Who We Are
Rafael Flores founded Artisanal Cellars in 2007. His interest in wine, originally as a hobby while he was pursuing his PhD in Music in NYC, soon grew into a passion. A part time job at 67 Wines near Lincoln Center, in New York City, quickly grew into a full time position. Raf’s attendance to his PhD classes competed with the many opportunities to attend tastings, and to meet wine makers and importers, which spurred his interest and appetite for learning more about wine. After living in NYC for a few years, Raf and his wife, Ariel, moved back to the Upper Valley area of Vermont, where they both have roots, and started the company soon after. Raf’s first wine love: Spanish Rioja.
Winthrop Pennock became a partner in Artisanal Cellars at the beginning of 2011. We met Winthrop when he was managing Windham Wines located in Brattleboro VT. After Winthrop and Rafael returned from a buying trip to Austria a discussion started about working together to help grow Artisanal Cellars. Winthrop’s early professional experience is in the hospitality business. He started working in kitchens after graduating college in Steamboat CO, and after five years returned East and enrolled at New England Culinary Institute where he received a degree in Restaurant Management. It was at NECi that Winthrop started to fine tune his palate. After graduating, Winthrop worked at a number of properties such as the Three Mountain Inn, and the Copper Beach Inn where he designed and managed beverage programs. After ten plus years, of working in restaurants and managing wine cellars he was looking for a change and helped opened Windham Wines retail shop and Wine Bar, where he was first introduced to Artisanal Cellars. Winthrop’s first wine love: 1980 Joseph Phelps Cabernet.
Iacopo Di Teodoro (NYC, Italian Portfolio Manager) became a partner in Artisanal Cellars in September 2015. His first step into the wine business was a Slow Food course in wine tasting followed by a Sommelier Degree in Tuscany: a perfect excuse to start to follow journalists and wander with them in the Italian countryside. Iacopo then did production cost analysis for a Tuscan winery while he was studying Economics at the University of Pisa, which easily turned into an excuse to work in the vineyards and in the cellar. After a quick experience in California he returned to Italy where he managed the sales of a group of wineries (Poggio Gagliardo and its sister wineries) and he had fun writing articles on corrieredelvino.it. In January 2006 he joined Vignaioli Selection in NYC where he spent almost 10 years as a Sales Manager, and then as Vice President. It’s during the Vignaioli time that Iacopo become friends with Rafael and Winthrop and after this past summer spent scouting Artisanal-minded wineries in every corner of the Italian peninsula, joined the Artisanal team. Iac’s first wine love were the everyday bottle of the simplest version of Sangiovese.
Erica Amster (NYC, Austrian Portfolio Manager). Erica joined Artisanal Cellars in May of 2012 when Artisanal Cellars took over the importation for the NYC market. An ex-corporate girl working for a number of NYC advertising agencies, Erica is now a staple in Manhattan’s wine industry, with strong roots in Austrian wine. Surprisingly, Erica grew up on PB&J and hot dogs but learned the true enjoyment of food & wine during her semester abroad in Madrid. Since then, she has worked in restaurants and wine bars, enhancing her food and wine knowledge and growing ever-eager to taste and learn more. With the addition of formal wine training, many global winery visits, and a working harvest under her belt, she is excited by, and thrives in, the NY wine sales industry. When not in work-mode, Erica can be found running through Central Park, skiing and on horseback.
Miguel “Gel” Flores is our wonderful warehouse manager and delivery driver (and Raf’s brother). Gel moved back from Colorado to help his brother start the company. He has experience driving trucks all over the country. Gel’s first wine love: Meinklang Frizzante Pinot Noir.