Our Board

Jake-Hawkes
Jake Hawkes

AVWG PRESIDENT
Proprietor
Hawkes Wine

Jacob Hawkes is a bald man in his early forties. 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.

Executive Committee
Events Committee

Rick Toyota

AVWG VICE PRESIDENT
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.

Executive Committee
Marketing Committee

Denise-Trione-Hicks
Denise Trione Hicks

AVWG SECRETARY
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

AVWG TREASURER
Partner

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

Jim Connell

President of Medlock Ames

Born in New York City, Jim quickly escaped to a small town north on the Hudson River where he spent his formative years fishing, exploring, and trying to get lost in the woods. At 11, his family moved to the New Jersey suburbs where, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get lost in the woods; they were not big enough. He spent the second half of his youth playing sports and longing for his version of Walden Pond.

At 21, while traveling through the west with everything he owned packed in a lime green AMC Hornet, he ran out of money in Healdsburg in 1976. As fate would have it, among the vines of Alexander Valley and starry nights, Jim found his Walden Pond and lived for the next twelve years. He has managed Restaurants and Inns including Souverain, Madrona Manor, and Domaine Chandon as well as managing multiple Direct to Consumer operations, including Mumm Napa, Gary Farrell, Buena Vista, and Clos du Bois. His experiences tasting, selling and making wine, planting and tending vineyards, hospitality, and management led him to his current position as President of Medlock Ames. Life has turned out even better than he expected. Jim found his Walden Pond again on his wooded vineyard property near Mark West Springs Lodge where he raised two great kids, Alyssa and Justin, and lives with his wife of more than 30 years, Donna.

Tom-Gore
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.”

Mark-Houser
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

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.

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
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

Jim Rickards

Owner
J. Rickards Vineyards & Winery

Jim Rickards has been growing some darn fine grapes in northern Alexander Valley since 1976. A full-time ICU nurse at the time (a job he still works half-time today), Jim built his vineyard operation from the ground up, growing his own food, building his own house, and making sure his tractor always had working headlights for farming at night.

Jim was old-school before old-school became hip. He’s used environmentally sustainable vineyard practices from the get-go, and he and his highly skilled, small vineyard crew have hand-grafted every one of the 54,000+ vines on his property. Together, they grow some of Sonoma County’s most outstanding crops of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petite Sirah – to name just a few.

A farmer first and foremost, Jim still sells half of his fruit but expanded his operation in 2005 to include J. Rickards Winery. His passion for grape growing shines in his handcrafted, small-lot wines, stunning representations of varietal style and unique reflections of the diverse soils and varying microclimates of their vineyards.

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