In 2002, David Parker founded Benchmark Wine Group after having a successful history of high-tech ventures. With a unique blend of talents, plus wine and high-tech industry contacts, he has succeeded in bridging the gap between high-quality wine producers and well-informed fine wine collectors and connoisseurs. An avid wine collector, David has been involved in the wine industry since 1987 owning commercial vineyards in Geyserville, California and in the Eola Hills of Oregon. He and his wife Sandy Sturrus Parker have four children and live in the Pacific Northwest.
An alumnus of Georgia Tech, Jay grew up in Atlanta, Georgia dreaming about playing guitar in a rock band (which he did), flying jets (which he did not), and got into the wine business by accident - just like almost everyone else. Following his early career posts in Atlanta and earning the Master Sommelier Diploma in 1997, Jay joined the opening team of the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas as Director of Wine in 1998. The launch of Bellagio represented a quantum leap in both scope and quality of Las Vegas wine programs. When he departed, Bellagio was recognized as the most successful single hotel wine program in the world.
After eight years with Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada as Vice President of Fine Wine, Jay entered a new chapter with a move to Napa Valley in 2013, taking on the role of Director of Sales for Chappellet Winery, where he led sales efforts in all channels and guided marketing endeavors. Senior-level posts with Larkmead Vineyard, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, and Springboard Wine Company followed, before Jay joined Benchmark Wine Group as President in 2023.
Education has remained a priority throughout Jay's career, from speaking at top wine and food events, writing for various national publications about wine and beverages, to teaching and examining for the Court of Master Sommeliers and other organizations. Jay is a co-founder of SommFoundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that exists to further beverage education, elevate the sommelier profession, and provide relevant scholarships and educational opportunities, where he currently serves as Chairman Emeritus.
Before her career in the wine industry, Kari started in the art world. Upon graduating from UCLA with an arts degree, she worked at the Getty Museum as a docent and later became the manager of the fine dining restaurant at the museum to pay her bills. During her time at the restaurant, she quickly fell in love with building the wine list and growing the wine tasting menu program.
Eventually, she moved to the Napa Valley to pursue a career in wine and found herself at BWG in 2005. She prides herself on learning the fine wine business from the ground up. Starting in sales and marketing, she quickly progressed into the acquisitions department.
Mikaela's passion for wine comes from growing up in Sonoma County and being immersed in the wine culture her whole life. She graduated with a degree in Business and Economics at Sonoma State University, which is the only University in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree that focused on the business of wine. As the Vice President of Operations, Mikaela plays a pivotal role in BWG's success in day-to-day functions across all departments.
She has been in the food and wine industry for over ten years. In 2012, she found herself at BWG enamored with the world of fine wine. Through the years, she has worked her way from the ground up, learning every detail of the business and watched it grow. She now leads the sales, client relations, marketing, and quality management teams at BWG. Being at BWG, her favorite things are the BWG team, the clients, and wine.
She has been fortunate to drink all kinds of wines, the oldest being a 1934 Haut Brion. When Mikaela is not working, she's spending time with her husband and 2-year-old daughter.