Eating grilled sardines and octopus while sipping vinho verde at the family table in Portugal led to Jennifer's love of food and wine. She reveled in the food markets and always accompanied her father to the same wine cave to drink 25 cent glasses of moscatel from the barrel. Jennifer grew up around the restaurant business including her father's wine bar in New York. At a young age she learned the demands of the business, watched how tastings were conducted, and helped deliver desserts to supplement the customer's wine experience.
Jennifer's hospitality and restaurant experience is broad and coupled with her love for traveling the world she decided to intentionally study wine. She earned her WSET Advanced certification in 2017 and traveled to different wine regions in France, New Zealand, and Portugal to apply her studies. She continued her wine studies through the NVWA and earned her French Wine Scholar designation in 2019.
Jennifer joined RARECAT Wines during the 2015 harvest and was hired full time thereafter! Working for a small winery she has worn/wears many hats; wine educator, assistant winemaker, client hospitality, and doggy-sitting two naughty winery dogs :) She loves the art and science of wine making and was lucky to have the RARECAT 2015 - 2019 Provence style Rose's named after her!
Ryan Avila is a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and has also studied within the Guild of Sommeliers & WSET.
Born and raised in San Diego, he is a hospitality entrepreneur and was involved in Marriott's task force training and facilitating the opening of new properties globally before eventually accepting a position at the Hotel Del Coronado. After years of wine course studies Ryan became HDC's resident Sommelier and was very involved with creating the wine program for the Oenology wine bar.
Nearly a decade later, Ryan now resides in Yountville in the Napa Valley. He spends majority of his time submerged in all facets of wine- whether that is in the vineyards, production, or DTC sales.
His passion for wine has finally landed him at RARECAT. Guiding guests through virtual and in person tastings, all which are a truly boutique wine country experience.
Born and raised in the Napa Valley, Leo's journey into the wine industry started when he was a young boy with his father who was a Vineyard Manager for Goosecross Cellars for 25+ years. His experiences with his father in the vineyard developed his understating of the viticulture process, and now he loves to share his knowledge with inquiring minds. Leo's experience was primarily hands-on, and in 2019 he decided to receive formal training through the world renowned WSET program in which he earned his WSET 2 certification with distinction.
Leo joined RARECAT in 2018 initially to assist with administrative tasks and to lend a helping hand where needed. Shortly thereafter he became part of the RARECAT team full time, and today is Head of Operations handling all winery logistics, managing the RARECAT Villa, and educating future RARECAT's about our varied wine portfolio - and the place he calls home, Napa Valley!
Sharon Kazan Harris
Owner, Director of Winemaking, Tech Executive, Innovator, Keynote Speaker
Sharon is driven by the vision of using wine to impact positive changed. As an innovator and entrepreneur, develop RARECAT's unique approach of using wine as a business tool. For her innovation, Sharon was recognized by Worth Magazine as One of the 29 Most Groundbreaking Women Changing the World in 2019.
After a successful tech start up went public, Sharon left the Silicon Valley start up world to study wine at the Universitie de Bordeaux and launch RARECAT Wines in 2008. Wine and fine cuisine had been a passion for Sharon since a Junior year abroad exposure to the French culture, Bordeaux wine region, and ultimately to an internship at a 2 Star restaurant and Wine Negotiant in Bordeaux. Sharon studied wine in French with two kids in tow and graduating with honors from the revered D.U.A.D. program from the oenology department.
Sharon will delight guests with her knowledge of winemaking in four world-class regions (she is the only America vintner producing wines in Champagne and Bordeaux), passion for sharing her love of wine, and understanding of why wine is a powerful tool in Business.
Sharon recently co-founded an event tech start as the visionary, product champion, and creative inspiration. Sharon's pre-winery days included positions as VP of Sales for a search engine company that went public, Managing Director for an international dividions of a publishing company, and Angel Investor. Her best works have been in helping to raise millions of dollars for many charities over the last few decades.