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 [email protected]

 

 

Kevin Lepisto, Wines of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria, Central Europe, Kosher Wine, Other Mediterranean Wines & Special Events Co-ordinator

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 [email protected]

 

 

Jessica Martinez, Wines of North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand & South Africa

     

Jessica came to The Wine Country after blogging about wine and food for several years.  Blessed with a gifted palate, she excels at customer service.  In her role as buyer for wines of the Southern Hemisphere, she seeks out excellent wines, often at great value.  In October 2019, Jessica was appointed wine buyer of North American wines.  Her special emphasis is to search out outstanding wines from smaller, family-owned wineries, wines that possess character, balance, finesse and which respect tradition.

 

Jessica can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

Diana Rosas, Craft Beer, Cider, Mead, Sake, Hard Kombucha & Hard Seltzer

 

A native of Long Beach, California, Diana comes to us from the Long Beach Beer Lab after a five year career in the hospitality business.  Her expertise and enthusiasm for craft beer is infectious, and her desire to share her newest and latest discoveries in boundless.

  

In her spare time, Diana loves to cook and she belongs to a soccer league.  She also volunteers at the Long Beach animal shelter.

 

Diana can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

Laurie Tisdale-Lowe, Wine Specialist

Born and raised in Michigan, Laurie's family moved to Long Beach when she was 14 years old.  After attending high school and university locally, she worked in various businesses until she found her first calling in the office products industry.  Working her way through various operational and management positions and then making the leap to local sales and management positions, she spent her last ten years in that industry as a National Account Manager, building her sales portfolio to $42 million dollars before retiring after 23 years to pursue her love of wine.

 

Laurie has loved wine since her 20s, eagerly traveling throughout California to taste, discuss, and learn about wines of all types.  After retiring, she took retail wine positions that had the bonus of structured training.  During that time she learned even more about domestic wines, international wines, beer and spirits.

 

After paying her dues in a national beverage chain store (which was more about hawking certain brands than serving customers' real needs), Laurie joined The Wine Country several years ago as a Domestic Wine buyer.  She now enjoys working part time in all departments in our store, providing various services to our customers and enjoying every day in this wonderful environment.

    

When not at The Wine Country, Laurie enjoys long, brisk walks to keep fit, and attending local car shows with her husband Doug and their classic, fantastic 1968 Ford Mustang.

 

Laurie can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

Daniel Manion, Natural Wine Specialist, Customer Service

Raised right here in Signal Hill, California, Daniel is currently a student at California State University Long Beach with a major in International Studies.  While studying abroad in Barcelona, he ambled into Can Cisa Bar Brutal where he encountered natural wine for the first time.  Immediately discovering something he had never experienced before, it was a turning point for Daniel.  From then on, he has been on a mission, studying and sampling wine, always curious to learn more about this fascinating subject.  When he isn't swirling, sniffing and evaluating wine, Daniel loves snowboarding, camping, fashion and art.

 

Daniel can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

Patti O'Halloran, Marketing & Media

Born in Oakland, Patti spent her early years in Southern California, Virginia and Tehran, where her family escaped within days of the country declaring martial law.  She was educated at Boston University where she earned a BS in Communications, with a minor in Television and Production.

 

Patti's earlier career was devoted to video production, where she was responsible for all facets of creative content, working with clients such as Nissan, Infiniti, Subaru, Mattel, and Amazon. 

 

Along the way, Patti's love of wine led her to change careers, earning her WSET Level 1 and 2 certificates and apprenticing with a national retail chain before coming to the attention of The Wine Country.  Patti's gifts at communications and wine knowledge make her a valuable member of our team.

 

Patti can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

Dale Kemner, Secretary-Treasurer; Gourmet Food, Barware & Gift Buyer

Dale Kemner is The Wine Country’s gift basket designer, gourmet food buyer, barware and gift buyer and office manager.  Along with husband Randy, she co-owns our store.

 

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 traveled to France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Madeira, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland, Quebec, the Canadian Rockies and Vancouver Island. She confesses she has a mortal weakness for Champagne.

 

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

 

Dale is reached at [email protected]

 

 

Randy Kemner, Founder & President

A Long Beach native, Randy Kemner began his love affair with wine over 50 years ago while working as a professional pianist in the lounge of a local 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 create and develop 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 Imports. After the buyout from his partner, Randy opened The Wine Country on November 14, 1995—now in its 25th year in business— which he co-owns with his wife Dale.

 

Randy is available at [email protected]

The Wine Country

  • Southern California's Favorite Destination for Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, Craft Beer, Gourmet Foods, Wine Accessories & Gift Baskets
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