Guest Speaker – ELLISA COOPER, Barterhouse


Ellisa Cooper is one of the busiest and most dynamic personalities among New York’s new breed of wine consultants. Over the past 5 years, she has built a considerable following and a growing reputation working with retailers, restaurants, importers, wineries and most importantly, consumers. Active in both the retail and wholesale aspects of distribution, Ellisa has been instrumental in changing the way wine is marketed in New York City.

Ellisa possesses an extensive, almost encyclopedic, knowledge of all things wine-related. She is currently developing her own media concept for DVD, television and print, entitled The Two Things You Need to Know About WineŽ. Ellisa’s early education in wine began while working with many of the great New York restaurants, where top chefs prepared foods that demanded great wines. She is also a graduate of the American Sommelier Association.

Ellisa is currently Director of Wine Education for The Barterhouse, an importer and distributor specializing in rare and collectible wines and imports from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the US. She works toward the expansion of the Barterhouse wine portfolio and works with importers and wineries launch new wines into the marketplace. She also works in-hand with the sales staff on education and sales.

Ellisa is a Wine Educator for Bottlerocket, a unique wine store in the Flatiron District, where she teaches many consumer classes throughout the year and leads their private and corporate wine events.

As a wine consultant, Ellisa has been instrumental in the opening of three boutique wine stores in NYC. In 2004, she created Discovery Wines – a cutting-edge retail store in New York’s East Village. Ellisa created a new dynamic in the way consumers shop for wine. Gone were the narrow, cluttered aisles and floor stacks of inexpensive, mass produced wines. Instead, a modern designed space with a gallery-like feel was stocked with bottles of well-made, small production wines displayed like art. “The CFOs behind the major brands are concerned with numbers, not the art of creating a great wine. I think every wine should have a farmer behind its label, not a board of directors.”

As Director of Education for Discovery Wines, Ellisa wrote and edited the store’s tasting notes, including grape blends, vinification techniques, climate and vineyard information, winemaker biographies, appellations and food pairings on each wine so customers could familiarize themselves with wine vocabulary and organization, all of which were available on the store’s eleven computer kiosks. She also taught a weekly class and organized hundreds of public and private tasting events “Wine is one of the most information-intensive purchases we make, but many people don’t want to ask questions because they’re afraid of looking foolish. Some people don’t even know what questions to ask.

In 2006, Ellisa helped create Hunter’s Point Wine & Spirits and in 2007, she worked on the opening of Picada Y Vino in Park Slope.

Ellisa’s mantra is simple, “The only way to learn wine is to drink wine. The goal for the consumer should be to taste many different wines as possible. It’s the only way to learn what you like and dislike. The best part about wine is that there is no right or wrong – Palates are like fingerprints, everyone’s is unique.”


Joshua Wesson

Though best-known as the co-founder of Best Cellars, Joshua Wesson enjoyed a long and successful career in the food and wine industry.

In 1984, Mr. Wesson won the title of Best Sommelier in French Wines & Spirits in the United States. Two years later, he traveled to Paris to represent America in international competition, where he was named one of the top five sommeliers in the world by Sopexa, Food and Wines from France.

In 1989, he was nominated for the Who’s Who in American Cooking. In 1990, Mr. Wesson was elected to the board of the American Institute of Wine & Food’s New York chapter. In 1997, Food & Wine magazine named him the Retail Wine Innovator of the Year for his work in developing Best Cellars (which opened in the fall of 1996). In 2003, he received the prestigious Ambassador’s Award from the European Wine Council. In 2005, JetBlue Airways selected him as its official “Low-fare Sommelier.” In 2007, he merged Best Cellars with the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P;)–the company who’s wine, beer and spirits division he now leads.

Mr. Wesson is a leading authority on the pairing of wine and food. He writes for numerous magazines. He has been a guest on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS-The Early Show, Headline News, Moneyline and Power Lunch. Mr. Wesson is also a regular commentator on NPR/Public Radio International’s “The Splendid Table.”

His wine recommendations can be found in Fernando Saralegui’s Our Latin Table, published by Bulfinch, Anne Rosenzweig’s Arcadia Cookbook, published by Abrams, and Betty Fussell’s Bistro Fare, published by Ecco/Norton. His own book, the award-winning Red Wine with Fish: The New Art of Matching Food with Wine (1989 Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year; 1990 International Association of Culinary Professionals, “Silver Medal” recipient), co-authored with David Rosengarten, was published in 1989 by Simon & Schuster. In May of 2008, Fireside/Simon & Schuster released Wesson’s newest book, William-Sonoma Wine & Food—A New Look at Flavor.

Mr. Wesson is also a featured speaker at many wine events around the world. He attended Hampshire College and the University of Rochester’s Graduate School of Community and Preventive Medicine. He lives in Gotham, on Manhattan’s unfashionable Upper West Side.