David Oelrich, Chief People of Officer; Skip King, Director of Culinary; Valerie Elkins, Director of Memberships; and Kelsey Kramer, Director of Education, will drive strategic growth for the company and wine industry
AUSTIN, TX (June 1, 2022) – William Chris Wine Company (WCWC), parent company of leading producers of 100 percent Texas-grown wines in the Lone Star State including William Chris Vineyards, Lost Draw Cellars, Skeleton Key, and Grower Project brands, announced the appointment of key new hires including David Oelrich as Chief People Officer (CPO), Skip King as Director of Culinary, Valerie Elkins as Director of Memberships, and the promotion of Kelsey Kramer to Director of Education, effective immediately.
“These are some of the most exciting times in the history of WCWC. This recent round of hires and promotions is a testament to the true success of the company,” said Co-Founder and COO of WCWC, Andrew Sides. “More than accolades, increased sales, and broadened markets, the level of talent and internal development that we’ve acquired and achieved has me most excited about the future.”
Bringing over 14 years of experience in the human resources field to WCWC, David Oelrich has been appointed as the company’s first ever Chief People Officer to lead, assess, mentor, and support team members to cultivate a motivating working culture and develop the infrastructure to maintain the growth and success of the company. Previously, Oelrich held the role of Senior Director of Human Resources at Molecular Templates, a rapidly growing biotech startup in Austin, Texas.
Joining the WCWC team as the new Director of Culinary, Houston-native Skip King brings over 25 years of hands-on restaurant and hospitality experience to his role of maintaining the day-to-day food & wine pairing experiences at all locations, with plans to expand and enhance the seasonal offerings. Within his role, King will also spearhead the development of William Chris Vineyards’ on-site garden to supplement the culinary program and wine dinners, along with creating new relationships with local farmers to source produce and high-quality protein. Over the past two and a half decades, King worked his way from line cook to sous chef to holding executive chef roles at restaurants, including, notably, Oceanaire Seafood Room in Houston, Texas. Over the past six years, King has immersed himself in the wine industry; he held the role as wine director at Morton’s of Chicago and, most recently, assistant winemaker and executive chef at French Connection Wines.
“The wine industry is ever evolving and something that will always be a bit unpredictable, but our focus on building and developing teams all engaged on the vision and values of the company has helped us build an unflappable culture,” added Sides. “The most rewarding thing about being a part of this business has been witnessing the impact on individuals coming together for common goals and being enriched by the job they are doing. It’s a really special thing.”
Valerie Elkins joins the team as Director of Memberships and will be responsible for driving member engagement, as well as creating opportunities to further customize the membership experience and build programs to better meet wine club members’ needs. Elkins, who brings 22 years of experience, will oversee a new wine club ambassador program which will help ensure members get significant value from being part of the WCWC wine clubs. Previously, Elkins led mid-size organizations in technology development and process management within the financial services sector. Most recently, she spent nearly three years working in wine tasting room management where she developed a passion for promoting and protecting the integrity of Texas Wine.
“It is exciting to be a part of an organization that is a true leader in the innovation and advancement of the Texas wine industry,” says Elkins. “I have a great passion for the exceptional quality of wine being produced by our winemaking team and I look forward to working with our team to ensure our customer experiences and membership programs are world-class.”
Lastly, WCWC is proud to announce the promotion of Kelsey Kramer from Content Marketing Manager to Director of Education. Since joining William Chris Vineyards in 2020, Kramer advanced from Tasting Room Ambassador, where she designed five immersive wine experiences and developed the private virtual tasting program during the COVID-19 pandemic, to Content Marketing Manager. Kramer brings 13 years of experience in the hospitality industry and seven years of experience in wine education and training. In her new role, Kramer’s responsibilities will include identifying, developing, and maintaining all educational initiatives for staff, industry, trade, and guests with the goal of increasing the standards of knowledge about WCWC, the Texas wine industry, and their context within the vast world of wine. In addition, Kramer will be tasked with maintaining the WCWC brands’ technical database of its wine collections, vineyards, and vintages, and provide daily educational access for staff members.
“As a person who learns best through teaching others, I am thrilled at the opportunity to gain as much from this new position at William Chris as I will from the team that I have had the pleasure of working with daily for two years,” says Kramer. “It is through encouragement and creativity that I hope to contribute to the growing strength of the Texas wine industry by facilitating the passing of knowledge from person to person.”
In October 2020, William Chris Vineyards co-founder Chris Brundrett and Lost Draw Cellars owner Andrew Sides merged their companies to create WCWC, which is the parent company of the William Chris Vineyards (est. 2008), Lost Draw Cellars (est. 2012), Skeleton Key (est. 2015), and Grower Project (est. 2015) brands, and is the leading producer of 100 percent Texas-grown wines in the Lone Star State.
For more information on William Chris Vineyards, please visit williamchriswines.com and follow on Facebook and Instagram @WilliamChrisVineyards. For more information on Lost Draw Cellars, please visit lostdrawcellars.com and follow on Facebook and Instagram @LostDrawCellars.
ABOUT WILLIAM CHRIS VINEYARDS
William Chris Vineyards was founded in the Texas Hill Country in 2008 by Chris Brundrett and Bill Blackmon. Deciding on a pioneer farm settlement in the historic town of Hye, Texas, they began the project to restore the 1905 Deike farmhouse, which became the original William Chris Tasting Room. Over the last decade, William Chris has expanded their estate vineyards and partnered with family-owned farms across the state to source only the highest quality fruit in Texas. In October 2020, Brundrett, who was recently included in Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 40 Under 40 list, teamed up with fellow winegrower and Lost Draw Cellars owner Andrew Sides to merge their companies and create William Chris Wine Company (WCWC), which is the parent company of the William Chris Vineyards (est. 2008), Lost Draw Cellars (est. 2012), Skeleton Key (est. 2015), and Grower Project (est. 2015) brands, and is the leading producer of 100 percent Texas-grown wines in the Lone Star State. WCWC prides itself on expressing the genuine taste of Texas terroir through its wines while delivering a one-of-a-kind, world-class experience. They utilize a hands-off winemaking approach, allowing the characteristics of the fruit, the vineyard or AVA, and the vintage to shine in the finished product. William Chris Vineyards is pleased to share a piece of their world and cannot wait to share it with you. For more information, please visit williamchriswines.com and follow on Facebook and Instagram @WilliamChrisVineyards.
ABOUT LOST DRAW CELLARS
Founded in 2012 by Andrew Sides, Troy Ottmers, and Andy Timmons, Lost Draw Cellars is a family-owned business with deep Texas roots. As a proud producer of 100 percent Texas-grown wines, Lost Draw got its start producing wines from the highly acclaimed Lost Draw Vineyards in the Texas High Plains. The tasting room and winery reside in the heart of Fredericksburg, Texas, in a historic building that has been in the Ottmers family for four generations and was once a Gulf Distribution business. The team is committed to producing quality wines that highlight the unique terroir of Texas. Lost Draw prides itself on working with grapes that thrive in the semi-arid climate of the region and works to continuously improve the growing process in a sustainable way. In addition to the vineyards they manage themselves, the team partners with some of the best vineyards in the state as a way of supporting Texas farmers. Learn more about Lost Draw Cellars and plan a visit at lostdrawcellars.com. Follow them on Instagram (@lostdrawcellars) or Facebook (Lost Draw Cellars).
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