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Essere Franco | Verismo Wines

 
 

Meet the Team

 

 

Tom Foster - Winemaker

With an interest in science as a youth, a fondness for nature,as well as growing up in the Napa Valley surrounded by superb wineries and restaurants Tom begins to describe his story: "It was inevitable that I chose a career in winemaking."   Tom had a diverse array of interests while growing up, but all it took was one vintage to get him hooked into winemaking as a lifelong career.

Tom's winemaking roots grew out of the cellar while working at William Hill, back when it was owned by Bill Hill.  Tom then moved on to work at Groth Winery alongside Nils Venge, followed up by Opus One working alongside Genevieve Janssens and Tim Mondavi for the Mondavi side, and Patrick Leon for the Mouton-Rothschild side.  After working with these Napa Valley Legends, Tom ventured off to start his own winemaking consulting service to assist  a few startup brands, such as Lewis Cellars, as well as starting his own brands-Thomas Michael, Coombsville, and Foster Family Estate.  All of his cumulative winemaking experiences helped to shape his philosophy about wine and winemaking.  

Tom is extremely passionate about making estate wines that express their personality directly from the dirt and micro-climate they came from.  He brings this level of passion to help shape the wines at Essere Napa with an unwavering attention to detail, energy, and enthusiasm. Between visiting the Estate Vineyards, to tasting individual barrels, or putting the final touches on a blend, Tom  is dedicated to continue Essere's story with more of our world-class wines.     

 

Meg Shea-Chiles - General Manager

Meg followed her passion after 20+ years as a global executive in high tech and transitioned to the Wine Industry bringing with her a proven track record of success in both defining strategy and execution of sales and marketing in Fortune 500 companies (i.e. Salesforce, H.P., IBM, Thomson-Reuters) and in 2,000 to 11,000 case production wineries resulting in significant growth of business. She has worked with a number of ultra premium wineries including Kitchak Cellars, Ilsley Vineyards, Sciandri Vineyards,  Rarecat Wines, Krupp Brothers, ADAMVS, Mi Sueño, O’Brien Estate, Hope and Grace and BV. 

Meg likes to say that working at Essere Franco is the perfect marriage of her love of business and wine!! She holds a M.S. in Chemistry from SMU in Dallas, a B.S. in Biology from Boston College, WSET Level 2 Certification with Merit, and is enrolled in the Professional winemaking program at University of California at Davis. She loves helping out the production crew whenever she gets a chance. 

In her free time,  Meg works on her Italian and spends time with her husband of 30 years, her beautiful well travelled daughters and son-in-law, and her grand-puppies.

Phil Morich, CS, CSW, WSET3 - Chief Experience Officer

After living most of his life in the Rocky Mountains, Phil came to Napa Valley to further his education in the Wine Industry and add a few more initials on to his name. For Phil, wine has become his calling. He joins us at Essere Franco Wines after 30 years of industry experience with several prestigious wineries in the Napa Valley, and some of you may recognize him from Chateau Lane Winery in Coombsville! 

When Phil is not creating ultimate luxury wine experiences for our guests and club members you will find him out cycling, skiing, fly-fishing, camping and hunting for edible fungi across the American West. 

 

 

 

Brianna Gustafson, M.A., Ph.D ABD - Office Manager and Junior Marketing Associate

 

Brianna joined the Essere team in March 2020.  She comes from a background in academia, having done her doctoral work in History at Princeton University.  After moving to Napa in 2014, she fell in love with the region's wines and people, and transitioned from her planned academic career to one in hospitality.  After working with several successful tasting rooms in the Napa Valley, she came to Essere to leverage her knowledge of the wine industry as well as her writing and design skills for our team. 

 

David Barber - Brand Ambassador

David and his family moved to the Napa Valley over 30 years ago while he was working in the Telecom industry.  His love of learning and technology led him to become a problem solver and master sales trainer for MCI.  His experience includes video conferencing, video streaming, and data centers. After the internet bubble collapsed, he decided to pursue a career in the wine industry. Before joining Essere Franco, he created private wine experiences in Napa and Sonoma. In his spare time, he helps non-profits raise money by leveraging winery relationships.

David is a USAF veteran and graduated at the top of his class in Physiological Training.