THE VINUM 55 EXPERIENCE
As a leading wine concierge service, Vinum 55 offers you the benefit of years of expertise and close relationships with leading experts in the industry. What began as a passion has turned into multiple locations, where wine lovers store and celebrate their collections.
Like most stories involving good wine, our story begins with good friends. Bill Borders and John Finn were wine collectors and friends who believed in a better solution for wine storage and service. After taking over the abandoned Ralph Haver building in North Central Phoenix, they established the successful model for Vinum 55: storage cellars with temperature sensors and social spaces where clients can enjoy their collection.
MEET OUR TEAM OF EXPERTS
Raini Keyser, Certified Sommelier, CSW, WSET 2
Raini is dual credited with the Certified Specialist of Wine degree from the Society of Wine Educators and Certified Sommelier from the Court of Masters Sommeliers. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology.
Raini got her start in wine when she moved to Arizona from Kansas City, working for Houston’s Restaurants. In the 14 years that she worked for what is now Hillstone Restaurant Group, Raini managed the bar program at Bandera and ran the wine program for Houston’s. She then worked for Tarbell’s, where she completed her Bachelor’s degree, achieved the CSW degree and discovered her true passion for fine wine. While working for Tarbell’s, she had the unique opportunity to taste 1947 Cheval Blanc. It was truly an eye-opening experience, the likes of which many wine enthusiasts are not afforded. With that and the work of studying to achieve her first wine degree, Raini’s passion for wine was born.
Some of Raini’s favorite wines are from the regions of Champagne, Burgundy, the Rhone, Italy, Oregon, Washington State and California. (In other words, all wine!) It would be nearly impossible for her to name a favorite – she feels she will spend the rest of her life learning and working in wine.
In Raini’s spare time, she loves spending time with her husband and 3 boys, hiking and yoga.
Kat Jolley, Certified Sommelier
Director of Wine, Cellar Manager
Kat Leas has been a part of the Food + Beverage industry for over fourteen years, spending her time working for some incredible establishments with top notch wine lists. It was about a year ago that she realized she needed a change- It was time to turn her passion for wine in to a career. In September of 2016, Kat completed her Level One certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers and it was then that her journey in wine really took off.
Since then, she has made the transition from restaurants to full time oenophile/Vinum 55 employee and she couldn’t be happier about it. In her short time with Vinum, she’s had the chance to taste some once in a lifetime wines, shared by absolutely wonderful people- most recently a ‘78 Petrus and an ’89 Clos Ste. Hune that were truly ethereal. Kat is beyond grateful for the learning opportunities that she is afforded on a daily basis and she is constantly pushing herself to develop her palate and knowledge of the different varietals, winemakers and growing regions.
Outside of work, Kat enjoys spending time with her fiancé and their friends, traveling, dining out and of course- DRINKING WINE! Her go-to reds will always be Pinot Noir from Burgundy or old Barolo and her go-to white of the moment is a crisp, dry Riesling. Kat’s favorite thing about the wine industry is that it’s constantly evolving and progressing- Always keeping her inspired and on her toes!
Kathryn Fogo, CMS Level 1
Assistant Cellar Manager
Kathryn is the Assistant Cellar Manager of our Scottsdale location. She has been involved with the hospitality industry since she was a teenager. Kathryn attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise, specializing in Visual Communications. While producing fashion shows and photoshoots was her first love, she eventually moved over to the hospitality industry full time.
Her dedication for all things wine was more of a slow dance than an immediate connection. The knowledge, passion, determination, and science that is involved with winemaking is what grasped Kathryn’s attention. The deep-rooted family traditions and generations of committed individuals brought out the art and beauty of winemaking for her. Kathryn is currently a level one certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and she is committed to becoming a certified sommelier in 2020.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will always be Kathryn’s favorite varietal. In March of 2019, Kathryn had the invigorating experience of visiting Marlborough and witnessed the beauty of the country where it is grown.
As of recent, Chablis, Burgundies, and juicy Zinfandels have become a new found love for Kathryn. She is motivated daily by the hard work and dedication her co-workers show at Vinum 55.
Pairing food with wine is one of her favorite aspects about being in the wine industry. Finding that perfect balance of complementary flavors is electrifying. Kathryn is excited about the endless possibilities of learning, sharing and connecting through the awesome work she is honored to do through Vinum 55.
Ron Jensen, WSET 2
Ron is the Assistant Cellar Manager in the Scottsdale location, focusing on providing the best conditions for our client’s wines from the moment it hits our doors. A former competitive road cyclist and a graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in Organizational Leadership, Ron’s love for wine was sparked over a decade ago while living in Europe, and from there it has been the experiences with people, vineyards and of course, the wine itself that has him hooked. As such, he has since committed himself to sharing his passion with others and becoming a student of wine. Having earned his Level 2 certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, he continues to work toward earning WSET’s highest certification, the Level 4 Diploma.
Ron’s favorite wines include the rustic, earth driven wines of Italy such as Sangiovese and Aglianico, as well as the complex Merlot dominant offerings of the Right Bank. Though for him, the best thing about wine is how it is everchanging and how the experience can drive one’s taste, just as much as the wine itself. What he loves about Vinum 55 is not only the exposure to a wide breadth of wines, but the amazing depth of experience and passion found in the staff, as well as our members!
Jon Smith, WSET 2, CMS 1
Assistant Cellar Manager
Jon, originally from Southern CA, comes to us from Sonoma County wine country after recently relocating to Scottsdale. He has multiple certifications including WSET II, CMS I, and Cicerone Beer Server. He studied Earth Sciences and Oceanography at UC Santa Cruz, where he graduated with a BS in 1998.
Jon spent the following decade protecting and educating visitors and locals alike at the famed beaches of Santa Cruz, CA, as a Beach Lifeguard. He transitioned quickly into an EMT role, and shortly thereafter promoted to Marine Safety Lieutenant for the Santa Cruz City Fire Department. After a short stint as a paramedic, and later a Beach Lifeguard Manager in Orange County, CA, Jon decided to change course and work in a less stressful environment, and of course, he chose the wine business.
Jon’s wine experience began as a Wine Specialist for Whole Foods Market in various locations throughout Northern and Southern CA for several years, before making the leap to managing several tasting rooms in Sonoma County’s Carneros, Russian River Valley, and Sonoma Valley regions. Jon’s strength is in hospitality, where he enjoys educating customers and clients in an easy-going fashion and breaking down barriers that can make wine intimidating.
In his off time, you’ll find Jon hanging out with his girlfriend Sara, and their fur-babies, Rocky and Mikey, listening to Reggae records and watching the sun go down while sipping on his favorite Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Jon is also an amateur photographer and an avid outdoorsman. He is thrilled to be a part of the Vinum 55 team.
Lisa Julius, CMS Level 1
Assistant Cellar Manager
Lisa Julius Is the Assistant Cellar Manger at our Chandler location. Lisa started her career in the Food and Beverage Industry decorating and selling pies for a local bakery when she was a teenager. The biggest influence on her love of cooking came from spending endless hours in her grandmother’s kitchen. Ever since she could remember she was learning how to make pies, cinnamon rolls, and noodles from scratch. Lisa went on to attend the School of Culinary Arts and Hotel Management in Santa Barbara, CA. She spent 20+ years in the hospitality business catering and opening restaurants in Santa Barbara and San Diego. Her interest was sparked in the world of wine after a trip she took to Italy, France, and Spain. Her fascination for learning more about wine and how it was made lead her to Napa Valley where she spent 5 years working in the wine industry. Lisa has received her level one certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and is now focused on studying for the Certified Specialist of Wine degree.
Her favorite wine region is, of course, Napa Valley. You will find her drinking a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, bold Napa Cab, or enjoying her newfound love for Sangiovese. Vinum55 has exposed her to wines from all over the world and she takes pleasure in being part of a community that shares as much excitement for wine as she does.
Assistant Cellar Manager
Suzanne is the Assistant Cellar Manager at our Phoenix location. She received her degree in Fashion & Business Administration which led to traveling all over the country opening stores, hosting special events and fashion shows. She had amazing opportunities to plan and execute events for Bon Appetit and the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen which opened her eyes to the world of wine. After an almost twenty-year career in fashion and retail, she took a trip to Napa Valley and solidified her love for wine. She transitioned into the wine industry in 2008, working for direct importers of boutique wines from Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, South Africa, New Zealand and beyond. For two years she relocated to Oregon as a Brand Ambassador for Willamette Valley Vineyards hosting guests at the winery and traveling the country to educate wine lovers about how terroir makes the valley such a unique wine-growing region. Living and working at the winery provided true insider knowledge about the winemaking process and even a chance to get her hands dirty!
As you may guess some of her favorite wines are Oregon and Burgundian Pinot Noirs, but it is truly all the colder climate varietals that make her sing – especially those from the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy and its neighbor Austria. Soft, elegant, earthy reds and bright, acidic, mineral-driven whites are what really get her going. And working at Vinum 55 is the perfect storm for Suzanne! She is exposed to yet even more unique wines from around the world, she learns more about wine every day from her co-workers and our partners, and she gets to host our wine lovers in a beautiful space.
Also, as a registered yoga teacher, when not at Vinum you will most likely find Suzanne on her yoga mat or sipping wine while enjoying the beautiful outdoors with her rescue dog Zsa Zsa living up to her motto: wine a little, you’ll feel better!
Samuel Perez, Certified Sommelier
Samuel runs our Logistics department for the Arizona market. He has been in the hospitality industry for seventeen years starting from the bottom as a busser, working his way up to serving and bartending, moving onto management and wine director/sommelier. He received his bachelor’s degree in Culinary Management and also his Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. His favorite wine region he has visited so far is the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Daily, he enjoys White Burgundies and anything out of Tuscany or Piedmont. The best wine he has ever had was the 2009 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault. Samuel’s favorite part about working at Vinum55 is being surrounded by wine and people who share the same passion from fellow employees to times spent with clients.
Jordan White, Certified Sommelier
After tasting his first real (Actual quality) glass of wine it was all wine, all the time! He had been handed a taste of a very expensive, delicious glass of velvety smooth red from Napa and when he sipped it he realized that this very complex liquid has a very exciting story and he wanted to be a part of it. Jordan thought if he had to work, he should enjoy it every day so drinking great wine and eating great food for the rest of his life sounded like a great plan. After countless hours of tasting wine and many certifications later Jordan achieved a long time dream of being able to officially call himself a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Though his favorite wines change frequently with more and new experiences that he is afforded Jordan currently really enjoys cracked white pepper Rhone Syrah and Grand Reserva Rioja Tempranillo (Decanted). The best part of his life is being able to share wonderful wines with people and experience great things with interesting people!