Welcome to The Somm Set.

Each month we'll be sitting down with a guest sommelier and uncovering their guilty pleasures, cellar staples, and everything in between! Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves. Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves!

Meghan Zobeck, Winemaker

Meghan Zobeck’s career started in a very different world than wine. She began her career negotiating NFL player contracts for the Denver Broncos. She was one of the very few women in this role, helping structure contracts for several Super Bowl and Hall of Fame recipients. Working extremely hard for several years, Meghan created a space for herself in this niche world, challenging the preconceived notions of who someone working in football should be. A lover of wine, Zobeck pivoted and started making her own in her Denver basement. She became an obsessive student of the science and alchemy of fermentation and vineyards, falling deeply in love with wine. Leaving professional football and shifting her energy to wine, Zobeck worked harvests in four countries and sought out great winemakers to mentor and teach her.

As part of her wine education and experience journey, Zobeck worked with famed oenology consultant Michel Rolland at his home in Bordeaux and the biodynamic Clos Apalta winery in Chile. She made natural wines with Fabrizio Iuli at his home in the hills of Piedmont and worked harvest at a winery in South Australia. Returning to the States, Zobeck worked at the legendary Estates Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Screaming Eagle in the Napa Valley.

Now rooted in Napa, Zobeck has made wine for both conventional and natural wineries. These contrasting approaches challenged and shaped her winemaking philosophies. In July 2020, Zobeck was appointed Winemaker at the storied Burgess Cellars Zobeck says, “I have developed a deep appreciation for the resilience of mature vineyards in the Valley and have grown nostalgic for the long-lived wines of our region’s past. I hope to honor this place and its history through the lens of my different experiences as we work to create something new.” 

Stay tuned- Meghan Zobeck will be featured on The Somm Set throughout May-June 2022!

Desomond Echavarri, Master Sommelier

Desmond “Des” Echavarrie founded Scale Wine Group in 2016 with a vision to represent a portfolio of small, dynamic wine producers on a national scale. Des and his team are responsible for the promotion and wholesale sales of over 20 boutique wine brands across the United States and abroad. Before starting Scale Wine Group, Des was the director of sales for Realm Cellars, where he managed the wholesale and direct sales channels for the highly sought-after Napa Icon. Prior to Realm, Des was a senior wine advisor at Soutirage helping clients build some of the world’s greatest wine collections. Earlier in his career he served as a sommelier at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. During his tenure at the restaurant, Des achieved the title of Master Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2012.

Originally from Arizona, his career began at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale under the mentorship of Greg Tresner, MS and continued in Las Vegas where he worked as a sommelier in some of the city’s most-respected restaurants and hotels, such as The Bellagio Resort and the Wynn Las Vegas. 

Stay tuned- Desomond Echavarri will be featured on The Somm Set throughout April 2022!

Jonah Beer, Importer, Winemaker, and Entrepreneur

My name is Jonah Beer, and I am an importer, winemaker, and entrepreneur. With that out of the way, let’s start things off with a confession. I don’t like Champagne. I know that this will infuriate some, and I can already hear the text messages being clicked out with unsolicited advice such as, “but wait until you try this Champagne!” Now, please don’t confuse the issue here. I understand Champagne. I can tell the good ones from the pedestrian and the ordinary from the stellar. But I never care for a second glass, no matter how ‘unbelievable’ the bottle is. My dismissive nature of Champagne makes me a pariah amongst most Somms and Winemakers. And I don’t care because I win them all back with my love affair of Burgundy and Piedmont. When you look in our cellar, there are 500 bottles of old-school Napa Cab, 500 bottles of Burgundy, 500 bottles of Barolo, and one lone bottle of bubbles for our friend Nicole.

My amazing wife Sara and I started our import and distribution company—True North Wine Merchants—to focus on our love of Burgundy and Barolo (and we began Pilcrow to celebrate old-school Napa Cab). Six years later, we find ourselves more enamored, gobsmacked and charmed by all that Bourgogne and Piemonte have to offer. I’ve come to believe that these two regions were separated at birth. For everything I love about Burgundy—like the intricacies of the climats—I find in Piedmont too (MGAs). For everything I love about Piedmont—like the generations-long family ties to the land—you find the same thing in Burgundy. And let’s be clear. Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo often share the exact ethereal nature. Long-lost twins, or soul mates, choose your analogy. But join me over a four-week journey of discovery and exploration of Burgundy and Piedmont, and for a moment, ignore all the Somms shoving Champagne down your gullet. 

Stay tuned- Jonah Beer will be featured on The Somm Set throughout February 2022!

Bryan Lipa, Sommelier

My name is Bryan Lipa and I own a wine start-up called Evolve Wine Group that I created last year. My wife and I have been in Napa for over 10 years now. 

I grew up in the second-best city in the country, St. Louis, Missouri. I managed great hotel F&B programs at The Ritz Carlton, Millennium, and The Omni before working as the GM of Niche restaurant owned by James Beard winner Gerard Craft. My career then took me to the best city in the country, Napa! I moved to work at The French Laundry where I spent 4 years, 2 as a sommelier. I tried, I mean sold, some of the best wines on the planet and feel even deeper in love with white and red burgundy. I left TFL to manage the Staglin family’s national sales for two years before I help start Scale Wine Group, managing some of the best California boutique brand’s national sales. My new company works with brands like Favia, Purlieu, Matthiasson, Seabold, and Castiel Estate and I am having a blast. 

Stay tuned- Bryan Lipa will be featured on The Somm Set throughout January 2022!

Thomas Dorman, Advanced Sommelier

Originally from Upstate NY, the 4th of 6 children born to two teachers, Thomas Dorman's parents made sure he was exposed to experiences like museums in NYC, travel up and down the east coast, and a steady course of athletics.

His love for food and wine was ignited by large family gatherings where meals became the most fun part of the party as he learned to chop vegetables and pour chardonnay for Aunts & Uncles.  He began working in restaurants and bars and learned a love for the world of beverage. He paid his way through college by bartending and waiting tables at various sports bars and steakhouses and earned a degree in accounting from SUNY Tech in Utica, NY.

Vowing to swear off the restaurant business after graduation, the reality of a 9-5 job was a sobering experience. Thomas moved to Vail, CO, and began working in the accounting dept for the resort but soon realized it was impossible to survive on an hourly wage. A part-time job at a local restaurant turned into a full-time job.

A chance meeting with a friend turned into an opportunity to move to the Outer Banks of N. Carolina, where he met a like-minded individual who had sworn off restaurants but kept going back despite a degree in Bio-Chemistry. She told him, "It's ok to love restaurants." She fostered his desire to learn by providing mixed cases of the world's wines, loaned him books, and taught him the basics of wine and wine service.

He then returned to CO, where he found a robust wine community, worked his way up through various restaurants and passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Level I & II within two years in Aspen, CO.

In a pursuit to achieve the next level through the Court, he moved to Napa, where he landed at Oenotri and worked in the wine department for 7 years as Wine Director for the last 4 years.

Surrounded by a fantastic group of peers, he was able to immerse himself in the wine community and attend as many tastings and classes as possible, passing the Court's Advanced Exam in 2017. During which time, he administered the Napa tasting group at La Toque for over 5 years, where many of the trade's best came to hone their skills and prepare for exams.

Currently, the Sommelier at Miller & Lux, a new Tyler Florence steakhouse located in the Chase Center, where he continues to develop staff education and to make the wine experience informative, friendly, and courteous.

Stay tuned- Thomas Dorman will be featured on The Somm Set throughout November 2021!

Dan Petroski, Winemaker

Dan Petroski was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and has the swagger and the accent to prove it. After attending Columbia University where he played football, Petroski went to work for Time, Inc. While there, he earned his MBA from NYU and worked his way up the ranks towards a promising future in magazine publishing.

A good chunk of his tenure at Time was spent managing advertising clients, which involved considerable schmoozing. This is how Dan learned wine, by walking his expense account through the lists of Manhattan’s top restaurants. When the Wall Street Journal tried to poach him, Dan took a moment to reflect. He jettisoned to Sicily for a year, where he interned at Valle dell’Acate. While Dan’s intention was to return to New York to sell wine, a harvest invitation in 2006 was too good to pass up, and Dan left the city again, this time facing west. After harvest, Petroski was hired as cellar master, ultimately claiming the Larkmead winemaker title in 2012. Petroski spent nearly 15 years at Larkmead, cementing his status as a top-tier Napa Valley Cabernet winemaker, but during that period Dan launched a white wine only brand called Massican, an ode to the Mediterranean and Petroski's time spent living in Italy and drinking white wine. Growing and developing Massican to become California's greatest white wine brand is Dan's primary focus at the moment.

Petroski's approach and ability to craft wines as diverse as Cabernet Sauvignon and Tocai Friulano has earned him the recognition as San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year in 2017.

Stay tuned- Dan Petroski will be featured on The Somm Set throughout October 2021!

Michael Kennedy, Sommelier

Award-winning Sommelier and vintner Michael Kennedy got his start in the wine industry at an early age when he was just 21. After working for a winery, he eventually became the Sommelier for Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Washington DC before moving on to the Cayman Islands to assume the role of Head Sommelier and directing the wine program for famed chef Eric Ripert. After this, Michael and his wife Rachel moved back to the U.S., where Michael launched Vin Fraîche Wine Group and distinct wineries in Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and Oregon. Throughout his years in the wine industry, Michael has always dreamed of creating his own intimate wine experience through a bottle of wine. Michael's drive to produce wines of freshness, vibrancy, and life has made a thread of commonality in the wines throughout his brands. His passion for wines that are complex, long-lived, and built for food has driven him to assemble a team of winemakers and friends that help create wines of substance. In 2017, Kennedy was named  Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 list for his work in the wine industry. He has been called a "Rising Star" by Food & Wine Magazine, "Super-Somm" by Bloomberg's Elin McCoy, and a "Top Young Entrepreneur in America" by Business Insider. He splits his time between Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Tuscany, and his hometown, St. Louis.

Stay tuned- Michael Kennedy will be featured on The Somm Set throughout September 2021!

Shakera Jones, Sommelier

Shakera Jones is the voice behind the lifestyle brand, blog, and social media space BlackGirlsDineToo, which serves as a guide to the wonderful world of high-end food and wine. Her welcoming teaching style and warm personality allow people to learn about wine and cuisine no matter their knowledge or experience. Shakera is initially from Belize, where the country is a melting pot of just about everything. Her childhood was centered around food. Her father was an adventurous eater and would always take Shakera and her family to different ethnic restaurants to "try something new." To this day, Shakera has never lost that culinary curiosity. Currently, she is a tech professional by day and a wine student by night. She is currently studying to obtain certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine Scholar Guild. Shakera is also a media personality on the SOMM TV streaming network and is part of the cast of the soon-to-be-released film SOMM 4. She is a wine writer with articles featured in Food & Wine and SevenFifty Daily and was recently recognized by Wine & Spirits magazine. She recently launched her new podcast, A Glass for Every Palate. Shakera aims to promote and support diversity and inclusion efforts for women and other underrepresented groups in the culinary and fine wine industries.

Stay tuned- Shakera Jones will be featured on The Somm Set throughout August 2021!

Liz Dowty Mitchell, Advanced Sommelier

New Orleans native Liz Dowty Mitchell began her hospitality and wine career at The Wine Loft and the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group. She has devoted the last 15 years to learning everything she can about wine, traveling to all major wine-producing regions, and working in all aspects of the industry, including wine bars, wine shops, restaurants, wine distributors, and importers. Throughout her professional career, she has remained active in the sommelier community, completing all three portions of the Master Sommelier Diploma. Liz has also competed in and won various national sommelier competitions over the years and been a judge, speaker, and participant in many of the premier wine festivals throughout the country. When Liz is not “working,” you can find her spending time with her 3-year-old-son, Alexander, husband John Mitchell. Today, she runs her own company Mitchell Somm Selections and is the Global Wine Trader for Vino Vest.

Stay tuned- Liz Dowty Mitchell will be featured on The Somm Set throughout July 2021!

Garth Hodgdon, Sommelier

California native Garth Hodgdon began his hospitality career in his hometown of Sacramento. After his career in Sacramento, he moved to the Napa Valley, where he spent five years with Chef Thomas Keller working as a Sommelier for Bouchon, The French Laundry, and Per Se. During this time, he passed his Advanced Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Then in 2010, he was honored by Wine & Spirits Magazine as one of the "Best New Sommeliers in America." In 2014, he joined the Krug team as the US Ambassador, where he discovered his deep love for Champagne. Today, you can find Garth and his business partner and friend, Chris Nicola, running their new ventures, Champagne Camp, and their Import and Distribution operation, The Alchemist.

Stay tuned- Garth Hodgdon will be featured on The Somm Set throughout June 2021!

Philippe André, Sommelier

As a second-generation Sommelier and restaurateur, Philippe André has been a leader in the wine and hospitality industry for almost two decades. Philippe first developed a passion for hospitality and wine education growing up in the fine dining restaurant business. Philippe is now a Senior Business Development Manager at FOLIO Fine Wine Partners, where he continues to build the momentum of Charles Heidsieck, Rare Champagne, and the luxury portfolio of family-owned fine wines. Philippe and his wife Paige reside in Chicago’s South Loop but can often be found visiting family and friends in their “second home” of New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to his Champagne travels, Philippe serves on the board of The United Sommeliers Foundation.

You can follow Philippe and his love of vintage cars, Champagne, and Cuban cigars at @niquesomm on Instagram, where he frequently hosts a live interview series called “Charlie Chat.”

Stay tuned- Philippe André will be featured on The Somm Set throughout May 2021!

Andrea Robinson, Master Sommelier

Napa Valley native and world-renowned Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson is the "go-to" expert for all things wine. She is one of only 26 female Master Sommeliers globally with a strong culinary pedigree as a graduate and former Dean of the French Culinary Institute. Andrea takes the seemingly daunting subject of wine and food and brings it down to earth for all to understand and enjoy. Throughout her career, she has been featured across leading national television networks and publications, the winner of three James Beard awards, and was the first woman ever named "Best Sommelier in the United States" by the Sommelier Society of America. Click here to learn more about Andrea Robinson.

Stay tuned- Andrea Robinson will be featured on The Somm Set throughout April 2021!

Paul Grieco, Sommelier

Paul Grieco was practically born in a restaurant, where he was introduced into the world of service and hospitality at a very young age. Upon returning from a 28 day trip to Italy, Paul's wine knowledge transformed to nearly expert level. He spent the next six years working with his father and grandfather at La Scala, overseeing the beverage program, and managing the front-of-the-house staff. In 2004, Grieco and chef-partner Marco Canora opened Hearth in the East Village. In 2008 Grieco opened the first of two wine bars, Terroir, which many wine lovers seek to experience unique wines found among the fringes. A lover of grape juice, Paul's philosophy and wine preferences push the limits and pay homage to the alternative side of the wine industry!

Stay tuned- Paul Grieco will be featured on The Somm Set throughout March 2021!

Jon McDaniel, Master Sommelier

Master Sommelier Jon McDaniel is the founder and CEO of Second City Soil, a Chicago-based wine consultancy. He works with wineries, suppliers, distributors, and various global marketing agencies on growth and brand strategy in the Chicagoland area, United States, and globally. Jon is recognized as one of America's top wine professionals and is one of the most awarded Sommeliers. He has done a little bit of everything in the wine business, from his own California wine label - Amos Cellars to being a founding member of the United Sommelier's Foundation and his newest endeavor, The Vine Hive. When he's not tasting wines for his business, you can find Jon drinking drinks that only an 85-year-old Italian Nonno would appreciate.

Stay tuned- Jon McDaniel will be featured on The Somm Set throughout February 2021!

Chris Blanchard, Master Sommelier

Chris Blanchard is part of the small group of just over 200 individuals in the world to pass the Master Sommelier exam. He is currently the National Sales Director for VHR Vine Hill Ranch, the acclaimed Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon from the historic Napa Valley vineyard, and also a founder of the United Sommeliers Foundation.

With over 30 years in the wine business, he has opened and created wine programs for numerous prestigious Michelin starred restaurants across the country and has represented some of the Napa Valley's most exclusive wineries, including Far Niente, Etude, and Chappellet.

His restaurant experience includes many years as the Wine Director and Sommelier for REDD Restaurant, where San Francisco Magazine named Chris as the "Critic's Choice Best Wine Director," naming him as one of the "4 Stars" in the entire San Francisco Bay Area food scene. Forbes Magazine named his wine list at REDD as one of the "Top Wine Lists in the World," and he has been featured in numerous Food & Wine Magazine articles. He served as consulting Wine & Beverage director for Hollywood's famed Chateau Marmont, as well as opening the Solage & Bardessono resorts in Napa Valley, as a sommelier at Auberge du Soleil, and as a mentor and trainer for many aspiring sommeliers around the country.

Stay tuned- Chris Blanchard will be featured on The Somm Set throughout January 2021!

Tonya Pitts, Sommelier

Sommelier and Wine Director, Tonya Pitts, has been in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. She is known globally as a multi-talented wine professional, an industry changemaker, and a compassionate role model. Her career began in St. Louis, Missouri as a host during college. Eventually, her fine art studies relocated her to San Francisco, taking her first job with Chef Judy Rodgers at Zuni Cafe and Chef Jeremiah Tower at Stars Restaurant. Soon after, Tonya was running the wine program for Loretta Keller at Bizou Restaurant. It was with Loretta Keller that Tonya realized her true passion for wine. She has been featured in and a judge for Wine & Spirits magazine, Tasting Panel, and numerous news and industry publications throughout her career. Additionally, Tonya judges for the San Francisco International Wine Competition and continues her wine studies with the Court of Master Sommeliers. You can find Tonya working the dining room floor most nights at One Market Restaurant in San Francisco.

Doug Frost, Master Sommelier & Master of Wine

Doug Frost is a Master of Wine and Master Sommelier as well as an author and wine consultant based in Kansas City, MO. In 1991 he passed the rigorous Master Sommelier examination and two years later became America’s 8th Master of Wine. He was the second person in history to complete both exams and more than a quarter century later he is still one of only three people in the world to have achieved both these remarkable distinctions. He consults with many retailers, restaurateurs, wineries and distillers in marketing, merchandising, sales, education and sensory perception.

Most recently, Doug and business partner Brad Bergman celebrated their first release of wine from their winery, Echolands, out of the Walla Walla Valley. We chatted with him on his excitement to be making wine in a style that not many people are making right now, a style he thinks is worth making! Taste along with us on Nov 19th for an epic Raid Y(our) Cellar installment featuring the Spanish “First Growth,” Vega Sicilia, the most powerful producer hailing from the Ribera del Duero. Doug will be live, giving his insight on these high scoring stunners!

Stay tuned- Doug Frost will be featured on The Somm Set throughout November/December 2020!

DLynn Proctor, Director of Fantesca Estates & Winery

DLynn Proctor has been a leading figure in the wine industry for 20 years.

His many accomplishments include working alongside Michelin chefs, and features in TV series and films—including the internationally acclaimed wine documentary series, SOMM and work as Associate Producer in Netflix’s featured film, Uncorked—have earned him recognition as “Somm to the Stars” in popular culture. DLynn is the Director of Fantesca Estate & Winery on Spring Mountain, with wines made by Heidi Barrett.

As a leader in the beverage industry, DLynn has spent the last decade in global leadership roles with Penfolds Winery and Fantesca Estate & Winery, focusing on import/export, sales, marketing, strategy, and consumer relations. The previous decade of his career, DLynn was instrumental in building restaurant and training programs, private client and retail wine lists, and expanding new venue operations, while garnering accolades as an accomplished sommelier. Most recently Mr. Proctor co-founded the non-profit Wine Unify, which has been recognised by Wine Business Monthly as a Wine Industry Leader for 2020, honoring changemakers who shape the way the wine industry operates and how consumers drink wine.

Jodi Bronchtein, Advanced Sommelier

Jodi Bronchtein, Advanced Sommelier's journey began somewhere between figuring out how wine worked with food while working at fine dining restaurant, McCrady's in Charleston, SC, and a magical aha-moment with a bottle of 2001 Chateau Musar. Nowadays, Jodi spends her time exploring Napa's best wineries (120 and counting) and working the floor at PRESS Napa Valley! Follow along with us as we feature Jodi throughout September & October 2020.

Alexander LaPratt, Master Sommelier

Alexander LaPratt MS fell in love with wine at a young age while working for Madeline Triffon MS. His passion has taken him around the country where he has worked the floor for some of the world's finest restaurants, including Michael Mina, The French Laundry, Daniel, Atera, Le Bernardin, and Jean-Georges. In 2013 opened his own restaurant, Atrium DUMBO, in the posh neighborhood of DUMBO Brooklyn. Featured the month of August 2020, Alexander gave us the inside scoop on all of his favorites- from Champagne to BOND Estates!

Benchmark Wine Group

445 Devlin Road
Napa, CA 94558

Phone: 707.255.3500
Fax: 707.255.3503
SMS: 707.200.4049


Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm
Shipping Questions?

Included in Wine Enthusiast's 50 Best Wine Retailers in America