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The Local Palate Wine Panel

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The Local Palate Wine Panel
Photo courtesy of SEWE

The Panel: TLP‘s panel is comprised of a diverse group of sommeliers, wine experts, restaurateurs, and avid oenophiles, all of whom have been selected for participation due to a combination of background and enthusiasm for wine. Click the photos above to see individual bios for our wine panel members.

The Process: For each issue, TLP‘s wine panel meets to perform a blind tasting. the tasting is facilitated by our contributing wine editor, Rick Rubel, wine director at The Charleston Place Hotel and sommelier of the esteemed Charleston Grill restaurant. The panel collectively decides upon the varietal to be tasted, a decision that is largely informed by seasonality and also with the intention of alternating Old World and New World offerings. They discuss each wine tasted in detail and ultimately narrow the selection down to five to seven “winning” bottles, which are then given to a Southern chef and sommelier team to develop dishes to go with two of the winning wines. We offer descriptions of the winning wines in each issue, as well as original recipes for pairing–straight from your favorite Southern chefs.

The Promise: With each issue, TLP readers will have a selection of tested and tasted seasonal varietals, all of which will be accompanied by a brief educative description from industry experts as well as a sampling of original recipes with which to best enjoy some of the featured winners. Whether an experienced oenophile or a novice to the wine world, TLP‘s readers will enjoy quality wines year-round.


Garth Herr

Garth Herr

Garth Herr began his career as a beverage specialist in Richmond, Virginia in the early 1990’s, wrote his first wine list for TJ’s at The Jefferson Hotel in 2000, and received his certification as Sommelier and Specialist of Wine in 2006. Garth is a passionate wine lover who is especially interested in the history and culture that surrounds the industry. His continuation with his studies includes upcoming beer and spirits certifications.

Having worked for Kiawah Island Golf Resort and sister properties for the past 13 years, Garth has over 1,200 wine selections to look after. He spends most of his time in The Ocean Room as the Sommelier/Beverage Manager. A past winner of the BB&T Charleston Wine & Food Festival Top Sommelier competition, Garth continues to excel in growing the beverage world at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.


Patrick Emerson

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Patrick Emerson comes to Charleston, South Carolina by way of a circuitous route.  A native of England, Patrick first traveled to the United States to attend college at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as a winner of the prestigious Morehead scholarship. Patrick has worked as the wine and beverage director for Maverick Southern Kitchens for the past eight years.  The company has four successful restaurants, High Cotton, Slightly North of Broad, and The Old Village Post House. He is responsible for all staff wine training, wine and cocktail list development, and coordinates special events with each restaurant for specialty dinners. Additionally, he regularly teaches a wine tasting program with Maverick’s culinary center, Charleston Cooks!  Patrick is a certified specialist of wine (CWS) and has attained his “Advanced” level of sommelier certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers. He will soon be sitting for his Masters Diploma with the court. In his spare time, he enjoys time with his two children, Luke and Lily, his wife Anne, and the occasional cold beer on the beach.


Susan Mohle

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A native of the Chicago area, Susan Mohle graduated from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri, where she started in the wine business writing the wine list for a local jazz club. In 1987, she arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, and managed a shop in Mt. Pleasant called Epicurean Wine and Cheese. Working at Epicurean, her passion and thirst for all things wine really developed. She worked in several markets on the East Coast before ending up back in Charleston in 2000. Susan has been recognized in publications such as the Post and Courier for her notable specialty cheese selection, Skirt!magazine for her “matchmaking” abilities, Low Country Edible magazine, Oregon Wine Country, and Charleston Magazine. She has participated in Charleston’s “Top Sommelier” contest (and has won top honors!). Currently, Sue is employed at Newton Farms as a passionate Wine Director, as well as the specialty cheese and craft beer buyer. It has been said that she has the best wine selection in the state of South Carolina!


Rick Rubel

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Since 2005, Rick Rubel has been the Wine Director at the Charleston Place Hotel and the Sommelier at The Charleston Grill. Rick began his wine career at age 21, speed-tasting wines at the Glyndebourne Opera house in England. Opening and tasting an average of 100 to 200 bottles a night, Rick’s curiosity and palate were peaked. With new appreciation for the restaurant and wine industry, he returned to America and secured a job with the Unique Restaurant Corporation (now the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group). Here he had the opportunity to apprentice under Madeline Triffon, the first female master sommelier in the United States and then-chair of the American chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. Rick spent 10 years working with Madeline and fine tuning his experience, reaching wine director level. Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Rick completed the sommelier certificate course in 1997 at age 28, he passed the advanced examination in 2002. As for the Master Sommelier diploma, the ultimate worldwide professional credential (there are currently only 197 credited master sommeliers in the world–129 in North America), Rick has plans to sit for the exam at his earliest opportunity. Additionally, Rick lends his expertise to The Local Palate as a Contributing Wine Editor.


Jackson Holland

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Jackson Holland brings more than 13 years of distinguished experience within the hospitality industry to his role as beverage director at the Macintosh. A certified level one sommelier, Holland assists with the selection of the restaurant’s extensive wine list in addition to constructing craft cocktails from seasonal ingredients. Complementing his work at the Macintosh, Holland is co-creator of the award-winning Charleston Mix Bold & Spicy. His skills as a mixologist were also recognized with accolades for his original concoctions: orange flower water fizz and poison jack apple. Prior to joining the opening team at the Macintosh, Holland worked as head server at Oak Steakhouse, where he oversaw the bar program, served on the opening team at Husk’s bar, which gained national attention, and worked at the Ocean Room located at the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island. A Virginia native, Holland attended both Florida State University and College of Charleston. In his free time, he enjoys wine, cooking, cycling, reading, and spending time at Charleston’s beaches with his two dogs, Cash and Lola.


Christian Broder

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Christian Broder, Assistant Manager and Floor Sommelier of Social Restaurant + Wine Bar, attributes much of his understanding of food and wine to his parents. Christian’s father, a food chemist, taught him how to value and appreciate the sense of taste, making Christian hyper-aware of flavor. His first two years of college, Christian worked full time at Poogan’s Porch, where he began his exploration into the world of wine. After graduation, he spent several months traveling through South America, tasting wines and exploring vineyards. Back in Charleston, Broder worked at COAST restaurant for four years. In February 2010, he joined the team at Social as a bartender and was promoted to Assistant Manager in 2011. In September 2011, Broder received his level-two sommelier certification from the Guild of Master Sommeliers. He continues to pursue distinctions, while always being a student of wine.


Cappie Peete

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While studying for her bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant, and tourism management at the University of South Carolina, Cappie Peete realized her passion for food and wine, in particular. Cappie held a variety of positions at Southern restaurants while still in school. After graduation, she began seriously studying wine through a Certified Sommelier program at the Professional Culinary Institute. She passed her certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers in December 2009 and joined McCrady’s in March 2010, initially working as a server while she continued her wine education and work under Sommelier Clint Sloan. In her current role as Wine Director, she is responsible for updating and maintaining the extensive wine list, developing pairings with Chef Sean Brock’s menu, as well as many other duties. At the restaurant Cappie tries to create a memorable dining experience for guests. When not at McCrady’s, Cappie, 24, continues to further her wine knowledge through studying for the next level of sommelier certification.


Desmond Garrity

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Desmond Garrity, owner of Crushed Fine Wines in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, received his level one Master Sommelier certificate in 2001. Holding a joint Bachelor’s degree in English and Communication from Boston College, his career in beverage began with roles as a Manager/Beverage Director in Connecticut, before moving South and honing his wine knowledge and expertise through various beverage management and sommelier roles in and around Charleston. Among them, he opened the wildly popular eatery S.N.O.B. in 1992 with Maverick Southern Kitchens and was Beverage Manager for Maverick for 10 years. He was then the sommelier at the venerable Charleston Grill for four years. His most recent oenophile venture is Crushed, which he and his wife Betsy opened in March of 2008. Carrying over 600 selections, Crushed Fine Wines’ inventory is selected from small independent producers and importers, offering distinctive wines that are generally not available in grocery stores or through large retail wine outlets.


Mike Cohen

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Mike Cohen began his wine career at the Jersey Shore with his wine and cheese shop, The Wine Concierge. He completed a six-month course certification course with the American Sommelier Association. Since that time, he has moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where goat. sheep. cow. is his a  gourmet cheese and wine shop. He is an adjunct professor of business at the College of Charleston in the Hospitality and Tourism division, where he teaches a class to college seniors entitled, “Wine in the Hospitality and Tourism Field”. Mike has also worked with The Local Palate as contributing wine editor and is a wine judge for the Hilton Head Wine Festival.


Brad Ball

Brad Ball Headshot

Brad Ball is president of La Wine Agency, Owner of Social Restaurant + Wine Bar, and Managing Partner of Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, South Carolina. His formal training began at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. After kitchen internships at Jean-Georges and Momofuku, Ball took a position as a sommelier at Aquavit. Here, Ball furthered his wine knowledge and honed his palate. He earned his Advanced Certificate with Distinction from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust through the International Wine Center before returning to his hometown, Charleston, and becoming a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Ball opened Social Restaurant + Wine Bar in 2007. In 2008, Ball received his Diploma of Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, becoming the first person with such a distinction in Charleston. In 2010, Ball completed an executive MBA program with a wine industry focus, through the Bordeaux Ecole de Management (BEM). That same year, Ball launched La Wine Agency. Ball is currently pursuing an Advanced Sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers and Mast of Wine.