Dr. George Soleas
President & Chief Executive Officer, LCBO
George Soleas is the President & Chief Executive Officer of LCBO, the largest liquor jurisdiction in Canada with 667 stores and annual sales of over $6 billion. He is responsible for corporate strategy, executive leadership and providing a forum for consultation and dialogue on matters affecting the beverage alcohol industry.
After serving more than 11 years with the Canadian Wine Industry, George joined LCBO in 1997 in Quality Assurance where he held progressively senior leadership positions until he was named President & Chief Executive Officer in early 2016. He is a recipient of the Ontario Imported Wine-Spirits-Beer Association’s Industry Partnership Award, the Greek Wine Industry Award, and was recently inducted into the Jurade de Saint Emilion. In 2017, George was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Retail Council of Canada.
Sommelier, Author, Teacher, Consultant
Sommelier and wine author Marnie Old is best known for her ability to engage beginners and experts alike with powerful ideas of real-world relevance. Marnie’s refreshingly direct explanations of complex drinks concepts are driven by innovative simplifications and intuitive infographics, and her influence as an educator has helped to revolutionize how wine is taught worldwide. She earned national acclaim in 1999 as beverage director for Philadelphia’s Meal Ticket restaurant group and sommelier for its flagship Striped Bass. Since launching her own business in 2001, Marnie has designed wine programs for restaurants like Morimotoin Manhattan and consulted for the world’s largest wineretailer, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Today, in addition to her trend-setting content marketing work for wine companies and trade associations, Marnie travels the world as an expert speaker and writes for daily newspapers and trade magazines.
General Manager, Mission Hill
Darryl Brooker is General Manager of Mission Hill Family Estate and Sebastian Farms. In this role he is responsible for all aspects of winemaking, viticulture, and guest experiences at Mission Hill Family Estate. He also oversees Sebastian Farms, the von Mandl Family's collection of exceptional estate vineyards located throughout the Okanagan Valley. He joined Mission Hill as chief winemaker for the 2015 harvest following his successful five year tenure as lead winemaker at CedarCreek Estate Winery, where he worked tirelessly to elevate the quality of the wines in the portfolio by placing careful attention to all aspects of viticulture and winemaking.
A Global Tasting of the Most Trending Beverage Alcohol
Master Sommelier, Jackson Family Wines
The first evidence of fermented cider dates back to around 55 B.C. Hard cider is delicious, gluten free and a trending new experience for many consumers. Join Jen Huether, Master Sommelier with Jackson Family Wines, as she leads a curated tasting of local and international “craft” and “commercial” ciders made from apple and pear. Discover for yourself all that this diverse category has to offer.
Biodynamic Wines Masterclass
Sommelier, Author, Teacher, Consultant
Renowned wine educator and author Marnie Old will guide you through this spectacular flight of Biodynamic wines, showcasing the energy and terroir of wines made using this holistic approach in the vineyard. Marnie will undoubtedly surprise you with her down-to-earth wine-speak as she reveals the secrets of this revolutionary viticultural paradigm.
Canada Coast to Coast
A Master Tasting of Sparkling Wine Across Canada
Sommelier and Wine Writer
Join Véronique Rivest, one of the most respected sommeliers in Canada and abroad for an up close and personal dégustation of Canada’s Sparkling Wines. Savour producers from Canada’s East to West Coast as we uncork bubbly made from the ultimate Canadian terroir for sparkling wine grapes.
Business of Sales & Marketing in the Wine Industry
Peter Gamble, Heather MacGregor, and Julia Sousa
New wine regions are emerging, traditional regions are facing more competition than ever, and the retail landscape is changing. How do you keep pace, as a producer, supplier or retailer? Join us as our panelists share their unique perspective on strategies and challenges related to bringing new products to market, introducing new regions and reaching today’s consumer.
Winemaker, Versado Wines
Peter Gamble has been active in the wine industry since 1981. A professional winemaker from Canada’s Niagara Peninsula wine region, he also held winery management positions and, early in his career, became an internationally recognized wine taster — lecturing and educating on wine, appearing on radio and television, and writing for several newspapers and international wine magazines. He continues to travel extensively in the world's wine regions, and judges occasionally at international wine competitions.
Executive Director, Drinks Ontario
Heather MacGregor is the Executive Director of Drinks Ontario, the provincial trade association for beverage alcohol agents, suppliers and manufacturers. She is a senior public relations and communications professional with a background — and work experience — in journalism and law. She brings political and business acumen to Drinks Ontario through her previous roles as an advisor at Queen’s Park and media and communications consultant at LCBO. Heather holds an English degree from the University of Ottawa, a journalism degree from Ryerson University, and a diploma in Paralegal Studies from Humber College.
Director, Integrated Marketing, Wines & Vintages Marketing, LCBO
Julia has been developing engaging and award-winning marketing campaigns for over 15 years. As a retail marketing expert, she is a passionate believer in the vital role that communications plays in delivering engaging and memorable customer experiences. She is currently the Director of Integrated Marketing for Wines & Vintages at the LCBO.
Nature and the Vineyard
Ann Sperling, Darryl Brooker, and Thomas Bachelder
It’s been said that in a good year anyone can make good wine. But what happens when mother nature hits you with changing climate, droughts, floods, frosts, fires and other natural occurrences? How is technology used to help todays growers and winemakers as they strive to craft quality wines while respecting a natural process?
Winemaker, Winegrower, and Viticulturist, Southbrook Vineyards
Ann Sperling is a leading force in the Canadian movement towards organic and biodynamic fine winemaking, Ann has three decades of experience in winegrowing and winemaking, and has played a pivotal role in the development and recognition of skin fermented white (“orange”) wines in Canada.
General Manager, Mission Hill
Darryl Brooker is General Manager of Mission Hill Family Estate and Sebastian Farms. In this role he is responsible for all aspects of winemaking, viticulture, and guest experiences at Mission Hill Family Estate. He also oversees Sebastian Farms, the von Mandl Family's collection of exceptional estate vineyards located throughout the Okanagan Valley.
Thomas Bachelder makes terroir-specific Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy, Oregon, Chile and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario. He is fascinated with the terroir of Burgundy, but also with the volcanic and sedimentary soils of Oregon, the cool possibilities of Coastal Chile, and limestone soils of the northeast USA and Canada, and the Niagara Bench in particular.
Trends in Global Wine Communications
Liz Palmer, Cyndi Grossman, and Paul Grieco
In today’s social media-driven society it can be challenging to get consumers’ attention. Is social media the answer to guide today’s wine consumer? How do you engage consumers, encourage experimentation and take the mystery out of the bottle? Join our panel as they explore these new communication frontiers.
Author, Educator, and Wine Judge
Liz Palmer has been a well-respected wine journalist since 2004 and has an international reputation as a wine journalist, critic and judge. Liz has had the pleasure of interviewing and tasting with some of the industry’s leading winemakers, professors and personalities.
Executive Sommelier, Mellecey Wine Group
Cyndi Grossman, a native of London, Ontario recently moved home after living nine years in Europe. She brings with her an unparalleled devotion and passion for wine. Europe afforded Cyndi the unique opportunity to participate in a World Class Wine Education, including The Wine and Spirit Education Trust in the UK, where she is currently finishing her Diploma. Cyndi also attended The International Wine Guild in Denver, CO., gaining her Executive Sommelier and Wine Cellar Design and Management Certificate. Together with her team in Ontario they bring you some of Europe’s most exclusive wines and offer guided tours to Europe’s wine regions.
Paul Grieco’s family owned and operated Toronto’s landmark restaurant La Scala, where he was thrust into the world of service and hospitality at a very young age. After studying wine in Italy, he spent six years working with his father and grandfather at La Scala, overseeing the beverage program and managing the front-of-the-house staff. In 1991, he moved to New York City and worked at fine-dining establishments such as Remi Restaurant, Bouley, Gotham Bar and Grill, Gabriel’s, and Judson Grill, which he opened with his mentor Chris Cannon in 1994. In 2004, Grieco and chef-partner Marco Canora opened Hearth in the East Village; Insieme followed in 2007. The duo’s wine bar, Terroir, opened in 2010 and has been going strong ever since.