Our Team

 

Christine Hernandez

Christine Hernandez

President

“I love that this is our very own company. We take pride in what we have been able to accomplish and build. We lead with integrity and have high standards for the contractors we hire, which of course positively impacts our customers.” 

First Crush Tastings began as an idea Christine had while she was working as a corporate recruiter. Back then, Christine thought if she ever had her own company, she’d do things differently – such as no micromanaging, more company functions with employees, and more functions that included employees’ families. She aspired to create a place where her team would want to work. She began demoing wine on the side for fun and by 2005 First Crush Tastings was born.

Christine’s past experience in recruiting and her natural love of building relationships enabled her to quickly grow the agency’s clientele and brand ambassador team. Today she serves as the face of First Crush Tastings, running day-to-day operations with her husband and CEO, Daniel Hernandez. She also handles billing and payroll. When she’s not working Christine loves spending time with her two loves – her husband and son – and with friends, paddle boarding on the lake, and working out.

Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez

CEO

“I get very excited about technology and how when we innovate and incorporate technology into our work, it not only helps us to be more efficient and effective, but it also unlocks so much more value for our customers. I love how it enables us to have such a tremendous impact on our customer’s sales and growth.”

As CEO, Daniel sets the direction and vision for First Crush Tastings. For more than 20 years prior to co-founding the agency, Daniel served in various roles in the wholesale wine, beer and spirits industry. His experience includes serving as a distribution division manager where he was responsible for maintaining existing accounts, growing relationships with store managers, growing brand distribution, and introducing new brands to the market. Daniel draws on his intimate knowledge of the three-tier system in Texas as he continues to innovate at First Crush Tastings – such as leading the development and national launch of the Palaterra Tastings Platform.

Daniel brings the ability to manage daily tasks while staying focused on the big picture and adjusting business strategy to achieve company goals. Off duty he loves spending time with his family and getting out to explore the state and the country. He enjoys attending consumer events where he can sample new products. He’s also a frequent fisherman and reader of good business books.

Jen Mehis

Jen Mehis

Director of Client Relations

“I enjoy being in a fun environment and interacting with everyone. Being with First Crush is like being with family.”

Jen’s goal is to amplify our customers’ brand success and collaborate with customers to expedite their market strategy.  She loves to be the connection between the product and the consumer and she takes pride in seeing customers’ products sell as a direct result of their relationship with First Crush. Her strong work ethic, plus her management and scheduling experience, mean that Jen is always looking for ways to deliver better results for First Crush clients.

Outside of work, Jen enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, entertaining friends, traveling to the beach, and relaxing at the lake or by the pool.

Annette Colmenero

Annette Colmenero

Director of Operations

“First Crush is like my second family. Since I started, I’ve enjoyed being part of all the growth, and the challenges and rewards that come with it. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the years to come!”

Annette oversees the day to day activities of the company. With her background in accounting and as an executive assistant, Annette’s attention to detail and excellent communication skills have been instrumental in developing and maintaining First Crush’s successful client relationships.

When not at work, Annette enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren and catching the latest Star Wars movie.

Julia Fortkort

Julia Fortkort

Event Coordinator

“I work with a team that truly values each other. We all love our jobs and we all want to be successful, which makes me want to work that much harder. I love being a part of a company that is constantly trying to make the industry better.”

Julia brings her teamwork skills, sales experience, and competitive drive to ensure strong relationships with First Crush Tastings ambassadors and successful tasting events. Since graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Julia has held sales roles in payroll, technology, and sports, all of which strengthened her skills in building and sustaining relationships with partners and customers.

When she’s not coordinating tastings, Julia plays competitive rugby for the Austin Valkyries. She serves on her team’s board and on the UT women’s rugby team alumni committee. Julia also enjoys taking her dog, Arya, out to explore Austin’s trails and parks.

Beverly Ray

Beverly Ray

Dallas Market Coordinator

“My job involves the growth and development of the Dallas/Ft.Worth area. It is very satisfying to see our business flourish. It’s like watching the creation of a fine wine.”  

Based in the Dallas metro area, Beverly is often on the road, traveling to build relationships with retail managers and manage and address any of their concerns. Beverly brings more than 25 years of experience in the food and wine industry to her role, along with her own brand of energy and business relationship development skills. Her market knowledge, versatility and flexibility provide First Crush Tastings keen, first-hand insight into the North Texas market.

Becky Jones

Becky Jones

Houston Market Coordinator

I truly love being a part of a company that not only has a passion for what they do but takes great pride in providing high-quality service to all those involved in this business. 

Becky worked for more than six years as a brand ambassador with First Crush Tastings and now spends much of her time traveling around the Houston market to strengthen relationships with retail managers and local ambassadors. Becky brings 15 years of corporate experience, including large staff management, to her role. And her decade in education gives her the tools and experience to work well with a diverse group of stakeholders.

When she’s not on the road, Becky enjoys spending time with her family.

Joni Mooney

Joni Mooney

Administrative Assistant

“I absolutely love my team members and thrive on the passion and positivity each of us brings to our roles. We truly complement and support each other, which helps us deliver the best experience for our customers.”

Joni puts her time management, communication and collaboration skills to work at First Crush, jumping in to tackle any new project and expertly manage customer needs as they arise.

In her free time Joni is a marathon runner, gardener, avid reader, cook and loves spending time with her family.

Leslie Waibel

Leslie Waibel

Administrative Assistant

“What I love about my job at First Crush Tastings is the variety of my daily tasks. Something is new and challenging everyday.” 

Leslie works hard to ensure the successful execution of tasting events. From maintaining our database to finalizing customer reports and other administrative duties, Leslie is ready to handle any task in order to keep First Crush Tastings running smoothly.

Outside of work she enjoys spending time with family and watching her two sons play in various sports.