Wine has always been a part of Brian’s life. This began while spending summers in his grandfather’s vineyard and enjoying 4th of July BBQ’s, where wine was always on the table. Brian started his career in the restaurant industry in Sacramento eventually elevating himself through the ranks from host to bar manager. Opening numerous restaurants and fine dining establishments he found his niche in great wine service. Becoming a Sommelier and working with distributors, lead to a job with Southern Wine & Spirits working in a division dedicated to selling high end brands of Moet & Hennessy and Diageo. After selling wines and spirits for other companies, Brian convinced his father Arden Burt to join him in making a few barrels of Zinfandel from his grandfather’s vineyard. In 2007 Brian moved to Napa and took a harvest intern job at Terra Valentine under Sam Baxter. Taking classes at Davis in combination with his biology background lead to an amazing career working next to multiple winemakers at Raymond, Biale, Falcor, Envy & Joseph Cellars.
In 2012 Brian’s high school crush, Amanda, moved to Napa where they are now married with a son named West, who was born in November of 2016. Following his passion of wine and the industry, he has found a home in the exquisite Calistoga wine community working closely with his lovely wife.
Arden “Burt” Harlan
Burt Harlan grew up in a small rural farming community in Lake County California. He attended a 1-room schoolhouse through 8th grade before going off to boarding school for his freshman and sophomore year. He returned to Kelseyville to finish high school with his older brother and help his family with farming. His summers were spent working in the Burton Ranch Vineyards, which have been in his family for over 110 years. In the fall he would return to Lake County and work in the Pear sheds loading ‘piggy-back’ trailers destined for the east coast. After graduation he followed his high school sweetheart, Sharon Kay, to Fresno where he received his degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance. He married Sharon and raised two children (Stephanie & Brian) in Sacramento.
Over the next 20 years he worked in commercial real estate investments and development. In 1994 he moved to New York to work for Merrill Lynch as a Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities underwriter in the World Financial Center. His Investment Banking career led him back to California, first to San Francisco for Deutsche Bank, and then Newport Beach in Orange County with UBS, where he currently resides.
Director of Operations
Amanda grew up in Sacramento, Ca where she attended high school and first met her husband, Brian Harlan. Being awarded a scholarship to Oklahoma City University (OCU) Amanda moved across the country right after graduation. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in dance Performance and was a professional “Broadway Style” dancer for the first part of her life. Her 27 year performance career took her around the U.S. until making a temporary home in Branson, Mo dancing three shows a day 6 days a week. In 2010 Amanda retired and found her new passion…wine! Amanda won a scholarship to Missouri State University (MSU) to study Viticulture, and Enology. After two harvests and a Double Gold Medal for her first label, “Bikini Zin-Shiraz” she soon realized that she needed to be closer to her family and in the heart of the best wine in the world- Napa Valley! She picked up and drove west heading for her next career. Little did she know, Brian had already established his winemaking career and was willing to help her get settled and begin hers. He offered her a half ton of grapes from his grandfathers vineyard as long as she met him every evening to tend to her winemaking. She agreed, not realizing this was all a plan to get her to go on a date with him. Their passion for wine brought Amanda and Brian back together after 16 years and they were married in 2014. They welcomed their first child to the Harlan family in November of 2016. West Harlan is the light of their lives and makes frequent appearances at the winery riding in his baby carrier so Amanda can still pour wines for our guests!
After falling in love with wine while studying abroad in Mallorca, Spain, Sam’s life took a different direction. A native of Minnesota, Sam decided to move out to Northern California to try his hand in America’s wine mecca. After a 5 month internship at Korbel Champagne Cellars, Sam was hired full time at Kenwood Vineyards in the tasting room. However, it was his cellar internship for the 2007 Kenwood harvest that Sam found his true calling. Shoveling grapes, sampling wines, and being purple and dirty turned out to fit just right. Sam was hired as the Cellarmaster for Wellington Vineyards in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Here, Sam was mentored by long time Winemakers Peter Wellington and David Noyes. The hands-on practical experience coupled with winemaking extension courses from UC-Davis created an optimal learning environment for this fledgling Winemaker.
After 7 years with Wellington Vineyards, Sam decided it was time to make a move. He found this opportunity with Brian Arden Winery, just in time for the 2014 harvest at their brand new facility. Starting as the Cellarmaster, and now the Assistant Winemaker, Sam works with Winemaker Brian Harlan to craft small lot wines in beautiful Calistoga. Life is good.
Event Coordinator/Reservation Specialist
Angel Wilkes grew up in Florida and attended the University of Florida, where she studied Hospitality Management and Event Planning. She also has a Masters Degree in Higher Education Administration from Vanderbilt University, and a Culinary Arts Degree from the College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn, IL. Angel has always been an event planner at heart, and has worked in a number of industries including education, weight loss, restaurants and travel planning. Her love for travel has taken her all over the world, which is how she ended up in the Napa Valley. Since traveling here for the first time in 2010, she would always say it was her favorite place in the world.
In 2015, Angel got the once in a lifetime opportunity to work on a study abroad program called Semester at Sea, where she traveled around the world on a ship with 600 college students and planned their shore excursions in 12 different countries. This led her to quit her job at Vanderbilt University, and after returning from sea, she finally had the opportunity to move anywhere she wanted. She chose the Napa Valley, where she began work at the Culinary Institute of America as an Event Planner in the Wine Department. From the first day she walked into Brian Arden, she fell in love with the space. After working a few parties and busy days in the tasting room, Brian and Amanda approached Angel about helping to build an events program at the Winery. Angel jumped on the opportunity, excited to join the small family at Brian Arden Wines.
Benjamin is a native Northern Californian, who grew up in San Francisco. From a young age he was drawn to cooking, helping his mom whenever possible in the kitchen. While in high school Benjamin got his first job washing dishes at a busy Italian restaurant. Falling in love with the action, he was soon working the line. After working at restaurants for a few years in San Francisco, Benjamin moved to the Napa Valley in his early 20’s to pursue his culinary goals.
Once moving to the Napa Valley, Benjamin discovered his interest in wine. Wanting to learn more about the process he spent a few years working in wine cellars and tasting rooms throughout the valley. After successfully assisting with the managing of a few notable restaurants he decided it was time to combine his love of wine and food and become a Winery Chef. Prior to Brian Arden Winery, Benjamin worked as Estate Chef at Larkmead Vineyards. He is now proud to be part of Brian Arden Winery. Growing up in a multicultural city such as San Francisco has had a heavy influence on his cooking. Incorporating different styles and learning from some of the best chefs in Napa Valley, Benjamin has developed a style all his own. When not in the kitchen Benjamin spends his time with his family consisting of his partner Molly, their two daughters Lola age 8 , and Lucia age 6, his Boston terrier Ari Gold and his oldest friend, Chewy a 15-year-old lab border collie mix. Benjamin is also a diehard San Francisco Giants, Forty Niner and Golden State Warrior fan.
Marketing Specialist/Tasting Room
Emily grew up in a military family, which led her to live in various States like Michigan and Alaska, all before the age of 8. Her father has since retired and her family has settled down in a small little farm town in central California. Emily, not wanting to be far from home, decided to attend Sonoma State University so she was only two hours away from her parents and younger brother. While undeclared for the first half of her college career, she was feeling lost until she discovered photography. She holds a Bachelors of Art Studio with a concentration in Photography Degree from Santa Rosa College. Along with taking photos, Emily really enjoys photoshop and graphic design.
Emily is 110% obsessed with pugs, which is one of the many reasons she was hired! Emily joined the Brian Arden team back in the fall of 2016 and loves blending her three passions of photography/marketing, pugs and of course wine.
Outside Sales Rep/Tasting Room Lead
Mary Shappell was born and raised in Sonoma County, where she grew up visiting wineries with her parents who met on a blind date at Sterling Vineyards, just south of Brian Arden.
Mary worked and attended college in Hawaii and South Korea before returning home to wine county, which she loves to share with visitors from around the country and the world.
In addition to her 15 years in hospitality and service, Mary is a licensed nutrition consultant and certified fitness instructor.
When she is not at Brian Arden, you might find her hiking the trails around Calistoga, teaching a Barre class, or enjoying great wine in it’s natural habitat; with friends, the natural world, and good food.
Bikini (Pug, 12)
Caleigh (Golden Retriever, 4)
Cuvee (Pug, 6)
The wine dogs are always here to welcome you to the property and make you feel right at home. You can find Bikini and Caleigh in the new Wine Dogs California 2 book. Cuvee is our adopted pug and is a little jealous she’s not famous yet as she came to us after the photo shoot, but will be featured in the next edition.