Our Story

In September 1997 Roy Cloud was asked by the Michel-Schlumberger winery in Dry Creek Valley to become the buyer for a new line of French imports. He accepted, despite the fact that his French was worthless at the time.

Vintage '59 Company

The team. Missing: Marianne Antic, Krystal Kleeman and Sally Marshall.

F ortunately, his brother spoke the language well, so he came along on the early travels as a clandestine translator. They trooped across France and doors were opened, giving them an abiding appreciation for the pride the better farmers took in their work. Nearly every one of those early growers who signed on via handshake—because then, as now, the moral contract rather than a legal document guided our relationships—remain in the portfolio.

In early 2003 Roy purchased the assets of the Michel-Schlumberger import business and formed Vintage ’59. The name was changed to an iconic vintage in France (by chance, Roy’s birth year). The heart and soul of the company, however, has stayed firmly focused on artisanal domains making excellent regional wine—classic vin de terroir.

As importers, we look for wines with depth of fruit, length and elegance, rather than for obtrusive oak, over-extraction, or excessive alcohol. That said, we don’t tell growers how to make wine because that’s their expertise, not ours. And we don’t work with fatheads, regardless of how good their wine might be, because it’s not worth it. The company focuses on the rich relationships that spring from the community of growers, instead of just the commercial imperative. So we look for people who share sensibilities, and that makes them as important as the wine they produce. The rule is simple: you work with people who make you proud and whose wine you drink at home.

In 2008, we opened a separate company to distribute our wines in California. In 2020, we opened a second small company to distribute a select group of our wines in the Washington, DC region. In these direct markets, on both coasts, our book has carefully expanded beyond its import portfolio to include likewise-minded producers from America and around the world.

Roy Cloud and Mike Daniels interview by the North Carolina Food & Beverage Podcast, June 2020.

The Faces Behind Vintage ‘59

Vintage ‘59 Imports
Roy Cloud, President

Roy grew up in Pittsburgh during the time when Roberto Clemente was God in that town. On the dinner table at home often stood a half-gallon of Almaden Burgundy, but he knew from busing tables at the restaurant up the road that there were other wines from cultures entirely different from his own.+ Read Full Bio

Mike Daniels
Michael Daniels, Partner

The road to perdition began for Mike at age 14 when an older neighbor suggested he take French for his high school language requirement because, “Those classes are almost all girls.” A few short years later, thanks to the efforts of an inspiring teacher, Isabelle Carduner, he managed to spend a week outside of Paris with a French family.+ Read Full Bio

Debra Lewis, National Sales, South and Mid-West

Debra came to work for Vintage ’59 Imports with a varied past. She has sailed around the world, lived and worked in France, ran a city-wide art program in Los Angeles, and worked both front and back of the house in restaurants. It was in restaurants in North Carolina where her wine education began as a buyer.+ Read Full Bio

Doug Mohr, National Sales, the District, Maryland, Delaware, northern Virginia

Doug’s restaurant career took him across the country and back again–from Sante Fe to San Francisco to Washington DC. From there he went into wine buying and managing sales teams. His joys are his three children, food and wine and all good things Detroit and Michigan. + Read Full Bio

Sally Marshall, Administration

After many years managing Trophy and Class A office buildings in downtown Washington, establishing a custom swimming pool design and construction business with her husband, and serving as the business manager for an historic, non-profit movie theater in Chevy Chase, DC, Sally is happy to be a part of the Vintage ’59 team.
+ Read Full Bio

Sue Behringer, Administration

Sue got into wine back in 2000 when she joined a brokerage of small growers that Debra later came to manage. Sue was attracted both to the requirement of French fluency and the managerial prerequisites, having taught French, been a preschool director, and the manager of a research lab. + Read Full Bio

V59 Wines

Marianne Antic, Operations Manager

Marianne started with Vintage ’59 Imports in February 2016, after working in the copyright and fashion industries in France, opening a small B&B and restaurant in Costa Rica and importing furniture from Morocco in the Bay Area. Originally from Paris, Marianne got her MBA from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. + Read Full Bio

Susan Thornett, West Coast Sales Manager

Susan first caught the taste for wine working as a server in London, back when a “business lunch” for two meant opening at least three nice bottles! After stints in Sydney and Los Angeles, she landed a job in San Francisco working with John Ragan, an inspiring wine director who led her to consider wine as a career. + Read Full Bio

Neza Rufuku, Los Angeles Sales

Neza hails from Rwanda and the American Midwest. He dove into the craft beer industry in its early stages and was employed at a brewhouse while attending college for marketing.
He has 20+ years of employment in the hospitality industry. His excitement for the wine industry continues to blossom. + Read Full Bio

Krystal Kleeman, Los Angeles Sales

Originally from Oceanside, California, Krystal moved to Los Angeles in 2010. Her introduction to the restaurant and wine industry started when she helped open Fundamental LA and then went on to run her own wine programs. Krystal is an outdoor enthusiast and in her free time she enjoys hiking, backpacking and occasionally keeping up her golf swing. + Read Full Bio

Gretchen Pen, SF and North Sales

Gretchen is a thoroughly West Coast girl who grew up in Bellingham, WA and attended the University of San Diego on swimming scholarships. After earning degrees in Political Science and Environmental Studies, she canvassed for US PIRG and performed so well that the company promoted her and sent her to San Francisco. + Read Full Bio

Abbey Chrystal, SF and Monterey Bay Sales

Abbey joined the Vintage’59 team at the end of 2018. She worked in wine production and quality control previously at such fine establishments as Dashe Cellars in Oakland, Equinox Methode Champenoise, and Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, CA. + Read Full Bio

Nick Roche, SF and East Bay Sales

Nick joined the V59 Wines team in March, 2022. He grew up in Chicago, earned his MFA degree, worked in the golf and automotive industries in sales and most recently was the wine buyer and manager of a local wine shop. In his spare time he likes to hike, backpack, ski, and paint. + Read Full Bio

Maria Castelli, SF Sales

Maria joined the V59 Wines team in September of 2021. She grew up immersed in a culture of food and wine, graduated from UC Santa Barbara, earned her CMS Certification, and served as the Manager and Wine Buyer at Vintage Berkeley. + Read Full Bio

Greg Clark, San Diego and Orange Co. Sales

Greg grew up in Charleston, SC. In 2016 he successfully completed the Certified Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers. He is a 17-year veteran of the restaurant industry. His hobbies include surfing, hiking, and yoga.
+ Read Full Bio