As a second-generation sommelier and restauranteur from Chicago, Philippe Andre has been on the cutting edge of wine and cuisine for fifteen years. He developed a passion for hospitality, wine education and Champagne early in his career. Before his U.S. Ambassador role with Charles Heidsieck, Philippe focused on wine auction curation, luxury wine and spirits brand development, and private client management. In addition to his Champagne travels Philippe serves on the board of the United Sommelier Foundation in the support of future Sommeliers.
As the wine buyer, head sales person, and architect of the Progressive Scale for The Urban Grape, TJ is directly responsible for the store’s successes. He has been profiled by the New York Times, Food & Wine, Imbibe, Real Simple, Health magazine, MarketWatch, Eater National, Boston Magazine, Boston Common, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Boston Business Journal, The Improper Bostonian, and Terroirist, among other regional and national publications. The Beverage Journal named TJ one of ten “Black Drink Innovators to Watch” in 2020. TJ has been featured on shows such as Basic Black (WGBH), The Hub Today (NBC), Dining Playbook (NESN), New England Living (CBS), and Chronicle(WCVB), and is a frequent guest wine educator at corporate meetings and retreats.
Thanks to TJ’s leadership, The Urban Grape was a finalist for Wine Enthusiast's 2020 Wine Star Award for Best Retail Store in the US, and was called “Boston’s Revolutionary Wine Store” in a cover story for Beverage Dynamics. He has taught classes on drinking progressively at, among other places, Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, the Boston Center for Adult Education, Boston University, and the Boston Wine Expo. TJ is a seven-time returning Sommelier for the Nantucket Wine Festival and has been featured as the resident wine expert on the New England lifestyle show, “Home, Life, and Design.”
Thomas’ entrance into the wine industry was created during a 1999 wine tasting trip to the Burgundy wine region in France. At the time he was a senior financial executive for a large biotechnology company and prior to going on that tasting trip, Thomas never dreamed of owning his own vineyards and making wine. It was that wine tasting trip in 1999 that altered his dreams, and led him to chart a new course in life… a life in the wine industry as a vintner. With the new found enthusiasm driving him forward, in 2001, Thomas was able to purchase a 40-acre parcel of land to begin the process of constructing that new future.
Located in The Anderson Valley, a cool climate wine appellation in south western Mendocino County, Thomas T Thomas Vineyards began with Thomas first developing the property and building a home, and in 2008, planting a 3-acre pinot noir vineyard. Also, in 2008, Thomas built a winery next to the vineyards, with the understanding that one day he would produce and store his own wine there. In 2011 with his first commercial crop, Thomas began selling his grapes to small local wineries that made wines from his grapes. Since Thomas didn’t have a background in the wine industry, he thought it prudent to take the long view, learning about the wine business from the ground up and he also wanted to see how his grapes performed in the hands of experienced wine makers. From 2011 until 2017, Thomas was a grape grower only, when in 2017, Thomas decided to take a small portion of his grape production to forwardly integrate and create his own wine brand; A decision that was always part of his long-range plans. Starting in 2018, Thomas stopped selling his grapes to third party wineries and now he takes 100% of his production for his own brand. Currently, Thomas makes four different pinot noir wines, where three wines are produced from 100% estate fruit and the fourth wine has a mix of non-estate fruit. Starting with the 2020 vintage, Thomas has added a Chardonnay wine offering, which he sources from quality vineyards in Anderson Valley and Thomas has also cleared additional land for a future planting of estate chardonnay.
In his short time in the wine industry, as grower, wines made from Thomas’ grapes have been recognized wining multiple Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at prestigious International Wine Competitions and also receiving multiple 90+pt scores by well known wine magazines. In his short time as a vintner, Thomas’ wines have already received multiple 90+pt scores and have received Platinum, Silver and Bronze medals at recent International Wine Competitions.
Chicago native Brian Duncan can be best described as a food, wine and hospitality evangelist. He possesses an unquenchable enthusiasm enriched by decades as a restaurateur, winemaker, seminar speaker and wine educator. Duncan has contributed his expertise to several Chicago’s premier dining destinations, including (Co-Founding) BIN 36 Restaurants, BIN Cafe Wine Bar and Market and A Mano Trattoria.
As a winemaker, Brian created the BIN 36 and D&S (Duncan & Sachs) wine brands sold in 30 markets around the United States. Under his guidance, BIN 36 received an “Award of Unique Distinction” from the Wine Enthusiast magazine for its commitment to delivering the most wine-friendly experience to its guests. BIN 36 was also chosen by Wine & Spirits magazine as “The Best Wine-Pairing System” in the nation. Brian's accolades include being featured as one of America's leading wine experts in GQ and Food & Wine magazine, and as a returning featured speaker at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic.
Brian was honored as the Gourmet Wine Cellar Wine Director of the Year, and received four consecutive James Beard Award nomination in the national "Outstanding Wine Service" category.
In 2015, Duncan created "Down To Earth Wine Concepts LLC", a multifaceted consulting company encompassing the culmination of his career experience and expertise in Public speaking, hospitality, food and wine training, interactive wine/food seminars and corporate team building exercises.