Our Team

Kristin Bryden Headshot 2021

Kristin Bryden

General Manager & Winemaker

Originally from Redding, California, Kristin first came to the Central Coast to attend California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, graduating with a degree in Food Science. After working for several wineries, including Wild Horse Winery and Vineyard and Lockwood Vineyard, she gained a profound respect for estate wine programs, furthering her belief that great wines are made in the vineyard.

Recognizing the importance of being able to observe the vines throughout the growing season to craft wines with a true sense of place, Kristin was drawn to Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards’ estate program in Santa Barbara County. She joined the team in 2011 as Assistant Winemaker and was promoted to Head Winemaker in 2016, bringing her passion, enthusiasm, and keen palate to the wines that reflect Zaca Mesa’s unique vineyard site.

Kristin is happy to call the Central Coast her home, where she enjoys hiking, water skiing, camping, and spending as much time outdoors in her downtime as possible

Randy graduated from Fresno State after obtaining a degree in Enology with a minor in Chemistry. When given the opportunity to work with Zaca Mesa, Randy returned to Santa Barbara County and began his position at the winery as our Production Enologist in early 2016. Now, as the Assistant Winemaker, Randy is responsible for operations of the cellar and the laboratory. This includes everything having to do with the chemistry and biology of the wine, while ensuring the health of the wines throughout their development and into the bottle. Rhône varietals have always intrigued Randy. Zaca Mesa’s focus on these varieties has given Randy a deeper appreciation of their complexities and nuances. While away from the winery, Randy spends his time with his wife Rebecca, his son, and their two dogs, Tuskyn and Veda. They are often out tasting wine and enjoying our beautiful region.

Randy Gardenhire Associate Winemaker
andy Headshot

Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Agustin grew up learning the family business: commercial farming. He gained an appreciation for how the land and seasons affect the growing and harvesting of corn, chilies, tomatoes, beans, and garbanzos. In 1981, at just 17 years old, he moved to the Santa Ynez Valley and got his very first job with Zaca Mesa Winery. His first years were spent working in the vineyard with Ruben Camacho. After learning the ropes of the vineyard for a few years, he moved inside the winery to work with the wine, not the vines, and became Cellar Master in 1988. Agustin has been working at Zaca Mesa for over half his life. On Sundays, you can find Agustin at his favorite place to eat: Los Alamos’ legendary Full of Life Flatbread restaurant. He loves the beach, weekend trips to San Francisco, playing all sports, and BBQing.

Agustin Robles Cellar Master
Agustin Headshot 2020

Ruben Camacho Sr. came to the US in 1975. He was hired by Zaca Mesa in 1977 as a tractor driver. The previous vineyard manager taught Ruben everything he knows about the vineyards. After seven years of hard vineyard work, Ruben was promoted to Vineyard Manager. Zaca Mesa’s Black Bear Syrah was named after Ruben’s experience in 1978. While in the Mesa H block of the vineyard, he noticed a black bear eating the soon to be famous Syrah grapes. His dogs, Bingo and Chispa, bravely protected the grapes and chased the black bear up a tree. That section of the vineyard was renamed the Black Bear Block and has been producing amazing grapes ever since. Over 30 years of experience has made Ruben probably the most important person in Zaca Mesa’s history with his knowledge of the land, fountain of information, support, and great spirit.

Ruben Camacho Vineyard Manager
Ruben Headshot 2020

The production team is the heart and soul of the Zaca Mesa winemaking team. Agustin, Marlisa, Jose, and Javier combine for over 90 years of winemaking experience. Agustin Robles (a.k.a. Auggie), our Cellar Master, ensures that his leadership, attention to detail, and passion for winemaking rub off on the rest of the crew. Marlisa Herrera joined the team in 2019 and has been our Laboratory Technician for two years. Born and raised in Santa Maria and with an education in viticulture and enology from Hancock College, Marlisa stokes her passion for Central Coast wines every day in the lab, in the cellar, and in the tasting room. In her free time she enjoys travelling and going to the beach with her husband and daughter. José Aguiniga has nearly forty decades of experience in the cellar at Zaca Mesa and has worked with every single Zaca Mesa winemaker. José brings a quiet, consistent, and hard-working mentality to the production team. Javier Camacho spent 19 years working in Zaca Mesa's vineyards before transitioning to the production team early in 2021. He has worked nine harvests over the years and wanted to become a permanent part of the Zaca team because of the many great relationships he has built with people at the winery. His favorite Zaca Mesa wine was the Z Cuvée until the Clydesdale Syrah was released.

Agustin Robles, Marlisa Herrera, Jose Aguiniga, & Javier Camacho Production Team

Stewart Cushman has led the Cushman family's management of Zaca Mesa since 1999 and became President in 2020. Stewart obtained his Bachelor's degree from U.C. Santa Barbara and an MBA from Georgetown University. An active real estate investor, Stewart has developed, acquired, and re-imagined hotel, office, industrial, and land properties across the country. He has worked closely with hotel management companies to improve the operations of restaurants, retail, and hotel operations. In his spare time, Stewart loves to escape to the great outdoors. He enjoys camping, fly fishing, and surfing with his family, as well as, of course, exploring in search of great culinary and fine wine experiences.

Stewart Cushman President
Stewart Cushman Headshot 2020

Paul graduated from Purdue University where he earned a Mechanical Engineering B.S in 1977. Shortly after moving to California, he transitioned into a sales career. For 20 years, he sold over $75 million in industrial and manufacturing automation projects. In the late 1990s, he transitioned into business sales organization consulting and taught Entrepreneurship and New Venture Formation online at the UCLA Business Extension. During this time, Paul wrote and published 5 books, including co-author with Three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser (Winners Are Driven, Wiley, 2003). In 2012, Paul became General Manager of Zaca Mesa Winery. Paul likes to grill, play golf, and go hiking with his wife. His favorite wine is whatever pairs right with whatever he is eating.

Paul Pease Director of Sales
Paul Headshot 2020

Hilary Key joined the Zaca Mesa team in the summer of 2021 as our Tasting Room Manager after years of working in the hospitality industry. She caught the wine bug after a chef she worked with recommended pursuing sommelier training as she was constantly excited about all things wine. Her love and passion for wine continued to grow, so she began taking classes with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, obtaining her Level 1 Sommelier certification and her WSET Level 2 award. Her current favorite wine at Zaca Mesa is the 2018 Recusant Amphora – our Grenache and Mourvèdre blend aged in 100% clay amphora – due to its texture and soft tannic structure. Hilary moved to Pismo Beach in 1989, so she considers herself a local to the area. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three kids. She enjoys cooking and the great outdoors, noting she somehow usually ends up at a winery after a hike.

Hilary Key Tasting Room Manager
Hilary Key Headshot

Originally from Lompoc, California, Austin joined the Zaca Mesa team as a Tasting Room Associate and worked his way up to becoming our outstanding Tasting Room Lead not long after. He loves working at Zaca Mesa for the people and the unbeatable location, stating, "I feel like people often forget about this side of California, but I have the unique opportunity to call it my 'office'." When it comes to favorite Zaca Mesa wines, Austin believes it all comes down to flavor perception and interaction with food, as well as the great stories behind the wines. Roussanne and the Clydesdale Syrah are high on his list of favorites, followed closely by our Viognier and TREAD Pinot Noir with their captivating bouquets. When he's not at the winery, Austin enjoys playing video games with friends, soaking in the beautiful California weather with his two corgis, Teemo and Lulu, and teaching himself new instruments.

Austin Williamson Tasting Room Lead
Austin Williamson Headshot

Mark was born and raised in the west of England. There he studied Accounting, and after receiving his diploma, he worked with major accounting firms in England, West Africa, and Germany. Mark moved to California to escape the European weather and has held many financial management and executive positions. He is attracted to the wine business, particularly Zaca Mesa, because of the workplace setting and the small but diverse team environment. As our Chief Financial Officer at Zaca Mesa, Mark is responsible for all aspects of accounting, reporting, regulatory and tax compliance, and systems maintenance.

Mark Rosenberg Chief Financial Officer
Mark Headshot 2020

Jackie was born and raised in Salinas, California. She attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, graduating with a degree in Business Entrepreneurship and a minor in Media Arts & Technologies. She was working for a start-up company in the wine industry for her senior project when she first discovered a passion for wine marketing. Prior to Zaca Mesa, she worked for several wineries in Monterey County and become a Level I Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine while working at Pebble Beach Resorts. In her free time, she enjoys cycling, SUPing, playing the ukulele, and travelling any chance she gets.

Jackie Shearn Brand Marketing Manager
Jackie Headshot

Originally from San Diego, Lanie moved to the Central Coast to attend California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where she obtained a degree in Communication Studies. Upon graduating, she worked for a small marketing company, helping local businesses build their clientele through social media, events, and design. After living in San Luis Obispo for a few years, Lanie knew she wanted to join the wine industry; in 2018, she began working for three premium Central Coast wineries. Just before joining the Zaca Mesa team in 2020, Lanie passed her Certified Specialist of Wine exam. Outside of the winery, Lanie enjoys hiking, listening to live music, wine tasting, and petting every dog she sees.

Lanie Woods DTC Marketing Manager
Lanie Headshot

PJ was born and raised in Santa Barbara and moved to the Santa Ynez Valley to start a family with her husband, Pat. PJ has worked in the hospitality industry for over 35 years throughout Santa Barbara County. Here at Zaca Mesa, she works tirelessly to ensure all wine orders are processed smoothly. She has also grown to appreciate wine more and learned that wine becomes even better when you pair it with the right foods. While away from the winery, PJ spends time with her family, the beach, and hiking in the Los Padres National Forest.

PJ Schooter Wine Club Manager
PJ Headshot

Kailey Hackett was born and raised in Orange County, CA. Kailey attended University of California, Santa Barbara to play Division I soccer, where she graduated with a degree in Sociology. While Kailey has always had an interest in wine, she never expected to work in the wine industry. Her competitive nature and outgoing personality have been the perfect combination for a sales position at Zaca Mesa. When Kailey isn’t at the winery, she is enjoying the Santa Barbara lifestyle to the fullest. You may find her on the beach or hiking in the hills with her friends. Even though she strives to live a healthy lifestyle, she lets loose almost every night and indulges on a pint of McConnell’s ice cream.

Kailey Hackett Market Representative

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Awilda attended college there and received a degree in Accounting and Business Administration. Since receiving her degree, Awilda has held a variety of jobs in Santa Barbara County as an accountant. She worked for Mentor Corporation for 5 years before coming here to Zaca Mesa, where she has been for over 10 years as the Accounting Assistant. Although Awilda is not much of a wine drinker herself, she has a passion for food. When she is not at the winery, she enjoys tasting her way through different ethnic foods and trying new restaurants. Her favorite type of food is Indian or Middle Eastern.

Awilda Mercado Accounting Assistant
Awilda Headshot 2020

A northern California girl born and raised, Ileana made her way to the Central Coast to pursue a degree in Agricultural Business at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. After graduating in 2020, Ileana continued building on her previous wine industry experience by joining the Zaca Mesa team in November of 2020, shortly thereafter receiving a promotion to Events Manager. A people person through and through, you will find her pouring wine in the tasting room and guiding guests through event venue tours on the weekends. In her spare time, Ileana refuses to sit still. Whether it's running, snow skiing, wake surfing, or hiking, she loves to exercise, as well as spend quality time with her family and friends. She believes the best part of being in the wine industry is it brings people together to learn and enjoy. And if those people happen to bring their dogs for her to pet, all the better!

Ileana Moon Events Manager

Tara joined Zaca Mesa as our Customer Service Representative in the summer of 2021. She was born in Santa Barbara and moved to the Santa Ynez Valley when she was just two years old, calling the Valley home ever since. After she turned 21, Tara knew she wanted to work in the wine industry - she blames growing up surrounded by such beautiful vineyards and gorgeous wine country! She began by working for Melville Winery at their Lompoc location and credits them for growing both her knowledge and passion for wine. At Zaca Mesa, Tara's favorite wines are the TREAD Chardonnay, Zaca Mesa Rose of Grenache, and the incomparable Black Bear Block Syrah. When she isn't at the winery, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, walking, hiking, going to the beach, and trying new wines.

Tara Creighton Customer Service Representative
Tara Creighton Headshot

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