Mabel Ojeda -- Winemaker
Mabel Ojeda was born in the South American country of Chile, where she studied and received a bachelor’s degree in Food Engineering from Universidad Austral de Chile.
A thirst for travelling and discovering new opportunities took her to New Zealand in 2011 to work her first harvest, where she felt in love with wine and winemaking. This experience led her to continue travelling and learning different winemaking techniques around the world, experiencing harvests in Napa Valley, Australia, Austria, Chile, France, Switzerland and South Africa.
In 2014, Mabel came back to Napa when the opportunity to work as the Assistant Winemaker at Clos du Val winery arose, leading her to settle down in one place and deepen her knowledge of working with Bordeaux and Burgundy varieties.
When offered the chance to become part of the Bravante Vineyards team in 2021, Mabel was excited and didn’t hesitate to come on board and work with our Consulting Winemaker, Phillip Titus. Mabel: “It is thrilling to be able to work with such excellent quality fruit, from such an important and unique AVA as Howell mountain.”
Katie Bastian- Director of Hospitality and Marketing
Katie grew up surrounded by vineyards in the Finger Lakes region of New York. She worked summers at Dr. Franks Wine Cellars, a local winery during college and eventually started working there full time after graduation, learning several departments within the winery.
With a bug to travel, Katie decided to travel to Florence, Italy where she further studied Wine and Food culture throughout Italy. She later attended a class trip to Napa Valley learning about food and wine from a different perspective, and visited several wineries between Napa and Sonoma.
She went on to earn her CSW- Certified Specialist of Wine, WSET level two certification and has also passed her Certified Sommelier exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers America.
After throughly studying wine out of books, Katie decided that she wanted to fully understand the winemaking process, and participated in her first full harvest working under the Winemaker at Hidden Valley Wine Estate in Stellenbosch South Africa. She loved the thrill of making wine and went on to work two more harvests in Napa Valley at Clos Du Val Winery and here at Bravante Vineyards in 2019. She returned to Bravante Vineyards to run our Hospitality team in early 2021.
Stephen Sichel - Director of Consumer Sales & Wine Club Manager
Steve moved onto Howell Mountain in 2009 after selling his company in Los Angeles in 2006. He had visited with his wife in 1997 and knew Napa Valley offered a lifestyle which would be a refreshing change after manufacturing Costumes in Hollywood for almost 30 years. The Sichel Family has a long history in the wine industry and fulfilling his dream of a vineyard lifestyle seemed like a natural progression!
Growing Cabernet from his tiny 300 vine vineyard and producing 10 cases/year provides a unique perspective. The entire experience has been wonderful and joining the Bravante Team is the culmination of my past decade in Napa Valley. “This small boutique winery offers an old world experience that is unequalled. To work among such passionate folks such as George & Nancy, Mabel, Katie and Michelle is truly a winery Dreamteam! Small lots of wines that have been gently hand processed and the bottles held back for release until they're ready to be enjoyed is rare these days.”
As they say... “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life!”
Michelle Hunt - Director of Wholesale Sales
Michelle is a seasoned industry veteran with a background in all 3 tiers of the wine business; first in fine wine retail in Charleston, SC, then with a distributor in South Carolina, and finally on the supplier side with wineries in Napa & Walla Walla. She loves the wine business and especially the “herding cats” aspect of wine sales - she loves a good challenge! Michelle's been with Bravante Vineyards since 2005, first as General Manger and now as National Sales Manager, based on the east coast. Besides working with our distributor and wholesale partners across the US, she is also the occasional winery “rep” at fundraisers, dinners and educational events, and she loves being there for the “a-ha!” moment when someone falls in love with wine. When she’s not out on the road hustling vino, you’ll find her in her expansive garden (her form of therapy), testing new tomato recipes in the kitchen, or deep in the woods, camping with her trusty canine and human companions.