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.
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.
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.
Christopher Bolcato – Owner - Lazy Elm Vineyard and Winery located in Mocksville, NC.
He is originally from New Jersey, where the stories of his grandfather making wine in his younger years peaked Chris’s curiosity.
With the encouragement of family and friends, Chris began his journey making wine from grapes imported from California back in 2002. In 2009 Chris took a huge leap of faith to follow what had now become a passion for winemaking and moved to North Carolina to fulfill his dream of starting his own vineyard and winery. The Lazy Elm Tasting room has just celebrated their six year anniversary, opening in October 2013.Their vineyard property includes 43 acres with 5 1/2 acres of vinifera vines planted in 2012.
Aside from being the owner, Chris is also the winemaker, vineyard manager, bookkeeper, floor sweeper, etc. at Lazy Elm, all while still maintaining his career as an IT professional for over 29 years. Chris is extremely hard working and passionate about growing a renowned wine industry here in North Carolina.
JW Ray – Owner - JOLO Vineyards
Born in Malden Massachusetts JW grew up working in his parents’ breakfast nook and catering business with his family. After serving in the US Army, JW returned to working in the food and beverage industry, then cofounded a mortgage banking company, worked as an advisor for Merrill Lynch and SVP at Morgan Stanley, then Co-Founded Learn.com which was acquired by Taleo/Oracle in 2010. In 2010 JOLO vineyards were formed where JW serves as owner winemaker.