Our Hunt Country team comprises 8 full-time and about 30 seasonal/part-time people. Our friendly staff greets about 45,000 visitors annually.
|Art & Joyce Hunt||Founders & Owners|
|Jonathan Hunt||Owner & Winemaker|
|Dave Mortensen||Vineyard Manager|
|Brian Barry||Assistant Winemaker|
|John Daugherty||Tasting Room Manager|
|Jim Alsina||Marketing Manager|
|Andy Marshall||Marketing Operations Manager|
|Tessa Olsen||Gift Shop Manager|
Art and Joyce Hunt
Founders & Owners
Art and Joyce Hunt, founders and owners of Hunt Country Vineyards, first met in high school in Corning, New York. After graduating from Syracuse University in 1971, Joyce began her career as a social worker. Art received his BS in Management from Virginia Tech the same year. He started selling insurance, but was "saved" by the flood of 1972: HUD needed people to help victims get settled in temporary housing.
In 1973, Art and Joyce moved to the 170-acre farm of Art's grandfather in Branchport. The farm's proximity to Keuka Lake and soil were extremely promising for growing superior wine grapes. They planted about 50 acres of premium varieties for eventual sale to wine producers. It took a few years for the vines to mature and yield wine-quality fruit. Then Coca-Cola Company purchased Taylor/Great Western Wine Company and moved all operations to California. The market for wine grapes collapsed, bankrupting many growers. Art and Joyce evaluated the idea of a small farm winery and in 1981 launched Finger Lakes Wine Cellars, which they guided from a small proprietorship to incorporation in 1985. In the fall of 1987, they formed Hunt Country Vineyards, with the logo combining Art's family name and Joyce's love of horses.
Art handles regulatory, fiscal and legal issues for the business, and maintains an active schedule in front of the public at festivals and tastings. He enjoys working with his hands, and around the farm, there is never a lack of things to fix! He is an active member of the Branchport–Keuka Park Volunteer Fire Department, and though rarely has the time, loves to sail with family and friends.
Joyce is extremely active in the business, in strategic analysis, designing and planning of (and even cooking for!) major events, banking and public relations. She was appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 1987 to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. She is a founding member and past president of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, and serves in several other local organizations. She divides her free time among riding, walking and reading.
Art and Joyce are recipients of the 1999 Unity Award of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation for major achievements in promoting unity in the industry.
Their three children are all happily pursuing their interests and passions. Carolyn is an attorney specializing in employment and human rights law. Suzanne is the President of HuntGreen LLC in Washington DC and Senior Advisor to the Carbon War Room leading their Renewable Fuels Operation. Jonathan, after graduating from Cornell and internships in wineries in California and New Zealand, became our Director of Winemaking, making him the sixth Hunt generation to till the farm’s soil.
Jonathan is an alumnus of SUNY Cobleskill and Cornell University, with degrees in agricultural business and horticulture. After college, Jonathan interned at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma County, California and at Delegat’s Wine Estate in Auckland, New Zealand.
Jonathan and his wife Caroline started Italy Hill Produce at the family farm in 2009 and expanded it in 2010 to include sales at the Canandaigua Farmers Market and a weekly email newsletter. They obtained their organic certification in 2011.
Jonathan enjoys almost every aspect of the outdoors including hiking with his wife and their two dogs, farming, volleyball and pretty much anything that involves not sitting at a desk. One of Jonathan’s hobbies involves occasionally drag racing in the East Coast Impala Racing Series. He enjoys working on cars and any sort of driving challenge. Jonathan is also a volunteer firefighter with the Branchport-Keuka Park FD, with over 10 years experience, and is certified in interior attack, advanced interior attack, ice water rescue, auto extrication, EVOC, and pump operation. In addition to firefighting, Jonathan serves on the Board of Directors for Yates County Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Caroline graduated from Cornell University in 2003 and 2008, with a B.S. in Plant Science and an M.S. in Entomology, respectively. Her research focus has been on biological control in both horticultural and vegetable crops. She spent much of her younger years in Oregon, where her parents currently have a certified organic farm, where she developed her interest in agriculture and whole farm systems.
She loves to hike, garden and travel, and along with her husband and father-in-law, is a firefighter with the Branchport-Keuka Park Fire Department and is certified in interior attack. Caroline also serves on several boards, including the Town of Italy Planning and Zoning Board. She and Jon have a son, born on 1/1/11.
In 1985, after three years working for Monroe Tree Surgeons, Dave joined Art and Joyce, first on a part-time, then a full-time basis. Dave was promoted to Vineyard Manager and he has been crucial to our achievement of world-class wines, helping us to improve the quality and consistency of our vines and grapes. Dave also maintains all the tools and machinery for vineyard management, including our 1973 harvester (above, with Dave at the wheel).
Dave is a dedicated volunteer fireman and certified instructor. He served as Chief of the Branchport- Keuka Park Volunteer Fire Department for 3 years, and regularly conducts fire safety classes for area school children. He is also a talented musician, playing guitar and singing solos at wedding services.
Brian is a native of Hoosick Falls, NY, a village east of Albany a few miles from the VT border. He studied fine arts at SUNY New Paltz, then took a variety of jobs including cabinet making, building sets for plays, and groundskeeping before joining Heron Hill Winery in 2005. Brian first worked in the vineyards, then transitioned to the winery, where he was cellarmaster and later assistant winemaker. In 2011, he joined Atwater Estate Vineyards for a harvest and began devoting considerable time to renovating his 100-year-old house in the village of Dundee. He joined Hunt Country in early 2013.
John began working part-time in our Tasting Room about ten years ago while attending college. He later became a full-time member of the team.
John is the one of the most familiar faces at Hunt Country. He greets scores of our customers on a first-name basis! You will find John greeting and pouring wine for guests, running the register, or simply chatting with a multitude of new and returning customers.
In his spare time, John runs, lifts weights and plays basketball (he's 6-4, hence "Big John"). Also an automotive enthusiast, he spends a good deal of time working on his car, racing local autocrosses and running HPDE at nearby Watkins Glen raceway.
Jim is responsible for marketing, the tasting room and retail business at Hunt Country. He also conducts winery tours.
Jim grew up in Rochester and attended Middlebury College, majoring in math. He spent 20 years in a variety of operations, marketing and general management positions in Eastman Kodak's Health Imaging business. He lived and worked in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, experiences which were the culmination of a childhood dream. After earning his MBA at Cornell, he joined Hunt Country and found his second calling in the wine industry.
Jim met his wife, Cecilia, while living in Egypt. She is a native of Buenos Aires and an agronomist and writer. Their son Marc attends Brandeis University. Jim enjoys hiking in the Adirondacks with family and friends, and NFL football. A dog lover, Jim occasionally brings his poodle Freddy to the winery for a romp with the other dogs.
Andy was raised in Upstate New York, living in a variety of towns over the years; most recently, and for the longest, in Penn Yan. A December 2005 graduate of Keuka College, he holds a B.S. in Business Management (summa cum laude) with a minor in Computer Technologies. Hired by Hunt Country Vineyards in early 2006, Andy said, "This was my first job out of college and I thought it’d be for a year or two, but seven years later I’m still loving the winery and can’t imagine working anywhere else!"
As Hunt Country’s resident vegan, Andy has been helpful in developing and promoting the winery’s vegan-friendly initiatives. A life-long animal lover, he currently has four cats - all of which were rescues - and has a Bernese Mountain Dog, Pax (Latin for peace). Andy is an avid reader – with an impressive library of more than 3000 books! – and also enjoys music, hiking, horseback riding, football (soccer to most Americans), and is a diehard fan of NCIS.
Tessa joined Hunt Country this spring. She particularly enjoys being able to use her artistic skills and talents in her job.
She, her husband Zac and their 2 boys moved just down the road from us last year from the tiny island of Cuttyhunk off the coast of Massachusetts. They started their family there over 10 years ago and are happily easing into life on ‘the mainland’.
Tessa is a graduate of The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Right now her most important endeavor is being a mom, but there is no denying that she is an artist and lives life creatively. In her ‘spare’ time she can be found mostly with her kids and family, gardening, making jewelry and bottle art, fishing, cooking, picking flowers, tending to their new flock of chickens, and helping Zac with the ongoing project of building their home.