Our Team

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.

Jake Bright

Jake Bright

Operations Manager

“We’ve built a successful company by innovating, focusing on the integrity of great work, and acknowledging the importance of every single client – their goals and their brand.”

Jake directs business operations and manages relationships with the agency’s customers, retailers and hundreds of brand ambassadors. Prior to First Crush Tastings, Jake spent 17 years in the music industry and served as a national sales director for two music labels before returning to Austin in 2006. During his first year with First Crush he worked as a brand ambassador and quickly recognized that experiential marketing was the next evolution in the sales industry. When offered the role of operations manager, he jumped at the chance to put his skills to work at the ground floor of the rapidly growing agency. In his free time Jake loves to read, play drums and cook for friends.

Jen Mehis

Jen Mehis

Director of Promotions

“I love to be the connection between the product and the consumer. I feel proud when I see our customer’s product selling as a direct result of our business relationship.”

Jen oversees contracting every single job across the state of Texas. Her goal is to amplify a customer’s brand success and collaborate with customers to expedite their market strategy. Outside of work, Jen enjoys spending time with her family and doing anything on the lake or by the pool.

Annette Colmenero

Annette Colmenero

Key Account Manager

“First Crush is like my second family. Since I started three years ago, 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 ensures independent contractors are well qualified and follow supplier and retailer guidelines while promoting customers’ brands. 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, she enjoys spending time with her children and grand children and catching the latest Star Wars movie.

Beverly Ray

Beverly Ray

North Texas Area Manager

“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.

Julie Shasteen, Ph.D.

Julie Shasteen, Ph.D.

Sociologist-Consumer Insights Analyst

“Engagement and influence go hand in hand.  We take pride in bringing targeted and consistent brand messaging to the consumer at the point of decision making.  First Crush increases sales by creating a personal connection with your brand and unlike other tasting companies we capture and aggregate the voice of the consumer.”

Julie spent fifteen years in sales and business development, before returning to complete her Ph.D.  and three years as a brand ambassador hosting over 800 demos.  Julie supports our web-based analytics tool, Palaterra Tastings Platform and associated key accounts.  Contact her to learn more about actionable reports and real time access to information for both your consumer/shopper insights department and your sales team. When she’s not at work, Julie enjoys her backyard dock on Lady Bird Lake, reading and herb gardening.

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.