March 25th, 2018 | By Mike Raven
Our cover story for spring highlights the wine-loving country music star, Zac Brown. Read about how he got into the business and the story behind his “Uncaged” wines.
This issue we also feature a “Spotlight” on Melissa Stroud, sixth generation family member at Michael David Winery. Learn about the making of some of the country’s most popular wines including Freakshow, Earthquake, Inkblot and more.
Enjoy this season of new beginnings. I hope your business does well!
IMI Spotlight: J. Gabriel Fore, CFBE, CS, Account Manager
Before joining IMI, Gabriel spent 17 years in restaurant and hotel operations, rising from bartender to Multi-Unit Manager, and starting new businesses from the ground up to directing and developing corporate beverage programs. As a Certified Food & Beverage Executive and Certified Sommelier, Gabriel has spent his entire adult life becoming proficient in all aspects of the hospitality industry, with a special passion for and focus on marketing, business development strategies, and all things beverage. Above all, he believes in the power of positive communication, advocating for transparency, and building foundations.
What are your responsibilities with IMI? I manage and help develop all the beverage programs that fall under the Hilton umbrella, and create strategies for new programs with emerging brands.
What do you like best about working with IMI? I get to solve puzzles every day and build relationships across the country at the same time.
What hobbies do you enjoy? Running, reading, watching sports and playing with my two young boys.
What are your favorite sports teams? I know this isn’t going to be a popular answer, but I am an avid Duke Blue Devils basketball fan and have been since I was a child. Being from North Carolina, you kind of have to pick at an early age. Also, I’m a huge Carolina Panthers fan and never miss a game.
What is your favorite travel destination? Really anywhere with great scenery and/or a vibrant food and beverage scene, but I’d say it’s a tie between wine country and the Caribbean.
What is your favorite food? I love all well-made foods, and it greatly depends on the time of day and definitely what beverage I may be drinking at the time. I am a total nerd when it comes to food and beverage pairings – honestly, there isn’t a meal where this doesn’t cross my mind, even if it’s just a lemonade with a chicken salad sandwich.
What is your favorite adult beverage? As a Somm, you’d think wine would be the easy answer. However, it’s truly the beverage I’m drinking at the moment. That’s the one that’s always my favorite, because it was specifically chosen for a reason only that moment could offer.
One thing you can’t live without? My family – particularly my wife and boys. They are my support system and the fuel that keeps me going. Okay, that’s three things I can’t live without – but you get what I mean!