Day 1 Keynote Speaker

Eugenia Keegan
Jackson Family Wines

Eugenia Keegan’s over 45-year tenure in the wine business is a continuing story of decades of dedication to winemaking, executive, and community leadership positions in three important regions: Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Willamette Valley. As vice president of winery operations and business development for Jackson Family Wines’ Oregon properties, she oversees the winemaking programs for Gran Moraine, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, WillaKenzie Estate, and Zena Crown Vineyard, as well as Willamette Valley winemaking for Sonoma-based Siduri and La Crema. In conjunction with managing the wineries, Eugenia is closely involved in business development support with trade and sales as well as community and government affairs.

Day 2 Keynote Speaker

Geoff Labitzke, MW
Kistler Vineyards

Geoff Labitzke is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Kistler Vineyards. Kistler Vineyards is an artisan winery dedicated to producing world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using old world Burgundian techniques. Kistler has consistently produced some of the best California examples of these varieties for over 30 years. Geoff began his career as a retailer in Southern California in 1978. Early on Geoff was a guest speaker conducting wine classes at Saddleback College and Orange Coast College. In the early 1980’s Geoff developed a wine appreciation course geared toward restaurant servers. In 1989, he achieved the Certified Wine Educator credential from the Society of Wine Educators. Geoff would later serve on the Society’s board of Directors and was chairman of the annual conference held in Sonoma. Geoff spent 22 years in wholesale representing some of the finest wines in the world. He has personally visited top wine estates in Austria, France, Germany, Italy Spain, Australia and New Zealand. In 2006, Geoff was one of two Americans to pass the rigorous Master of Wine examination. Currently there are only 36 Masters of Wine in the United States.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Anita Birus 
Amcor

I have been fortunate to be part of the wine and spirits community for over 27 years.  My career has been focused on packaging components which include bottles, labels and closures. Be sure to hear Anita Birus present with other panelists during the “Big Questions You Should Consider Before Jumping Into Small Formats Breakout Session taking place on Wednesday, April 6 at 2:15 p.m.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Fran Bonomi
DJB Human Resources Advisory

Fran is a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) and holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from Niagara College, as well as an Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences from Western University. She has also successfully completed the Workplace Investigations Training and Certificate Program conducted by Bernardi Human Resource Law in consultation with Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA). Fran is involved in a wide variety of projects and initiatives as part of the Human Resources Advisory Team. Fran is an active member in the Niagara community and is also an assistant coach with Brock Athletics.

Breakout Session Speaker

David Coletto
Abacus Data

David Coletto is CEO and a founding partner of Abacus Data a full-service market research and strategy firm based in
Ottawa and Toronto. With over a decade and a half of experience in the industry, David and his partners founded Abacus eleven years ago and since then it has grown into one of Canada’s most respected market research firms. David has worked with many of Canada’s leading associations, corporations, and non-profits including Cooperation Canada, Oxfam, Shaw Communications, the Canadian Medical Association, the Bank of Canada, and the Canadian Real Estate Association. He earned a PhD in Political Science from the University of Calgary in 2010 and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University. He is the host and producer of inFocus with David Coletto a new podcast that explores the intersection of public opinion, politics, public policy, and consumer behaviour. He’s a Millennial, a foodie, a cyclist, and an avid traveller. He’s been tracking Canadian public opinion and consumer trends on technology, news consumption, and public policy for years and is one of Canada’s leading experts on generational change and Millennials in particular

Breakout Session Speaker

Beverly Crandon
Vinequity

Beverly Crandon is a current CMS certified sommelier candidate, wine lover, marketing operations addict, and founder of the Spice Food & Wine Event Series, a collection of events that focus on pairing wine with ethnic foods in hopes to promote more cognitive diversity in the industry.  Beverly has been able to lend her hand both as a consultant and a direct leadership employee in various organizations, from Fortune 500s to start-ups looking to generate mind share, revenues, and a recurring member-base, in their area of discipline. She combines her wine education, love of wine and  work experience, to broaden wine appreciation and advancement in those not deemed the ‘traditional’ wine consumer or professional. As a founding member of Vinequity, a not-for-profit that aims to amplify the voices of BIPOC wine professionals in Canada, Beverly is acutely fashioned to do just that. Her overarching motto: wine should be inclusive and, through that, approachable. No one should be denied the pleasures of vino!

Breakout Session Speaker 

Michelle DeLuca
DJB Human Resources Advisory

Michelle has over 20 years of experience working in Human Resources as an HR Generalist. She has completed the Workplace Investigations Certificate Program through Bernardi Human Resource Law LLP. Michelle is a member of the Niagara chapter of the HRPA, as well as the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) in the US. She has an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Business, as well as a Bachelor of Education, specializing in adult education. As a Senior Human Resources Consultant for DJB, Michelle works within the Human Resources Advisory Team to provide effective HR solutions and practical advice to clients. She has a breadth of knowledge in all areas of human resources including recruitment, employee relations, compensation, organizational development, policy development and training. She is a strong relationship builder and believes in a client-focused approach to assisting businesses in realizing and meeting their HR objectives.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Dr. Nupur Gogia
Vinequity

Dr. Nupur Gogia is a lifelong learner, social justice activist and entrepreneur. She has worked in multiple fields and currently works for a small import wine agency with her own portfolio of natural wines and for a local winemaker. She is one of the handful of BIPOC people in Stage 2 of Masters of Wine. She is one of the founding members of Vinequity, a Canadian non-profit focused on scholarships, mentorships and advocacy for BIPOC people in the wine industry. In addition Nupur has a small wine label – Khush Wines with 2 wines released and is working on a third project in Maule, Chile.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Jennifer Huether, MS 

Jennifer’s love affair with wine started in her early twenties with taking an interest course at George Brown college in fundamentals and immediately was hooked. From there, she leapt into the Sommelier Certification from ISG graduating top of class, then accomplished the Diploma of Wine from WSET, followed by the Advanced Sommelier passing in England and finally the Master Sommelier Exams-becoming Canada’s first female Master Sommelier in 2011 graduating in Dallas Texas.  Her restaurant industry is vast, starting off in Toronto Restaurants is where she found wine. She worked her way up to running one of Canada’s largest beverage programs at MLSE for 7 years and then worked for several years on the wine supplier side with California based Cliff Lede Vineyards and Jackson Family Wines.   After winning the Ontario Sommelier Competition in 2006, Jennifer decided to invest her energy heavily in the execution of the competitions from 2008 to 2019 and volunteered for CAPS as competition director for 10 years including international competitions. Jennifer is passionate about promoting and uplifting all women in wine and is a volunteer at both femmesduvin and Vinequity. This has been a busy year for Jennifer, launching the plant based food and wine matching book ‘The Social Herbivore ‘Perfect Pairings for Plant-based Cuisine’ under the @socialherbivore platform, which is the first of its kind. She also had the honor of playing herself in the Hallmark movie ‘Raise a glass to Love’ filmed out in the Okanagan. You can currently find Jennifer curating an organic, sustainable and earth friendly wine and spirits list at Fresh City Farms and teaching WSET and CMS courses.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Magdalena Kaisesr
VQA Wines of Ontario

Magdalena has been in the wine industry almost her entire life. She began working at Inniskillin Wines as a young teen and bottled wine with co-founder and father Karl Kaiser at the age of five. With over 35 years’ experience in wine, culinary tourism and communication strategy both domestically and internationally, she brings passion and expertise to the industry she loves. A lifelong promoter of local wine, she is now the Director of PR at the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario where she proudly showcases VQA Wines of Ontario wine to top media and trade from home and abroad. WSET certified and currently enrolled in the Master of Wine program.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Cynthia Loiselle-Seguin
Shopify

Cynthia is one of Shopify’s jill-of-all-trades. She loves getting hands-on with our merchants as they launch and grow their businesses, helping them with product related questions along with business strategy and commerce related topics on all levels. She has helped thousands of merchants begin their journey on Shopify over the past 5+ years.  Cynthia began her career in the marketing space and has 25+ years of experience in hospitality, retail, tech and more, including being recognized as a leading wedding and event expert, having been published in a number of wedding publications. Superpowers: Customer-focused Strategies, Branding, Event Planning, Business Planning, Translating the Brick and Mortar Experience to Ecommerce, Public Speaking

Breakout Session Speaker 

Rebecca Mackenzie
Culinary Tourism Alliance

Passionate about the interconnection between food, agriculture, tourism, arts, and culture, Rebecca has been instrumental in developing tourism products including Prince Edward County’s award-winning Taste Trail and the Culinary Tourism Alliance’s Feast On® certification program. In her role as President & CEO at the Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA), she manages highly participatory and asset-based community development projects at the local, regional, provincial, and national levels. Rebecca oversees programming, partnership development, and develop comprehensive marketing partnerships to increase awareness of Canada’s food tourism experiences. Rebecca contributes her expertise to a variety of industry boards including the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Sustainable Development Goals Working Group. She has written curriculum for Centennial Colleges Food Tourism Post Graduate Program, contributed chapters to the 2nd UNWTO Global Report on Gastronomic Tourism, and produced a chapter  “Transforming the Terroir into a Tourist Destination” in The Routledge Handbook of Gastronomic Tourism. She completed a Master of Arts in Global Leadership at Royal Roads University in 2021 with a specific interest in sustainable tourism and is a part-time professor at George Brown College in their Food Tourism Entrepreneurship program. Born and raised in Toronto, she spent her summers in rural Prince Edward County. In her grade 12 year, she sailed with West Island Colleges Class Afloat on a 156-foot-tall ship to 20 countries in Europe and Africa – an experience that rooted her passion for travel, adventure, and taste of place! Rebecca continues to split her time between Toronto and Prince Edward County sharing her adventures with her husband, two teenage sons, and Silver Labrador Blueberry.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Denis McCutcheon
DZINE4

With 20+ years’ experience as an interior designer, Denis marries robust knowledge in retail design with brand and marketing strategies to deliver tailored solutions. Denis has worked with the top retail brands globally and in North America. Notably, he was the lead designer for the award-winning Bauer Hockey flagship store, Own the Moment, which received three A.R.E. Design Awards for providing customers with an awe-inspiring and educational shopping experience.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Dr. Wendy McFadden-Smith

Dr. Wendy McFadden-Smith has been the Tender Fruit and Grape IPM Specialist with OMAFRA, Vineland since 2008.  She is adjunct professor and sessional lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences and a CCOVI Professional Affiliate at Brock University.  She has worked on projects including monitoring for spotted lanternfly in Ontario, etiology and management of sour rot of grape, modeling grape berry moth populations, detection of spotted wing drosophila, biology and management of black knot and bacterial spot of stone fruit, fungicide resistance in brown rot of cherry and apple scab, integrated management of fire blight and grapevine leafroll and red blotch viruses and their vectors.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Emily Posteraro
Invasive Species Centre

Emily Posteraro is a Program Development Coordinator at the Invasive Species Centre (ISC). She holds a Master of Environmental Science degree from the University of Toronto, Scarborough, where she specialized in conservation biology and critical development studies. Her focus at the ISC includes raising awareness and encouraging reporting of the invasive spotted lanternfly and its preferred plant host, tree-of-heaven. Through this preventative work, Emily aims to help protect Ontario vineyards, orchards and forests from a highly destructive agricultural pest. She also facilitates an invasive species municipal community of practice, which fosters collaboration and mutual sharing of expertise between municipalities.  Emily is interested in coordinating efforts to address the cumulative impacts of invasive species and climate change.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Anahit Pouget
Andrew Peller Limited

Anahita’s career in luxury brands started with experiences at the finest hotels in Paris, France, where her love for language took her to complete a bilingual Master’s in Hospitality and Tourism Management. There, she fell in love with wine. Her desire to learn more about the business took her east, to Alsace, France where she completed a harvest and quickly understood the labour of love in winemaking. It was hospitality that brought her to Canada when ‘The Wickaninnish Inn’ a ‘Relais & Chateau’ property in Tofino, B.C. engaged Anahita to run the front of house operations of the 96 room 4Diamond property. But not before long, the Okanagan Valley drew her over to pick up where she had left off with wine. She spent 10 years working in sales and marketing roles with the Mark Anthony Group, leading the Marketing and Wine Clubs for CedarCreek Estate Winery and Mission Hill Family Estates amongst others in the portfolio. Then the opening one of BC’s most anticipated luxury destination winery, Phantom Creek Estates, brought her to the rugged South Okanagan. Launching the brand amidst a global pandemic was one of the most valuable experiences, reckons Anahita. Now at Andrew Peller limited, Anahita is responsible for leading the strategy, operation, business and financial results of the company’s Direct-to-Consumer channels nationwide. In her Sales & Marketing roles, Anahita has led the development of the Business-to Business and Direct-to-Consumer sales channels, including the creation of one of Canada’s first ‘Business Clubs’ and an array of new sales channels along with a robust E-Commerce set up. Making brands more relevant and present than ever is her goal. Her views on Direct-to-consumer and new and emerging channels, focus heavily on the process. ‘The process’ she believes is the goal and the goals are achieved through a flawless process.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Carrie Rau, Co-Founder
Vinequity

Carrie Rau is a proud Cree food and wine professional living and working in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is a certified CAPS Sommelier, holds a Diploma from WSET Global and has completed courses with The International Sommelier Guild and The Court of Master Sommeliers. Having grown up in Stratford, Ontario it was an honour to graduate from the Stratford Chefs School where she now currently sits on the Board of Directors. You will also find her working as a certified red seal chef in recipe research and development at Loblaw’s Test Kitchen specializing in product development and Front of House at Grand Cru Deli in Toronto. She is a continuing education instructor at George Brown College teaching Wines 1 each semester and as a WSET instructor for Levels 1 and 2 at IWEG Drinks Academy. A co-founder of Vinequity, a not-for-profit focusing on uplifting and amplifying the voices of BIPOC wine professionals, she is very passionate about career development, mentorship and wine education and she has her eye on future food and beverage trends in the hospitality industry.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Marisa Renaud
BlackSquare

Passionate about the Ontario wine community, Marisa Renaud has over a decade of experience working in the industry. She helped build the first wine club in Ontario and now manages partnerships with independent brands at BlackSquare. Her responsibilities include maintaining strategic relationships with Ontario wineries and curating the club experience for Kwaf, a premium wine subscription celebrating Ontario wines. She is a Vinequity member and a recipient of the 2021 Mentorship program. Marisa’s passion for promoting and uplifting her community extends to her personal life as well. She is a volunteer with a local non-profit, Ògo Tàwa, which helps create a more equitable opportunity for gifted, underrepresented artists of African descent.Marisa strives to live an authentic life, holding close to these words: “Above all things, be true, be true to yourself, your values, and your convictions.”

Breakout Session Speaker 

Ben Salisbury
Salisbury Creative Group

Ben Salisbury is the Founder and President of Salisbury Creative Group which helps wineries and distilleries around the world accelerate their sales by leveraging modern strategies with a special emphasis on technology. Before starting his own consulting firm in May of 2014, Ben spent 32 years as a sales executive for some of the industry’s largest companies, including Southern Glazer’s, Ste Michelle Wine Estates, and Constellation Brands. Ben is actively involved in the industry as a writer, speaker, and podcast guest. In 2018, Ben was the keynote speaker at the Wine Industry Technology symposium. He has also been a featured speaker at the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, the Iowa Winegrowers Association, and the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association. Ben and his team have helped dozens of wineries all over the world keep pace with the shifting landscape driven by increased competition, digitization, and distributor consolidation. He lives in northern Kentucky, USA.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Olivia Siu
Vinequity

Olivia Siu is a WSET Diploma candidate with over a decade of digital design and marketing experience. After growing a start-up into a multi-million dollar business, she launched her wine career working for a leading Okanagan winery, and then with two leading Canadian wine and spirits distributors, before she co-founded Vinequity and joined Nicholas Pearce Wines in Toronto.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Brent Snowden
Kinsbrae Packaging

I have been the Director of Business Development for Kinsbrae Group for the last 4 years. Kinsbrae specializes in providing complete packaging solutions for beverage companies across North America. Our client list is currently over 500 beverage companies and include almost every type of liquid refreshment you can think of. Very proud to say that I was born and raised in Scarborough, ON. Yes, I have heard all of the jokes but to me, it was a super tight-knit community, where everyone helped each other and you made friendships that last a lifetime, all while being able to enjoy everything the city had to offer. Definitely the best of both worlds. A post-secondary education did not take me far, I attended York University and graduated with a degree in Economics. To say my work experiences are a bit eclectic might actually be a bit of an understatement. The shortlist includes over a decade in the investment industry, taking a social media company public and running the Canadian division of a global sales and marketing firm. All of my jobs from the very first part-time job until now have all had an element of sales involved one way of the other. There is nothing I enjoy more than meeting new people and helping them achieve their goals. When I am away from the office I am an avid amateur photographer and enjoy vintage car restoration. In July of 2018 I had the opportunity to travel to Africa and go on a photo safari. I have completed four vintage car restorations over the years and am currently hunting for my next project. In the summer months, you will find me enjoying time at the cottage with my wife and two children.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Justyn Szymczyk
Usual Wines

Justyn is a serial entrepreneur in the wine & spirits industry with two successful exits, the Canadian flash sales site he founded (kwäf) was acquired in 2018 and the Bay Area startup (Vinebox), where he led Strategy and Innovation as part of the leadership team, was acquired in 2021.  Vinebox launched Usual Wines in 2019, now a standalone enterprise. As the fastest-growing single-serve wine brand in the US Justyn was Head of Innovation. He remains a Strategic Advisor and owner as the beloved brand scales from direct to consumer to wholesale across the US.  He is currently a partner in a venture-backed startup out of Paris, France. Launching in May 2022 across the EU, The Glass will be the first-ever retail concept dedicated entirely to the single-serve form factor.  Justyn sits on the Board of Advisors of on-demand delivery company Runner, and his 11 year old’s not-for-profit dog popsicle (pupsicles) business (@CoolPupTO). He holds a degree in Structural Engineering from Queen’s University which he puts to good use in building epic pillow forts with his daughter.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Sandra E. Taylor
Sustainable Business International

Sandra E. Taylor is CEO of Sustainable Business International, a consultancy she launched in 2008, that assists organizations at various stages of environmental sustainability and social responsibility practice in the food and beverage sectors. Taylor’s expertise provides innovative approaches to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy, including supply chain sustainability, strategic philanthropy and stakeholder engagement. Previously Taylor was senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility at Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle, Washington, where she led all global corporate responsibility programs, including development of sustainable standards for coffee, tea and cocoa supply chains; reduction of the environmental impact of business operation; and the Starbucks Foundation. Taylor has a BA in French from Colorado Women’s College, a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law and MBA from the Bordeaux School of Management in France.Her first book,  The Business of Sustainable Wine: How to Build Brand Equity in a 21st Century Wine Industry was published in 2017.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Brian Walsh
Penn State College of Agriculture

Brian Walsh is a Penn State Extension Horticulture Educator who was specifically hired to conduct spotted lanternfly research including lifecycle traits, identifying and testing control tactics and techniques and working with industry stakeholders to mitigate impacts.  As a commercial pesticide applicator with twenty plus years experience in the green industry working near the original SLF introduction into Pennsylvania, he has 6 years of experience studying and treating SLF.

Breakout Session Speaker 

Chris Waters
The Globe and Mail

Christopher Waters is the wine and spirits columnist for the Globe and Mail. He also serves as the education director of IWEG Drinks Academy in Toronto and a WSET (Wine Spirits Education Trust) certified instructor at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University. An internationally recognized wine judge, Christopher served as head judge and organizer of the InterVin International Wine Awards for 10 years (2009-2019) and continues to represent Canada for the Global Fine Wine Challenge based in Australia.

WHEN

TUESDAY, April 5th & Wednesday, April 6th, 2022

9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE

Join us virtually!

Drop Us a Line

Let us know if you have any questions about the Ontario Craft Wine Conference 2022?