WineFoodExplorer.com is an online magazine, focused on bringing to light California wine and wineries, restaurants and recipes, beer and micro-breweries, events, hotels, and regional travel that are off the beaten path.
We have knowledgeable and experienced writers throughout California, who know the ins and outs of their regions, submitting fresh and exclusive editorial on what’s new, hot and great.
The website contains something for everyone. We feature day trips and weekenders, which are stories that detail a day or weekend spent exploring a region, visiting wineries, restaurants, local attractions and special lodging – all replicable by the reader.
WineFoodExplorer.com goes beyond Napa to highlight great experiences, both close to home, and throughout the state.
Publisher and Advertising Sales Director
Dean remembers his first wine and the occasion. It was an anniversary dinner where he first decided to try ordering wine and asked the waiter for advice, something he still does if he is in a restaurant with a great wine list. The waiter suggested a Malvasia Bianca and a lifetime love of wine began.
Though his business is and has been insurance for more than 40 years, he’s always looked to as “the wine guy.” Often having his cellar raided by family, and wine advice sought after by friends, Dean realized he needed a place to refer his friends and colleagues. Thus, Wine Food Explorer was born.
When asked what his favorite varietal is, his response “Barolo, Petite Syrah, Syrah, Malbec, Pinot…” We’re convinced he’s liked every wine he’s ever tried. He has tasted wine from China to Budapest, Argentina to Washington and enjoyed them all – just some more than others.
When he’s not at the office, you’ll find dean out playing handball, at his grandchildren’s sports games, or of course, wine tasting in his back yard, favorite wineries or his favorite wine bar.
Toni was the Managing Editor of California Vine Times Magazine and website for five years prior to collaborating on the start-up of WineFoodExplorer.com. She is responsible for the editorial focus of our website and seeks out great writers across the state of California that are knowledgeable about wine, food, beer and related travel in their regions.
Before California Vine Times, Toni worked at such prestigious companies and publications as J. Walter Thompson, KRON NBC Television, and Sunset Magazine and Books. She enjoys exploring the world of wine and believes that there are no wrong choices! “Everyone’s palate is different and you must embrace what you like no matter what someone else has to say about it!” she says.
Toni is inspired by the world of boutique wineries and micro-breweries and especially enjoys big, bold, velvety, well-balanced Zinfandels. In her spare time you would likely find her at a Peninsula tasting bar or home dazzling her family and friends with a deliciously spontaneous culinary concoction.
Editor / Web Development Manager
Sage is a graduate of CSU Chico, with a BA in Communication studies with a minor in marketing. Though she’d grown up surrounded by good wine, she developed a true love for it while studying in Italy (as well as a passion for travelling). She is clear though that she’s still a craft-beer girl at heart, always craving a good IPA or coconut porter. Sage is a strong advocate for organic and sustainably made wines and beers, an avid environmentalist you might say. When she’s not working at Wine Food Explorer you will often find her at the yoga studio, plotting her next adventure, or at home attempting to become a decent chef.
Santa Cruz Mountains and surrounding areas
Cynthia Bournellis grew up in the Valley of Hearts Delight and recalls the days of fertile soils that gave birth to some of the world’s best produce, not to mention some of California’s oldest grape vines. Living at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Cynthia works in the tasting room of one of the oldest and most well-established wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation—Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard—where she enjoys educating consumers on wine. She prefers wines that have a strong acid backbone; display soft, yet structured tannins; are moderate in alcohol; and have a balance of fruit, earth, and spice.
When she’s not pouring wine, Cynthia is either on the wine trail, engaging with winemakers; harvesting vineyards; or elbow deep in wine production. She enjoys sharing her wine-infused experiences not only on Wine Food Explorer, but also on her blog, From Behind the Tasting Bar. Cynthia can be reached at, email@example.com.
State wide Explorer
Hudson Lindenberger is a full time freelance writer based in Boulder, Colo. He is a survivor of ten years spent managing various restaurants and eight years working in the alcohol industry. When not writing, Hudson is an avid outdoorsman, traveler and loves nothing more than having a fresh libation after his latest adventure. He is forever in search of the perfect coffee porter.
The California Central Valley and Foothills
Kimberly Horg earned a Bachelors Degree in Journalism in 2001. In the last 12 years she has had hundreds of articles published throughout the country. Kimberly likes both red and white wine varietals as well as handcrafted Pale Ale and darker Porter beers. To read more of Kimberly’s published work, visit http://www.kimberlyhorg.com/.
Santa Cruz Mountains, Livermore Valley, Monterey County, Amador, and Paso Robles
Laura Ness, aka “Her VineNess,” is an accomplished wine journalist, columnist, travel writer, food and wine reviewer and wine competition judge who has been writing about wine, food and the pursuit of the good life for nearly three decades. Laura writes for many industry and consumer publications, including WineFoodExplorer.com, Edible: Monterey, Wine & Travel,Wine Business Monthly, Vineyard and Winery Management, Wine Country This Week, Los Gatos Magazine, Mountain Network News, Vino, Uncorked, M Magazine, San Jose Mercury News, and WineOh.Tv. She also pens a weekly wine column for two Bay Area newspapers, The Salinas Californian and The Livermore Independent, and blogs, irreverently, at myvinespace.com.
Linda Kissam is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California. She specializes in easy, breezy destination stories focusing on what makes each destination special through its culinary and wine, beer and spirits scene. She loves sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.
Her time spent as a publicist for a well-known wine region taught her it’s the “taste of place” that makes a trip memorable. She never travels without a notebook, camera and a great pair of Brighton flats. She has an addiction to personable people, interesting wines, gourmet coffee, fabulous chocolate and spicy foods. Anyone who knows her will tell you that she loves traveling anywhere, by any means, and is somewhat obsessive about local jewelry and a good taco.
Paso Robles and Central Coast
Lisa Pretty is the owner and winemaker of Pretty-Smith Vineyards & Winery, a Paso Robles winery producing estate grown Bordeaux varietals and blends. She is a food and wine writer with past contributions in Wine Country this Month, the Paso Robles Press, Vino Magazine, and Vine Times magazine. Her food and wine ramblings may be found on her eatthiswith.com blog site and travelpaso.com. She is also the author of two food and wine pairing books featuring recipes and wine pairings from Paso Robles. The most recent just hit the shelves in December, 2013.
San Francisco and Oakland
When not writing about her favorite things, wine, food and travel, Michelle works as a public relations executive, and enjoys playing the Brazilian martial art of capoeira, cycling along the San Francisco Bay and working in her garden.
Teri Tith Concannon and Denise Creek Garcia, Co-owners of Cheese Therapy in Livermore
Denise Creek Garcia and Teri Tith Concannon met over a plate of cheese, literally. Denise was the Executive Chef at an establishment in downtown Livermore and Teri worked across the street at the theater. One afternoon Teri popped in on a break and ordered the plate of artisanal cheese. Enter Chef Denise stage left to check on her customer and explain a little bit about the cheese offerings. Thus, a 30-minute conversation ensued, and a friendship and future business partnership was born.
Tom Plant was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the son of an hotelier. His dad was in management at both the St. Francis and Sir Francis Drake Hotels. He inherited his passion for food, wine and photography from his dad.
Tom majored in Mass Communications at Chico State and embarked on a broadcast career that lasted nearly two decades, as a disc jockey, news and sports reporter and voice actor on radio and television commercials.
In 2000 he moved to Baja California where he lived for two years and started selling real estate. It was then he discovered the amazing Valle de Guadalupe wine region. He moved to Canyon Lake in 2002 and Murrieta in 2006 and served as president of the board of directors of the Southwest Riverside County Association of REALTORS.
In 2009, on a visit to Paso Robles with his fiancée and another couple, they were greeted warmly at every winery they visited. “Tom, Laura, how are you? Come taste our new releases. Come back and do some barrel tasting.” After two days his friend Denny looked at him and said, “you’re in the wrong line of work. This is your passion. Figure it out.”
In May 2009 Tom launched his website WINEormous on a wing and a prayer. He decided rather than do wine reviews, he’d tell the stories of wine country, not just in Temecula, but globally. A year later he started doing Temecula winery tours. Tom is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association and he spends six to eight weeks a year on the road.