Meet Our Staff

Samantha Dugan, French wine, Rose Wine, Champagne & Sparkling Wines

A southern California native, Samantha began her wine career at The Wine Country in 1996, where over the years she has served as buyer of gourmet foods and cheeses, the wines of the Southern Hemisphere, Champagne & Sparkling wines and the wines of France, the latter two she has continued to lead since 1999 and 2007 respectively.


Samantha’s first trip to France in 2003 was a complete immersion, 25 days from Champagne to Provence, it was then that she truly fell in love with the country, the amazing regional differences, the food, the pressing palms, walking the vineyards and sharing meals with the small family farmers that produced the wines she so adored. That first trip ignited her passion and eventually her philosophy about wine, the emotional and personal side of it. She now makes regular trips to France for both researching new and exciting producers, and to cement relationships with producers we continue to support year after year.


In addition to wine buying, Samantha supervises the store, conducts tastings, classes & seminars, and does extensive writing on wine in our store’s newsletter, blogs and posts. Her award-winning blog Samantha Sans Dosage has an international readership including top wine writers on three continents. She has also lent her expertise in Champagne as a consultant to two leading wine importers.


Samantha is married and her son Jeremy is also in the wine and spirits business.  When she isn’t working or writing, Samantha enjoys cooking and traveling.


Samantha can be reached at



Kevin Lepisto, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria, Central Europe & Other Mediterranean Wines

Kevin, a native Californian, was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Orange County. He graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Public Relations, and shortly thereafter began a career in Corporate Recruiting. Kevin was first introduced to wine from his parents, their love of California wine and trips to Napa and Sonoma. He, too, fell in love with wine and cooking and began exploring wine by joining wine clubs and introducing his friends to wine with dinner parties and wine tastings at home.


In 2010, Kevin decided to change his life and follow this passion.   He began his new career working in Italian restaurants in West Hollywood and quickly fell in love with Italian wines and food, learning the diversity of each by region. After joining The Wine Country team in early 2016, he has also developed into an enthusiastic advocate for the thrilling wines of Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.


Kevin looks forward to sharing his passion and excitement for these wines.


Kevin can be reached at



Christopher Costales, California, Oregon, Washington & Other Wines of North America

A native of Lake Elsinore, California, Christopher spent ten years working at Thornton Winery in the Temecula wine region of California, where his duties spanned the tasting room, wine production and running the wine program at the winery restaurant.  During that time he honed his interest in the wines of the world, completing his certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers and obtaining his level 2 in WSET.  He is also a Certified Specialist of Wine in the Society of Wine Educators, and achieved the title of French Wine Scholar with honors in the Wine Scholar Guild.


Chris's passion for wine, his thirst for wine knowledge and his desire to serve his customers are all qualities that have made him superbly able to lead our North American wine department in exciting new directions.


When he isn't discovering new wines, Chris loves to cook, play guitar and travel.


Chris can be reached at



Andy Acosta, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, New Zealand & Australian Wines

After a long career in the aerospace industry, Andy’s passion for fine wine and living the good life led him to The Wine Country, first as an avid customer, and later heading up our beer and Southern Hemisphere departments. Focusing now exclusively on south-of-the-equator wines, Andy continues his fine work offering quality wines from Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay.


Andy’s hobbies are eating, drinking and traveling the world.


Andy can be reached at


Nick Larson, Craft Beer & Liquor


I’m the craft beer and liquor specialist here at The Wine Country. My interest in beer began in college. I studied Kinesiology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and during my sophomore year was introduced to the basics of craft beer. Soon after I got a fake ID so I could buy my own craft beer and visit the local breweries. The week after I turned 21 I got a job at Firestone-Walker Brewing in Paso Robles, and worked there for nearly 3 years while I finished up school. I worked in their tasting room gave brewery tours, and eventually did a little brewing and worked some events for them. In addition, I wrote an award-winning beer column for the Cal Poly student-run newspaper.


Post-college, I moved to the Bay Area and helped start up Armstrong Brewing in San Francisco as a consultant, and also was a manager/beer buyer at San Jose craft beer hub Original Gravity. Being originally from Long Beach, I eventually moved back down here and found a home here at The Wine Country.


As for spirits, my world revolves around tequila, then spins outward.


Nick can be reached at



Katy Wade, Gourmet Food, Gifts & Accessories

A native Southern Californian and the daughter of prominent Long Beach photographer Bill Wade, Katy was a very picky eater as a child. It wasn’t until her late twenties that she developed a love of all things food. She had been in Telecom sales for over 11 years and needed a change. Since Katy had always possessed a love of baking, she took her new passion to culinary school where she became a certified pastry chef. Her new skills allowed her to meet many chefs, which in turn nurtured a growing love of cooking, a quality that would serve her well in her present position.


As The Wine Country’s food buyer, she spends much of her time searching for and acquiring new foods with flavors that are sure to titillate your taste buds, and she prepares cheeses and other foods for all our tasting events. As our accessory buyer, Katy is responsible for seeking out fine stemware, barware, handsome wine accessories and gifts. Katy also manages our website, providing the images and organizing its content.


Katy joined The Wine Country’s team in January 2017, and can finally say she is doing what she loves every day of her life.


Katy can be reached at



Dale Kemner, Office Manager & Gift Baskets

Dale Kemner is The Wine Country’s office manager and gift basket designer.


Raised in Long Beach, California since the age of 6 months, Dale was educated at Jordan High School and Long Beach City College. After working in the dentistry field for 27 years, she permanently joined The Wine Country staff full time in the fall of 2007.


Dale loves cooking for friends and she brings great talent and creative energy to our custom gift basket program. She has travelled to France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland, the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia. She has a mortal weakness for Champagne.


She currently resides with her husband Randy in Long Beach, California.


Dale is available at



Randy Kemner, Proprietor

A Long Beach native, Randy Kemner began his love affair with wine over 47 years ago while working as a professional pianist in a fine dining restaurant. In 1982 he launched his wine career working in a retail wine store in Long Beach and began heading down the path that would lead him to being the owner of one of Southern California’s leading wine stores.


From 1985 to 1995, he co-founded and co-owned Pacific Coast Wine Marketing, a boutique wine distributor for California artisan wines, Symington Ports & Madeiras and Kermit Lynch French Imports. With the buyout from his partner, Randy opened The Wine Country on November 14, 1995—now in its 23rd year in business— which he co-owns with his wife Dale.


Randy is available at

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