JP Gilmore and Sean Ball with Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey
JP Gilmore has been a manager in the fine wine business for over 17 years. Driven by a passion for fine wine, he began his career in a small fine wine shop. JP later managed wine and spirits divisions at both Missouri Conrad and Glazer’s Midwest. This has also provided opportunities for travel to wine regions in California, Spain, France, Italy and Argentina. JP's wide range of experience with both small and large companies, specializing in fine wines and spirits at all levels has provided valuable insight into the wine business. JP gained hands-on experience starting a small fine wine company when he was a major contributor in starting and building Premier Cru. JP has a proven ability for winery acquisitions and strong relationships with the customer base in Missouri.
As founder of Vintegrity, JP has always been involved in every aspect of the business. JP initially acted as key sales representative carving out territories and building the company from the ground up. As the company has grown and we have added multiple sales territories, JP work has transitioned primarily into management. He believes that the most important contribution he can make is to build and maintain relationships between Vintegrity, our customers, and the wineries that we represent. It’s important for JP to be out of the office and in front our customers on a daily basis.
JP has been in Kansas City for 19 years since moving to the area from Chicago as Food Service Director for Sodexho at University of Missouri Kansas City. Growing up in Bloomington Indiana, JP developed a love for college basketball and enjoys being in Big 12 country. JP is married to his wife of 10 years, Liz Mendez-Gilmore. Liz and JP are very proud of their 8 year old little girl Dahlia Rose Gilmore.
Sean Ball has been in love with wine for the past 17 years. Sean has been involved with fine wine since moving to Seattle from his hometown of Springfield, Mo in 1994. Sean was the Maitre’ D at The Columbia Tower Club in downtown Seattle and had the privilege to serve prestigious guests such as Bill Gates, former president Bill Clinton, and other high profile personalities. Sean received his certified Sommelier accreditation in 2008. Sean worked at the Former Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Starker’s Reserve on the Plaza for 3 years after moving back here to Kansas City in 2002. After that Sean picked up extensive retail experience while opening up the new Lukas Liquors on State Line and managing the wine department.
Sean joined Vintegrity in 2009 and became General Manager and eventually partner in Vintegrity. Sean handles all logistics, office operations and a huge variety of management tasks that keep our company running smoothly.
Sean loves to spend time with his lovely wife Carla and his two beautiful kids, Dylan who just turned 17 and Jada who is 14 years old.
Aaron Fry is a Certified Sommelier who is excited to jump into the Wholesale side of wine sales after many years in the world of restaurant wine sales . Aaron also consults for Wine Design, a wine consultancy started in 2000 by Master Sommelier Barrie Larvin. Most recently he was the Wine Directer for Ruth's Chris Steak House.
Aaron, recieved his Bachelor of Music in Classical Guitar Performance at the UMKC Conservatory of Music. While teaching and performing locally, he worked as a bartender and server at Kansas City's finest restaurants including EBT, Grand St. Cafe and Lidia's. Aaron is currently preparing to sit for the Advanced Sommelier Exam in the spring of 2014.
Kelly began working in the wine industry in September 2011. After working as a Montessori Early Childhood teacher for four years, she decided to switch career paths and enter the exciting world of wine sales and distribution. Kelly and her husband Bryan have enjoyed attending wine tastings and traveling to the wine regions of Sonoma and Santa Lucia Highlands for the past couple years. Soon after returning from a California wine visit, a friend recommended studying within the Court of Master Sommeliers to expand her wine knowledge. Kelly started learning more about wine in the spring of 2011 and completed the introductory level Sommelier course and exam in June 2011. She is currently studying to become a Certified Sommelier. Kelly enjoys traveling, cooking, trail running and competing in various races and triathlons.
Kelly has enjoyed working with Harsha Wines and is excited about her future working with Vintegrity. Kelly will continue as a sales representative calling on the fine restaurants and retail shops of St. Louis.
David began his career in the food and beverage industry over 25 years ago. He started out bartending in his hometown of New Orleans, and after a few years moving around the western part of the U.S. (Colorado, Las Vegas and southern California), he came to Kansas City. In Kansas City, he immediately was hired at the Ritz Carlton Hotel where he worked for the next five years in all facets of their food and beverage operations – lounges, room service, banquets, casual and fine dining. It was here that his exposure and interest in wine blossomed and eventually became a passion. From the Ritz Carlton, David spent the next few years managing several local restaurants including Fedora, Plaza III, the Savoy Grill and the Classic Cup Westport, until finally moving to the distributor side of the industry.
David worked for over eleven years with Glazer’s Midwest on the fine wine team, then moved on to become Western Missouri Sales Manager for Garco Wine Company. His experience with large and small distributors, as well as his extensive on-premise experience gives him a unique depth of knowledge of the wine industry.
He holds the Certified Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educators and completed level one of the Court of Master Sommeliers (back when there were only 3 levels) in 2002.
David has called Kansas City his home since 1989. He and his wife of 13 years, Enid, are very proud parents of 10 year-old daughter, Emma.
Tom Witwer ~ CSW~ graduated with a Geology BS from Kansas University where he also developed his love for wine while working at a Lawrence liquor store. From there he managed an Overland Park wine shop before joining the fine wine division at Standard Beverage in Kansas. Tom worked at Standard for 8 years and moved to the Missouri side with Major Brands. During his 19 year career at Major Brands as a fine wine salesperson and later as a manager, Tom cultivated great relationships with his Missouri customers. Tom joined Vintegrity in October of 2013 and is in charge of expansion of the Kansas City market along with the Southwestern part of the state.
Tom has been married for to his wife Barb for twenty years and they have three wonderful daughters and one crazy Wheaten Terrier.
Lou Ciccia's career in wine and spirits sales began while earning his MBA at St. Louis University. During this period, he was employed as a tour guide at the Schlafly Brewery in St. Louis. Through frequent conversations with the knowledgeable brewing and laboratory staff he developed a keen passion for craft beer and home brewing. This passion quickly evolved into an similar enthusiasm for wine, spirits and mixology. Before long, he decided to leverage this passion for wine and spirits with his academic training in business by entering the beverage wholesale industry.
Since first becoming a wine sales representative in February 2012, Lou has built lasting relationships with many top St. Louis-area restaurants and fine wine retailers. He has also greatly expanded his own wine knowledge through attaining his level-1 certification from the Master Court of Sommeliers as well as through studying reference materials and by attending blind tastings with other industry professionals. He joined Vintegrity in early October 2013 and is very excited about being an integral part of their phenomenal team.
Alisha Blackwell, a St. Louis native, began working in restaurants in 2004 after studying Equestrian Science and Biology at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri. In 2007, her passion grew for wine and food pairing while waiting tables at fine seafood restaurant Oceano Bistro in Clayton, MO. She was inspired to continue learning and decided to pursue a career in wine sales. She began her rep career with Ionia Atlantic Imports in 2012, where Italian wine became a specialty.
Michelle began her career as a restaurant manager and wine buyer after graduating from Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, SC with a Pastry Arts degree and Food Service Management in 1996. She spend 5 ½ years with Tim Mallett’s independent restaurant group which included Blue Water Grill, Big Sky Café, Remy’s Kitchen and Wine Bar and Ellie Forcella. While working at Remy’s, she completed level one of the Court of Master Sommeliers (back when there were only 3 levels) in 2001.
She spent the last 12 years with Missouri Beverage Company before it was purchased by Major Brands. Michelle was the lead sales rep calling on fine wine shops and independent restaurants establishing lasting relationships. While working for Mo Bev, she was able to travel the world visiting major wine growing regions including Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone Valley along with Germany, Australia and California.
Michelle is Certified Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educators which she attended in 2009. She is looking forward to sharing her passion for fine wine and craft spirits at Vintegrity.