The People

At John Anthony Family of Wines, we’re driven by passion, dedication and focus. Meet some of the people behind these brands.

John Anthony Truchard, Founder and CEO

John Anthony Truchard, founder and CEO of John Anthony Family of Wines, is a Napa Valley Vintner leading one of the fastest-growing brands in the wine industry today. As a student at UC Davis, he decided to devote his life to wine. Employing the skills his father taught him, he started a vineyard management business in the mid-1990s—growing grapes for others to eventually realize funds to plant his own vineyards. Read More …

John’s vineyard sites provide the fruit for John Anthony Vineyards, which had its first vintage in 2003. The collection now includes: John Anthony Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines for distribution; ultra-small batch Sauvignon Blanc from Church Vineyard, Carneros; Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley; and a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Early acclaim placed John Anthony Vineyards on the map as one of the finest producers in the Napa Valley. John subsequently began a second label comprising Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from some of his farming clients’ best vineyard blocks. These wines focus on the unsung role of the farmer, named after his vineyard management business, FARM Napa Valley by John Anthony.

In 2008 John resolved to make great wines accessible to more people under the brand JaM Cellars (short for John and his wife Michele). The result was a rich, bold California Cabernet Sauvignon under $20 called JaM. Its success prompted the creation of a creamy Chardonnay called Butter, with Toast Sparkling following quickly thereafter. In February 2018 JaM Cellars released California Candy Dry Rosé, which sold out in distribution. The current release of Butter Chardonnay is over 800K cases across 49 states and is also available in 1.5L magnums and newly-released 4-pack 250ml ButterCans. This year Nielsen reported Butter Chardonnay the #1 selling domestic Chardonnay in its price point (source Nielsen: 6.16.18, 52 weeks) and the brand is also a two-year running Impact Hot Brand award winner (2016 and 2017).

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Michele Truchard, Proprietor

Michele Truchard is a fourth-generation Napan, born into the Crane family of Napa Valley. She left Napa to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics with extended study in neonatal and pediatric nutrition. Michele started her career as a nutritionist in San Francisco at UCSF Medical Center and St. Mary’s Hospital, but wine country called her back. Read More …

Michele returned home to Napa after reconnecting with her future husband John Anthony Truchard. Combining her training as a nutritionist with her knowledge and appreciation of wine, Michele developed several successful food-and-wine pairing programs for the Terlato Wine Group’s Rutherford Hill and Chimney Rock wineries. In 2003, she helped John launch John Anthony Vineyards and bottle its first vintage of Napa Valley Syrah.

Michele eventually left Terlato to dedicate herself full-time to John Anthony Vineyards and raising their family of three children. John Anthony Family of Wines has since added two more labels: JaM Cellars in 2009 (JaM is short for John and Michele), and FARM Napa Valley in 2012.  Today, Michele is a spokesperson for the company and instrumental in producing exclusive brand experiences across the portfolio for trade and consumers—food and wine pairings, farm-to-table dinners, and live music events—as well as supporting local and national causes with John Anthony Family of Wines.

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Jeff Kandarian, Winemaker

Jeff was born and raised in the agriculturally based San Joaquin Valley of California and knew early on that he wanted to make wine. At California State University of Fresno he studied Enology and Chemistry earning his Bachelor of Sciences degree. Read More …

Jeff honed his winemaking craft at both large and small wineries in the Paso Robles AVA, notably including Justin, Meridian, Eberle, and Shandon Valley Partners. Eventually the northern, cool, coastal climate in Oregon called to him and he landed there as Winemaker with Del Rio Vineyards and Winery.

In the summer of 2008, Jeff joined King Estate, taking the mantel of Director of Winemaking and Viticulture in 2010. His energy and passion for winemaking translated to exceptional wines for King Estate. Jeff also established himself as a respected voice in the industry, speaking at wine industry symposia on his approach for making outstanding Oregon Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. During this time King Estate received “Winery of the Year” on three separate occasions from Wine & Spirits magazine.

In 2014 Jeff connected with John Truchard, relocated to the Napa Valley and took over winemaking for the John Anthony Family of Wines portfolio. Jeff makes wine across the signature, estate collection of John Anthony Vineyards; the artisanal, hand-farmed FARM Napa Valley; and the all-occasion Californian wines JaM Cellars. At John Anthony, Jeff continues to add to his career collection of over forty 90+ points ratings from Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate—confirming his skill as a world-class winemaker.

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Geoff Whitman, EVP Sales

Geoff’s wine industry career spans over two decades. His roles include fine wine hospitality and sales, major account sales and distribution, winemaking, production, and executive leadership. Having worked with industry icons across all facets of the business, Geoff brings broad expertise and deep relationships to his position with John Anthony Family of Wines. Read More …

Geoff began his wine career in 1994 in Santa Barbara, California where he held a management position at Wine Cask, a fine-wine and dining restaurant, as well as working harvest and in the cellar at prestigious wineries including Au Bon Climat and Qupé.

In 1999, Geoff switched into the distribution side of the wine business, joining Southern Wine & Spirits as a fine wine salesperson. This experience led him to Robert Mondavi Corporation in 2001, where he held key sales positions in Los Angeles and later in the southwest of the U.S. for the next 6 years. In October 2007, Geoff joined Rob Mondavi Jr. as Managing Partner and Assistant Winemaker for their brands Spellbound and Medusa. Geoff and his wife, Jemina, relocated to Napa, where Geoff could immerse himself in the vineyards and winery.

By 2009 Michael Mondavi asked Geoff to take on the additional role of General Manager for his Michael Mondavi Family Estate, calling on Geoff’s winemaking and production skills, along with his expertise in fine wine sales and marketing. Wines included the highly-allocated and rare M by Michael Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, Isabel Mondavi Wines, and Emblem brands.

In 2015, having successfully sold the brands he’d helped build, Geoff connected with John Anthony Truchard and joined the John Anthony Family of Wines team to build a sales organization for the portfolio. Geoff leads all sales efforts in the three tier distribution channel.

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Sarah Montague, Chief Marketing Officer

Sarah brings 25 years consumer marketing experience with her to John Anthony Family of Wines. Beginning her career in London, and subsequently Chicago and San Francisco, Sarah has worked at some of the world’s leading communications agencies including: Brann Worldwide; Foote, Cone & Belding; Draft; Digitas; and Organic. Read More …

Sarah’s expertise is in understanding and connecting with consumers across touchpoints to build brand equity and drive sales. Having led accounts including, Kraft, Quaker, eBay, Foster Farms and Nike, Sarah knows what motivates consumers to make brands part of their everyday lives.

A love of wine and frequent visits to Napa over the past decade landed Sarah in the Napa Valley in 2013. Consulting with wineries and BottleRock Napa Valley eventually led her to John Anthony Truchard. They met just as the nationally distributed JaM Cellars brand was taking off and the company was seeking marketing discipline and rigor. Sarah joined the John Anthony Family of Wines team as Chief Marketing Officer in 2015.

Sarah has established an innovative consumer and trade marketing framework for the brands. Employing a zero-based planning approach, Sarah helps the brands meet consumers where they are—online, offline, in-store, in the tasting rooms and at festivals, including BottleRock Napa Valley where JaM Cellars was Presenting Sponsor in 2016. In her first year with John Anthony, Sarah has built an engaged social community of almost 25,000 fans and a trade marketing platform that supports a growing base of national distributors and retailers. Sarah is WSET Level II certified and currently studying the Executive MBA Wine Industry program at Sonoma State University.

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Dallas Brennan, VP Direct Sales

Dallas was first introduced to the world of wine while attending college at UC Berkley and working nights at Chez Panisse. Dallas spent several years after college working in finance and land development, but missed curating memorable experiences and building relationships with people over a great meal or superb glass of wine. Read More …

In 2006 Dallas teamed up with James Beard award winning chef Suzanne Goin to open the Hungry Cat restaurant as a sommelier. Dallas teamed up with Thomas Keller of The French Laundry as a sommelier in 2007. In 2009 Dallas brought his skillset to Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, opening Morimoto Napa.

In 2010, Dallas moved to New Orleans, Louisiana to become State Sales Manager for Neat Wines, a Napa wine focused distributor. He input logistical, operational and educational systems that increased sales distribution throughout the state and doubled revenue in less than two years. Dallas returned to Napa in 2014 as Director of Sales for Larkmead Vineyards, where he reinvigorated the service and sales programs of one of Napa’s oldest wine estates.

In 2016 Dallas joined the John Anthony Family of Wines as Vice President of Direct Sales. He continues to increase sales for John Anthony Vineyards, FARM by John Anthony and JaM Cellars through relationship building and hospitality.

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Liza Butler, VP of Design and Product Development

Liza Butler has a storied 25-year career concepting and launching successful beverage alcohol brands. An award-winning, multidisciplinary design leader, strategic thinker and storyteller, Liza’s focus is on truly differentiating the brands she creates. Her vision leads to the creation of distinctive, engaging products that connect with consumers on a personal level. Read More …

Liza’s experience with leading London design agencies including Design Bridge and Springetts exposed her to the wine and spirits industry, where she found her passion. Prior to joining John Anthony Family of Wines, Liza was Senior Director of Creative at E & J Gallo Winery driving new brand development and managing a design portfolio of over 100 brands across spirits, premium and popular price segments.

Originally from England, Liza gained her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Derbyshire University. Her dry British sense of humor carry her through an exceptionally busy career and personal life as Mother to twin boys, and an athlete dedicated to fitness and health.

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Jim Collins, Chief Financial Officer

Jim brings 30 years’ executive experience with beer, wine and spirits companies. As CFO of Pete’s Brewing Company, Jim oversaw finance and production functions supporting the growth of Pete’s Wicked Ale®. The brand grew from startup to 5 million cases in just 6 years earning Inc. 500® awards as one of the 100 fastest-growing, privately-held companies in America 3 straight years. Jim also led the company’s effort to go public on NASDAQ. Read More …

Jim previously held CFO positions with St. Supéry Vineyards and Winery, and Leslie Rudd Investment Company, a private investment holding company with diverse holdings in beverage alcohol and hospitality. He first met John Anthony Truchard as Co-Founder of Halsey Bottling, then one of the largest mobile bottling companies in Northern California, where Jim’s team bottled some of the first vintages of Butter Chardonnay for JaM Cellars. Jim is a Certified Public Accountant Accredited in Business Valuation, a Chartered Global Management Accountant and a Certified Family Business Advisor. Jim, his wife Dorothea have three grown children and make their home in Napa.

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