North American Wine Hosts

HOST YEAR
2022|2023

Your "New World" Wine Expert

One of the most wonderful aspects of our Celebration of Wine River Cruises is the opportunity to sail with an experienced wine expert. Their refined palates will allow you to swirl your glass and discover the unique notes of each varietal you sip, gain pairing recommendations and get answers to your questions about viticulture and more. Our North American Wine Hosts proudly bring bottles from either their winery or their favorite New-World winery to conduct tastings and stimulate discussions on board. Most often sailing with members of their wine club, these hosts focus on highlighting the growing conditions and production techniques that create the unique characteristics of their wines as well as the differences between their bottles and those of the Old-World regions you sail through.

Oct 27, 2022
Oct 27, 2022
Sabrine Rodems
Winemaker, Wrath Wines, Soledad, CA
Wrath wines have received notable acclaim from Robert Parker, Wine Spectator and other respected wine reviewers, due to Sabrine’s winemaking talent. Back in June 2004, after graduating from UC Davis, Sabrine joined San Saba Vineyard. She successfully guided the winery through its transition from San Saba to Wrath when current owner, Michael Thomas, bought the winery in 2007. Wrath wines are made with an enormous amount of care and a large experimental streak. It’s that spirit of experimentation that makes these wines exciting. Join Sabrine on this voyage down the Seine, visiting the beautiful historic villages and seaports that inspired Monet, Cezanne and Renoir.
Oct 31, 2022
Stephen Reustle
Owner Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards, Roseburg Oregon
Before the vineyard and winery, Stephen and Gloria Reustle owned a successful marketing company that taught them the value of providing “world-class” product to a loyal customer base. Upon arriving in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon, Stephen carefully mapped out 40 acres of vineyards to be planted. Each variety, clone, and rootstock was carefully selected to match the diverse hillside soil and unique micro-climates. Using only fruit grown from the estate’s Prayer Rock and Romancing Rock Vineyards, winemaking is kept to small lots preserving the distinctiveness of each varietal and clone. Stephen became the award-winning pioneer of U.S. Gruner Veltliner, and since 2009, Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards has garnered 18 “Best of Class,” 7 “Double Platinum,” 17 “Platinum,” 38 “Double Gold,” and 99 “Gold” Medals across 10 different varietals. And yes, there really is a “Prayer Rock” at the vineyard -- at the top of the south-facing slope is a large rock that was the meeting place for Stephen and his son in the mornings to pray to God for blessing over their vineyard. Not only did this family practice establish the name of the vineyard, but it has kept the Reustle’s very busy. Since then, they have bottled 5,000 - 8,000 cases of wine annually, selling out every year.
Nov 1, 2022
Chris Madrigal
Owner & Winemaker, Madrigal Family Winery, Calistoga CA
Since the late 1930's, three generations of the Madrigal family have farmed some of Napa Valley’s finest vineyards. Today, the company is run by Chris Madrigal, the founder's grandson, and vintner of Madrigal Family Winery. The family history is a constant source of inspiration, and guides him in the winemaking now. The long relationship they’ve had with the land and the people and believing that the combined wisdom of the folks who’ve been there for generations along with a deep appreciation of the vineyards can be tasted in their wine. Join Chris Madrigal as he takes you along this Captivating Rhine Wine Cruise!
Nov 3, 2022
Amelia Ceja
President, Ceja Vineyards Napa, Ca
In 1967, Amelia Morán Ceja emigrated to the U.S. to join her father, a farmworker, who toiled for years in California’s vineyards. Today she’s crossing another border, turning wine consumers into wine aficionados with her subtle blend of viticulture, down-home cuisine and a Web-based marketing campaign. Ceja Vineyards was founded by Amelia and her partners in Napa Valley in 1999; she became the first Mexican-American woman ever to be elected president of a winery. The California legislature recognized Amelia as “Woman of the Year” in 2005 for “breaking the glass ceiling in a very competitive business.” Amelia’s commitment to marketing ethics and corporate responsibility has been acknowledged. She received the coveted 2013 Academy of Marketing Science Distinguished Marketer Award. She has been successful in the growth of the Ceja Vineyards brand, using marketing innovation and creativity. In February 2016, Amelia received the 2016 Dolores Huerta Farmworker Justice Award for her and her company’s commitment to promoting the value and fair treatment of farmworkers.
Nov 3, 2022
Joe & Jenny Barton
Owners, Grey Wolf Cellars & Barton Family Wines, Paso Robles CA
Grey Wolf Cellars and Barton Family Wines was established by Joe Sr. and Shirlene Barton in 1994. The couple dreamed of owning a winery and building a family business for generations to come. Joe Jr. attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo while the winery was in its infancy, working alongside his parents to get it off the ground. Following the untimely passing of his father in 1998, and at the young age of 23, Joe was tasked with continuing his family legacy and creating a distinct style of his own. Joe focuses on specific vineyard sites that offer a distinct character to each hand-crafted wine which complement each variety. In 2020, Joe received the distinction of being named San Luis Obispo County Winemaker of the Year. Today, Joe and his wife Jenny run the business as a husband-and-wife team alongside Joe’s mom Shirlene who remains an integral part of the day-to-day operations.
Nov 3, 2022
Peter Marks
Master of Wine, Constellation Brands

Peter Marks is one of only 24 Masters of Wine residing in the U.S. and was the first American to win the Madame Bollinger Foundation Award for having the highest tasting score on the rigorous MW exam. He has served as Director of Wine at the upscale Draeger’s Supermarkets in the San Francisco area, Chief Wine Merchant for online wine retailer Wine.com, and Senior Vice President of Wine at COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts. Peter is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, sits on the Board of Directors of the Napa Valley Wine Library and judges many international wine competitions.
Nov 4, 2022
Kathy Joseph
Owner and Winemaker for Fiddlehead Cellars
Featured prominently in the iconic movie Sideways, Fiddlehead Cellars’ owner and winemaker Kathy Joseph is recognized as a pioneer among female winemakers. With unbridled passion and enthusiasm, Kathy creates stylistic Sauvignon Blanc and silky, textural Pinot Noir. She produces about 5,000 cases of wine at Fiddlehead annually, infusing her personal touch in each grape cluster, barrel of wine and bottle that finds its way to the table. Her quest is simple: to incorporate European beauty into these New-World varietals by working with grapes grown in the ideal spot and wines managed with great care and respect in the cellar. All varietals, including Grüner Veltliner from Austria, are celebrated for their successful Old-World pedigree; all have the potential to convey sensory elegance and have proven to gratify a broad range of discriminating palates. Join Kathy and her husband Tom as they lead you along the Danube River, exploring this rich wine region.
Nov 5, 2022
Paul & Merrill Bonarrigo
Owners, Messina Hof Winery & Resort, Bryan, TX

Messina Hof is the most awarded and renowned Texas wine in national and international competitions. In a community steeped in tradition, Messina Hof Winery & Resort holds its own with a 200-year history of award-winning wines. Although the winery itself was officially established when with the first vintage release in 1983, the rich wine heritage of Winemaker Paul Bonarrigo dates back six generations to Messina, Sicily. Merrill Bonarrigo’s family originates from Hof, Germany. Together they have pioneered the Texas wine industry in creating premium wines of distinction and a landmark wine country destination.
Nov 7, 2022
Nov 8, 2022
Nov 10, 2022
Josh & Carrie Bendick
Co-Winemakers for Holly Hill Vineyards, Placerville, CA
Holly and Tom Cooper, owners, fell in love with the varieties of Southern France’s Rhone Valley when they shared a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape on their honeymoon. Years later, when they fulfilled their life long dream of planting a vineyard it was a natural choice to plant these very same grapes. As the vineyard was being planted, their daughter, Carrie learned the art of winemaking and met Josh Bendick, another aspiring winemaker along the way. They not only fell for each other but with the idea of crafting Rhone varietal wines. It’s been a love affair ever since. Together, the family produces wines from their mountainous El Dorado County vineyard. It sits at nearly 3000 feet in elevation and is located half way between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Join Carrie & Josh on this beautiful wine cruise along the Rhone!
Nov 10, 2022
Neeta Mittal
Owner of LXV Wines, Paso Robles, CA
Being one of the first Indian women to own a winery in the US, that was named in the Top- 10 tasting experiences in America by USA Today, comes with a lot of responsibility, having to answer more questions on Culture than Vintages, on Food than Wine, on Inspirations than Medals. Her journey started in a small town south of Mumbai where her mother lives and regularly visits the local spice market to purchase the fragrant herbs and spices that go into handmade Tandoori Masala. That is the inspiration that helped her to create LXV Wines as a space where the flavors from around the world are brought together at the tasting table – through wines and through pairings. Neeta’s ultimate goal is to create a movement that inspires and heightens moments, and that transcends the personal, business and community. Join her on this wonderful sensory journey through the wine regions of Burgundy and the Rhone!
Nov 10, 2022
Holly Howell
Journalist & Wine Expert, Finger Lakes, NY

Holly Howell writes a wine column for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester and is a well-respected New York-based authority on the wines of the Finger Lakes region, particularly Rieslings. She spent a year in France studying French food and wine, teaches wine and food pairing classes, and has served as a judge for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and also writes a popular blog. Holly is currently pursuing her Wine Spirit Education & Trust diploma.
Nov 10, 2022
John & Ann Martini
Owners of Anthony Road Wine Company
The Anthony Road Wine Company story began in April of 1973 with the planting of the first vines that established our vineyards. Having moved to the Finger Lakes from Baltimore early in the year, Ann and John Martini took a leap of faith and became grape growers at the suggestion of a friend. The first vines were French-American hybrid vines planted specifically for the Taylor Wine Company. Over the year, the family and the vineyard grew to include four children (Peter, Sarah, Maeve and Elizabeth) and 30 acres of vines. A true family affair, the four children and their spouses are integral parts of the day to day business. The 12 grandchildren help or hinder whenever they can. Today the Anthony Road Wine Company processes fruit from 90 acres of grapes between two vineyard sites. Our commitment to the land, vineyards and quality wines result in an experience we are proud to share with you. Join John and Ann Martini on this wine cruise adventure along the beautiful Rhine River.
Nov 11, 2022
Rebecca Sciandri Griffin
The Sciandri Family purchased 20 acres of untouched pasture in Napa in 1992. It was not long before they planted our first Cabernet Sauvignon field and started their Napa adventure in wine. Their family winemaking roots can be traced back to the small town of La Quercia, Italy, in Northern Tuscany, where their ancestors have been making wine for generations. As a family they strive to operate their winery with some of those same Old World values. They are proud to farm and source all of their fruit from the Coombsville AVA, (the 16th, and one of Napa Valley’s newest sub appellations). Sciandri Family Vineyards offers an Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville Cuvee, a Rose, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a special 4 barrel production of a wine called “Nello”. The 4+ acre vineyard on the 20 acre estate is allied with the Napa Green Certified Land Program, which includes a certification for Fish Friendly Farming. The family focuses on sustainable practices related to soil, drainage, wildlife and more. The Sciandri Family invites you to join them on this incredible Wine Cruise on the Danube.
Nov 13, 2022
Brian & Claudia Fleury
Owners & Winemaker for Fleury Estate Winery, Napa Valley, CA
Fleury Estate Winery is a family owned winery in the heart of the Napa Valley. Brian Fleury made the decision to turn his skills as a successful Bay Area businessman to the wine business purchasing the estate in Rutherford in 2000. Brian has always had a passion for fine wines and specifically Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley. So, when he was ready for a change, Brian decided to turn to a career in winemaking and brought his entire family with him to the Napa Valley. Upon arrival in Napa, Brian set about learning how to make wine from various mentors and friends in the valley. The Fleury Estate Winery is the result of years of passion, hard work and dedication that Brian and Claudia love to share with their guests.
Nov 14, 2022
Nov 14, 2022
Dr. Richard Becker
Owners of Becker Vineyards
Becker Vineyards was founded by Dr. Richard Becker, a physician in San Antonio, and his wife Bunny. Established in 1992, Becker is one of the original four wineries in Fredericksburg and today they are among the best known and highly respected brands in the state of Texas. Becker Vineyards’ wine has been served in the stateliest of settings, including seven times in the White House, the James Beard Foundation in New York, the Texas Governor’s Mansion and many other famous restaurants in Texas and the United States.
Nov 15, 2022
Susanne Sapier
Owner of Vineyard Grant James
Susanne Sapier has always had a passion for good wine and great fun. In 2008 Susanne purchased a property in the inland San Diego County town of Ramona, CA to start a vineyard. Just three weeks later the first vines were planted. By 2011 sufficient quantities of her estate-grown grapes were ready to make the first year’s production of Vineyard Grant James wines. Named after her son Grant and father James, this family owned winery is rapidly growing by reputation and word-of-mouth. In 2017 Travel + Leisure magazine named Vineyard Grant James the #2 winery in the USA by visitor popularity; high praise indeed!
Nov 17, 2022
Jerry & Elaine Owen
Proprietors of Lady Hill Winery, Oregon
Capturing the earth, the weather and the year in a bottle, wine is ultimate farming. It was in 1995 when Elaine and Jerry added vines to the fields of vegetables, grains and arborvitae on the family’s 5th generation Willamette Valley farm. They designated this 20-acre estate vineyard St. Columban. In 1999, they co-founded Owen Roe Winery in what was formerly the machine shop for the farm. They rolled out the tractors and combines and rolled in the tanks and barrels, transforming the space into a full production winery. The winery is situated on 1500 acres that the family has farmed since the 1850’s. Adjacent to Champoeg State Heritage Area where Oregon’s first provisional government was founded in 1843, each generation has cultivated crops, family, and memories. In 2012, they created a new winery and gathering space that would honor the past and contribute to the rich history of this land. Join Jerry & Elaine on this beautiful wine cruise along the Rhone.
Experience More Connections
Discover the AmaWaterways experience in Cologne, Germany
Read more
Count down with us and discover the moments you won’t want to miss on your next sailing
Read more
Flowing through more countries than any river in the world
Read more