2016 Wine Ambassador of the Year Nominee's
Wine Ambassador of the Year: The award recipient is recognized by others for going above and beyond among team members & customers. They exemplify exceptional service and professionalism through consistently providing leadership to their team and demonstrating outstanding hospitality. In addition, they collaborate and educate in their winery and/or community to raise awareness of the Loudoun County wine industry.
Please review each nominee's biography and comments from their nominators. Each committee member please rank the nominee's and return any comments and final voting by Wednesday, September 28th.
BONNIE ARCHER, Owner & General Manager at Zephaniah Vineyards
Biography: Bonnie has just retired from a career in education here in Loudoun County. Bonnie developed Zephaniah Farm Vineyard with her husband Bill. Bonnie has worked full weeks and weekends while teaching to develop a winery on an old dairy farm with the tasting room in a 200 year old home.
Nominator's Comments: Bonnie pioneered to bring seated tastings to Loudoun County. Consumers continue to be impressed by hospitality shown by Bonnie at Zephaniah. She has been involved in Loudoun Wine since she personally planted 1000 vines in 2002 with her own hands. Having lived on a Loudoun dairy farm since 1975, she has grown to love Loudoun land and agriculture. The philosophy and image of Zephaniah Farm Vineyard wine and tasting experience has been Bonnie's vision. Some of her innovations have been: seated tastings in a 200 year old family home, deciding to not describe Zephaniah wines before a tasting, and having thoughtful conversation with every guest. Her approach to a Loudoun tasting experience has had significant impact on Zephaniah's success as reported by guests. Presently Zephaniah enjoys one of the highest Yelp ratings among Loudoun County Wineries. Bonnie just retired after teaching school in Loudoun and Fauquier for more than 4 decades. Her energy is boundless. For 9 years she has worked 7days a week as an educator and a Loudoun Wine Ambassador.
"A unique feature of Zephaniah is that the tastings are conducted seated in the living room of the manor house by a member of the family or the wine-making team. This lends to a very personable and educational tasting. The owners, Bill and Bonnie, are extremely friendly, passionate, welcoming, and knowledgable about the property and the wine. They provided us with a tour and history of the land, and took the time to sit with us and explain the wines in detail. It was one of the most relaxing and engaging tasting experiences we’ve ever had." - Virginia Winos
"The tastings are conducted in the living room of the old c.1830 manor house. Tables are laid out and guests are invited to sit, while Bill and Bonnie work the floor and pour the wines. It is very relaxed and the owners take time to talk about the history of the farm, tell a few family stories and discuss the qualities of each wine. It is a fairly singular experience that makes their guests feel welcome and completely at home. I am not sure how it could be improved."- The Virginia Grape
Alex Scadden, Wine Educator at Lost Creek Winery
Biography: Alex has been a fan of Virginia wine and has been going to wineries and enjoying the scenery and hospitality for years. The industry lucked out when she decided to join the wine educator team at Lost Creek Winery in March 2015. She has been so enthralled to be part of the industry, that she co-founded VitiCULTURED, a community for Virginia wine fans, industry partners & wine educators, in January 2016.
Nominator's Comments: Alex has a tremendous passion for this industry. Her fervor for Virginia wine and excellence in hospitality are demonstrated continuously at Lost Creek Winery. She hosted a great event at Lost Creek this year via VitiCULTURED called the "Tournament of Tasting Rooms". It was a hugely successful and an enjoyable event for everyone. It demonstrates Alex's ability to bring an already small industry, even closer. Since then, I've had the pleasure of working with her on some other industry events. Her true strength is her radiant smile and warming personality. Her experience with wine continues to develop, but her true ability to make everyone feel welcome is amazing. Alex is the type of person we want to represent the industry. Her zeal, energy, and dedication to creating a family feel to this industry is unparalleled and makes her a perfect fit for "Wine Ambassador for Excellence in Hospitality".
Alex has always had a way of making people feel welcomed and comfortable, and want to ask questions without thinking that they're being looked down upon for not knowing. Her genuine passion for sharing what she's learned and learning is one that I've rarely seen in anyone else, whether it be about a history book she just read, a joke she JUST got, or most recently, wine! It's a field into which she has jumped with both feet, and is thriving in. Her customer service is something she takes to heart and wants to impart to the customers a sense of wonder, and comfort, while sharing her passion for what she does, and letting them feel like they can join in and become part of the family and share their stories as well.
Here is some wonderful guest feedback we have received about Alex during her time at Lost Creek Winery.
"Alex was our server last time and she completely nailed it. As far as I am concerned, she rocks so hard she should open for Aerosmith. We would like to have her again for our event if she is available." - David Lewis
"Alex was an amazing server for our group. The wine and food tasting was fantastic! Thank you again for a wonderful experience." - David Smith
"Great place, great wine, great people. Alex proves that professional and genuine hospitality is still practiced." - Jonah Free
"It was a pleasure to meet you Alex! You are a gem. Thank you for a wonderful day." - Antoinette Schmitz
"Alex was great and well versed on our tasting and we enjoyed talking about the great foods we could pair the wines with. You just get better and better. So thank you Lost Creek, and best wishes to your continued success." - Laura Plotica
"We love Alex!" - Wendy Parks
From TripAdvisor: 5 Star Review on August 15, 2015 - "Lost Creek is one of those wineries that you have to work to get to (down a long gravel road) but it's definitely worth it once you arrive. It's got a couple of lovely outdoor spaces--one slightly away from the tasting room and one near a fountain--where you can relax and enjoy their wines outdoors. Alex was our pourer, and she was delightful--very friendly and knowledgeable about their wines. Lost Creek's wines are wonderful -- we purchased Serenity and Tranquility, and also really enjoyed their cabernet sauvignon. The tasting room is lovely and serene. We highly recommend Lost Creek -- it's worth the drive."
Jeremy zimmerman, director of sales & hospitality at stone tower winery
Biography: Jeremy is a native of Shepherdstown, WV. With a profound passion for hospitality and fine dining, Jeremy worked in restaurants for much of his under- and post-graduate academic career at WVU where he received both a BA and MA in Political Science. Gradually, this evolved into a full-time roll as Wine Program Director and General Manager as Sargasso in Morgantown, WV. After receiving top score at his Level 1 Court of Master Sommeliers Examination, he brought this passion to Stone Tower Winery in December of 2013. He and his wife, Jillian, our Events Manager, welcomed the newest member of the Stone Tower family, an adorable baby girl, Margaux, last April. Despite the new baby and busy Tasting Room schedule, Jeremy advanced to the Certified Level in the Court of Master Sommeliers this August. In his free time, Jeremy enjoys delving deeper into different wine regions, playing with Margaux, running, golfing, cooking, and shucking oysters.
Nominator's Comments: Most days, you’ll find Jeremy out on the Tasting Room floor. He goes out of his way to greet and meet as many guests as possible, and welcomes them to Stone Tower as if they’re old friends. Regardless if it is a tour of the property and facility or hustling around our busy tasting rooms, he is continuously making decisions and directing folks to better their experience. You will always find him with a quick & easy smile. If he’s not on the floor, he’s in the Tank Room leading a group of 18 guests through our signature SOMMinar series. In these in-depth, educational tastings, Jeremy uses his incredible wealth of wine knowledge to create a world view of a grape varietal, leaving our guests with a much better understanding of the wines on their table — and he makes it fun! Jeremy is a key contributor to developing programs for the winery that will enhance guest’s tasting room experiences.
Beyond his exceptional hospitality with all off our guests, Jeremy is an incredible mentor to our Tasting Room and Support Staff. He’s helped create a culture of learning at Stone Tower in leading a wine knowledge study group with eager to learn staff, as well as leading monthly Staff Tastings, in which he educates the Tasting Room team on different grape varietals and wine regions in ways that are useful to their role in connecting with our customers. Jeremy lives and breathes hospitality, and his passion combined with his open, teaching personality makes him the perfect leader by example for our staff. He has a passion about the experience and vibe that is created by his team of tasting room associates and it shows.
Our team of Support Staff (bussers, glass-polishers, cleaners) is made up of mostly high school Juniors & Seniors, for which many of whom this is their very first job. Jeremy is a great first boss for these kids to have. He treats them with respect, offers advice and constructive feedback, instills a sense of fun to the work, and can be tough when need be. I’ve had multiple parents of our Support Staff express their true thanks to us, and specifically to Jeremy, for creating a positive and inspiring work environment for their children. He regularly writes college recommendations for Support Staff members, which I think shows his dedication to these essential members of our team.
Within our Management Team, Jeremy has played an integral role in both the day-to-day operations and the big picture plan since he came aboard during our first season in 2013. His passion for hospitality, thoughtful program develop, mentorship and never ending hard work have helped bring Stone Tower to where it is today in three very short years. We’re incredibly grateful and truly proud to have him as part of our team.
So you don’t just hear how wonderful Jeremy is from me, below I’ve shared excerpt from a few emails we've received recently…
“To Owners/Management at Stone Tower Winery:
For the last two months or so, I have been working with Jeremy at Stone Tower in order to host a private, seated tasting at Stone Tower in celebration of my girlfriend’s (almost) 50th birthday. I have to tell you that things could not have been any better!
[…notes on the facility & other staff…]
Last, but not least, major kudos to Jeremy. As I said earlier, this party had been in the planning stages for about 2 months. Jeremy was available via phone as well as in person to answer questions for me…and believe me, I am pretty nervous by nature and I had a LOT of questions. For this tasting he provide a/v equipment for a PowerPoint slideshow we had and special placards with the name of the event. It’s the little things that matter….and I had a lot of little details that needed to be planned out. Jeremy was AWESOME in every facet of helping me out with this event.”
“Dear Stone Tower,
On behalf of the Deloitte group that visited on August 14th, I would like to thank you for a truly wonderful experience. Our entire group of 55 thoroughly enjoyed our wine tasting, the beautiful views, and the wealth of information. From start to finish, Jeremy easily guided the whole group through one of the best wine tasting experiences I’ve every had - which is many! Our visit received rave reviews, and we hope to come again next year. Thank you again for accommodating our large group. We will be recommending you to other Deloitte tours!
“Please pass this note to the owners of Stone Tower Winery.
Recently, my wife Annette and I spent a Sunday afternoon enjoying the new tasting room and outside patio. Because we are partners in Monte De Oro winery in Temecula, California, we are aware of the work and dedication that goes into bringing a wonderful facility like yours off the page to reality. One of your managers, Jeremy, took some time out of an obviously busy afternoon to tell us some details about your project — all we can say is wow! He was truly a wonderful host.
So, let us say to you “congratulations for a job very well done.”
Annette and Andy Johnson”
From Trip Advisor:
““One of the best wineries in Virginia”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2015
This winery has a lot of potential. It's relatively young and they are already making superb wine. We had a tour of the winery with Jeremy (the sales manager) last fall. I must say that he is very well-informed and he answered every singe questions we had. It was so good that we became members at the spot. We re-visited Stone Tower Winery last weekend to pick up our wines and the scenery is still wonderful despite the fact that it's winter. I can't wait till they complete building their lounge and cellar.”