Our Board

Mark C. Houser

Vineyard Manager

HOCV-AVV Joint Venture

Mark is a 1980 Fresno State graduate in Viticulture, and has worked in the San Joaquin Valley, Napa Valley and Alexander Valley. His knowledge in the vineyards began as a Viticulturist, to Vineyard Manager, and Director of Grower Relations for both vineyard management companies and premium wineries. Since 1999, Mark has been the Vineyard Manager of one of Alexander Valley’s oldest winegrowing and winemaking families – the Wetzel and Green family. He is a believer in protecting the complex natural environment while growing the best grapes possible, Mark’s philosophy is both practical and ecologically sensitive.

“I love this business. I’ve made it my life. And when I die, they will have to pry that half-bottle of Cabernet from my grape-stained hands.”

Membership Committee

Tom Gore

Director of Vineyards Sonoma/Mendocino
Constellation Brands

As a second generation Alexander Valley Wine grape grower, Tom has spent his life growing grapes in the area where he was born and raised.

Tom graduated with a degree in Fruit Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Tom has been farming Simi’s estate vineyards since 2004, and began farming Clos Du Bois’ properties in 2008.  Now in his 14th vintage with Constellation, he is farming over 1000 acres of wine grapes in Alexander Valley.

“I’m tied to the land,” Tom says, “and I have an innate need for change. With each season, with the weather, the vineyards are always changing.”

Executive Committee

Denise Trione Hicks

Owner & Director of Sales/Marketing

Trione Vineyards and Winery

Denise was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California and attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo where she pursued a degree in Business Administration, earning her degree from the university’s College of Business in 2000.

The Trione family has a rich history in the Sonoma County wine industry as grape growers for 40+ years and winery owners. When Denise graduated from college, her family sold Geyser Peak winery which they owned from 1980-1998, but Denise wasn’t finished with the wine business, and dreamed of forging her own opportunities in the wine industry. In 2008, together with her dad Mark, uncle Vic and winemaker Scot Covington, she opened Trione Winery.

Executive Committee
Events Committee

Dwight Monson


Monson Vineyards

Dwight has been on the Board since 2006 and the Treasurer since 2007.  He is the third generation of his family to be engaged in farming and ranching on the family ranch in the hills at the south end of Geysers Road. 

In the mid-1950s, the Monson family started a cattle operation and small orchard on their 240 acre ranch, and began converting their hillside pasture land to cabernet and merlot grapes in the early 1980s.  Dwight’s brothers Arch and Jay, his wife Kathy, and two younger generations, live on the family ranch and are involved in its operation.  Dwight has also been a practicing lawyer for more than 35 years.

Executive Committee

Jake Hawkes

Hawkes Wine

Jake Hawkes is a bald guy in his late thirties. He was born and raised in alexander valley and started making wine in high school in glass demi johns and drinking it down by the river. He spent his twenties moving around, doing odd jobs and living in motels, coming home to work harvests when he went broke. He moved back here permanently about ten years ago to make wine with his dad. His family has been farming Cabernet in Alexander Valley since 1972.

Events Committee

Rachel Kelley

Special Projects Coordinator
Robert Young Vineyard & Winery

Born and raised in Sonoma County, Rachel Kelley is part of the sixth generation of the Robert Young family. Her roots run deep with her ancestors first settling in Alexander Valley in 1858. Her great grandfather, Robert Young was a pioneer in grape growing being the first to plant Cabernet in the valley in 1963 and later developing a proprietary Chardonnay clone, Robert Young Clone 17.

Without intentions of joining the family business Rachel worked occasionally for winery special events while attending Windsor High School. She attended and graduated with highest honors from the University of San Francisco in May 2015 with a degree in Sociology and minor in Business. During the summer of 2015, she worked in the tasting room and then found herself assisting the winemaker during harvest. After her first taste of production, Rachel was hooked. She is now working in multiple capacities for both the vineyard and winery operations while continuing her education in Enology.

Doug Price

Grower Relations Manager
Constellation Wines

Doug Price grew up near Rutherford in the eastern hills of the Vaca range, working the family hillside vineyard and olive orchards in Napa Valley. This is where he developed a passion for all things hillside, vines, porcinis and back packing trips to the high Sierra.

A Napa refugee with stretches at Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Domaine Chandon, college in Incline Village, travel throughout the Caribbean, South and Central America, he settled in Healdsburg. After years of growing wine grapes in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino he shifted that experience to the role of Grower Relations Manager for Constellation Wines, sourcing grapes from Alexander Valley growers to fill the must lines of Simi, Clos Du Bois and Ravenswood.

“Alexander Valley offers so many opportunities for grape sourcing, from double black diamond hillside Cabernet to luscious volcanic bench Old Vine Zinfandel, my job is a walk in the park, everyday.”

Membership Committee

Rick Toyota

Senior Director of Hospitality Operations
The Family Coppola

Raised in Southern California, Rick graduated from UCLA with a BA in Communications. He has worked in sales and operations management for companies like The Walt Disney Company, Sony Entertainment and Bloomingdales. Rick entered the wine business with Robert Mondavi. He has worked in other appellations including Santa Cruz Mountain, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara wine regions of California, the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Woodinville and Columbia Valley wine region in Washington. He is now the Senior Director of Hospitality Operations at Francis Ford Coppola and Virginia Dare wineries in Alexander Valley.

Rick is also the chairman of the Creative Sonoma Advisory Board, which is part of the Economic Development Board of Sonoma County. Creative Sonoma provides programs and services to assist and promote the arts and creative businesses and communities in the county. Rick currently resides in Healdsburg with his wife Judy, who also works in the wine industry.

Marketing Committee

Rachel Thralls

Director of Wine Education
Rodney Strong Wine Estates

Rachel Thralls is the Director of Wine Education at Rodney Strong Wine Estates. She is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, where she graduated at the top of her class.

Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by Old World wine collectors, Rachel found a passion for wine and food early in life and credits her father for her palate and her mother for her culinary skills. She was the food & wine writer for BevMo! and Wine.com before coming to Rodney Strong in December 2013.

Rachel’s focus is to educate people about wine, Sonoma County and Rodney Strong Vineyards. She travels throughout the country entertaining key members of the trade, conducting classes and seminars and sharing the wonders of wine and food.

Events Committee

Nessia Flugger

Tasting Room Manager
Silver Oak Cellars

Born and raised to American parents living in Israel, Nessia Flugger made her way to the US after two years of military service and multiple backpacking trips around the world. Starting out in the beverage industry in bar-management at some of the historic Greenwich Village, NYC jazz & blues clubs, she quickly became enamored with wines and consumer-hospitality.

After a brief visit to Sonoma County, Nessia made-up her mind to move to the west coast and immerse herself in the local wine industry, building world-class hospitality programs for boutique local wineries (including in Alexander Valley).

Nessia graduated from Sonoma State University’s very first cohort of the Executive MBA in Wine Business, further developing her career and embedding herself as a fixture of the Sonoma County wine industry.

In addition to managing Silver Oak Cellars’ new visitor center in Alexander Valley (opening 2018), Nessia works closely with Sonoma County Vintners and the Sonoma Harvest Auction, Wine Road’s event committee and the Alexander Valley Winegrowers.