Vice President of Direct to Consumer
Elisa Sherburne’s career began in the hotel industry in Washington, DC, with assignments that included honing her customer service skills with such high profile clients as the U.S. Vice President, U.S. Members of Congress, and even the Queen of Jordan. As she planned and executed luxury catering events both large and small, Elisa also learned about the world of wine, and when she and her husband moved to San Francisco, Napa Valley became a favorite weekend destination.
Eventually, Elisa’s professional interest in hospitality and personal interest in wine merged, and since 2000 she has held DTC roles at several prominent Napa Valley and California wineries. “I fell in love with the wine industry, and since I also have a passion for customer engagement, combining the two is a natural for me. I really enjoy bringing the wine experience to life for visitors and customers.” At Flora Springs Elisa does just that as she oversee web, marketing, e-commerce, tasting room, wine club, and hospitality experiences at Flora Springs–The Room and Flora Springs-The Estate, both in St. Helena.
Elisa was drawn to Flora Springs for several reasons, including the fact that the family-owned winery is rooted in the history of Napa Valley. She also appreciates the winery’s estate-grown philosophy. “Having control of our own vineyards and winery is so crucial to the quality and consistency of the wines.” An enthusiast of entertaining guests at home as well as at work, we think Elisa has found just the right place.
Tasting Room Manager - The Room
Matthew Dempsey was on his way to getting his Bachelor’s Degree in Organ Performance and Sacred Music at the University of Michigan when wine became a serious hobby. It began when his parents introduced him to fine wines during his first year in college. “They brought home really good wines; I was immediately intrigued.” Soon, in addition to his music studies, Matthew was reading textbooks on viticulture and winemaking, and eventually he decided to make his own wine, setting up a makeshift winery in his parents’ garage and basement. “I was very serious about it; I brought in grapes from Napa and Sonoma, I bought stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. It was for personal use, but I loved it.”
Upon graduation Matthew decided that wine would be his career and that music would become the hobby. He spent time at a fine wine shop in Michigan managing inventory for the storefront as well as a private cellar, but when the opportunity to move to California to work in wine hospitality came along, he jumped at it. “I tend to be decisive and move quickly,” he says. Matthew took to hospitality, and vice versa: he was personally mentioned in over fifty 5-star reviews of the winery where he worked.
At Flora Springs, Matthew brings his talents as a wine educator and hospitality specialist as well as his winemaking experience and knowledge to bear in his management position at The Room. “I think that most successful people are multi-faceted and adaptable; I love all aspects of this industry.” He’s excited to be part of an historic, family-owned winery in Napa Valley, a dream come true for the musician-turned-wine professional. “The Komes-Garvey family has a wonderful reputation, and the quality of the Flora Springs wines is remarkable.”
VP of Hospitality
Since 2002 it has been Margaret Meraz’s warm smile that has welcomed visitors to The Estate at Flora Springs. Behind that smile is a dynamic and dedicated person who loves to create unforgettable tasting experiences and special events for our guests.
One of Margaret’s first assignments at Flora Springs was to pour wine at the annual Trilogy Release Party (her father manned the barbecue that year). Her enthusiasm for wine, people and parties was evident, and ever since Margaret has been the creative force behind this annual event – known for its outstanding food, lively entertainment and fabulous wine. With hundreds of attendees, the Trilogy Release Party takes months of planning, and Margaret manages to see to every detail while also acting the gracious hostess. She puts this same level of oversight into all events held at The Estate, whether it’s a quiet tasting for two or a dinner destined for dozens.
Born in Bakersfield, California, Margaret received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics at San Francisco State University, but in Napa Valley, and at Flora Springs, she realized her heart belonged to the wine industry. “My first interest in wine was due to the health benefits that we studied about in school,” she says with a laugh. “But it took just one glass of Napa Valley Cabernet and I knew Flora Springs was where I wanted to be.”
One of Margaret’s most memorable experiences at Flora Springs was planning Flora Komes’ 100th birthday celebration in 2011. “I looked up to Flora so much; she always had a smile for me. It was an honor to create an occasion befitting her warm, generous and gracious spirit.”
Contact Margaret to plan your next tour and/or next grand event at The Estate! Send Margaret an email.
Private Client Ambassador
A native of San Francisco and Napa Valley, James has been employed in the hospitality field since 2006, quickly working his way from delivery driver to server and eventually to floor manager and acting general manager at cafés and restaurants in Napa Valley, Marin and San Francisco. As the “James” part of the well-known Napa Valley band, Serf & James, he became acquainted with Flora Springs while playing at our Wine Club parties, and learned more about wine as the band had gigs at other wineries throughout the valley.
“The more time I spent around Flora Springs the more fun and interesting wine became. It was my first real ‘palate changing’ experience. I started coming around the tasting room more and more just to have a sip or buy a glass of wine.” The next logical step: joining Flora Springs full time. James became part of our hospitality team on Halloween 2016, an auspicious beginning considering how Flora Springs – the original Ghost Winery – celebrates this hallowed holiday! He’s been at Flora Springs ever since, working in the tasting room, running tours at the Estate, developing our customer service center and working closely with Wine Club Members as a winery ambassador. And with two EPs under its belt, Serf & James continues to make appearances throughout Napa Valley and the Bay Area, including an appearance at BottleRock 2017!
Client Relations and Shipping Coordinator
Having grown up in Menlo Park near Stanford University, or on the “other side of the Bay” as he calls it, Alex didn’t know much about wine until he moved to Napa Valley. He’d worked his way through college serving at numerous jobs and playing on the school soccer team while earning a BS in International Business Management.
After moving to Napa to help out a family member, he took a job in hospitality at a local hotel. Alex enjoyed customer service, but soon gained an appreciation of the wine industry’s role in Napa Valley. Wanting to be a part of it, he joined a Napa Valley winery where he served both as an administrative/accounting assistant and a production assistant. Still drawn to hospitality and client relations, Alex joined Flora Springs in 2018 where he combines his customer service talents with a sincere appreciation of the nature of wine. “When I saw Flora Springs I realized immediately what a special place this place is. It’s amazing to be surrounded by this beauty every day.”
National Sales Manager/Western Region
A native of Iowa, John Schulz didn’t expect to have a career in the California wine industry. But when he came here in the 1980s and started working in the tasting room and cellar of a prominent winery, he decided to make California – and its signature industry – his home. Ultimately it was the sales side of wine that interested John most, and he’s spent nearly three decades in regional and national sales both at a wholesaler and as a representative of notable wineries throughout the state.
For John, working at Flora Springs is a bit of a homecoming, as he often visited the winery in the first part of his career when he came to Napa Valley. He remembers the early days of Trilogy, when it came on the scene as one of first Bordeaux red blends of Napa Valley. “This estate is a gem, an iconic Napa Valley winery,” says John. “Plus, there are very few wineries that have successfully made the transition to the third generation. It’s a legacy property.” As Flora Springs’ National Sales Director and a self-described streets-focused sales representative, John relishes the opportunity to work closely with distributor partners and key trade accounts to build strong winery relationships and communicate the Komes-Garvey story.
In addition to overseeing national sales for Flora Springs, John personally covers the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. John lives in Sonoma and enjoys playing guitar, camping, skiing and cooking.
Director of Winery Relations
Richard Tiedemann is a fifth-generation Napa Valley native whose family has been growing grapes in the Stags Leap District since the late 1880s. Although he grew up picking prunes and walnuts, he also worked in his uncle’s vineyard,a seven-acre plot — now planted to Zinfandel — of French Colombard and Chardonnay. “At the time there were only six or seven large wineries in NapaValley,” he says. “Small growers like my uncle sold their grapes to Mondavi, Inglenook, or sometimes the Napa Valley Co-Op.”
Richard quickly moved into a series of sales roles, with responsibility at various times for California, the northeast, the Midwest and western regions. “I think I’ve worked in nearly every state and U.S. territory other than Connecticut and Utah,” he jokes. Now, as Director of Winery Relations, Richard travels extensively throughout the U.S. as an ambassador for Flora Springs, hosting lively, interactive wine dinners and building lasting relationships with customers and fans.