Behind the Scenes
Meet the team bringing the Bâtonnage Forum to life.
This is a grassroots effort and a labor of love for all of us.
Stevie Stacionis dreamed up Bâtonnage after numerous conversations with women in the wine industry, culminating in an appearance on a Guild of Sommeliers podcast at the end of 2017. She is the visionary behind the forum as well as co-owner of the acclaimed Bay Grape wine shop in Oakland, California. Bay Grape was recognized as a standout shop in the New York Times and has been highlighted in Food & Wine, Bon Appétit and Wine & Spirits; it was named Best Wine Shop in San Francisco magazine (2017). Along with her partner, Stevie was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers (2017).
Stevie originally began working in hospitality during high school and college, spending seven years working in the front of the house at restaurants in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and New York City in order to pay her way through the University of Southern California. After graduating magna cum laude with her Bachelor’s degree in Communication and a minor in Psychology and Law, Stevie traded her apron for a laptop and a career in food, wine and travel writing.
Post editorial-era (including published pieces in Wine & Spirits, SF Chronicle and Wine Enthusiast), Stevie managed communication, media, marketing and brand strategy for New York City retail stores Alphabet City Wine Co., Crush Wine & Spirits, NYC’s premier wine bar/classroom/event space Corkbuzz Wine Studio, and the professional non-profit organization the Guild of Sommeliers. Stevie is also a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Most importantly, she is a kick-ass wife and the insanely proud mother of a miracle son. You can follow her on Instagram at @steviestacionis.
Sarah Bray, DipWSET, is our Jill of all trades, bringing her background in strategy, event planning, communications, and sponsorships to the execution of our inaugural forum. She graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College with a degree in International Studies, and she spent time living in Rome, where she worked as a translator for a government agency. Her knowledge of French and Italian and general love of all things European brought her to the world of wine (Stevie hired her for her first wine retail job back in 2008!)
In her current life as a wine marketing consultant, she works as the US Brand Ambassador for Vini Franchetti (Passopisciaro on Mt. Etna and Tenuta di Trinoro in Tuscany), and as part of the team of VinConnect, where she serves as Director of European Winery Relations, liaising with top estates in Europe to develop their direct-to-consumer marketing channels. She is also part of the team that implements Sherryfest, an event promoting the wines of Jerez to American audiences.
She previously worked as the director of digital marketing and development for SAVEUR magazine and as brand strategist for the wine auction and retail divisions at Sotheby's. When she's not running around for her clients, she is a contributor to Food & Wine, The SOMM Journal, Departures, SAVEUR, and other publications.
You can follow her wine-fueled adventures on Instagram: @sarah.h.bray
THE SOCIAL MEDIA MAVEN
Nicole Ruiz Hudson, DipWSET, leads our communications outreach. She's a perfect fit, as she's a food and drink writer and educator currently living in Oakland, California. She grew up around the hotel industry and has lived all around the U.S. as well as Valencia, Venezuela, where she had free room service for two amazing years in high school. After graduating from Harvard University, she worked in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles until thoughts of food and wine got the better of her.
Upon moving to New York City, she made the switch and went to culinary school at the International Culinary Center, following it up with a WSET Diploma and Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. She spent three years in the Tasting Department at Wine Spectator in New York, and is now extremely excited to be back in California. You’ll now find her part-time at Bay Grape in Oakland. She's a regular contributor to WineSpectator.com, TheSixFifty.com , as well as her own blogs SommsTable.com and NibblingGypsy.com. You can follow her on instagram at @nibblinggypsy.
THE Hostess With The MOstest
Samantha Sheehan, is our host for the day, as well as our collaborator on this project. Once upon a time she was a financier. Then wine got into her soul via Burgundy and Champagne. Now she makes wines under her Poe Wines and Ultraviolet labels, and Vermouth via her Mommenpop project. You can taste her wines at Outland in downtown Napa. You can follow her on instagram at @poewines.
Casey Burke, Originally from Boulder, CO, got started in the hospitality industry at an early age. She developed a deep passion for food, wine and customer service through travel; those passions grew through work in wine-country luxury hotels like the Willamette Valley's The Allison Inn, Relais & Chateau resorts Auberge du Soleil and Meadowood in the Napa Valley, as well as with multiple Michelin-starred restaurants including Quince in San Francisco.
Casey is in love with the hospitality industry and the way she gets to build relationships, guide guests through planning sophisticated and complex events, work in the most incredible venues, collaborate with chefs and sommeliers, and pay meticulous (if not obsessive) attention to detail. What excites her most about Bâtonnage is partnering with dynamic, boundary-pushing women and enabling them to stretch their creative legs in beautiful, memorable, and (most importantly) fun celebrations.
Casey is currently a Level 1 Sommelier and the Business Development Manager for Paula LeDuc Fine Catering & Events. In her free time, you can find her hiking with her dog Sophie, drinking Sherry and watching Netflix, and volunteering to support female and minority focused organizations such as the Junior League and La Cocina in San Francisco.
You can follow her on Instagram at @caseyb8878.