2021 Grand Seminar

The Perfume of Pinot

Much like a memorable wine, fragrance has a distinct power in its ability to take us to a specific time and place. Whether it’s the scent of perfume or the aroma of wine, our sense of smell guides our initial response. In this year’s virtual Grand Seminar, we’ll explore Pinot Noir through the language – and the nose – of the perfumer. Join co-moderator and wine writer Julia Coney, a former perfume writer, and her co-moderator, wine writer Michelle Williams, as they engage our all-star panel of winemakers in conversation about the science of scent, how what we smell influences what we taste, and how the words we use to describe aromas can impact the way we experience wine.


Julia Coney

Julia Coney is a Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas-based wine writer, wine educator, speaker, and consultant. Her wine writing includes stories on wine, winemakers, personal essays, and the intersection of race and wine. She holds a WSET Level Two Certification in Wine and Spirits and is currently pursuing her Master Level Champagne Certification with the Wine Scholar Guild. Her work has been featured in Wine Enthusiast, Vinepair, Food + Wine, The Tasting Panel, Plate Magazine, Forbes.com, WineEnthusiast.com, Glamour, Essence, The Washington Post, and numerous print and digital publications.  She is a 2019 Fellow of the Professional Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Julia has spoken on writing, diversity, inclusion, intersectionality, and more at wine2wine in Verona, Italy, Assemblage Symposium, Women in Wine Leadership Symposium, and CIA Sommelier Summit and Beverage Professionals Conferences.

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams is an award-winning wine writer for consumer, B2B, and B2C platforms. Her work appears in numerous publications, including Forbes, Wine-Searcher, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, The Buyer, Wine Business Monthly. She passionately explores the globe through the lens of a wine glass—preferably full—celebrating the communal experience of wine and illuminating the stories beyond the bottle. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and holds an advanced certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. In addition to writing, Michelle is a wine educator, speaker, and judge. 


Arron Bell

Assistant Winemaker Arron Bell joined Domaine Drouhin Oregon in 2002, and has been an integral part of the winery’s operations ever since. He works hand in hand with Véronique to craft the elegant, age-worthy wines for which DDO is known, oversees the production team year-round, and manages operations. He is a native Oregonian, a graduate in Philosophy from the University of Oregon, and a deeply knowledgeable voice for the Drouhin wines produced in Burgundy and in the Willamette Valley.

David Coventry

As a native of Monterey, California, David Coventry knows firsthand just how special the region is– with its rugged mountains, rolling fog and vineyard-blanketed land. Although he took a circuitous path from chemistry and music management to winemaking, David would eventually return home to Monterey as the head winemaker for Talbott Vineyards. David went on to craft wines at Morgan Winery, RF Wines and Puma Road Winery, garnering critical acclaim and notoriety for the region. In 2016, David’s career came full circle as he took the reins as Talbott’s winemaker with Dan Karlsen’s blessing. Since then, he has led Talbott Vineyards to worldwide critical acclaim for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, proving that the distinctive flavors of the region can come only from this iconic place.

Thibault Gagey

Surrounded by the scenic region of Burgundy, Thibault Gagey was educated throughout his teen years on the process of winemaking and business of wine from his grandfather, Andre Gagey and father, Pierre-Henry Gagey, who were both known for their significant roles at Maison Louis Jadot. After building this experience in the wine industry, he returned to Burgundy in 2014 to work for Maison Louis Jadot as the Deputy General Manager. He has since taken an interest in returning to the US for Louis Jadot’s latest project, Résonance, located in the Yamhill-Carlton Valley of Oregon. He has been working alongside family friend and renowned Burgundy winemaker, Jacques Lardière. This exciting new project allows Thibault to work between two beautiful terroirs- Burgundy and Oregon.

Tahmiene Momtazi

Nestled in the foothills of the McMinnville AVA, our Demeter Certified Biodynamic vineyard captures unique characteristics from some of the oldest soils in the state of Oregon. Momtazi Vineyard is farmed holistically, using only estate-made compost and herbal teas, allowing our 260 acres of vines to produce fruit of the highest quality each vintage free from the input of chemicals and artificial fertilizer. The wines from Maysara reflect this holistic commitment to our terroir, by showcasing the natural expression of fruit and earth and staying true to the integrity of the soils from which our grapes are grown. As stewards of the land, we work with the natural variance of Oregon’s growing seasons to produce wines that are true to each vintage, free from manipulation and crafted with the balance to evolve for years to come in the comfort of your cellar. 

Kate Payne-Brown

Raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Kate came to Oregon for her undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon. She studied science and was intending to work in the Optometry field. However, shortly after graduation, the allure of the wine industry changed the course of her career, and Kate moved to Australia to study at the University of Adelaide, where she completed her master’s degree in Oenology. After a couple of years making Shiraz and Cabernet, she moved back to Oregon to work for Archery Summit, where she remained for over six years as the Assistant Winemaker. In 2014, she left to work for a French winemaking consultancy and is now thrilled to be a part of the incredible team at Stoller Family Estate.

Tony Soter

Tony Soter gained recognition in California as the founder of Etude Wines, and consultant to luminaries such as Araujo, Shafer, Spottswoode, and Dalle Valle. He has demonstrated a genius for crafting award-winning wines over his four decades of innovative winegrowing and is recognized as a pioneer of organic viticultural practices. Over 20 years ago, Tony and his late wife and partner, Michelle Soter, settled in the Willamette Valley and founded at Mineral Springs Ranch, a Biodynamic farm and vineyard they regard as a haven for raising world-class Oregon Pinot noir and sparkling wines. Today, Soter Vineyards consistently produces wines of the highest caliber in a way that treads softly on the earth yet pushes the boundaries of innovation, allowing a unique voice to emerge from their ancient soils and temperate climate.