FY19 GAJA Brand Ambassadors
Vicki Poss – Republic National Distributing Company, Texas
Since joining RNDC in 2000, I has held various leadership positions gaining valuable experience in a variety of sales departments. I began my career in on premise wine and later held Key Account Manager and District Manager positions in on premise. Soon after leading the Diamond Division (Family owned wineries for Jackson Family wines) I was promoted to Area Manager in on premise in 2008. In order to acquire more knowledge and develop my skills from a different aspect of the business, I transitioned into spirits as the On Premise Division Manager of the Falcon Division responsible for Brown Forman, Bacardi USA and Remy Cointreau portfolios. In 2012, I moved back to the wine division as the Platinum Fine Wine Division Manager for Houston, TX. In 2016, I spent 11 months as the Division manager for regional retail chains, this proved to be invaluable experience since the Texas market is heavily influenced by the retail chains. At the beginning of 2017 I moved into my current role as the Director for Platinum fine wine. In this role I lead initiatives to grow RNDC’s presence in the market and drive key supplier programs.
I am a graduate of The University of Houston with a Bachelor’s Degree in Restaurant & Hotel Management. I have more than 20 years of hospitality, beverage and alcohol industry experience.
Michele Zuckerman – Fedway Associates, New Jersey
Michele Zuckerman is a wine industry professional for the past 18 years. She has been studying wine for 26 years and has earned a CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) from the Society of Wine Educators. She is the Managing Director of The LUX Group of Fedway Associates focusing on the luxury and esoteric portfolios as well as and boutique wineries. Michele is a luxury brand specialist and has the honor of being the Gaja Ambassador for New Jersey over the last five years.
Having traveled extensively to many vineyards around the world, her areas of expertise include France, Italy and California. Embedded in her discussions are the history of the great wine families she represents, with an imaginary walk through the vineyards and time.
Franco Balzano – Signature Luxury Wine & Spirits Florida – Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
Italian Born and race developed a professional carrier in Hospitality and Wine industry in the US. Graduated in Italy with a Bachelor’s Degree in Restaurant & Hotel Management. Franco Today is at Signature Luxury Wine & Spirits of Florida as Import Strategic Sales Manager. With more than 20 years of hospitality, beverage and alcohol industry experience Franco has passion for wine and food and Honored to be pointed as the Florida Gaja Ambassador for two years.
Stuart Roy, Director of High Image Accounts – Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Nevada
Stuart has made his home in Las Vegas for the past 20 years, and has been part of the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits family for over 12 them. Besides Stuart’s many roles at Southern Glazer’s, he has an extensive restaurant & hospitality background including: Wine and Spirits Director of Caesars Palace (winning a Wine Spectator Grand Award for Restaurant Guy Savoy); Wine Director/Director of Operations of Smith & Wollensky Corporate; and Captain at The Four Seasons restaurant in NYC. Stuart’s passion in wine is heavily skewed to the Piedmont region of Italy, especially Nebbiolo.
Giancarlo Lauro, Director of Italian Wines – Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Southern California
Giancarlo Lauro is a native of Southern California. He was born to Italian parents who immigrated to the US from Ischia, a small island just off the Amalfi coast of Italy. His father, a prominent businessman, artist and producer, possessing almost mythic status with the locals, groomed Giancarlo at a young age to understand the fine art of sales, hospitality combined with their history and culture. His parents were pioneers in establishing the Italian Culture in Los Angeles. From that important foundation Giancarlo started his career in the food and beverage industry and traveled throughout Europe over 25 years ago working through its various aspects with passion and tenacity. Giancarlo moved back to the US in 1998 where he continued his journey as a key player for a dynamic Italian wine Importer. This lead to a position with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits in August of 2003 as on-sale sales representative in the South Bay area through 2010. After his promotion to Italian wine Specialist, Giancarlo was again promoted to Wine Manager in 2011. As a result of his fine work, Giancarlo was promoted to Division Manager where for the last two and half years in this position he has led the Beverly Hills/Los Angeles Division to Team of the year twice. Giancarlo will continue to lead and represent the finest Italian portfolio/suppliers in the industry as the Director of Italian Wines.