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Meet Our Team

Marbue Marke

Director of Winegrowing

Freetown, Sierra Leone

marbue@italicswinegrowers.com

Marbue Marke

Freetown, Sierra Leone

marbue@italicswinegrowers.com

After starting a pre-med program at UC Davis, shifting directions and taking a winemaking internship, Marbue received his degrees and began his winemaking journey. Bringing with him experience from an impressive selection of Napa and Sonoma’s famed wineries - J Winery, Cosentino, Benzinger, and industry giant, EJ Gallo, Marbue was named Bonfort’s 2018 U.S. Winemaker of the Year for his modestly sized but impressive portfolio of hand-crafted boutique wines. If you ask him, the culmination of these experiences together lead him right where he was meant to be: crafting small lot, ultra-premium wine. He brings an extensive knowledge of Coombsville’ s unique terroir and a track record of producing a beautiful and a well-balanced portfolio of wines.

Natalie Boltz

Director of Operations

Benicia, CA

natalie@italicswinegrowers.com

Natalie Boltz

Benicia, CA

natalie@italicswinegrowers.com

Natalie is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California, 14-year wine industry veteran and Director of Operations for Italics Winegrowers. Starting out as a ‘Girl Friday’ at [the then little known] Alpha Omega she moved on to assist in the opening of Dario Sattui’s Castello di Amorosa before taking on the role of General Manager at Reynolds Family Winery and finding her way to be one of the original team members and very hands on in the opening of Italics Winegrowers. In addition to her role as Director of Operations, you can find Natalie on the road a few months a year, but when home she is usually hanging out with her boyfriend Mark in their hometown of Benicia.

Jeff Warren

Director of Hospitality

Nolensville, TN

jeff@italicswinegrowers.com

Jeff Warren

Nolensville, TN

jeff@italicswinegrowers.com

Jeff brings nearly two decades of stellar hospitality experience to Italics team. After spending 14 years in fine dining at some of the hottest restaurants in Nashville, Miami and Sacramento, Jeff’s passion for wine brought him to Napa Valley in 2015. It was in the Napa Valley that Jeff polished his wine knowledge and has helped build hospitality dream teams. In addition to his role as Director of Hospitality for Italics Winegrowers you can find Jeff on the road a few weeks a year hosting wine dinners, in home or curated tasting events. When home he enjoys golfing, playing nearly any sport, cracking jokes in the caves, or entertaining friends with his wife Courtney and their dog Amadeus.

John Trant

Director of Brand Development

Hudson, NH

john@italicswinegrowers.com

John Trant

Hudson, NH

john@italicswinegrowers.com

John brings nearly 12 years of wine industry experience after graduating with a B.A. degree in Hospitality Business. With three years in restaurant service, wine list management, wine education followed by nine years dedicated to Hospitality and Business development in both the Napa and Sonoma. Working with small startups, larger wine corporations, classic household brands and new producers, John brings a unique eye for brand management to the table. Relocating to St. Louis, Missouri in early 2019 John will be taking on the bulk of the National Sales duties for Italics Winegrowers. When home, you’ll usually find John in the kitchen or in-front of the television, he is self-described as a foodie, avid sports enthusiast and movie buff.

Arturo Irucuta

President - Irucuta V. Farming

Indaparapeo, Mexico

arturo@reynoldsfamilywinery.com

Arturo Irucuta

Indaparapeo, Mexico

arturo@reynoldsfamilywinery.com

Arturo is arguably one of the most diverse individuals you will meet around our property. Arturo left home in Indaparapeo, Michoacan, Mexico when he was 17 with the intention of traveling the world but got caught up in every child’s dream of being a professional athlete. While semi-professional soccer did not prove to be the long-term path that would become Arturo’s story, he still plays locally in a variety of leagues. In 1987 Arturo followed his father, who had relocated to Napa just after the famed Judgement of Paris, and began his own career in the up and coming growing region. For over 30 years Arturo has built a name for himself in not only the vineyards but in winemaking as well. Working for some of the blue bloods in the Valley, Arturo started in the vineyards at Luna and worked his way up to Assistant Winemaker, then on to S. Anderson [now Clif Lede], Reynolds Family Winery and in 2016 launched his very own Vineyard Management Company and the rest is history. Today Irucuta Vineyard Farming manages close to 100 acres in the Napa Valley.

David Gunkle

Estate Host, Guest Experience Manager

Raleigh, NC

david@italicswinegrowers.com

David Gunkle

Raleigh, NC

david@italicswinegrowers.com

David was introduced to wine while working in restaurants throughout college. The complex relationship between grapevines and their growing conditions influenced David to pursue a degree in Geology at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. After college David worked for his family company before taking a job at a wine store in Raleigh, where he would grow to manage the fine wine department and teach wine classes. In 2018 David took a leap of faith and relocated to join the Italics team, moved across country with his wife and they now live in Napa with their 2 dogs. When he doesn’t have a glass in his hand, David is an avid Braves baseball fan and enjoys sneaking up to Tahoe with his snowboard in the winter.

Hillary Cole

Estate Host, Guest Experience Manager

Houston, Texas

hillary@italicswinegrowers.com

Hillary Cole

Houston, Texas

hillary@italicswinegrowers.com

Hillary started out as a military linguist and counter-terrorism analyst in the Washington, DC area, during which time she also had the opportunity to visit vineyards in Italy fairly regularly. The serenity and romance of the vineyards were a stark contrast to her Intelligence career and she felt at home every time she stepped foot on one. After leaving the Intelligence field, she moved to Sacramento to learn how to fly fixed-wing aircraft. She intended to be here for two years and then to fly airlifts in Africa, but gravitated instead to the wine industry via restaurant management as the General Manager and Sommelier for three Sacramento-area restaurant groups after finishing her MBA studies and Intro Sommelier exam. Her final position on the restaurant side of wine was running the wine program at Ella Dining Room and Bar in Sacramento. Hillary is a French Wine Scholar, WSET 3 candidate, and Champagne Master candidate, and Napa Wine Expert and is very excited to have an opportunity to continue learning about agriculture while putting her past experiences to practical use with Italics Winegrowers.

Kat Varela

Estate Host, Guest Experience Manager

Miami, Fl

kat@italicswinegrowers.com

Kat Varela

Estate Host, Guest Experience Manager

kat@italicswinegrowers.com

Kat was born and raised in Miami, Florida where she completed her undergraduate studies at Florida International University, earning a degree in International Business and Green Management with a minor in Hospitality. Upon graduating, Kat dove into restaurant management and, in 2013, moved to California. As a restaurant manager, Kat worked in both Sacramento and Los Angeles. In 2018, Kat was accepted into a masters program for Wine and Spirits Management in Bordeaux, France, taking her dog Fiona with her. While in Bordeaux, in addition to studying, Kat earned her certification in WSET Level 3 and navigated the ins and outs of the wine industry in France. After completing her masters, Kat hoped to move from one capital of wine to the next so she came back to California and came to work at Italics. When Kat isn't immersed in the world of wine, she is taking Fiona on a hike, practicing yoga, or learning to play the piano.

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