Our Team

People who know us know we are serious about wine. But we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

– FRENCH CONNECTION WINES

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Benjamin Calais, Winemaking

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Victoria Gimino, Tasting Room Operations & Events

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Sheri Pattillo, Sales & Marketing, Wine Club

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Pat Pattillo, Client Relations

Benjamin Calais, Winemaking

It takes a lot of beer to make great wine.

As a Frenchman from Calais, France, Benjamin is a standout in the Texas wine industry. With an educational background in information technology, engineering work brought him from France to Texas in 2007. His side hobby of making wine quickly took over, with Calais Winery opening in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood the following year.

Benjamin readily made a name for himself in the Texas Wine scene and later purchased land in the quaint community of Hye, moving Calais Winery to open its doors in the Texas Hill Country in 2015. Calais Winery continues to offer exquisite Texas wines made from grape varieties commonly grown in Bordeaux. He’s excited to have a new home at French Connection for the wines he makes from grapes typically grown in France’s Rhône Valley.

Benjamin maintains a reputation for making quality wines, and he is known as a collaborator and partner among local wineries. His vision for promoting wines made 100% from Texas grapes adds to his respect in the Texas winemaking scene.

Benjamin Calais can be contacted at benjamin@calaiswinery.com.

 

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Victoria Gimino, Tasting Room Operations & Events

Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.

-Ernest Hemingway

 

Victoria grew up in Russia as part of a farming family – a heritage that would eventually lead her into wine. After earning a Master’s degree in Philology, she moved to the United States in 2003, making her way to Texas in a few short years.

Her fondness for the farm led her into successfully running an organic farm, working closely with upscale farm-to-table restaurants in the Austin area, including Uchi, Uchiko, and Jack Allen’s Kitchen. In those same years, Victoria enjoyed teaching sustainable farming classes.

She helped with the launching of Texas Hill Country Olive Company, where she managed the tasting room, along with its selection of all-Texas wines. It was from this place that her entrée into wine began.

In 2015, Victoria firmly stepped into the wine industry at Lewis Wines as its Tasting Room Manager. She later accepted a position at Kuhlman Cellars, as its first Tasting Room Manager, along with heading up employee training and educational wine classes for staff and guests.

Her affection for gardening can be seen at French Connection Wines in various places including the lovely herb and flower garden, relished by butterflies and people alike. Her farming background and prior work with high end restaurants appears in new ways with the food items available at French Connection, including the raved-about charcuterie boards.

She is a Certified Sommelier with the International Wine and Spirit Guild and Level One with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Further, Victoria holds the title of Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, and she is currently pursuing Level 3 with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

Victoria Gimino can be contacted at victoria@frenchconnectionhye.com.

 

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Sheri Pattillo, Sales & Marketing, Wine Club

Popping corks is my super power.

Sheri is a sixth-generation Texan who embraces the fierce independence of her state.

In addition to her MBA, Sheri holds the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma as well as being a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators. She is a Certified Wine Educator for WSET and considers herself to be a lifelong learner. Sheri also earned a winemaking certificate from Texas Tech University in 2o18.

Sheri’s other wine involvement includes Sales for Calais Winery, and Executive Director for Texas Wine Growers, an organization committed to protecting and promoting the integrity of Texas wines. She also teaches wine courses for The Texas Wine School and Texas Tech University in Fredericksburg.

Sheri Pattillo can be contacted at sheri@frenchconnectionhye.com.

 

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Pat Pattillo, Client Relations

I’ve learned a lot by absorption.

Pat is a seasoned Trial Attorney with a Board Certification in Criminal Law, a trained/practicing mediator and collaborative law practitioner. As a member of the State Bar of Texas, he is licensed by the Texas Supreme Court to practice law in all Texas State Courts. He is also licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals, and the United States District Courts for the Western, Northern, and Southern Districts.

Pat holds the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Certification (with Merit). He credits his enjoyment of and serious exploration of wine to his wife, Sheri, and her wine pursuits. That, as well as practicing law, which sometimes leads to popping corks.

Pat Pattillo can be contacted at pat@pattillorichards.com.

 

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