Nissa Pierson

“Why I’m a Thirsty Girl: living life to the fullest, has been just simply a way of life for me.”

As the only girl in a family of all men (no mother) who lived in California, Central America, Minnesota, her life was anything but ordinary and I am quite sure that was a conscious effort. Her life of travel and culture has taken her to all parts of the world and her extreme thirst for experience and knowledge has kept her delving into all aspects of life.

Nissa’s love for cooking started out of necessity, in childhood her experience of living in Central America taught her everything about self learning, self teaching and self sufficiency, both in the kitchens and in life. The amount of fresh ingredients and people actually cooking what they ate and drank was engrained in her from an early age projecting into multiple phases of her life. From learning about organic sustainable agriculture, to herbs, to fair-trade produce.

Nissa’s work with organic and fair-trade produce world allows her to fulfill her travel bug, visiting such places as Israel, Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Holland and more. She’s an advocate of “doing good things for your planet” and its’ people by supporting the fair-trade organic food movement.

Her founding of Ger-Nis and the Ger-Nis Culinary and Herb Center was the next logical phase for her, a place where her community can come to learn about food. Her response, “How could I not offer this?”

“Take chances, live with passion, and try to see and experience as much as you can, that is truly what I believe in and truly what I live daily. I believe that is what makes me a Thirsty Girl, thirsty for the life both in my wine glass and in my life!”

Ger-Nis Culinary and Herb Center,
Nissa’s Profile,

Eleanor Prior

“I love wine tasting with my husband.” When she’s really stressed out or sad she grabs a bottle of wine and sits at her piano (also a closet pianist, lessons from the time she was 5!).

When her husband and her get a chance to take off and go wine tasting, they head to the central coast and stay in Cayucos at the Sunset Inn Bed and Breakfast enjoying the surrounding areas Cambria, and Paso Robles. Their favorite place to eat in Cambria is the Sea Chest Restaurant. People line up with lawn chairs and bottles of wine to enjoy the sound of the ocean while they wait for the doors to open. Her favorite winery there is Towbin James; she’s dying to get back this year, she can just taste it. Eleanor has a blended family, “Yours, Mine, and Ours,” so when they do get a trip it is rare.

Have I described the life a a Thirsty Girl or what? Unique, passionate, and drink in hand.

In 2008 Eleanor came across an up-and-coming profession, “Virtual Assistant.” She knew immediately she could succeed and still be home for her children. However, she didn’t want to be your typical administrative support VA and in her search she found VAClassroom.

Eleanor’s passions are Social Media, WordPress, and Virtual Events. As “Your Virtual Girl Friday” she loves introducing and training clients about the endless possibilities that await them when they join the conversation online. Her latest venture, Your Virtual Events Girl specializes in Webinars, PowerPoint Video Creation, Screencast Tutorial Videos and training.

Eleanor gets her social groove on with her alter ego “As The Las Vegas Tweetup”. One of her favorite things to do is craft tweets about what she’s passionately promoting (events, blog posts, or affiliate products), for example:  Join us for #TGTaste and have a little Sunlight poured into your glass…

Can you say Thursday Thirsty Girl! Thirsty for life. Passion for new opportunities. Embracing her chosen field and meeting so many wonderful people. Foodie. Loves the Vegas Foodtruck community. Favorites includes, her Ohana @SnOwONOShaveIce) created via social media. @GrouchyJohns a mobile gourmet coffee barista, @Tastybunz, @lulusonthemove, @bensbbq, @sincitywings ]and more…

“Being a Thirsty Girl has definitely been an adventure, one that I don’t intend on ending anytime soon.

One of my favorite wine quotes will sum it up perfectly…

“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”

So pour a little sunlight into her glass….—your-go-to-girl-for-all-your-virtual-needs—your-go-to-girl-for-all-your-virtual-events-needs

Katherine Cole

Katherine Cole is a wine columnist for The Oregonian newspaper and MIX, and Portland’s Magazine of Food + Drink. Her book on biodynamic wine, Voodoo Vintners, has just been published by Oregon State University Press. In addition, her iPhone and iPad app on Oregon wines will be released soon by SutroMedia.

She holds degrees from Harvard College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and has studied with the International Sommelier Guild. She’s one smart TG!

Katherine’s very well-spoken manner de-mystifying one of wine’s most heated topics. Though the majority of biodynamic winegrowers in America are predominately located in Oregon, Voodoo Vintners features vineyards and winemakers from all over the world. Katherine takes a very non-partisan stance that focusses, ultimately, on exploring the multitude of choices winemakers have when considering how to bring forth the best expression of their grapes.

When she’s not working, look for Katherine and her husband, Pete, riding Dutch bicycles around town with their two young daughters. They also enjoy fly-fishing, backcountry skiing and upland bird hunting with their German shorthaired pointer. The Coles live in Irvington, in the former home of E.Palmer Hoyt, a past editor and publisher of The Oregonian.

Julie Albert & Lisa Gnat

“When I was born the doctor took one look at my face, turned me over and said, ‘Look, twins!’”

— Rodney Dangerfield, comedian

“Okay, so we’re not twins, but we should be…my theory is that our mother just wanted to meet me two years earlier. Whatever the case, there’s nothing that comes close to the bond we have always shared as sisters.” So says Julie Albert, one half of the sister act responsible for the saucy, delicious and entertaining cookbook, Bite Me.

Many adjectives have been used to describe sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat and they have heard them all. Passionate eaters and skilled feeders, these dedicated mothers and business women are full of beans, basil, balsamic vinegar, butter, raspberries…well, you get the picture.

Lisa is a homebody, born to be in the kitchen, whose bionic nose and supreme palate have fuelled her passion for eating and feeding and helped her conquer the age-old question: “What’s for dinner?” Her creative talent for all things culinary is on full display throughout the pages of Bite Me. A skilled chef who ran a successful dessert catering business for many years, Lisa not only can sniff out a missing pinch of salt, but also with a few squirrel-like nibbles, she can pinpoint what type of chocolate has been used.

Julie is a self-described “busybody who lives for laughs, pop culture, music, photography, and entertaining you in and out of the kitchen.” Apart from being a skilled eater, Julie rarely set foot in the kitchen until she had a family to feed. Then she turned to sister Lisa for cooking lessons. Julie returned the favor by contributing her sense of humor and keen

eye for all things visual – – font styling, sentence structure and the joy of photography – – to their first collaborative effort.

In between dirty diapers and raising children, Julie worked as a freelance writer, doing everything from mystery book reviews to writing articles on how to keep romance alive for Harlequin books.

“Our passions for feeding and eating wouldn’t be what they are without the finest of role models. We give immeasurable credit to our mother, a woman who always had a full plate (and no sister to help her) and yet somehow managed to turn out delicious nightly feasts for her family. Looking back, we never gave thought to how the perfectly succulent chicken Kiev, the soaring soufflé or the moist 5-layer strawberry shortcake made it to the table. Now we know…with love and dedication,” recall the sisters.

After years of talking about it, Lisa and Julie embarked on a kitchen odyssey, deciding to collaborate on a cookbook. Like mad scientists, they tested and experimented with ingredients and techniques until they found just the right combination of easy and delicious delicacies to share with the public. Then setting the tone, look and feel of this fun and unique book began.

“The experience has surpassed any dream we could have envisioned for ourselves and believe me, since childhood, we’ve played the ‘dream game’…you know, the one where we live close to each other, we marry men who like each other, we have kids at the same time, and so on.” Feeding off each other, the result is Bite Me, a 272-page blend of their individual skill sets. Lisa oversaw all recipe development and Juliewas responsible for the writing and the look/feel/tone of the book.

“What has always been so great for us is that we complement each other, that we admire one another (for our differences and similarities) and that, most importantly, we can make each other laugh when inclined to cry.”

Both left-handed, Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat live close to each other in Toronto, with husbands who like each other, and children about the same age. To learn more about them and see them in action, visit



Amazon link:

Alison Sokol Blosser

Alison Sokol BlosserAlison Sokol Blosser, daughter of Susan Sokol Blosser and Bill Blosser, remembers being small enough to climb into the press to help her father clean it during harvest. I’m sure every Thirsty Girl wishes those were her childhood memories. That’s why Alison Sokol Blosser is this week’s TTG. From there on, Alison decided that while the actual winemaking wasn’t her thing, the family vineyard and winery were in her blood.

After getting her MBA at the University of Washington and spending three years working in public relations and marketing communications with startups and consumer branding giants Nike and Nordstrom, she came home to Sokol Blosser in 2004 as Director of Marketing. Now a Co-President, Alison works with her brother Alex (yes, it’s a family business!) to plan the strategic future of the business and also oversees marketing, sales, and administrative functions, including accounting, finance and human resources.

Alison is involved in the Oregon wine industry as a board member of Oregon Pinot Camp, a board member of Wine America, and as a member of the Oregon Wine Board’s marketing committee. She was also a founding board member of the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association.

Besides running the business side of Sokol Blosser Winery she enjoys spending time with her son, Dario, and a standard poodle, Twix.

Follow Sokol Blosser on Facebook.

Or visit the Sokol Blosser Winery homepage.

Sandi Graham

Sandi GrahamSandi Graham lives in Dallas, Tx – but that’s just the beginning. In honor of our Marilyn Wines and Thirsty Girl Event tonight in Dallas, we’re celebrating her love of entertaining, food and wine. Texas isn’t just about big hair and football.

After being inspired by wine, food and travel, Sandi started her blog, Peel Me A Grape in 2008 where she writes about all things food, wine and of course, Texas. After all, as this week’s Thursday Thirsty Girl, sharing wine with her fellow TGs is her favorite past-time.

Sandi is an independent wine consultant for WineShop at Home. She also provides private in-home wine tastings using wines all over California. Her latest endeavor allows this Thirsty Girl to expand her knowledge of wine, hence enhancing her passion. Sandi is the proud chapter head of her Dallas Thirsty Girl Chapter – Thirsty Chicks. Cheers to that!

Join the Dallas Thirsty Girl Chapter on Facebook!

Follow Sandi on Twitter at @TXSimplySandi.

And check out Sandi’s blog, Peel Me a Grape at

Laura Maniec

Laura Maniec

Wine and Spirits Magazine named her “Best New Sommelier” the first year they started the award. Wow, can we say TG? Don’t be intimidated though, Laura is as real as they come.

Laura earned her Master Sommelier designation in 2009, after nearly eight years of intensive study. In 2001, Laura found her true passion for wine in New York City through an 18-week sommelier certification class held at Windows on the World atop the World Trade Center.

Inspired, motivated and excited by what she learned, Laura opted to pursue a career in wine.

At 21, just as she became legally allowed to drink, she became a sommelier at Blue Fin, a 400-seat restaurant in New York City. Under the guidance of Master Sommelier Greg Harrington, Laura’s knowledge and experience blossomed. Later, as part of the wine team at B.R. Guest Restaurant Group, Laura was sent across the country to open new hotels.

At just 25, she was made a partner as well as Wine and Spirits Director for the entire restaurant group, in charge of 20 restaurants. Aside from overseeing purchasing and creating the wine lists, Laura was responsible for educating the entire front-of-the-house team on wine. Laura resigned from B.R. Guest to develop her wine bar and pursue teaching about wine.

Today, Laura is on the Board of Directors for the Guild of Sommeliers, an organization dedicated to educating and rewarding those in the beverage service industry, and she regularly sits on the New York Times tasting panel.

She also contributes to industry publications, including Food & Wine and Sommelier Journal, and she consults for various beverage programs as well as teaches and lectures on wine for students and audiences around the world.

This past spring, Laura is opening Corkbuzz Wine Studio, an innovative wine restaurant that will serve as a “home base” in New York City for all things wine.

Teaching is Laura’s favorite part of her career. She loves to educate, inspire and share her passion with anyone who wants to learn about wine. Her approach is empowering, and her style is welcoming. She says, “Everyone can learn about wine, even if you don’t want to geek out. My only goal is that if you take a class with me, you’ll have fun, and by the end you’ll at least know what you like.” Laura is a mentor to many sommeliers and feels that she will really be successful when one of her students becomes a fellow Master Sommelier.

Connect with Laura online at


Jane Ferrari

Jane FerrariJane Ferrari is not simply a Thirsty Girl but Yalumba employee, and company crusader. Born in Adelaide, Australia and an inveterate traveller, she’s been around enough to know that the blend of elements that makes up Yalumba and the Barossa (Australian Wine Country) is rare indeed, and worth taking the time and trouble to explain to people, whether industry insiders or consumers.

Her official job title – Winemaker, Communications – scarcely gives an indication of her expansive personality. Put simply, her work encompasses public relations and wine education, yet Ferrari is no PR fluffy, no charcoal-suited jargon-spinner turned out from a corporate mould. She’s jeans, boots and a laid back straight talker, with a taste for Barossa Shiraz and an open soul. There’s no fake or frippery with Ferrari – when she preaches the Yalumba gospel, you realise that she’s doing it because she’s passionate about the place; she leaves the distinct impression that she wouldn’t waste her breath on anything she didn’t wholly believe in herself.

Her passion is as infectious as it is heartfelt. Spend an hour or so with Jane – in a London boardroom, at a New York tasting, at the Angaston winery, it doesn’t matter where – and you’ll find out more about the heritage and culture of Yalumba and the wider Barossa than most locals learn in a lifetime. Much more than just a winemaker, she’s a born story-teller, a canny judge of character (whether people or horses), and has a knack of sizing people up and knowing how to put them at ease – though no one’s immune from the occasional wry observation, courtesy of Ferrari’s down to earth brand of wit and humour.

To say her life has been colourful would be something of an understatement. The daughter of an Italian migrant surveyor, she grew up on Aboriginal missions and in Alice Springs as her father worked on the construction of schools, silos and airport runways. A lifelong passion for horses and racing nearly saw her become a vet; but, somehow, somewhere along the line, vineyards and winemaking took over. A degree at South Australia’s renowned Roseworthy campus and vintages with Wolf Blass Wines’ legendary red maker, John Glaetzer, were followed by a spell in the Sydney spirit trade with United Distillers, where research and development on emerging premixed spirit drinks vied for attention with the many attractions of the nearby Randwick racecourse.

Jane’s current role was made for her – it’s the sanctified version of what she’s been doing for years – with the only real difference being that she now spends much of her time on the road, talking, tasting and explaining the Yalumba difference in her inimitable style to distributors, retailers and consumers across the globe. As she says herself, in a world that is becoming more and more reliant on technology, it’s important to take things back to a more personal level. Cheers to that.

Yalumba Wines

Erica Bethe Levin

Erica Beth LevinErica Bethe Levin began her career at Northwestern University as a Journalism major at the Medill School of Journalism. Being “Cheeky” came early, very similar to how being a Thirsty Girl does.

After graduation, Erica worked as the Company Coordinator for the Lookingglass Theatre Company where she managed the entire artistic department, including casting, script-reading and budget management. To switch it up again, Erica join the PR Firm of CF&A, with clients that included the Radio City Rockettes, the Apollo Theatre and Lynda Carter (yes, Wonder Woman).

As the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of, Erica is responsible for all editorial content, the management of the editorial calendar, the management of Cheeky’s freelancers and professional columnists, Cheeky’s twice-weekly email marketing campaigns, public relations for the company and company bookkeeping and accounting. Additionally, Erica aids in ad sales and event planning. Erica also writes content for all pages of

Since launching Cheeky, Erica has been recruited to contribute content to many reputable media publications. She is currently the Midwest Contributor for (the luxury travel spin-off of the Gilt Groupe) and a Contributor and Correspondent for She is also a correspondent for NBC’s new digital television station, Chicago Non-Stop, covering a wide range of Chicago topics.

Erica was recently inducted into Northwestern’s prestigious Council of 100 as the youngest member ever. C100 is a group comprised of Northwestern’s most successful female graduates, who focus on mentoring current female students and young alums. Erica also lectures on entrepreneurialism, communications and social media and marketing at Northwestern University and at various high schools and panels throughout the city. If that isn’t TG material, I don’t know what is.

You can connect with Erica on Twitter at @CheekyErica or with the Cheeky Chicago account @CheekyChicago.

To check out all of Erica’s articles, click the link above.

Jill Silverman Hough

Jill Silverman HoughJill Silverman Hough is a cookbook author, food and wine writer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor whose forte is making food and cooking simple yet special. Thirsty Girls love to drink … AND eat.

“A recipe doesn’t have to be complicated to be indulgent,” she says. “Sprinkle a roast chicken with lavender, substitute dried cherries for raisins in a batch of oatmeal cookies, serve grilled salmon on a bed of arugula—all these things take almost no effort, yet they’ll make your otherwise ordinary dishes taste and feel like fancy food.”

As this week’s TTG Jill makes food and wine approachable to everyone, isn’t this what being a Thirsty Girl is all about?

Her work has appeared in Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, Clean Eating, Napa Sonoma, and other magazines. And her cookbook, 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love, premiered in April 2010, with 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love out in April 2011. A regular and popular presenter at cooking schools throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Jill lives in Napa, California.

Even better, Jill just published a book for any foodie, wine lover, or beautiful-food-picture-lover entitled, “100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love.” Cheers to that.

You can connect with Jill on the web in the following places:

Twitter: @JillSHough

Facebook: 100 Perfect Pairings