Honorary Chairs for Sonoma Wine Country Weekend are selected for their community leadership and commitment to their craft, be it grape-growing, winemaking, or culinary endeavors.
Honorary Vintner Chairs 2016
Dan Kosta, Kosta Browne Winery
Kosta Browne began as a dream shared by Dan Kosta and Michael Browne. In the summer of 1997, while working at John Ash & Co. restaurant in Santa Rosa, California, Dan and Michael decided to venture into winemaking. They saved tip money and eventually had enough to buy a half ton of Pinot Noir, a used barrel and an old hand-crank stemmer-crusher, a purchase that marks the beginning of Kosta Browne. Since that vintage, they have nurtured relationships with the best growers and honed their winemaking skills, making sure to focus on the vision and values with which they began.
Dan Kosta is a native of Sonoma County where wine became an integral part of his life at the age of 5, learning about the enjoyment of wine from his father. At home, wine was served at nearly every dinner and discussion of wine always accompanied the pour. At his dad’s wine shop in Santa Rosa, Dan learned about labels, varietals and style. Later, Dan followed his passion for food and worked for more than 15 years in fine dining, with the majority of his experience gained at John Ash & Co. in Santa Rosa, California. He worked every position imaginable at the restaurant, finally landing as the Operations Manager and Wine Director.
Dan has consulted for restaurants in the Sonoma County area and sits on the Board of Directors for the Sonoma County Vintners Association and continues to participate in numerous judgings such as the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, West Coast Wine Competition, Grand Harvest Awards and the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Dan spends a majority of his time traveling the country attending charitable events where the brand partners with many organizations. “I love how wine and food bring people together and feel very fortunate where we can play a role in helping many worthy causes”, says Dan.
When not behind the scenes of a working winery or on the road, Dan enjoys spending time with his wife, Allison and three young children, Mazie, Maggie, and Sean.
Honorary Culinary Chairs
Mark and Terri Stark, Stark Reality Restaurants
James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalists Mark and Terri Stark own and operate five of Sonoma County’s favorite—and most highly-rated—restaurants: Willi’s Wine Bar, Stark’s Steak & Seafood and Monti’s in Santa Rosa, and Willi’s Seafood and Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg. Mark is Executive Chef and Terri handles all business operations, and it’s a partnership that has led them to unmatched success on the Sonoma County food scene. From opening their first venture, Willi’s Wine Bar in 2002, to their most recent, Bravas in 2012, Mark and Terri’s restaurants have consistently earned top accolades and praise including San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Bay Area Restaurant status (Willi’s Wine Bar and Bravas), Michelin Bib Gourmand (Monti’s, Willi’s Wine Bar) and Travel + Leisure Top 20 US Tapas Restaurants (Bravas).
Says San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer, “What sets Mark and Terri Stark apart from many restaurateurs who have multiple locations is that each location is different. If their names weren’t written on the menu, in fact, you probably wouldn’t know it was one of their properties… Willi’s has remained one of my favorite casual stops in Sonoma County.”
Mark is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and he honed his professional cooking skills in Washington DC and Seattle. Terri majored in hospitality at the University of Oregon, and had a successful catering and restaurant management career in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark and Terri met while both were working for the California Café Restaurant Group in Palo Alto: he as a regional chef, and she as manager of the catering department. They married in 1999, and relocated to Sonoma County shortly thereafter, where Terri has four generations of family.
The Starks believe it’s not enough to provide great food and service in a comfortable setting—those things are to be expected. Their goal is to provide an experience that will leave diners saying, “I can’t wait to come back.” With five (soon to be six—Bird & The Bottle is slated to open just outside of downtown Santa Rosa in summer 2015) restaurants under their belts, their philosophy seems to be working.