The American Fine Wine Invitational & Charity Wine Gala, which began in 2007 and is co-founded by Shari Gherman and Monty & Sara Preiser, has become one of the most influential wine events in the country. The competition takes place each January at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality Management in the Wine Spectator Restaurant Lab. The competition is followed by the annual Charity Wine Gala which takes place in April. A series of Wine & Business After Hours events that raise money for a variety of non-profits continue to promote these American wines throughout the year. Between 650 and 700 of the finest wines produced in the U.S. are invited to participate in the elite competition. Since its inception, AFWC has raised more than $750,000 for local charities.
Shari Gherman, President and co-founder, is a Sommelier and has been involved in the wine industry for over 25 years. Her experiences in virtually every aspect of the industry, including marketing, distribution, supply and advertising, have combined to form a unique background. Through the American Fine Wine Competition, Shari has established a vehicle to raise money for worthy causes, and has melded her love for wine with her drive to give something of value back to the community.
Monty and Sara Preiser, co-founders, reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. They honed their wine skills as they traveled the country while Monty practiced law for 20 years, and for many years were wine columnists for The Boca Raton News and other publications. They are now the principal wine writers/editors for numerous lifestyle magazines including Coastal Isles on the Atlantic Coast and Living on the Suncoast on the Florida west coast. They own Creative Professional Programs, a company devoted to continuing education for professionals in conjunction with fine wine & food instruction. The Preisers have served as judges for a number of wine competitions from east to west coast, are frequent guest commentators on wine radio shows, and now publish the most comprehensive guide to Napa Valley wineries and restaurants titled, appropriately, The Preiser Key to Napa Valley and its sister Publication, the Preiser Key to Sonoma.
Joel Feigenheimer, PhD. is a 30 year veteran of the hospitality industry. A graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Dr. Feigenheimer is now the NAC Eminent Scholar and Endowed Professor at The Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University in Miami. In addition to his academic career, he has worked in both the independent and corporate worlds of food service and presently consults for a variety of high profile organizations, both nationally and internationally. As an entrepreneur, he has experienced every facet of the food and beverage industry. Operating and consulting for bars, restaurants and hotels, he offers a unique outlook based upon proven real-world experience and the latest academic theory. In 2009, he founded “realEats Consulting”. This company specializes in profitability management in an ever-changing marketplace.
Rod Coleman, LLC.
A Lawyer with a Passion for Wine
The founding shareholder of Rod Coleman, LLC. a boutique litigation law firm in Boca Raton, Mr. Coleman has been a member of the Florida Bar for 30 years and specializes in civil trial practice. The firm's practice areas include business litigation, real estate litigation, professional malpractice, personal injury, and probate litigation.
Rod also has a passion for wine. He belongs to several wine tasting groups, has been collecting wine for more than 20 years, and is a member of the AFWC Advisory Board.
He received his undergraduate degree in 1980 from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia and his Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Rod is partnering with the AFWC as a sponsor for the fifth consecutive year. "The AFWC is a series of great events- culminating with the Charity Wine Gala and raising an impressive amount of money for worthwhile charities. This is why I wanted to become involved as a sponsor, and not just as an attendee," Coleman says.
Alejandro Ferrari has extensive experience in business development, lead generation, marketing, client relations, account management, and sales. Mr. Ferrari has more than 20 years of experience in business development practices and value creation practices. In 2005 he founded Strategic Importers, Inc. Strategic Importers is a wine importer and distribution company based in Boca Raton. Mr. Ferrari is the owner/president and his company focuses in providing hand-crafted wines from organic and bio dynamic producers to its on-premise and off-premise customers. Strategic’s portfolio offers wines from USA, France, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina, New Zeland, South Africa, Portugal, and Uruguay. Mr. Ferrari graduated in international commerce and business from the Colombian Institute of Management (INCOLDA). He studied English as a second language at Stanford University. He attended the Continuing Education Program on global issues and Marketing Strategies at Stanford University Continuing Education Program, Palo Alto, CA.
Andrew J. Scott, III
Mr. Scott retired from 30 + years of law enforcement in 2006, the last seven years as Chief of Police of the Boca Raton (FL) Police Department. Mr. Scott has created a very successful consulting company providing expert witness consultation to police departments and law firms on high liability police practices and procedures. Mr. Scott has been qualified as an expert in police practices and procedures in both federal and state courts throughout the country. Mr. Scott is a principal-partner of Scott-Roberts and Associates, LLC which provides employment screening and background check services. Mr. Scott is also a principle-partner in MyMatchChecker which provides background check services on prospective dates for online and traditional daters. Mr. Scott is an Adjunct Instructor for Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton), Lynn University (Boca Raton), and Capella University; teaching criminal justice and human resource management courses.
An avid wine enthusiast and successful businessman, Mr. Gaines is the owner of Pro-Frame Contracting Inc., a company that began as a small three-man office in 1990, building single-family homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties. By 1997 Pro-Frame moved to its current headquarters in Pompano, and expanded into the Naples/Ft Meyers market. Florida Real estate boomed and so do Pro-Frame. Today Florida’s major builders rely on Pro-Frame to deliver quality workmanship and materials that span Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, St Lucie, Collier, Lee, Sarasota, and Manatee counties in Southeast and Southwest Florida.