Meet The Team
Mike Stolese, Owner, started VWM in 1996 with Joerg after owning several businesses of his own including Stoliz's Bar in Winooski. He also co-owes and produces the Burlington Wine and Food Festival with his wife Tracy Stolese. This annual festival held on the Burlington waterfront is where local meets global. This is a festival for wine lovers, foodies and those who are hungry for adventure. This annual event showcases hundreds of wines from all around the globe, creations from Vermont's top chefs, artisanal cheeses as well as other specialty food vendors and local jazz. His specialties lie with his sharp-witted humor and broad knowledge of fine Italian wines. He is easily spotted around town in his Jeep Wrangler with Nero, his Great Dane, by his side!
Vermont Wine Merchant's co-founder, Joerg, appreciates wine in its ability to represent food culture and cuisine and, happily, uses Burgundy as a reference point of origin - all that lovely Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a dash of Aligoté! Joerg enjoys wines that remember their home vineyard and convey their locality in as natural a way as possible. Particular favorites, in addition to Burgundy, range from the Loire, Provence, Savoie, Champagne, California's north coast, South Africa and the Pacific northwest. Living on the western slopes of the Green Mountains gives Joerg and his wife Ann the opportunity to enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, running, cycling, and kayaking along with refreshing rosé breaks. To maintain his Canadian content quotient, Joerg continues to cheer for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs and to gain a fundamental grasp on French.
As a native Vermonter with more than a decade of experience in wine, Drew Robinson has a unique and intuitive understanding of the local market. Drew was born into a restaurant family, and grew up waiting tables and bartending, before ultimately managing restaurants in college. After leaving college, Drew walked straight into a job in the wine business and has never looked back, devoting his entire adult life to wine. Drew is happiest when spending time with his wife and son, and most inspired when traveling and seeking out new vineyards and winemakers.
Abby is a native Vermonter ans has worked in the food and wine industry her entire life, from restaurants to wine retail. She is an avid home cook, spending the majority of her time in her kitchen creating and preparing meals and pairing them with wine. She has completed the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Course and Examination and is also a volunteer for Slow Food Vermont. Abby is always looking to try new wines and believes that good wine and good food should be easy, fun, and accessible to everyone.
Jenn joined the VWM staff the Summer of 2007, only weeks after she made the trek cross-country from Southern California, where she had lived all her life. She worked in the bustling film and TV production industry, where she fell in love with images of Vermont via movies that have been filmed here. Jenn’s passion for wine stems from fond memories visiting vineyards, just miles from her house, with family and friends. Jenn brings a little California sunshine to Vermont through her enthusiasm, which is evident in her interactions with customers, suppliers and shippers.
Upon graduating from high school in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Leah relocated to Vermont to attend Castleton University. Her passion for skiing originally led her to Vermont. Upon graduating from college, she moved to Stowe, VT and eventually landed in Burlington. She joined the team as Office Administrator in May, 2016. Other than skiing, her favorite activities are stand up paddle boarding, running, going out to eat and visiting breweries and wineries.
Michelle joined the team in the Summer of 2010. Originally from New Hampshire, Michelle fell in love with Vermont while vacationing here and made the big move from the Big Apple. When Michelle isn't involved with the theater she enjoys expanding her palate with our fine wines! Michelle is responsible for the general well being of the behind the scenes of The Vermont Wine Merchants.
James Townsend better known in the trade as JT, The Ninja or Captain J. His love of wine started early, as a teenager he began skipping school to spend time with a band of wine making gypsies who's nomadic lifestyle had led them to James's hometown of Disapointment, Kentucky. He attributes his supierior palate to this early introduction and often refers to himself as a "super taster". When James is'nt practicing the 5 s's of wine enjoyment (See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savor) he is an avid cival war buff and finds great pleasure in American cival war reenactment. So tread litely around this soldier he just may pull out his bayonette.
Born in Northern California's Humboldt County, but grew up among the vineyards of Sonoma County learning to cook in some of it's best known restaurants. Spending Two years in San Francisco, honing those skills before receiving an A.O.S degree in Culinary Arts from The New England Culinary Institute in 1995. For the last 15 years Robert has represented The Vermont Wine Merchants Company with a passion for Wine and Food and how well they fit together. "Bier is for Drinking. Whiskey is for Sipping. Wine is for Pairing.....And Water is for Rehydrating."
Chris joined the sales team in the Summer of 2011. Chris began his journey into wine way back in the 1970’s as a touring musician, on the road in the East Coast and the Caribbean for some 17 years. Introduced to the wonders of great food and wine from the many inns and restaurants he frequented as a performer, he began his career in the hospitality industry in 1988. He became assistant Sommelier at the Woodstock Inn in 1990, and since then has consulted for, and presided over, many award winning wine lists in Southern Vermont. Jokingly referred to as “Captain Zinfandel” by some of his peers, Chris’s passion for wine is truly global, always searching out great wines of any hue from everywhere to work their magic with fine cuisine. We believe he might just be the only wine sales representative in the state of Vermont who may be found riding a motorcycle on his route on sunny days!
Gerd has been with VWM since the Summer of 2001. He has gathered his extensive wine knowledge over many years in the restaurant business & writes a weekly Column "Wine Experiments" in the Mt. Times in Killington. He is also known for his Tango moves and specializes in wines from Argentina. Gerd has recently earned a degree as a certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers program.
802.324.9540 or 917.863.6636
I've been with The Vermont Wine Merchants Company for seven years. The world of wine excites and interests me immensely. Working for VWM allows me to "walk the world" every day! Exploring and learning about wine, wine country, viniculture and people is fun and fascinating. The rapport I have built and developed with others, while absorbing and gaining knowledge about a field I am passionate about is rewarding and always an adventure. I look forward to the days, weeks and years of sitting..., sniffing..., swirling..., sipping...and soaking up whatever I can of a fantastic glass of wine.
Anthony grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York. He remembers being in the car and driving passed many Vineyards as a kid and stopping along the way for those wicked sweet concord grape pies, a prelude to the future. He has always been around the foodservice industry in some capacity. Receiving both an Associates degree in Foodservice/Restaurant management and Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology. He worked all throughout college at the greatest grocery store on earth, Wegmans! Moving to Vermont after College in the late 90’s is where Anthony was first bit by the Wine bug working at a local gourmet food and wine shop. From there it has been a passion that hasn’t stopped. He moved back to Western NY for a few years but Vermont was calling his name. It has now been almost 11 years since and deep in the Wine industry for the past 9 years. “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death”.
Dave comes to us with a varied background and knowledge base. He holds a bachelors degree in Adventure Education, and an associates in automotive technology. He has worked as a dealership mechanic, an Alaskan Guide, a corrections officer, and finally landed in the world of wine 5 years ago while living in Juneau, AK. Originally from Massachusetts, he moved to Vermont in October of 2012 with his wife Liz and bought a house way up in the woods of Waterville, VT. Dave enjoys the simple life, gardening, raising chickens, felling timber and basically any excuse for hard labor outside! For fun, Dave tends to get lost in the woods with either hiking boots, or ski's on his feet, and sometimes he even gets vertical on some rock or ice. Though whatever the day holds, Dave likes to finish it with a seasonally appropriate beverage and some good home cooking. It's a wide world of wine out there, so let the adventure begin!
Tiffany joined Vermont Wine Merchants in the fall of 2013 after spending more than a decade in the restaurant industry. Tiffany's passion for wine began at the young age of 15, when she first travelled overseas to Italy on a school trip. Immersing herself in the culture, food and imbibing wine with friends behind her teacher's back, she was hooked. Tiffany spent her early twenties waiting tables in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, reading about wine and traveling to Europe whenever she could. With this foundation, Tiffany moved to Vermont in 2005, finished college and worked in Burlington-area restaurants. Her personal preferences steer toward the weird and funky wines and adores wines from southern Rhone and Piedmont. When she is not working, Tiffany can be found scouring the state for antiques and vintage goods, going on long hikes, or throwing intimate dinner parties.
Rob comes to Vermont from the Big Apple citing the reason of”….wanting to live somewhere that actually had apples.” Always a Vermonter at heart, he never thought that he would have the chance to pursue a career in wine and
move to Vermont. Dreams do come true though and he leaped at the chance to see mountains instead of skyscrapers. Mr. Ryan received his education from years as a NYC stand up (he is not that funny in real life) and received a degree in German and Philosophy from Rutgers University, making him really, “Jersey”. Wine is in his blood (Often literally) because as a child his family owned the local liquor store. However, his real career in wine began at 21, when he got his first job as a clerk for a large discount wine retailer. When seeing that people could actually have a life in this business, he studied and worked his way up the latter, eventually leaving to helm one of the state’s best fine wine retailers. Today, he can be seen driving frantically trying in to be in multiple places at once, hiking with his dog cricket, or enjoying Vermont’s culinary excellence.
Katrina Messenger grew up in the Burlington area and joined our team in spring of 2018. She has spent the last decade working with local distributors selling fine wine. She fell in love with wine while working in the restaurant industry after college. Wine is ever changing and there is always something new to discover. It is this concept that keeps her intrigued and motivated to educate and introduce wine to future wine drinkers. When not doing the day to day at Vermont wine merchants, Katrina loves spending time with family and making memories with her two young children.
Warehouse Drivers & Staff
Pete Cernosia *(and Route Jumper)
Alassane (Alou) Diop
Cheyenne Longwalker *(and office admin)