Our team here at Zaca Mesa Winery consists of a wide variety of personalities and backgrounds. The most important thing we have in common is our dedication to creating and selling a product we are passionate about. It takes a family to get great wine to your table, take a look below at the people in the forefront of the operation.
Angel, Jose, Agustin, Sam
The cellar crew is the heart and soul of the Zaca Mesa winemaking team. Angel, Jose and Agustin all combine for an incredible 84 years of experience working in the Zaca Mesa cellar, while our newcomer Sam Foxall brings a diverse winemaking background to help round out the team.
Pictured from Top to Bottom:
Angel Vasquez (a.k.a Tocayo) has roamed the Zaca Mesa cellar for almost two decades. He has the mentality that no challenge to too great. Angel’s dedication and team player attitude make sure things get done in the cellar.
Jose Aguiniga has over three decades of experience in the cellar at Zaca Mesa and has worked with every single Zaca Mesa winemaker. Jose brings a quiet, consistent, and hardworking mentality to the cellar team.
Agustin Robles (a.k.a. Auggie) began his career with Zaca Mesa as a bright-eyed 16 year old kid. His role as Cellar Master ensures that his leadership, attention to detail, and passion for winemaking rub off on the rest of the crew.
Sam Foxall is the Production Enologist and resident young gun. Having spent time working harvests in New Zealand and Northern California, he brings a broad base of knowledge and experience to the team.
Angela, Katy, Nerys, Ruben Jr., Ricki, John, Cathy
The Zaca Mesa tasting room team brings a variety of old and young blood. Associates who have worked for the company over 15 years to those who started just this last year. Our team thrives on giving the best guest experience along with sharing the knowledge of our wines. Our tasting room team considers ourselves more than just co-workers, we are a family and welcome our guests to come out and visit us.
Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Agustin grew up learning the family business, commercial farming. He gained an appreciation for how the land and seasons affect the growing and harvesting of corn, chilies, tomatoes, beans, and garbanzos.
In 1981, he moved to the Santa Ynez Valley and it was not too long after that he started working at Zaca Mesa - his very first job - at the age of seventeen. His first years were spent working in the vineyard with Ruben Camacho. "Ruben taught me about irrigation, driving a tractor, and much more," Agustin says. After learning the ropes of the vineyard for a couple of years with Ruben, he moved inside the winery to work with the wine, not the vines, and became cellar master in 1988.
He’s been lucky to work with many of Santa Ynez Valley’s best winemakers like Ken Brown and Jim Clendenen at Zaca Mesa. His favorite part of the job is blending the wine with current winemaker Eric Mohseni. Eric once told us, "What I do is look at the grapes, taste, and track fermentation. The actual crafting of the wine is done by Agustin. He is the one that is organizing everything that has to be done. He has a real knack for thinking four days in advance. "
Agustin Robles has been working at Zaca Mesa for over half his life. He loves wine and it has become part of him. He has been making some of his own since 2001, experimenting with different varietals – Syrah and Pinot Noir, and a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. “I have learned a lot from all the Zaca Mesa winemakers,” Agustin says. “They all made very different wines.”
Agustin and his wife Teresa live in Los Alamos and on Sundays, you can find him at his favorite place to eat, Los Alamos’ legendary Full of Life Flatbread restaurant. He loves the beach, weekend trips to San Francisco, playing all sports, and BBQing.
Awilda Mercado was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She attended college there where she received a degree in Accounting and Business Administration. Awilda moved to the United States when she was 25 and lived in Norfolk Virginia. Shortly thereafter in 1998, she moved to California and now lives in Orcutt with her two children.
Since receiving her degree, Awilda has held a variety of jobs in Santa Barbara County as an accountant. She worked for Mentor Corporation for 5 years before coming here to Zaca Mesa, where she has been for the past 10 years as the Accounting Assistant.
Although Awilda is not much of a wine drinker herself, she has a passion for food. When she is not at the winery, she enjoys tasting her way through different ethnic foods and trying new restaurants. Her favorite type of food is Indian or Middle Eastern.
Dane Campbell was born and raised in Chico, California, but yearned for the Southern California living. He began his journey in the wine industry in 2006 after graduating from University of California, Santa Barbara. His initial years were spent learning about local and international wines as the manager and buyer for Sterns Wharf Vintners Wine Bar, before feeling the urge to get some experience on the winemaking side.
That itch led him to Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards, where he began working in the tasting room before he was chosen to work as the lab and cellar intern for the 2008 harvest. The knowledge gained during this harvest focused him towards a role within wine education and consumer direct sales at Zaca Mesa.
Dane then buckled down and passed both the Intro and Certified Sommelier (CS) levels of the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) exam through the Society of Wine Educators.
From there his attention turned towards the wholesale side of the business, prompting him to leave Zaca Mesa for a hiatus as a Fine Wine Specialist with the Henry Wine Group covering Santa Barbara County. This experience gave him valuable street sales training and experience. He then brought that training back to Zaca Mesa where he now works as a supplier and wine educator for the Central Coast region of California as well as out of state.
Dane geeks out about wine and soil. When he’s not sharing his mass amount of knowledge on wine, you’ll find him at the beach riding Santa Barbara’s famous waves.
Tasting Room Manager
Dianna Williamson has been a Santa Barbara County local her whole life. Born and raised in Lompoc, just 40 minutes south of Zaca Mesa, Dianna continues to live there today with her husband and two sons. She attended San Diego State University and University of Phoenix and graduated with a degree in business management.
While Dianna has always been a huge wine lover, this is her first experience in the wine industry. After finishing her degree she started her career in the film industry at Alterian Studios as a puppeteer and costume seamstress. She then moved to See’s Candy where she was a manager for 20 years. Zaca Mesa is now lucky enough to have Dianna here as the tasting room manager. At Zaca Mesa she is able to combine her passion for wine and past management experience to run the tasting room.
As a wine enthusiast, Dianna’s favorite wine is Zaca Mesa’s Chapel G Syrah because it is something that pairs well with a lot of different foods and she considers it a very elegant wine. It is field blended with Viognier and aged in neutral oak so it has a nice, smooth finish. She loves to pair the Chapel G with roasted chicken and vegetables.
When Dianna isn’t at the winery, she enjoys spending time with her family and going to Disneyland.
Director of Winemaking & Vineyard Operations
Raised in Los Angeles, Eric graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a degree in food science and a minor in chemistry. His career began as a wine buyer at The Wine Country, a noted wine retailer in the Long Beach area. Mohseni aided in managing an extensive collection of wines while developing his knowledge of wine and the wine consumer.
In 1997, Eric took a sabbatical from wine retail to work a harvest at Edna Valley Vineyards. There, he had his first dose of winemaking. “I will never forget the aromas from barreling down new wine into a new oak barrel. It gave me goose bumps.” In 1999, he furthered his winemaking knowledge by serving as a member of the harvest crew of Esk Valley Estate in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand’s fifth largest vineyard. Eric credits both of these experiences with igniting his passion for hands-on winemaking.
In 2001, Eric joined Zaca Mesa as Enologist. Over the years, he worked his way up to Assistant Winemaker, then to Associate Winemaker and finally to Head Winemaker in July 2008. Since joining Zaca Mesa, he has helped fine-tune the wine quality, and has refined the winery’s style resulting in wines that have character, integrity, and a sense of place.
After becoming Head Winemaker in 2008, Eric took a special interest in replanting the vineyard. The first challenge presented itself in the Chapel G block which was planted in 2008 and then replanted with 3.5 acres of Mourvèdre and 14.3 acres of Syrah. This created the second high density plantings of Syrah for Zaca Mesa and the first high density block of Mourvèdre on the property. This planting also brought in four new clones of Syrah, and one new clone of Mourvèdre. Later in 2012, Eric continued to improve the quality of Zaca Mesa’s vineyards by planting the Mesa C block with 18.5 acres of high density Syrah. In 2016, Eric got promoted to director of vineyard operations, Kristin will oversee all winemaking operations.
Eric lives in Orcutt with his rescue bulldog Ichi. When Eric is not thinking of wine (which is rare), he enjoys quail hunting, trap and range shooting, cooking, traveling, and collecting a wide variety of music and film.
Direct to Consumer Sales Manager
Kori DeVries is a native Californian who grew up in Ukiah, CA. Ukiah is just two hours north of San Francisco and is nestled right in the heart of Mendocino County wine country.
A graduate of Whitworth University, Kori majored in Speech Communications and immediately went to work for Fox TV in Spokane after graduation. Shortly afterward, she transitioned into Retail Sales and Marketing as both a manager and consultant.
Kori has worked in the wine industry since 2006, gaining valuable experience in both retail and wholesale operations while working in both Northern and Southern California. Recruited to Zaca Mesa in 2009, Kori thoroughly enjoys her work as Zaca Mesa's Direct-to-Consumer Sales Manager. Her favorite wines: Zaca Mesa's Roussanne and Zaca Mesa's Z Three.
Kori and her husband live on the Central Coast and are raising two daughters. The entire family enjoys the great weather and the very active lifestyle it affords.
Originally from Redding, California, Kristin is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where she studied Food Science. Although Kristin did not always intend to be a winemaker, her first harvest at Wild Horse Winery & Vineyard in 2002 sparked her passion. Kristin began her professional career at Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards in Templeton, California, where she worked her way from a Production Technician to an Enologist, and eventually to Assistant Winemaker in 2006.
From Wild Horse, Kristin moved on to Monterey County’s Lockwood Vineyard in 2007. As Associate Winemaker, she oversaw all winery operations while working with 100% estate grown fruit. Her experience taught her that, “working with an estate vineyard gives you more insight and helps you make better winemaking decisions.” This familiarity with estate programs and a thorough knowledge of the vineyard calendar made Kristin a key candidate for Assistant Winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard.
“Kristin's background working with estate programs was a big draw,” said Zaca Mesa Winemaker, Eric Mohseni. “With an estate vineyard, you are limited to what your vineyard gives you and having that mindset makes it a valuable tool. Her cellar and lab experience works with our facility and also brings us new ideas. Her enthusiasm, keen palate, and sense of adventure are added bonuses! We share a similar, Old World approach to wine making, and I think we make a great wine making team.”
Since joining the Zaca Mesa team in 2011, Eric and Kristin have worked together to develop new direct-to-consumer wines including the beautiful and elegant Chapel G Syrah. Kristin is also excited to be a part of our Homage Collection wine program which includes Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon made with fruit sourced from premier Santa Barbara County vineyards. In 2016, Kristin got promoted to winemaker to oversee all winemaking operations, while Eric Mosheni was promoted to Director of Winemaking and Vineyard Operations..
Kristin is passionate and focused on delivering wines that reflect Zaca Mesa’s unique vineyard site. When she is not at the barn making wine, she likes to spend as much time outdoors as possible. She enjoys hiking, skiing, camping, golfing and snowboarding.
Chief Financial Officer
Mark Rosenberg was born and raised in the west of England. Mark studied Accounting in England and after receiving his diploma, he worked with major accounting firms in England, West Africa, and Germany. Then, for three years, he worked for an international defense organization in Belgium.
Mark moved to California to escape the European weather and has held various financial management and executive positions, mostly in the insurance and wine industries. The attractions of the wine business, particularly at Zaca Mesa (other than the product, of course, especially the Z Cuvee) are the natural setting of the workplace and the small, but diverse team environment.
As our chief financial officer at Zaca Mesa, Mark is responsible for all aspects of accounting, reporting, regulatory and tax compliance, and systems maintenance.
Regional Manager CA & HI
Matt Mauldin grew up in Atlanta, GA, also home to one of America's most thriving music scenes. His first passion was music and writing, performing in bands as a singer and songwriter. Upon graduating from Georgia State University in 1997, Matt found a new passion for the wine and spirits industry while working at his brother-in-law’s package store. He moved on to distributor sales, working for seven years as a Retail Spirits Representative and winning Team Leader Awards in 2002 and 2004.
After a two year sabbatical into real estate, Matt returned to the business in 2007, developing a passion for fine wine and selling to restaurants. He was awarded the CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) from Society of Wine Educators in 2009, and the Advanced Level 3 Certification from WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) in 2014. His experience working with both distributor and supplier sales led to his employment at Zaca Mesa Winery in 2013.
Matt’s philosophical nature is best captured by a favorite quote from the musician, poet and artist Daniel Higgs, “Don’t shun the world, shed it.” He was drawn to the artisan nature of wine; as well as its history, geography, and cultural relevance. Matt found the quality and history of Zaca Mesa very appealing and pursued the opportunity to come aboard.
When Matt is not managing our wholesale business in our largest market, you can find him enjoying his favorite Zaca Mesa wines (Mesa Reserve Syrah & Z Gris) or wines from the famous regions of Rhone, Burgundy, and Piedmont.
Paul’s passion for improving organizational productivity started as a co-op engineer at Illinois Tool Works (ITW) while attending Purdue University, where he earned a B.S. Mechanical Engineering in 1977. After designing high-pressure hydraulic machinery that improved automotive assembly and steel mill process production with ITW in Chicago, Paul moved to California to work in aerospace for Hughes Aircraft.
Shortly after arriving in California, he transitioned to a sales career as a straight-commission independent manufacturer’s sales engineer. Over a twenty year span, he sold over $75 million in industrial and manufacturing automation projects such as machining the solid rocket boosters for the Space Shuttle; rides for Disney; assembly of the F-18 Hornet; and the first public transportation electric vehicles in Santa Barbara and Yosemite National Park.
During the late 80’s and early 90’s, Paul realized he could further help organizational productivity by helping people succeed- so he engaged in coaching, teaching, writing, and consulting. He coached youth recreational and club sports teams and eventually ran a youth soccer club. He taught Entrepreneurship and New Venture Formation on-line at the UCLA Business Extension and delivered “Five Star Customer Service” internationally on behalf of the Extension. In 1998, he re-tooled his sales rep firm into a sales consulting and career training and development business. Clients included Konica-Minolta, BASF, SCAN Healthplan, Rockwell Automation, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Enterprise Ireland. During this time, Paul wrote and published five books, including co-author with Three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser (Winners Are Driven, Wiley, 2003).
November 1, 2012, Paul made another transition, becoming General Manager of Zaca Mesa Winery. He views his job as General Manager no different than any class he taught, team he coached, book he wrote, or organization he helped turn around: find each person’s talent: develop them, put them in the right place, give them a mission, and turn them loose.
Paul likes to grill, play golf, and go hiking with his wife of 32 years, Carol. They have two grown children, Eric and Scott. He loves Aristotle’s quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” His favorite wine is whatever pairs right with whatever he is eating.
Direct to Consumer Customer Service
PJ Schooter comes from a long line of Santa Barbara natives dating back to the 1800s and has an interesting connection to the history of the wine industry in this area. She grew up on one of the first grape growing plots of land in Santa Barbara, initially planted by the Fryers from the nearby Mission, so it’s only appropriate that she now works at a winery.
PJ graduated from a private Academy with a degree in Hospitality Management. She then worked at the University of California, Santa Barbara in event coordination. PJ’s experiences working at UCSB and raising two fine children have helped her to excel in customer service here at the winery. On a day to day basis she works to ensure all wine orders are processed smoothly. Since working at Zaca Mesa, PJ has grown to appreciate wine more, with the Eight Barrel Syrah being her favorite. She has also learned that wine becomes even better once you understand how to pair it with the right foods.
PJ currently lives in the Santa Ynez Valley with her husband and two kids. Outside of work, she has a passion for photography, enjoys going on bike rides, and playing volleyball.
While living in Santa Barbara for several years, Randy Gardenhire spent a great deal of time tasting the wines throughout the Santa Ynez Valley. This was where his interest in wine began, but he wanted to learn more. So he returned to his hometown of Fresno to complete his studies.
Randy graduated from Fresno State after obtaining a degree in Enology with a minor in Chemistry. While going to school, he worked as the Assistant Winemaker at Ramos Torres Winery in Kingsburg, CA. Here he gained experience in the cellar and an understanding of Rhône varietals. When given the opportunity to work with Zaca Mesa, Randy returned to Santa Barbara County and began his position at the winery as our Production Enologist in early 2016.
A production enologist is responsible for everything having to do with the chemistry and biology of the wine. Randy oversees the operations of the laboratory here at the winery. He ensures the health of the wines throughout their development and into the bottle. Rhône varietals have always intrigued Randy. Zaca Mesa’s focus on these varieties has given Randy a deeper appreciation of their complexities and nuances. His current obsession is with Zaca Mesa Mourvèdre, but Syrah will always have his affection.
While away from the winery, Randy spends his time with his wife Rebecca and their two dogs, Tuskyn and Veda. They are often out tasting wine and enjoying our beautiful region.
Ruben Camacho Senior came to the US in 1975. He came to Zaca Mesa looking for work in 1977 and was hired as a tractor driver. Not knowing anything about grapes, Cayo Palomo, the previous vineyard manager, taught Ruben everything from pruning the vines to all the diseases they could encounter. After seven years of hard vineyard work, Ruben was promoted to Vineyard Manager and he’s held tight to that position ever since.
Zaca Mesa’s flagship wine, the Black Bear Syrah, was named after his experience in the vineyard planted back in 1978. While in the Mesa H block of the Zaca Mesa Vineyard, he noticed a black bear eating the soon to be famous Syrah grapes. His dogs, Bingo and Chispa, bravely protected the grapes and chased the black bear up a tree. That section of the vineyard was renamed the Black Bear Block and has been producing amazing grapes ever since.
Over 30 years of experience has made Ruben probably the most important person in Zaca Mesa's history with his knowledge of the land, fountain of information, support and great spirit.
Though Ruben’s favorite part of the growing season is pruning season because of the cooler weather, he loves harvest because it means a full year of hard work is coming to an end. Here at Zaca Mesa, we love the end of harvest because that is when Ruben & Augie make their famous Carne Asada Tacos.