Ken Gulaian Co-Owner, Round Peak Vineyards
Ken Gulaian and his wife Kari Heerdt took over as the owners of Round Peak Vineyards in December 2008, shortly after returning to North Carolina from a two year assignment in the bay area of California, where they spent a lot of time enjoying wine in Napa, Sonoma, and the Dry Creek Valley, and particularly enjoyed the small family owned wineries. Ken & Kari have spent two exciting years learning about the North Carolina wine industry, getting to know many of the people, learning the challenges, and looking for ways to further increase the great opportunity that already exist for producing and promoting North Carolina wines. Ken has an engineering degree and has a 20 year background in Industrial equipment design, service, marketing and sales. He most recently was a general manager for a $40 million services busi-ness for Ingersoll Rand in Davidson, NC. With a range of experience in sales, marketing, and management he would welcome the opportunity to help the North Carolina Winegrower's Association in whatever capacity is needed.
Erin Doby – Marketing & Event Manager, Raylen Vineyards
While studying opera at Appalachian State University, Erin Doby cut her teeth in the wine industry as a wine steward for a local resort. Her love for wine only grew and after 10 years in the restaurant industry, Erin shifted her focus to the local wines of North Carolina. She has been in the industry for five years and is now dedicated to the marketing and event management of RayLen Vineyards and Winery where she manages all aspects of front of house sales through direct to consumer, staff training and event planning. Erin is also a member of the Court of Masters Sommeliers and Society of Wine Educators.
Nadia Hetzel - Winemaker, Cypress Bend Vineyards
Nadia Hetzel received her engineering degree in enology and viticulture from the University of Geisehneim in Germany after getting a certification for a three-year apprenticeship as a Vintner. She has worked in many prestigious wineries in Germany including the renowned Riesling producer Schloss Johanissberg and the first organic winery in Germany, Weingut Sander. Returning to the United States in 2008, she embarked on her American winemaking career in Texas, producing many award-winning wines out of vinifera and hybrid grapes at Haak Vineyards and Winery. Her career then took her to Iowa where she was the Winemaker of the largest producer in the state, Tassel Ridge Winery. Nadia Hetzel continues her career in her home state of North Carolina where she is the winemaker of Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram NC. Nadia is also a Certified Specialist of Wine.
Patricia McRitchie - Co-Owner, McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks
Patricia is the co-owner with her husband Sean of McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks located in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. In addition to managing the winery Patricia is a consultant for the alcoholic beverage industry and has handled legal and regulatory affairs for businesses on both the East and West coasts. She successfully petitioned for the designation by the federal government of North Carolina's three American Viticultural Areas, Yadkin Valley, Swan Creek, and Haw River Valley. Patricia has over 20 years of experience in the wine industry and a deeply held belief in the potential for a vibrant progressive North Carolina wine industry. Patricia currently serves on the board of several organizations in her community and is past Executive Director of the Yadkin Valley Winegrower's Association.
Justin Taylor - Winemaker, Parker-Binns Vineyard
Justin earned his BBA from Georgia State University where he focused on Real Estate Development and Property Appraisal. Post-graduate, he worked 4 years in Real Estate Law producing clear chains of title on bank owned assets poised for resale. In an effort to generate more income for a second degree, he started working with Total Wine & More in the Atlanta Metro market stocking shelves. In 2011, a visit to the Shelton-Badgett Center for Viticulture & Enology sparked the desire to apply for the AAS degree program for the fall of 2012. Continuing course with Total Wine throughout his studies, Justin was promoted to Wine Sales Associate and completed 5 of the regional sections for the Total Wine Professional Program. During his time at Surry Community College, he had the distinct privilege to develop viticultural philosophies under instruction of Dr. Gill Giese, combined with tested and experimental enology practices taught by David Bower. Upon completion of the program at Surry Community College, he entered directly into the Western North Carolina wine industry.
He started out as Assistant Winemaker to consulting winemaker Tom Payette at Burntshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville, NC. He worked the 2014-2016 vintages at this cellar, processing 70-90 tons per vintage and packaging 5,000-7,000 cases of wine annually. Working closely with vineyard manager Eric Case, he had the opportunity to work with grape cultivars of regional significance that were used to build the wine styles of Burntshirt.
In the spring of 2017, he took on a new venture of personal and professional significance with Bob and Karen at Parker-Binns Vineyard in Polk County, NC. As winemaker of Parker-Binns, his primary focus ranges from all cellar and lab activities to final adjustments on wines prior to bottling to meet the desires of the customer basis.