Instructor Bios

Instructor Bios

Don Kinnan, CWE, Lead Instructor

For 35 years, Don Kinnan has been active in the fine wine trade, both on a business and personal level.  Having traveled frequently to the wine regions of Europe, South America, New Zealand, and California, the depth of his knowledge has been enhanced by his own experience.

Kinnan joined Kobrand Corporation, a family-owned wine importer, vineyard owner, and marketing company, in 1985 covering the Washington, DC, Virginia, and West Virginia areas.  In 1992, he was promoted to Director of Education and was responsible for educational services nationwide.  For the next 20 years, he conducted over 60 day-long seminars annually for distributor sales forces, trade groups, and consumers.

Kinnan’s passion for wine is evidenced by his involvement in numerous professional organizations.  He has been cited by the US Government for his role as founder of the Society for American Wines in Canada.  He also received the French Government’s recognition  being designated “Chevalier dans l’Ordre du Merite agricole”.  He is currently a board member of the Society of Wine Educators where he holds that organization’s highest credential, CWE (Certified Wine Educator).  Since 2012, Kinnan has been the Burgundy Specialist  for the Wine Scholar Guild, and is the Lead Instructor for the guild’s Master Burgundy Certificate program.

Kinnan received his undergraduate degree from Penn State University and his master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.  He had a long and distinguished military career in the US Army, from which he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  While in the Army,  Kinnan graduated from the Defense Department’s Language Institute for French, the Command and General Staff College, and served as an instructor and, subsequently, as Chief of the Southeast Asian Studies Section at the US Army Intelligence School.

Allen Meadows, aka The Burghound

Allen Meadows was a finance executive for 21 years, holding a variety of positions, including stints as the senior vice-president and director of corporate development for Great Western Financial. In 1999 he elected to retire to author a book on the subject of Burgundy but a year later decided to found, a quarterly review that is devoted exclusively to the coverage of Burgundy/Pinot Noir with bi-annual coverage of Champagnes/Sparklers.

La Tache was the first of its kind to offer specialized, and more importantly, exhaustive coverage of a specific wine region. The first Issue was released in January of 2001 and there are now subscribers in more than 50 countries and nearly all 50 states. Meadows spends over four months a year in Burgundy and visits more than 300 domaines during that time.

Words on Allen Meadows:
"[Allen] is widely recognized as the go-to guide for the wines of Burgundy – the place to not only get the skinny on new releases from the likes of Dujac and Mugnier, but to learn about up-and-coming producers and to receive detailed information on issues of concern to Burgundy aficionados"
"Allen Meadows is arguably the most followed and well-known enthusiast and reviewer of the wines of Burgundy."

"Most wine lovers these days know about Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate, and of course they subscribe to The Wine Spectator, but among Pinot noir and Burgundy freaks…Allen Meadows, aka Burghound, is The Man"

“The world's foremost Burgundy expert - who, thankfully, is also in possession of an acute palate - is Los angeles-based Allen Meadows"

"Those who love red Burgundies tend to love them in an obsessive way; indeed, the wines command an almost cult-like devotion. It is a cult that appears to have finally found its prophet in a former banker from southern California known as Burghound."

Becky Wasserman Hone

Becky Wasserman Hone is an American ex-pat living in Burgundy. Her career in wine started when she accepted a position as a barrel broker selling  French cooperage to California winemakers.

She then started her own wine export company, Le Serbet, which specializes in small domain wines from the Côte d'Or and and other areas.

In 1997, Becky and her husband, Russel Hone, began hosting Burgundy symposia for passionate amateurs  welcoming a dozen guests to their Bouilland farm for an intensive week of tasting and touring, enlisting such experts as Clive Coates and Allen Meadows to assist.

Her knowledge of the Burgundy wine scene has enabled her to connect investors with property and winemakers to up-and-coming estates. She focuses on the artisanal which is what Burgundy is all about.

Eric Hemer, MS, MW

As Educational Director for Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) of Florida, Eric Hemer teaches classes for SWS sales personnel and key restaurant and retail customers throughout Florida, as well as the Wine Certificate Course at the SWS Beverage Management Institute at Florida International University (FIU.)

He is also actively involved with organizing and conducting wine seminars at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and is the resident sommelier and wine lecturer for Chef Jean-Pierre’s Culinary Center in Ft. Lauderdale.  In addition, he is actively involved in lecturing, examining, and mentoring around the country with the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a judge and examiner for the TOP SOMM and Top New Somm Competitions run by the Guild of Sommeliers. Eric is also on the Board of Directors for the Jimmy Mancbach Scholarship Fund to promote wine education for young professionals.

Eric passed the CWE exam in 1999, the MS exam in 2003 and has passed both the theory and practical portions of the MW exam and is currently working on his dissertation.  He resides in Lake Worth, Florida with his wife Marianne and their daughter Julia.

Karen MacNeil

Karen MacNeil is one of the foremost wine experts in the United States. She is the author of the award-winning book, The Wine Bible, recognized as “the most comprehensive and authoritative book on wine written by an American author.”

Karen’s articles on wine and food have been published in more than 50 magazines and newspapers. Karen has also brought her style and love of wine to television—first as the wine correspondent for NBC’s Today Show, and later as the Emmy-award winning host of the PBS television series Wine, Food & Friends with Karen MacNeil.

With her team at Karen MacNeil & Company, Karen creates and consults on one-of-a-kind wine experiences, seminars, and programs for corporate clients, businesses and individuals.

An educator at heart, Karen is the creator and Chairman of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley. The multi-million dollar center with its advanced wine curriculum and state-of-the art wine sensory classrooms has been called the “Harvard of Wine Education.”

She holds an Advanced Certified Wine Professional Degree.

Karen MacNeil's Accolades:
2004: Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation
2005: Wine Educator of the Year by the European Wine Council
2006: Women Who Inspire Golden Goblet Award by the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs
2007: Wine Literary Award by the Wine Appreciation Guild
2008, Communicator of the Year by the International Wine & Spirits Competition
2010: Wine Media Guild Hall of Fame for her “significant contribution to the body of wine writing and education.”
Lastly, Karen MacNeil has won an Emmy for her PBS television series, and has been named a “Woman of Achievement” by the State of California

Jay Youmans, Master of Wine

Jay has been involved in the wine industry for nearly 30 years.  He owns Rock Creek Wine Merchants LLC. and The Capital Wine School, He is a Certified Burgundy Wine Educator, an Advanced Level Sommelier, a Certified Wine Educator, and a Master of Wine.

Jay is the 21st American to pass the MW exam, considered the most difficult of its kind in the world. His dissertation was on cool climate viticulture.

He also won the Vina Errazuriz award for an outstanding paper on the business of wine.


Charles' professional career began as a chef who trained at the Cordon Bleu Paris. He worked in restaurants around the world before moving to the wine wholesale and importer arena in NY. Most recently, he was Director of Wine and Spirit Education for Moët Hennessy USA. 

Curtis becamse the 22nd Master of Wine in the United States in October of 2004.  Through the years, he has garnered a number of honors, including the prestigious “Bourse André Crispin” in 2002, presented by the Commanderie de Bordeaux aux Etats-Unis, of which he is now a member.  He is on the board of the Institute of Masters of Wine (North America).

Words on Charles’ teaching style (feedback from Wine Scholar Guild Conference 2010 attendees):

“What a treat! Worth the money and the trip from far away. Star of the show!”
“This was the most fun! Loved this! Wish we could do it for half a day!”
“Excellent speaker”
“His presentation was worth the admission I paid for the entire conference, excellent”
“His guided tasting was invaluable.”
“Enjoyed and learned…great experience”


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