MEET THE TEAM

LEADERSHIP TEAM

Dan Hodge.jpg

Dan Hodge

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

I was lucky enough to try some of the best wines while working at a liquor store in my 20s. I met some industry figures, they took me under their wing, and before I knew it, I was drinking some of the best stuff out there. Hard to pinpoint an exact wine as my “epiphany,” but wine is often delicious if you’re with the right people.

Favorite pairing?

Any wine with good company; even better if we’re in my lovely backyard with my dog, Fido.

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

Chardonnay. If it’s Chardonnay, I’m in love.

Aaron Woodrow B&W.jpg

Aaron Woodrow

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

My seminal wine moment was a horizontal tasting of the 2002 vintage of Jean-Marc Boillot's white Burgundy appellations, which was an early, glowing example of how the “taste of place” is a legitimate and fascinating phenomenon. My life in this business began in college working the floor of a St. Louis wine shop where I learned to tell the difference between Pinot Noir from Pinotage (on a good day). Moved back to Chicago in my early 20's and have been lucky enough to continue working in wine almost continually since then.

Favorite pairing?

My favorite food and wine pairing is trite and unoriginal, but in my world fried chicken and Blanc de Blancs Champagne simply cannot be beat.

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I'd be something like Savagnin or Gouais Blanc, one of the ancestral varieties to many of the more familiar contemporary wine grapes. I'm fascinated by origin stories and the borderland between documented history and the unrecorded (but purpose-driven) practices in human culture that have given rise to the contemporary world.

Jody Ames B_W.jpeg

Jody Ames

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

I was in the R. Lopez de Heredia cellars doing extensive library tasting all the way back to 1942, and got to try the 1946 R. Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Rioja. My mind exploded – I have never tasted anything as alive and focused with purpose.

Favorite pairing?

Anything in my refrigerator and open.

 

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I’d like to be Nebbiolo. Why not be of nobility?

SALES TEAM

Jenny Peters B_W.jpg

Jenny Peters

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

I was 21 years old and studying in Vienna. I tasted a Grüner Veltliner and it was so different than wines I had tasted before – I was hooked and quickly fell down the rabbit hole of discovering what else was out there.

Favorite pairing?

Champagne with just about anything: Thai takeout, fried chicken, Blanc de Blancs for breakfast!

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I suppose I would probably be Chardonnay? It’s such a versatile grape – perhaps not the “coolest,” but certainly resilient and adaptable.

Erik Wiseman B_W.jpeg

Erik Wiseman

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

I was on a Chicago West Side rooftop in the early 2000s, after an apartment punk show. A couple friends and I climbed a decrypt fire escape and shared a bottle of Merlot and a pack of Lucky Strikes. Between laughs and sips from a red solo cup, I knew the wine and night and friends would be a part of my life forever.

Favorite pairing?

Grüner Veltliner with spicy ramen

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I would be Albariño because I prefer cooler weather next to the ocean! I also tend to be a little salty.

Andrew Schicker B_W.jpeg

Andrew Schicker

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

My wine epiphany was in 2015, when I went to El Ideas with Bodegas Tradición’s Lorenzo Garcias-Iglesias. He paired all 11 courses with a different sherry, and they all worked beautifully.

Favorite pairing?

Oysters and Muscadet (or Albariño)

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I guess Vioginier. I would be frequently misunderstood by some and almost always hated by my boss Dan Hodge unless I am well-outperforming expectations. I would love life as I thrive in the south of France, though!

Kate Poznan B_W.jpeg

Kate Poznan

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

I was 21 years old, and my best friend wanted me to go to this HUngarian restaurant with her because she had a crush on the bartender. I obliged and though, what am I going to drink on a list that I can barely read? The bartender recommended Blaufränkisch, and it tasted like nothing I had ever had before. I set out to buy more and discovered a nearby shop carried it. Afterward, I started to explore different styles and regions and my curiosity for wine took off.

Favorite pairing?

Potato chips, creme fraiche, and caviar with Blanc de Blancs. It’s a classic pairing that takes a casual twist. I’m all about finger food!

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I most identify with Chenin Blanc. It tends to be versatile in style so it can adapt to multiple different tastes. I get along with just about anyone, and can both blend in with or stand alone in a crowd. We can both be described as floral, whimsical, and zesty – and can be bubbly or sweet, too.

Ryan Scheler B_W.jpg

Ryan Scheler

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

When I worked as the Wine Director | General Manager of Hearth Restaurant in Evanston, I inherited an eclectic and well-curated wine cellar as plans for an ambitious new program. I was versed in the world of craft beer and spirits so my introduction to fine wine was a crash course. I remember opening a bottle of 2001 Riesling from Mosel, and it was absolutely stunning. I learned wine can surprise you and have fallen down the rabbit hole ever since.

Favorite pairing?

BBQ and rosé.

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I would say Listan Blanco from the Canary Islands. It’s a beautiful wine from a beautiful special place for wine.

Jessica Daniels B_W.jpeg

Jessica Daniels

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

I was dining at Maudes, and a large group next to me brought a 1997 Dom Pérignon to their dinner. They generously offered to share a couple glasses, and it was delicious – and a cool example of how community and celebration exist around wine!

Favorite pairing?

I’m a fan of the “what grows together, goes together” mentality. I love Mediterranean food along with the wines from that area of the world.

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I would be Riesling. Bright, zippy and full of complexity!

OPERATIONS TEAM

Eric Senske B_W.jpeg

Eric Senske - CFO

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

Years ago at a family celebration, my father-in-law ordered the Macallan Fine Oak 17 Year Old Single Malt for me. Bourbon and sourmash had always been my drink of choice, usually with Diet Coke, but I had no idea I could love a neat dram of whisky. I was enamored and have since spent years delving into the world of single malt scotch.

Favorite pairing?

Three-way tie between Glengyle: Kilkerran 8 Year Cask Strength of Campbeltown with a sunny-day outing at the golf course, Bunnahabhain Toiteach A Dha with an Archetype Chapter 3 Sacred Scales Robusto Cigar, or the Highland’s Glenmorangie Signet with fresh raspberries and brown bread ice cream (and good company).

If you were a grape (or grain), what would you be and why?

I would be barley growing on the island of Islay, enjoying the salty breeze and cool weather.

Jane Shin Agler B&W.heic

Jane

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

In the summer of 2019, my dad and I opened a Refosco from Friuli together. It was light and perfect for the summer weather; I’d never had anything so good, even though it was pretty simple.

 

Favorite pairing?

A delicious tawny port and some great after-dinner conversation with my loved ones.

 

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

Riesling, for sure – my existence would only bring joy!

Kathy Alfano B_W.jpeg

Kathy Alfano

What and where was your wine/spirit epiphany?

My wine epiphany was at 16 years old; I was vacationing with family in the mountains of Sicily, summer of ‘87. I thought I was a big deal because my Nonno let me have a glass of a Corvo Rosso with all the adults.

Favorite pairing?

I love PInot Noir with a perfect crispy Neapolitan-style veggie-topped pizza.

If you were a grape, what would you be and why?

I would definitely be a Nero d’Avola because it makes me think of being back home in Sicily on my parents’ farm.