant in San Francisco called “Sommelier for a Day”. The program was basically what it sounded like, and I got to see first-hand what a sommelier actually does from tasting wine from vendors, stocking wine, preparing the floor for service and then recommending wine and pouring wine for patrons. I had a blast. At the end of service, Emily had me taste all kinds of beverages from beer to wine and even spirits, and she told me about a sommelier program run by a friend of hers named David Glancy, who is also a Master Sommelier.

What were the steps you took to prepare yourself for your new career?
I enrolled in David Glancy’s program at the Professional Culinary Institute, now known as the International Culinary Center, in Campbell, California. After three intensive months of lectures in the mornings and blind tasting and service practices in the afternoons, I passed the program at the top of my class and won the Broadbent Award. I then passed my Court Of Master Sommeliers Intro and Certified Exams. Next I started applying for positions at restaurants, wineries and wine bars. I took an unpaid internship at La Toque restaurant in Napa, California, just to get my feet wet. I remember at that time I had almost no fine dining experience. I trained under wine director Scott Tracy and sommelier Roland Micu, who is also a Master Sommelier now and teaches the sommelier program at the International Culinary Center. I would also assist Christopher Sawyer, who is the Wine Director at The Carneros Bistro in Sonoma, California, teach his wine education class every Tuesday night. 

When did you take your first full-time job in the wine industry?
After about three weeks into my internship at La Toque, I received a job offer from a small family winery in Suisun California named Vezer Family Vineyard. They wanted me to be their Director of Education and Sales, which I ultimately became. I learned a lot about sales and also got to help make wine, which I think is invaluable. I learned so much from our wine makers Gary Galleron and Jake Stuessy. I had a thirst for knowledge, so I continued my education by completing the French Wine Scholar Program and the California Wine Appellation Specialist Program, both taught by Master Sommelier David Glancy at The San Francisco Wine School. While working for Vezer Family Vineyard, I also got the opportunity to be the Official Sommelier at the 2011 Comic-Con in San Diego, which meant that I got to serve wine to the cast of “Cowboys And Aliens,” as well as cast members from the Twilight movie series. It was a rough job, but someone had to do it. Then, Frank Vezer, the owner of Vezer Family Vineyard, decided to buy a restaurant next door to his winery and renamed it Mankas Tapas Bar & Steakhouse. He offered me the beverage director position at the restaurant which I accepted. I worked for the Vezer’s for over two years had accomplished what I had set out to do.

And where are you currently working?
I have the type of personality that requires me to be challenged at all times, so I felt I needed to move on. Emily Wines told about a restaurant that was going to open in San Francisco called Hakkasan, and they were looking to hire several sommeliers. I thought it would be a fun challenge to pair Chinese food with wine, so I applied and was later offered a Sommelier position. I have been at Hakkasan since it opened, and I must say I am challenged everyday. We have a great beverage program that includes cocktails, beer, sake, tea, coffee and a large wine list, and I continue to learn everyday.

What is your favorite aspect of what you do?
One of the best parts of my job is mentoring others, and in my opinion, that is what is so great about our industry. There is no way I could have done what I did with out the mentorship of others. If I named them all it would fill up this page. I am honored to be part of this industry.

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Martin Cody of Cellar Angels – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Cellar Angels' Martin Cody

We are pleased to highlight Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member Martin Cody, President of Cellar Angels.

Cellar Angels is an amazing website that teams up with one small, family-run winery per week to offer one small-production wine selection for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting one of Cellar Angels’ multiple charity partners. Cellar Angels is a private membership program, and you must request an invitation to join or be referred by a current member, though there are no purchase commitments attached to membership.

I’ve known Martin Cody for several years now, and I’ve always been impressed by his dedication to his business. Rather than simply offering wine for purchase, he provides a ton of content to help his customers connect and learn about the wine being offered, including videos, recipes, and info on the winery, vineyard and vintage. He expanded on his retail foothold in the beverage industry and brought an innovative and inspired vision to life in a grand way, and is a prime example of what’s possible in the modern beverage industry, particularly with digital and online technology.

When did you launch Cellar Angels, and where did the inspiration come from?
We founded Cellar Angels in February, 2010 at the height of the recession because we emphatically believe within every catastrophe or hardship resides a commensurate opportunity for greatness—you just have to force yourself to look.

What were you doing prior to launching Cellar Angels? Did you have any prior beverage industry experience?
Prior to launching Cellar Angels I was co-owner of a retail wine store and VP of a medical software company. I still do both as the software company is a full-time job. My wife and I have no kids so we’re able to dedicate the necessary hours to all the businesses seven days a week.

What is your favorite aspect of working in the beverage industry?
Short answer: the people. The passion of the winery workers, or owners, especially the small family run wineries we tend to feature on Cellar Angels is awe-inspiring. Long answer: the people, places and experiences. We deal with one vertical in the beverage industry, wine, and it tends to bring people together, usually over food where terrific conversation ensues and collectively we connect. It forces us to slow down and get a bit more grounded. I truly love the experiences of meeting these great people and “breaking bread” with them while sharing great wine.

What is your favorite aspect of working with Cellar Angels?
Ultimately my favorite aspect is what we’re all able to accomplish for our charity partners. Giving the consumer an opportunity to purchase incredible wine, wine they’d never find or normally have access to, and giving them the ability to select a charity which may help a family coping with cancer, or help a child gain access to clean water, or save an animal or provide a child access to healthcare for the first time, is overwhelming. We’re making positive changes just through the love of wine. On the commercial aspect, we also really love the feedback from our Angels when they realize the quality of the wines they’re gaining access to. Most of these wines will never be in a retail setting as the production is just too small, and yet this small production is precisely what makes them so desired and special. We love bringing them to the consumers and introducing the wineries. The consumers also really like getting wine shipped to their door directly from the winery.

What advice would you give college students with an interest in getting into the wine industry?
Read. Learn how to give value to your prospective employer. Know their business and come up with ways to make it more profitable. I would encourage them to remember “success” only comes before “work” in the dictionary. Be humble, kind, gracious and thankful. Work your behind off. I would tell them the reason you don’t hear about overnight successes is because there aren’t any. I would remind them that you don’t “make money”, you earn it. The economy, society and universe have an uncanny way of paying you commensurate to the value of the goods or services you’re producing. If you want to earn more, provide more value. Work on your skills, self-improvement, invest your time wisely and become the person you dream of becoming. The only thing you truly can control is your effort. If you get knocked down, get up. Expose yourself to the great stories of phenomenal successes who experienced massive rejections, (Hemmingway, Edison, Ford, Famous Amos, KFC, etc.). I would advise them there are no shortcuts to success. However, through small steps and effort, repeated consistently, they will absolutely marvel at all they can accomplish.

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Mutineer Magazine on 5ive O’clock Somewhere


Last week Ashley Teplin of Teplin + Nuss Public Relations and I went on the Tout Suite Social Club show 5ive O’clock Somewhere. We went on to discuss our Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter project, as well as the incredible Project Advisory Board we have assembled. We had a great time chatting with host Tia Butts, and the owner and winemaker at Reynolds Family Winery, Steve Reynolds. We also had the chance sip on some delicious wines from Schramsberg, St. Supery as well as a special bottle from Reynolds Family Winery that they made especially for Premier Napa Valley. Check it out to learn more about Drink Careers 101 and Premier Napa Valley, and see if you can tell which wine I liked the most.

Thank you to our host Tia Butts, and to Advisory Board Members, Susan Quinn and Didier Loustau of Tout Suite for a great afternoon.

Follow Tout Suite Social Club, Teplin+Nuss and Reynolds Family Winery on Twitter.

Click here to back the Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter project.

Comments Off on Mutineer Magazine on 5ive O’clock Somewhere 02.27.2013 |

Timothy Keith of Leaf & Vine Wines – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member



Today Mutineer Magazine is pleased to present Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board member and winemaker Timothy Keith of Leaf & Vine Wines.

You may know Timothy Keith from when we featured him in our “What People Drink” column this past year, or perhaps from his fantastic harvest beard videos. Besides making awesome videos on beard evolution, the micro-winery owner also makes delicious sauvignon blanc, petite sirah, cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel at his Treasure Island location.

How did you get started in the wine industry?

Like many 18-year-old humans that populate this great planet of ours, I had no clue what I was doing, what I wanted to do, and how I would ever figure out something to do. I spent a year of my life after graduating from high school basically spinning my wheels, contributing very little to the progress of mankind. Thankfully a more driven and accomplished life force was available to this listless individual. Edward Keith was my grandfather, and his influence shifted my trajectory towards the great industry of grape growing and eventually instilled some of his drive into me, and my goals of becoming a winemaker.

After a year and a half living with the powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm that was Ed Keith, I was able to transfer to the University of California Davis and pursue a degree in Viticulture and Enology. In 2004, with degree in hand I entered the job market, and as a good friend and fellow winemaker once told me as I was getting started, it was time to eat the “shit sandwich.” This industry is about paying dues, developing a craft and a skill set; a degree goes a long way but building on experience and creativity are vital for enduring the process of working your way through the ranks.

The glamour of this job will wear off very quick if you can’t appreciate 80-hour workweeks, wet feet, and wrecked hands. With all of that said, there are very few things in this life better than tasting a wine that you worked on; that sense of fulfillment is what makes you endure, and ultimately why I got into this industry.

What is your fondest memory while working in the wine industry?

I’ve been a “professional” in this industry since 2004. I’ve worked in different countries, with fantastically talented men and women that have inspired me to be better at my craft. Fond memories are ample and often when you do what inspires you and September the 21st, 2010 was that transcendent moment in my life. This was the moment when I finally felt like I was doing what I truly loved. Standing at the top of the Shenandoah Valley in Amador County, sun setting and I had just got off the phone with Isy Borjon scheduling our pick for our Quartz Block Zinfandel from Story Vineyards. I’ve made this call many times before but this was the first time I had made that call for the harvesting of grapes that would go to my own brand, my own wine, where the stakes couldn’t be any higher, and while standing there I just felt warm. Not just because it was 90F.

What is the weirdest thing that has happened to you in the wine industry?

At any moment if you think you know what you’re doing, and you start to move too fast in this business, you will make a mistake. Brief question, what do you get when you add ammonia salts and free amino acids to a rolling 30-ton white wine ferment? Mt. Vesuvius in waiting. I’m not sure if this is what the question was going after but the weirdest moment I’ve ever seen in the wine industry is watching a winemaker, with 30 years of experience add yeast nutrients to a very large ferment at a far too rapid rate. The resulting foam and wine explosion could be seen from the tasting room about two football fields away. Did it happen to me, no, but it is a constant reminder that if you think you know what you’re doing in this business, and you start too move to fast, you will make mistakes; no matter how long you’ve been doing it. But yeah, it was weird, funny, and tragic all at the same time.

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

Pace yourself, there’s no A to B in this business, and the destination will change as you change … and you will change, so embrace it.

Follow Timothy here on Twitter or on Facebook.

Click here to back our Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter project.

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Drew Fisher of Barton Springs Soda – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member

Other Beverage


Mutineer Magazine is pleased to have Drew Fisher, Founder of Barton Springs Soda Company, as a member of our Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board.

Drew is a Millennial that is pushing the craft soda movement forward, Texas-style. As owner and President of Barton Springs Soda Company, he is bringing delicious handcrafted root beer and orange cream to the thirsty citizens of Austin. With a big focus on community, Fisher has even become a steward of his company’s namesake landmark, the Barton Springs Pool, by setting up the Barton Springs Foundation. We caught up with him to find out about his experiences working in the beverage industry.

Why did you want to work in the soda industry? 

I got in the soda industry by accident. The idea came out of left field, we were waiting for our TTB permits [operator license] so we could start brewing beer, and that is a long process. We had already signed a lease and were looking for something to pick up the revenue and splash us in the market. I remembered about a great local soda company in Durango, Colorado called Zuberfizz, and soon began perfecting the recipes, and next thing we knew, we were in business.

What was the best moment you’ve had while working at Barton Springs? 

My best moment at Barton Springs Soda Company so far has been interacting with our customers and retailers. I love to give retailers everything they need to succeed, and I would take the shirt off my back for them. They were the ones who took a chance on me, a 23-year-old kid. To take a chance on something like that is huge, everyone said it was a one and done. Now all the retailers and customers I meet are considered friends.
Once I was eating lunch at a restaurant called Miltos in Austin, Texas, and I saw a couple kids drinking our soda with their parents across the table. I ran to my car and grabbed a couple shirts and stickers and gave them to the kids. They were amazed by my age and as the kids were walking out they thanked me and told me they wanted to have my job when they grow up. I laughed as told them anything is possible and to follow your dreams as the dad patted me on the back and said “thank you.”

What is your favorite thing about working in the beverage industry? 

My favorite thing about working in the beverage industry is interacting with everyone involved, there are micro-brewerys and craft soda makers popping up all over the country. To me they are not competition, they are friends, and I enjoy meeting every single one of them. It is a great sight to see someone drink a craft soda instead of the traditional Coke or Pepsi. We all acknowledge that, and know that we are doing our job.

What do you think a college student should know about the beverage industry before choosing a major? 

College is crazy; I just graduated 2 years ago. You will bring maybe 1% of what you learn in college into the beverage industry, as crazy as it sounds. It is all about hands on, going out and selling your product. If I were to re-do my college experience I would have chosen to be a marketing major. To promote your brand will make it strong, and as a small grass-roots company it is hard to get funding for advertising in your first couple years. They can teach you how to make a formula, but you still have to make a product. Get an internship at a local brewery or soda company that is the hands on experience you need. Anyone can graduate college, but to run a business is a different story. It’s a measure of will and your determination to make it succeed. That can’t be taught, it’s already inside of you.

Follow Barton Springs Soda Company on Twitter and Facebook.

Click here to back our Drink Careers 101 Kickstarter project.

Cocktail Friday: Cali Kiss



Looking for a delicious cocktail to start your weekend off right? Then try shaking up a Cali Kiss from the folks over at Caliche Rum.

Cali Kiss

  • 1 1/2 oz Caliche Rum
  • 3/4 oz St Germaine elderflower liqueur
  • 1/2 Lemon cut into quarters
  • 1 oz chilled Prosecco (or any dry sparkling wine)

In a mixing glass muddle the lemon, Caliche and elderflower liqueur, fill with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into an ice-filled flute and top with sparkling wine.

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Mutineer Magazine Launches Phase One of “Drink Careers 101: How To Get a Job in the Beverage Industry”


Drink Careers 101

Mutineer Readers,

Since the beginning it has been our mission to change the way you look at the beverage landscape. Rather than telling you what you should be drinking, or subjecting you to page after page of tasting notes and 100 point scores, we wanted to share with you the beverages that got us excited and to empower you to form your own conclusions and seek out beverage related experiences. We have thought outside the box and always done things a little bit differently, holding true to our namesake of being a Mutineer. Now, we are proud to continue this tradition as we share with you a call to arms to Mutineer Magazine’s newest project, a project that can’t be done without your support: Drink Careers 101 – How to Get a Job in the Beverage Industry.

Times are tough across the United States. People are having a hard time finding jobs, especially recent college graduates. Yet despite the economic condition of the United States, the beverage industry is soaring to unimaginable heights. But how do people end up in the beverage industry? How do they end up behind the stick shaking up a Last Word cocktail, in the brewhouse calculating mash volumes, or working as an importer to bring the coolest new liqueur into the US from Italy? Often times it’s simply left to chance or by accident, or from a friend or acquaintance who is involved in the beverage industry. We want to make this information more accessible and to help inform people of the opportunities available to them in the beverage industry.

To make this a reality, we are doing a Kickstarter project to crowdsource the revenue required for such a project. This will help us raise the funds required to create the Drink Careers 101 Guide, which will cover all the jobs in the beverage industry, interviews with leaders in the industry, and create a “101” type book on what types of jobs are available. The Drink Careers 101 Guide will also have interviews from some of the top professionals within their industry segments.

To help guide us on our ambitious project is an extensive list of advisory members from every sector of the beverage industry. But you’re probably wondering how can you help, right? Our Kickstarter project needs the support of people like you to make this project a reality. No contribution is too small and for all of us in the beverage industry, it’s a wonderful way to pay it forward to the future of our industry. In the industry and want to help as your brand? There are pledge levels designed specifically for beverage brands that have deliverables catered to you.

For more information or to contribute to the Drink Careers 101 Guide, visit our Kickstarter page. For even more information, check out the project’s press release. Still have a question? Email erinj@mutineermagazine.com.

Thanks for your support,

Team Mutineer

And yes, we have a Twitter and a Facebook!

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The Glenrothes Distillery Wants to Send You to Scotland With 2013 US Vintage Maker Competition



After a highly successful 2012 US Vintage Maker Competition, this year The Glenrothes Distillery is looking to send two lucky prize winners to Speyside, Scotland with their 2013 US Vintage Maker Competition. Two separate grand prize winners will each get to take one guest with them to visit The Glenrothes in the heart of scotch country, mastering the production of single malt scotch, all culminating with the creation of a new Glenrothes Vintage.

According to contest organizers, “From February 12, 2013 until April 12, 2013, entrants can submit an essay of 750 characters or less and an image response to the prompt, “Share a Vintage Moment with The Glenrothes.” Winning entries will be selected based on the best representation of how The Glenrothes Distillery defines a Vintage Moment: A perfect combination of time, place, people and/or occasion when everything comes together to create a moment that will stay in the memory forever.

For more information on The Glenrothes or the 2013 US Vintage Maker Competition, visit www.theglenrothes.com.

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