About Us
People are at the heart of everything we do. From our winemaker and the crew that tends to each vine, to our chef and our team in the tasting room, we aim to provide a best in class wine & food experience.
Our Team
Jean Case
Jean Case, the Chairman of the National Geographic Society and CEO of the Case Impact Network and the Case Foundation, is a philanthropist, investor and internet and impact investing pioneer who is a passionate believer in the power of business to do good and advocates for the importance of embracing a more fearless approach to innovate and bring about transformational breakthroughs. Her career in the private sector, including as a senior executive at AOL, spanned nearly two decades before co-founding the Case Foundation in 1997. A Virginia resident for 35 years, she has led a movement to showcase the best foods and wines from across the Commonwealth. She opened Early Mountain Vineyards in 2012 and since then the vineyard has elevated to one of the most celebrated in the state with recognitions from USA Today, Food & Wine Magazine, Wine Enthusiast and more.
Maya Hood White
Winemaker & Viticulturalist
With an excitement for environmentally low-impact viticulture, wine chemistry and sensory, Maya manages the vineyards at Early Mountain and leads wine production in the cellar. Born in California, Maya has found a new love of wine in central Virginia. She earned an M.S. in Viticulture and Enology from U.C. Davis, with her research focusing on time-dependent sensory profiles and bubble nucleation of sparkling wine, as well as studies of Viognier wines from France, California and Virginia. She gained previous experience at several local boutique wineries around the state. Before getting into wine, Maya studied mathematics and engineering.
Peter Hoehn
Born and educated in Switzerland, Peter Hoehn is a true world traveler. He’s managed hotels and resorts around the world for 30 years, from the Caribbean to California to Virginia, to North Carolina. Virginians, however, know Peter as a former executive at the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, where he fell in love with and promoted Virginia wines. Having grown up near vineyards experiencing the magic that transforms delicate grape buds into complex wines, Peter is driven by a sense of purpose to advocate for the Virginia wine region and the beverage that fascinates him.
Dave Kostelnik
General Manager
Dave Kostelnik has been enamored with Virginia wine since relocating to the area almost two decades ago. He previously served as general manager of Charlottesville's specialty food store Feast, and understands the vibrant local food and wine landscape and its significance to Virginia. Before entering the world of food and wine, Dave spent time in marketing and public relations for tech start-ups and financial companies in Silicon Valley and Manhattan. In his role at the vineyard, Dave's goal is to ensure that each visitor experiences top-notch Virginia wines in an exceptional atmosphere.
Tim Moore
Executive Chef
Tim's culinary journey began in Richmond, where he discovered his true passion for the culinary arts. In 2012, he had the opportunity to join the culinary team at The Inn at Little Washington, marking a transformative chapter in his career. Tim drew inspiration from Chef O'Connell's expertise and the focus on exceptional hospitality and was proud to be a member of the team that achieved three Michelin stars. As Executive Chef at Early Mountain, Tim showcases his unwavering dedication with every dish he artfully crafts, blending technical expertise, artistic flair, and a profound understanding of ingredients. Raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, Tim loves fishing and spending time outdoors with his family.
Bekah Erkel
Director of Marketing
Bekah's artistic journey started as a teen working at her father's graphic design firm. With a solid foundation in visuals and design, her passion for psychology and strategic thinking led her to study marketing, ultimately leading to a career in the luxury marketing sector. As an award-winning photographer, Bekah's distinct touch lies in her ability to intertwine strategic branding with genuine connectivity. Beyond work, she finds inspiration in travel, music, and art.
Melissa Rice
Director Of Events
Melissa oversees the sales and execution of Events at Early Mountain, including weddings, private events and vineyard festivals. Having 14 years experience in the events space, Melissa was formerly with University of Virginia Darden School of Business and Farmington Country Club. Born and raised in New York, Melissa attended University of the Arts in Philadelphia as a dance major, and has two of the best kids a mom could ask for. Tragically, she is allergic to red wine, but Melissa will never pass up a glass of Virginia bubbles!
Sara Markham
Senior Events Manager
After working with the events team at Pippin Hill and Boar’s Head Resort, Sara became an instrumental part of our Events team when she joined Early Mountain in 2016. Since then, Sara has planned and executed over 500 weddings, festivals, and private events at Early Mountain, and she helped to build our events catering department and beverage program. Sara has lived in Virginia her entire life, including her time in college receiving her Bachelors in Education from Longwood University. While Sara knows her VA wine, she also has a passion for creating delicious craft cocktails and checking out the local breweries. Sara loves to read, spend time with her son, Carter, and enjoy a glass of Petit Manseng with friends.
Michael Seay
Director of Wine & Hospitality
Michael is a 11th-generation Virginian from Old Town Alexandria. With a profound passion for hospitality and service, his journey led him to esteemed culinary establishments like Fabio Trabocchi and The Inn at Little Washington. It was there that he first discovered the artistry of Chef Tim's cuisine. Holding a level 3 WSET certification, he channels his enthusiasm into the world of exceptional food and wine. Beyond his culinary endeavors, he's a proud Francophile, former historian, and a Heavy Metal drummer, but his most cherished role is being a dedicated father to his daughter, Marigold.
Kristen Hall
Chef de Cuisine
With a sweet start as Pastry Chef at The Inn at Little Washington, Kristen worked alongside Chef Tim and was part of the team that earned three Michelin stars. Joining our team in 2019, Kristen has been a leading asset ever since, bringing her impressive background, unwavering dedication, and creative spirit to elevate our culinary experiences. Kristen was born and raised in Culpeper, Virginia, and graduated from the prestigious Johnson and Wales University with both a Baking and Pastry Arts Degree, and a Food and Beverage Management Degree. She loves trying new wines, spending time with family and friends, and playing with her two adorable pups.
Paige Burnett
Tasting Room Manager
Full bio coming soon.
Julia Graves
Assistant Winemaker
Julia received her M.S. degree in Vine, Wine, and Terroir Management from the Ecole Supérieure d’Agricultures, during which she studied winemaking and sustainable viticulture in Spain, Italy, and France. She completed her thesis at Fresno State University, and her research on how polysaccharides influence the results of polymeric pigment analysis in red wines was published in the ACS Journal of Food Science and Technology. She previously completed her undergraduate degree in Food Science and Technology from the University of Georgia and caught the wine bug while studying abroad in Tuscany. Julia has spent the last several years working in Napa and Sonoma but has decided to settle in Virginia a little closer to her family in the southeast. She is excited to continue making high quality wines with minimal intervention and terroir expression. When not at work, you can find her spending time with her dog Daisy and sampling the local cuisine.
Jenny Desormeaux - Farrell
Cellar Lead and Lab Manager
Jenny studied horticulture at Virginia Tech before working at several greenhouses around Virginia. It was her interest in plants and viticulture that led her to pursuing a harvest internship in 2022. Since then she has stayed on and continues to work in the cellar and production laboratory. When she's not in the lab you'll find her hanging out with her two cats, tending to all her houseplants or trying to master a new bread recipe.
Dustin Wade
Vineyard Manager
Dustin Wade joined Early Mountain Vineyards in 2012 as property manager and was promoted to Vineyard Manager in 2019 after years of hands on learning. Together with our Viticulturist Maya and the rest of our team, Dustin ensures every single one of our vines and grapes receive the utmost care. When not in the vineyard, Dustin loves cheering on his favorite sports teams and learning to play golf. His desert island wine- definitely Riesling, especially if its German.
Allegra Barnes
Assistant Vineyard Mananger
Allegra studied religion and political science at Boston University and quickly learned that an office job was not for her. After several summers farming organic vegetables and bartending in the off-season, growing wine grapes offered a natural combination of both. She has worked with various vineyards in Maryland, California, and now Virginia. She is enthusiastic about a future of progressive, sustainable viticulture on the east coast.
Please submit your resume via email to: JOBS@EARLYMOUNTAIN.COM
Our Vineyards
In a profession so steeped in history, it’s inevitable that we look to the past for inspiration. While our work is informed by knowledge and techniques developed in more established wine regions of the world, we also know a vine in Virginia does not root in the same soil as Europe or spread leaves into the same sun as California. When we understand grapes on their own terms, we create wines with identities that are compelling because the sun, the rain, the plant, the soil, and hands that touch these vines are unique to this place in Virginia.
Our Process
This tactic of understanding drives our wine growing, and every year we learn from each block at each site. We take this to the cellar and do our best to make the wines the grapes want to be. As our vines get older, so do we, and with that comes the wisdom of age and our contribution to the emergence of Virginia’s wine culture.
Our History
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Early Mountain is a pristine 350 acre property surrounded by rolling hills and pastoral farms.
In 2005, Jess and Sharon Sweely planted the first vineyards on the property. Jean Case and her husband, Steve, purchased the property in 2010 and, after some renovations, re-opened it under the Early Mountain brand in 2012. In 2015, Early Mountain expanded its acreage to include Quaker Run Vineyard, 14 miles north of the Early Mountain estate in Madison County. That year, Early Mountain increased its acreage of classic Bordeaux-type varietals such as Cabernet Franc and Merlot and added new varietals including Malvasia Bianca, Sauvignon Blanc, and Tannat.
In 2016, Early Mountain Vineyards was voted the number one tasting room in the nation by USA Today in its 10 Best Readers Choice contest.
Guests may visit our tasting room for our award-winning wines or to dine in our restaurant. Our Wine Club also allows customers to receive our wines quarterly and to attend special events at the winery.
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