Robert Watkins - CEO: Robert Watkins brings more than 25 years' of wine industry experience to his role as CEO at Mt. Beautiful, placing him in an ideal position to build on Mt. Beautiful’s reputation as a premium wine brand, drive growth plans and further develop the North Canterbury region.
Joining the team in late 2010, Robert is CEO of Mt. Beautiful Winery, Mt. Beautiful USA, and Teece Family Vineyards and farming operation. Initially brought in to get the winery’s US operations up and running, Robert quickly found his role expanding.
“There was zero US distribution,” he recalls, “but also there wasn’t yet a viable farm business, we didn’t have the winery built, we needed to plant more vineyards, and David Teece had - and continues to have - many more ideas to explore and plans to implement, such as our new tasting room in Cheviot.”
Prior to joining Mt. Beautiful, Robert was a founding partner and COO of Longboard Vineyards, an entrepreneurial vineyard and wine business. He has also held a range of executive positions including VP of Sales & Marketing at J Vineyards (Sonoma), National Sales Manager & Export Director at Trefethen Vineyards (Napa), East Coast Sales and Export Manager at King Estate (Oregon) and East Coast Sales Manager at Mantanzas Creek (Sonoma). In addition, Robert has started a boutique fine wine distributor in Northern California, Canopy Wine Group, to assist small wineries with distribution in the US market.
Today, Robert splits his time between New Zealand and San Francisco with worldwide responsibility for all facets of Teece Family Vineyards and Mt. Beautiful brands. He relishes the opportunity to work on this diverse and expanding array of projects while still doing the wine brand work he knows and loves. Robert finds his own philosophy to be a natural fit with Teece’s entrepreneurial bent. “Once you run out of problems to solve it gets boring,” he says, “and with David Teece, that will never happen.”
Sam Weaver - Winemaker: Sam is one of the most broadly experienced wine professionals in New Zealand with 35 years’ in the industry covering every aspect from commercial, production and technical. He’s qualified with a degree in Microbiology from London University and worked in the British wine trade for 10 years, becoming Managing Director of La Reserve, a wine merchant in London. Since his move to New Zealand with his family in 1988, Sam has made wine in five different countries, graduating to consultancy work with some of New Zealand’s leading wine companies in 1994. In 1997 Sam started his own label, Churton, which is distributed worldwide. His particular winemaking interests lie in the production of high quality Pinot Noir, which he has made in Burgundy, Eastern Europe and four different vine-producing regions of New Zealand. In 2007 he joined Mt. Beautiful’s budding team as its Consulting Winemaker during their first vintage. When Sam isn’t knee deep in grapes, you can find him fly fishing on the South Branch of the Hurunui River at Eskhead Station; one of his favourite places to fish. He’s also a fan of French provincial cooking and “nose to tail” eating. He even makes his own bacon and prosciutto! Sam also enjoys collecting vinyl and is a big fan of American maverick/experimental bluesman Don Van Vliet, best known for his stage name Captain Beefheart.
Ben Weaver - Assistant Winemaker - NZ: In 2015 Ben Weaver joined the Mt. Beautiful team bringing roughly fifteen years’ of experience in the wine industry, dating back to the age of fourteen. In addition to making wine in North Canterbury, Ben has experience in Marlborough where he grew up working alongside his father. Whilst at university, Ben lived in Wellington, which he describes as “the best city in New Zealand.” Originally from England, where he was born. Ben has also lived in Santa Cruz, California where he worked for Randall Graham, “the Rhone Ranger.” It was there that Ben learnt the art of wild fermentation. Building up natural yeast populations for inoculating a wide variety of wines. He also worked a four month stint on the Hill of Hermitage in the Southern Rhone Valley France. It was in France that Ben worked harvest. Here he learnt to appreciate the success of simplicity in the production of good wine and food. Some personal accomplishments Ben is particularly proud of include; graduating from university with Chemistry and Media degrees, along with being part of a young cricket team that won Marlborough Crickets Top T20 Championship! What he enjoys most about being part of the Mt. Beautiful team is the diversity and freedom to express one’s self, along with the positive and fun working relationships. When Ben isn’t roaming the winery, you can find him on a golf course, at a cricket pitch, or in his favorite arm chair listening to records
Fin Grieve - Director of Viticulture - NZ: Teece Family Vineyards’ first full-time Vineyard Manager, Fin Grieve, comes to our vineyard with a wealth of life experience and a passion for viticulture. A South Island native, he worked mostly overseas in a variety of roles.
In 1991, he moved to Marlborough, where he began working in horticulture to satisfy his long-held interest to work with the land. Here he got his first taste of viticulture and decided to specialize in the field, completing the National Certificate in Grape Growing and Winemaking at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) in Hawke’s Bay.
Fin has since gained strong viticultural experience, including being part of a team that developed the first large-scale high-density vineyard in Marlborough. After more than seven years in that role, he decided to take on a new challenge, joining the Mt. Beautiful team in North Canterbury, to ensure that this pioneering vineyard reaches its enormous potential and that winemaker Sam Weaver gets to work with the best possible fruit.
Garrick Guy - Vineyard Manager - NZ: Garrick joined the Mt. Beautiful and Teece Family Vineyards team as its Vineyard Manager in Spring 2016.
He brings over 13 years’ of vineyard experience and related skills, and is trained as a practical operator with new age technologies, processes and knowledge. Other wine regions he’s worked in include Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Blenheim and his home town of Gisborne. Prior to vineyard work, Garrick was involved in both the forestry and farming industries.
He and his young family value the slower paced lifestyle that pastoral Cheviot offers. When Garrick isn’t surveying the vineyard, you might be able to catch him at a team BBQ accompanied by his his wife and son.
Cori Curtola Gormley - Business Operations Manager - US: Cori started with Mt. Beautiful USA in January 2011. She is a Bay Area native and her 30 year background in accounting includes work in the construction, healthcare, property management, and pharmaceutical industries.
She also spent a few years as the assistant to the Finance Director at Marine World Africa USA, now Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. In the 10 years prior to joining Mt. Beautiful USA, Cori started and operated a number of businesses including a Paint-Your-Own Pottery studio, a foil imprinting business, and a private bookkeeping service.
Cori is an avid sports fan. If she's not at the office, you will most likely find her at a ball field!
Erin Harrison - Business Operations & Development Manager - NZ: Erin’s role at Mt. beautiful is varied and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She brings a broad range of skills and knowledge gained from working and living in New Zealand, Canada and Australia. On a given day she might be project managing the build of our luxury lodge, holed up in the office processing payroll, leading a quad tour over Mt. Beautiful or on a flight across the globe to interview a new importer or represent Mt. Beautiful at a wine tasting.
Fourth generation born and raised on the family farm in Cheviot, Erin has "come home" to Mt. Beautiful and found a wonderful fit between her work experience and passion for the area she grew up in.
After attaining a Commerce Degree in IT Management, Erin joined ANZ Bank where she was involved in project management as ANZ Bank merged with National Bank. The lure of travel saw Erin’s move to BC, Canada for a snowboarding season followed by adventures in Central America and a few months in San Francisco. Erin then lived in Queenstown and Perth Australia, gaining work experience in insurance, accounting, business analysis, event management, human resources, sales, sustainable energy and assisting a busy international entrepreneur on a daily basis.
This "Jack of all Trades" is now settled back in her homeland and spends any spare time dreaming of powder days and enjoying a cheeky Pinot Noir.
Caitlin Manning - Eastern Sales Manager - US: Caitlin brings 19 years' wine industry experience to her role as Eastern US Sales Manager at Mt. Beautiful USA. She grew up in New England, spent some time living in Los Angeles, and has been residing in New York City for the past seven years. Most recently, Caitlin was Eastern Sales Manager with a focus on National accounts, at Milbrandt Vineyards. She managed the sales in 22 Eastern states as well as oversaw and managed the Midwest territory, collaborating with San Francisco Wine Exchange and distributor partners, to increase brand awareness and implement sales strategies to continue the growth of the brand.
Prior to Milbrandt Vineyards, Caitlin was National Sales & Marketing Manager for Grupo Matarromera. She opened up the US subsidiary and placed Matarromera's seven wineries into 22 states in three years. She implemented a multiple brand strategy, targeted several sales channels, closed important operations with large key accounts and built a solid client base across the country.
Caitlin also worked for Levendi and Long Meadow Ranch winery in Napa Valley. She is very familiar with the three-tier system. Before she switched to the supplier side, she was a Sales Rep for a boutique wine distributor and spent several years working in fine dining restaurants in Martha’s Vineyard, New Hampshire and Maine. When she is not working, Caitlin loves cooking and spending time with her husband and two daughters, Elizabeth and Avery.
Tiffany Tonnerre - Western Sales Manager - US: Tiffany’s 20+ years in the food and beverage industry started when she was 16 and accepted a position as a server at a restaurant. She worked her way up quickly to Bartender and later secured the role of Northwest Regional Manager for Champagne Laurent-Perrier for just shy of 12 years. She later took on the role of Fine Wine Key Account Specialist with Southern Wine & Spirits. In early 2017 Tiffany joined the Mt. Beautiful team eager to build the Mt. Beautiful brand at all her top accounts in all her markets.
A fun fact and professional accomplishment of Tiffany’s outside the wine industry is that she travelled the world as a fashion model for close to 20 twenty years. Born and raised in Northern California, Tiffany did enjoy 10 years living in the beautiful Northwest, Seattle and Vancouver specifically, where she fell in love with the mountains and skiing.
When she is not working, you can find her spending time with her amazing son Zach, catching a baseball game, sailing on the San Francisco Bay or hanging at the beach with friends. She also loves hiking in Marin County and taking long walks along the water in Tiburon where she lives.
Suzanna Mannion - Marketing Manager - US: Suzanna joined the dynamic Mt. Beautiful team in early 2016 to help grow the brand and tell its story. She brings over 15 years’ combined sales and marketing experience. Her diverse skill set includes photography, editing, ecommerce, project and website management, email marketing, public relations and graphic design – all which come together to complement her role at Mt. Beautiful.
Previously Suzanna served as the Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Manager for Cuvaison Estate Wines in Napa Valley and prior to the wine industry Suzanna was the Sales Manager at a North Bay BMW and Triumph motorcycle dealership. It was there that she exercised her love for riding motorcycles on some of the best bikes ever made and where she met a diverse range of spirited humans and got involved in the adventure riding community.
After completing her Bachelor’s degree from Humboldt State University, Suzanna seized the opportunity to live in different areas of California including a memorable summer working for the California State Parks in Big Sur, California.
When she’s not behind her computer you will likely find her behind her camera (as photography is a deep passion of hers), hiking local trails with her pup, or spending quality time with her husband and young daughter.