Talent

Shane Alexander

Originally from South Africa, Alexander first experienced Northern New Mexico as a skier and snowboarder (and worked as a bellman at Alpine Village Suites, where he met the woman who’d become his wife). He’d actually put off culinary school (at Warwick’s Chef School in Hermanus Cape Town) for Taos and its mountains. He did go, though, and finished, and upon graduating went back to the States, first finding work at Sedona, Arizona’s The Enchantment Resort and then at The Tides in Irvington, Virginia.

In 2009 he returned to Taos as a line cook at Ky Quintanilla’s Lambert’s of Taos. Soon after landing he took over as chef at the Snakedance Condominiums’ restaurant. He spent a couple years there, then two more years in Austin, at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, before returning, once again, to New Mexico, first as the sous chef at The Club at Las Campanas, and then, just last year, he was hired away by Santa Fe’s legendary El Farol to serve as its head chef.

Michael Bassler

North Berkeley Wines

Eric Baugher

A native Californian who grew up on a small ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains (where he raised animals and planted gardens and orchards), Baugher went on to nearby UC-Santa Cruz, where he’d received degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology. After college, he joined Ridge Vineyards as a chemist in 1994. He soon took on more responsibilities, eventually being promoted to V.P. of winemaking in 2004, and then taking over as COO in 2016. His passion for wine and the stimulating juxtaposition of low-tech winemaking and high-tech analytic techniques keeps him totally involved and constantly inspired.

Robert Sinskey

A self-proclaimed “Daydream Believer” and native Californian, Sinskey was born in Los Angeles and raised in the Central Coast town of Cambria. Intent on becoming a photojournalist, he went East for a degree from New York’s Parson’s School of Design. Fate intervened when his father, a budding vintner, asked his son to  help him with his fledgling wine business. He knew in his first week there, in Napa, that he’d found his true calling.

Adhering to the philosophy that “Wine is not an athletic event,” and that the goal is to make “pure wines of character that pair well with cuisine,” Sinskey has turned his father’s avocation into a phenomenon. He now oversees more than 200 acres of premium vineyards in the Carneros and Stags Leap districts of Napa and Sonoma Valleys, all of which are 100% organic and biodynamic-certified.

Sinskey believes that the goals of making luxuriously elegant wines and farming with earth friendly methods are not mutually exclusive. Rather, he has found that caring for the land and conscientious business practices have helped define the well-crafted wines of RSV. Sinskey and winemaker Jeff Virnig have adopted methods that not only produce wines of individuality, but leave a minimal footprint on the land.

Steve Matthiasson

An avid cook and gardener since childhood, Matthiasson also studied philosophy in college and a master’s of science from UC-Davis in 1996. Inspired by the work he’d been doing at a small sustainable agricultural consulting firm, in 1999 he co-authored the California manual on sustainable vineyard practices; in 2002 he started consulting on vineyard practices in Napa; and since 2003 he has focused on his own family farming and winemaking, while also consulting for historic vineyards such as Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Spottswoode Winery, the Araujo Estate and Dalla Valle Vineyards.

His classically balanced, restrained wines consistently earn the attention of consumers and critics alike. He has been named Winemaker of the Year by both Food & Wine and the San Francisco Chronicle. His commitment to viticulture stands as an affirmation of his belief that great wine starts in the vineyard. And in his spare time, he still enjoys skateboarding and listening to punk rock classics from the Minutemen, Black Flag, Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys.

Christopher Barnes

Before joining the Grape Collective, Barnes served as President of The New York Observer Media Group where he oversaw the launch of multiple successful print and digital media properties. In addition, he was a co-founder and Publisher of amNewYork newspaper. His start-up experience also included stints at Boston Metro and co-founding The London Monthly Magazine.

Joseph Wrede

Wrede is a Food & Wine Best New Chef, the winner of several AAA Four Diamond Awards, several DiRoNA Awards and has received both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast distinctions. Joseph’s Culinary Pub, in Santa Fe, is the third incarnation of his original Joseph’s Table, conceived in Taos, just over 20 years ago.

Colin Shane

A Santa Fe native, Shane played guitar, sang and toured with the punk rock band Spanish
Gamble before returning to New Mexico in 2012 and working for chef Martín Rios of Santa Fe’s Restaurant Martín. In 2013, he joined Arroyo Vino as their sous chef, then a year later took over as executive chef. And in 2017 he was named semifinalist for the 2017 James Beard Rising Star Chef award. In early 2018 he left Arroyo Vino for a yet-to-be-named Napa Valley-Sonoma-area restaurant.

Cristina Martinez

Martinez, a native New Mexican, opened her own catering business when she was 18 and has worked at Hotel Albuquerque, The Lodge Pueblo Harvest Cafe and Artichoke Cafe. Having recently graduated from California’s Le Cordon Bleu (with honors), Martinez was just named the new executive chef at Taos’ El Monte Sagrado Resort & Spa

Laura Crucet

Award-winning chef Laura Crucet is a Texas native whose culinary career spans 20 years and two continents. She is a graduate of the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, co-author of several cookbooks, an acclaimed cooking instructor and now the owner of a gourmet restaurant.

​Before graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Crucet began her culinary career at Brennan’s of Houston in 1998. While there, she helped co-author two cookbooks and was on the opening team for Commander’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Paris in 2001, Crucet worked at Houston’s acclaimed Rainbow Lodge, and in 2004, she helped launch the Vic & Anthony’s steakhouse concept, and as Executive Pastry Chef, created another award-winning menu and was once again nominated for Best Pastry Chef in Houston. 

​In 2009, Crucet moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, took a short break to spend time with her family, then in 2012 joined Pajarito Brewpub and Grill before opening the Pig + Fig Café in 2016.  

Tim Gaiser

From 2003 to 2011 Gaiser served as the education chair and the education director for the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas, and he currently serves as an adjunct professor for the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley.

Experienced in all phases of the wine industry (online, wholesale, retail, winery, and restaurant—including stints at Heitz Wine Cellars in the Napa Valley and Bix and Cypress Club restaurants in San Francisco), Gaiser has developed wine education programs for restaurants, winery schools and wine distributors and taught classes on wine and spirits at every level of education. Prior to going into wine professionally, Gaiser received an M.A. in classical music from the University of Michigan, and he played classical trumpet as a freelance professional and as an extra with the San Francisco Opera.

Michael Wagener

Located in the historic El Torreon Hacienda in El Prado (site of the historic El Meze restaurant),  Salt + Wine is Wagener’s vision of bringing his personal love and knowledge of wine (he’s a master sommelier) melded with high-level service and gourmet food—the same high standards he brought to Arroyo Seco’s Aceq.