Meet the Brooklyn Winery Team
Brian is one of Brooklyn Winery's founding fathers and has done everything from raising capital to selling weddings to installing a sheet rock ceiling (2 layers thick!)—in the Parlor room, if you want to check out his handiwork! Before embarking in the winery world, Brian spent countless hours making Excel models and PowerPoint presentations at McKinsey and Co. before joining ExpoTV.com and helping a cool tech startup. He also started an awesome water business at his alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis, which still exists today! In his spare time, of which there isn't much, Brian enjoys drinking wine (obviously), running, tennis, golf and skiing.
Born and raised in the NY burbs, Mike found his Zen majoring in Chinese philosophy and poetry at Wesleyan University with a minor in roast pork lo mein.
His passion for food and wine, which started at his family’s knee, led him, post college, to the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America) where he collected intelligence (but nothing covert) and honed the Zen, establishing his philosophy of freshness of ingredients and purity in flavor and finesse. Post culinary school, he landed in Prospect Heights, cycling down to Duane Street to work at renowned Restaurant Bouley. Then he pedaled over the bridge where, once again, he put his yin and yang on food as fine dining and banquet chef at the Mandarin Oriental. Now that he should be biking more often from East Side Manhattan to Williamsburg to compensate for his after-hours love of take-out from “Chow Fat” the bike is rarely leaving the rack. He resolves to get pedaling again in short order.
Mike’s passion for reading everything from Sci Fi to his worldwide menu collection inspires his precise, meticulous, and uncompromising attention to prepare and present food that heightens every taster’s experience.
Rachel moved to the big city many years ago from exotic New Jersey. A proud east-coast girl, she graduated from George Washington University where she became passionate about their undefeated football team and studying hospitality. While at GW, Rachel lived abroad in Seville, Spain, which is, she believes, where her heart still resides. Since entering the workforce, Rachel has worked in fashion and media, covering everything from wedding gowns to footwear to technology products. Brooklyn Winery was a natural fit, giving Rachel the ability to combine her sales and marketing experience with her passion for food, wine, and events. In her spare time, Rachel uses every last penny she has to try any and every restaurant in the five boroughs, travel as much as possible, and improve upon her near-perfect baby back rib recipe.
Virginia was raised in Long Island on home cooked Sunday dinners which reflected her Polish and Italian backgrounds. After studying graphic design and physics at NYU, she began a decade of work in some of New York City's best kitchens including Blue Hill, al di la, and The Vanderbilt. Most recently she spent three years at The Institute of Culinary Education running student enrichment classes and helping to shape the next generation of chefs. She has appeared on television in morning show cooking segments, as a Chopped contestant, and even selling blenders. As a newlywed herself, she is thrilled to bring Brooklyn Winery's beautiful, seasonal dishes to hundreds of weddings, saving happy brides and grooms from rubbery chicken marsala once and for all. When she is not in the kitchen, she can be found enjoying a bitter IPA or a crisp rosé in Brooklyn with her husband and two cats, planning adventures to anywhere from Thailand to Burning Man.
Lauren is a proud New Englander and a lover of the seashore and seafood. At her family’s boisterous holiday celebrations, Lauren first discovered the significance of food as the center of culture and community. This notion influenced her studies in Cultural Anthropology at Smith College and her two years abroad in India, where Lauren immersed herself in the wonderfully spiced and diverse cuisines of the subcontinent. After returning to the US, she missed chaos and overpopulation and promptly moved to NYC! Here she has taken on a variety of professional experiences from sweating it out in adrenaline-fueled kitchens, consulting on menus in quiet cafes, and teaching kids' cooking classes throughout the city. Lauren loves being part of the team at Brooklyn Winery, where she strives to run a tight ship and keep the wine bar menu deserving of the beautiful wines made on-site. When she’s not at work, she loves to take long walks with her dog Sammy, listen to NPR podcasts, and linger over multi-coursed meals with her boyfriend, RJ.
Jesi grew up in Maplewood, NJ, (a town recently called "Brooklyn of New Jersey" by the New York Times) learning to chiffonade, prep mis en place, and "whip things up" in the kitchen with her mom. Her love for weddings, wine, and food grew feverishly while living in Charleston, SC for college. She left the most romantic and beautiful city in the south (in her opinion) to come to NYC, where her love for food and wine has grown, while enjoying a successful sales career working with small businesses across the country. In her free time she likes to be on the yoga mat (preferably in child's pose), drinking delicious wines and craft beers, and ending the day with a run by the water. She is perpetually training for her next half marathon and will be the first to tell you that brunch afterward is always the best part.
A native New Yorker, Marisa grew up in the hospitality industry, more specifically in a bar by the name of Spirits Saloon, which her father owned. After graduating from University of Delaware, Marisa embarked on a career in event production and management, earning her chops at luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre. From there she moved onto the world of caffeine, managing events and sponsorships for Swiss coffee brand Nespresso. Most recently, Marisa produced events for the likes of Google, YouTube, and Spotify and is super psyched to continue her career in hospitality with the Brooklyn Winery team! In her spare time, she has volunteered for Musicians on Call, a national organization that brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of hospital patients. And as a committed music fan, you’re likely to find her at a live show on her nights off. She proudly calls Brooklyn home where she lives with her husband, (adorable) son, and like a million CDs, albums, and MP3s.
Dorann is a native New Yorker with a bit of Mountain influence. She was born in Colorado, grew up on Long Island and has called NYC & Brooklyn home for the past 10 years. Her first job at age 15 was planning children's parties at a sporting complex then she went on to wait tables throughout school. She enjoyed it so much that she studied hospitality at SUNY Oneonta, in upstate New York. Upon entering the "real world" and eager to land a job in NYC, she took a few event planning classes at FIT, volunteered at a few lavish, star-studded events, and quickly realized where she wanted to be within the industry. Over the past 10 years, she has worked on multiple sides of the event industry: designing and catering weddings and corporate events for clients for the likes of Forbes, Bill Gates, Billie Jean King and Wired. She most recently found the perfect blend of making friends and planning their special events at Brooklyn Winery. In her spare time you can find her biking around Brooklyn, lounging on the beach, or hopping on a flight for a new adventure.
Emily hails from the heart of the Finger Lakes, where she grew up directly between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, which means she obviously frequented both! She likes to spend her summers sitting by the water, tasting some local wine, and enjoying the most beautiful views on earth. She got her degree from the University of Edinburgh, where she learned the value of a nice scotch on a rainy day. She decided to dry off and warm up in Provence for a year and still misses the four Euro glasses of rosé. After years of travelling to and from the Finger Lakes, she decided to compromise and move to Brooklyn where she could have the excitement of the city without having to fit her life into two suitcases that she could barely lift. (Taxi drivers all over the world give thanks). She is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Brooklyn Winery team, where she can combine her love of wine with her wedding planning past. In her spare time she can be found reading a good book, exploring new places, and trying to convince people to let her walk their dogs.
Born and raised in the Franciacorta wine region in northern Italy, Luigi Picotti was exposed to the art of winemaking from the earliest days of his life. His family made small batches of red wine for family and friends in the house cellar and he helped pick and process the grapes. In 2009, Luigi moved to New York City to take advantage of the wine trade tastings, seminars, and opportunities that the city has to offer. NYC was the perfect place to expand his knowledge and develop his palate, but the opportunity to work in a wine cellar seemed unlikely. A few years later he visited Brooklyn Winery and he was surprised and impressed that such an operation producing such high quality wine could exist in an urban environment. Luigi joined the Brooklyn Winery team in the 2014 for harvest and has since continued to be dedicated to making the best wine possible. When Luigi goes back home to Franciacorta for a visit, he does not miss the chance to visit small and unique producers to pick their brains about winemaking techniques, trends, and practices. Luigi's passion for fermentation extends beyond Brooklyn Winery—he crafts fine, homemade cider in his closet in Bed Stuy.
Shelby's life has always been rooted in wine. Growing up in Long Island wine country, as the daughter of a winemaker, she took an interest in the industry at a young age. Shelby has served in tasting rooms, planted vineyards, harvested grapes, worked in wineries, poured at events, and sampled her fair share! Before joining the Brooklyn Winery team, she worked in publishing and is a graduate of Michigan State University. When she is not drinking wine she spends her time lost in a book, eating her way through NYC, traveling as often as she can, and skiing every chance she gets!
Adam hails from the wonderful state of Indiana where he grew up in a small town on his family's farm where they mostly grew corn and watermelon, among many other things. His father instilled in him a strong work ethic and attention to detail that he brings with him each day. He was introduced to the restaurant world by his mother early on and was hooked from day one. For almost 20 years now, Adam has been working his way through the ranks of the industry. He spent years working his way through Indianapolis and graduated from The Chef's Academy with a degree in culinary arts before moving to New York. Once here, Adam spent time managing restaurants such as Tribeca Grill, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and most recently The Brooklyn Star. He is extremely excited to be a part of the team at Brooklyn Winery and help to expand the brand to the Crown Heights neighborhood.
Born into an Italian-American family on Long Island, Deb learned quickly that life revolves around food. She attended the Culinary Institute of America, where she would graduate first in her class, taking home two of the three awards given at graduation. Working in places such as the Cub Room and City Hall, she learned about culinary finesse, how to walk-run, and how to accurately throw a hot sauté pan past a crowd of cooks into a sink. In 2005 she opened Beast restaurant on Vanderbilt Ave, pioneering the area’s culinary scene while simultaneously scaring off many confused by the name. In 2009, being a glutton for punishment, she set off to build a concept that would become Branded Saloon. After a successful and tiring run, she closed Beast and departed Branded for some much needed rest. That rest would bring her to the Brooklyn Winery family. When not cooking, you can find her playing ice hockey at Chelsea Piers or staring at a squirrel in a tree somewhere…of course with her dog, Daji (the real Beast).