About CellarHand

CellarHand is a Melbourne-based fine-wine importer and wholesale distributor, with a portfolio featuring some of the most sought-after estates of Germany, Austria, France and Italy, as well some of the greatest producers from Australia and New Zealand.

Our ethos has always been to build a portfolio as you’d construct the perfect wine list. We work with small, family producers who express the best of their regions. The wines we sell are the wines we enjoy, and the people who make them are like family to us. They are wines that taste of where they come from, and though they’re steeped in history and stamped with the signature of their terroir, they’re more than ever relevant – and desirable – to the Australian diner of today.

Patrick Walsh

Founder and Director

 patrick@cellarhand.com.au

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Patrick Walsh enjoyed an impressive track record as a sommelier and restaurant manager in some of Melbourne’s finest food and wine establishments of the 1990s including Browns, Chinois, Walter’s Wine Bar and Langton’s. He served as president of the Australian Sommeliers Association and won the inaugural Frankland Estate International Riesling Scholarship before establishing his own distribution company, CellarHand, with wife Virginia in 1999.
CellarHand initially focused on German Riesling as a specialist niche, and its portfolio has since grown to include an extensive line-up of top producers from France, Austria and Italy while taking in some of the most distinguished winegrowers of Australia and New Zealand. In 2014 Patrick celebrated 15 years in the wholesale importing business. Patrick is a geek about loads of things, not just wine. He adores Liverpool Football Club and four-wheel driving, this latter pursuit accounting for many adventurous holidays with wife Virginia and their three children.
He’s even the president of the Range Rover Club of Victoria. He nominates Mosel Riesling and great Pinot Noir as his desert island wines. (In practice this would only work if the island were surrounded by an ocean of white Burgundy.)

Virginia Walsh

Founder and Financial Controller

 accounts@cellarhand.com.au

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Gin started helping out on a part-time basis and is still waiting for a proper financial controller to come along.

 

Sam Hooper

National Sales Manager

0437 845 763
sam@cellarhand.com.au

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Sam owes his discovery of wine to ‘Pop’, his grandfather who ran Hooper’s supermarket in his hometown of Ararat in the Grampians. Pop was something of a regional pioneer – his was the first supermarket around with an in-house bakery and the first to introduce barcode scanning. But even better, he had a cellar there that was stocked with Burgundy and other European treasures – this being a wine region, good bottles had an audience. University studies couldn’t hold his interest like great wine, so he ended up packing them in to take a job at a Dan Murphy’s outlet in suburban Melbourne.
From there he was soon offered the role of fine wine manager, which he held for four years. He went on to set up the fine wine departments and train staff for the first four Dan Murphy’s stores in South Australia. After that he went to Mecca Group where he eventually became wine-buyer and wine-list writer for the nine-venue company, followed by a stint at The Botanical as buyer and manager of the wine store.
In 2007 he was offered a position as an account manager, rising quickly to take charge of national sales. Sam continues to love Riesling, whether in his hugely underrated Great Western homeland or much further afield, with Klaus in Wachau and Hermannshöhle in Germany’s Nahe possibly his two favourite vineyards. White Burgundy is another favourite, as is Pinot and anything that shares its silken, midweight intrigue – think St Laurent, Blaufrankisch and Gamay.

Thayer Eiby

Account Manager Victoria

0400 995 832
thayer@cellarhand.com.au

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Thayer grew up in Toowoomba in Queensland and was already working in the hotel industry when he moved to Melbourne in 1998. He initially worked as a floor waiter and restaurant supervisor and began a love affair with wine while during his time with the Van Haandel hospitality empire.
He spent a few years at Circa, The Prince in St Kilda. It was here that he worked with a 500-bin wine list alongside top sommeliers such as Philip Rich, Ben Edwards Chris Crawford and Matt Skinner. He later moved down the road to serve a long stint at The Stokehouse, where he worked his way up to the position of head sommelier. He joined CellarHand as an account manager in 2011. Thayer has been an avid cyclist since he was a kid BMXing through the Darling Downs, and he still does as much road riding as time will allow.
As for his unusual Christian name, there are a couple of theories. First – and this is Thayer’s preferred option – that it is Teutonic in origin and mean’s “people’s army”. The other: that it’s derived from the French “théière” – teapot.

Tom Brushfield

Account Manager Victoria

0448 043 374
tom@cellarhand.com.au

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Tom Brushfeld grew up in Geelong and initially had no link to wine, except that he liked it when he drank it. It became pretty obvious during his Chemical Engineering course at university that he liked wine rather too much to do anything else with his life. He enrolled in a Wine Science degree at Deakin University, worked vintage at a couple of small, family-run wineries in Geelong and travelled to the US, where local sommeliers took his appreciation of wine to a different plane.
Those priceless tips weren’t all that Tom picked up on that fateful trip; he also made the acquaintance of his future wife, Jordan. He abandoned his degree when his degree abandoned him (the course was uprooted and transplanted to Wagga Wagga in NSW) and threw himself into real-life experience of all things vinous. He worked in retail and then wholesale for Randall’s and Heart and Soil before taking on his first sommelier role at the Merrijig Inn in Port Fairy. That was followed by a stint at Walter’s Wine Bar, an institution that’s served as a breeding ground for so many of Australia’s top sommeliers, including CellarHand boss Patrick Walsh. He then worked for three years at Melbourne’s European Group.
Not wishing to step out of Patrick’s shadow, Tom joined CellarHand in June 2015 following a distinguished career as a sommelier. He was awarded the prestigious Lorenzo Galli Wine Scholarship in 2014, and that same year was runner-up in the Ruinart Challenge and a national finalist for Sommeliers Australia Sommelier of the Year. And just to ram home the whole sommelier thing, he became a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2015. When it comes to the pleasure of wine, Tom has a strong leaning for the classics. Raveneau is a particular favourite, and Bartolo Mascarello another, while his North American insider knowledge has yielded a rewarding relationship with cool-climate Cabernet Franc from northern California and Ontario.    

Gabriel Soltys

Account Manager Victoria

0429 885 130
gabriel@cellarhand.com.au

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Gabriel is the kind of wine lover who might have seemed competitive to those who mistook his ability for selling the stuff with his enormous thirst for sharing it. In fact, he might have considered himself to be disturbingly obsessed had he not landed among like-minded tragics at CellarHand.

Prior to landing a gig here, he spent 10 years at Dan Murphys, where he managed numerous fine wine departments including in the top-end stores of Prahran, Alphington and Glen Waverley. During a decade of unflagging pride in his work and unquenchable thirst for top vino, Gab trained staff, mentored teams, sat on the wine panel, spearheaded events and took the vinous experience of a host of private, corporate and industry customers to a whole new level.

He fell into wine because his dad’s an avid, and discerning, drinker who was always dragging him along to tastings. He’s since done vintage work in the Barossa and has travelled to every major grape-growing region of Australia, as well as to France, Italy and Spain.

Gab lives in Kensington with girlfriend Ebony and their cat, and together they eat and drink bloody well (the cat, too). Italian’s the cuisine of choice, while his favourite wine is Pinot. And Chardonnay. Plus Shiraz. Loves Grenache, too. And as for Champagne? You get the picture.

Jeanie Fullerton

Sydney Sales Manager

0400 266 946
jeanie@cellarhand.com.au

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Jeanie hails from Western Australia and kicked off her career in the Perth hospitality scene. She left for Sydney in 2001 to take up a marketing role for Distinguished Vineyards, the distribution business founded by Brian Croser.
She worked there for many years, including the merger that spawned Fine Wine Partners. From there she moved into wine sales and worked with various distributors in New South Wales, including Wine Source, Déjà Vu and Italian wine specialist Fox Beverages. She joined the CellarHand team in 2012.

Tom Crosby

Sydney Account Manager

0499 446 767
tomcrosby@cellarhand.com.au

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Tom is a born-and-bred Sydney boy and joined CellarHand as an account manager in his hometown in June 2015. Back in the late 90s Tom worked in Osaka and later Tokyo, initially looking to learn Japanese as a useful skill in the tourism and hospitality industries. He ended up staying for five years, falling in love with the country, its sake and beer, as well as one particular woman – now his wife and mother to their two young children. Upon his return, Tom put his fluent Japanese to use in Sydney’s tourism industry and caught the wine bug over several trips to the Hunter Valley.
Before long he found himself enrolled in his first sommelier course and working in the Australian Wine Centre in a role straddling retail and exports to Japan. Afterwards he got a job with the Shangri-La, where he worked his way up to head sommelier and led a strong team to a prestigious three-glass rating in the Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year awards. Tom has since gained further experience across retail, wholesale and restaurants. When wining and dining for pleasure, dry whites and elegant reds feature heavily on account of the Japanese-accented menu in the Crosby house.
He enjoys a Pinot, gives cool-climate Syrah a good nudge and has a particular soft spot for Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Outside of work and wine, Tom’s a huge rugby union fan, enjoys a hit of tennis and likes to subject himself to the odd Tough Mudder obstacle challenge.

Sheona Gregg

Customer Service Manager

(03) 9274 8444
sales@cellarhand.com.au

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Sheona’s first real pang to be involved in the wine industry came in 2006, when she spent a long weekend in the Barossa Valley. Feeling overworked and underappreciated in corporate land, the calling of the vines and the wonders of winemaking was enough motivation for her to remove herself from that life and relaunch her career in the wine industry.
Since then she has worked for a small family-owned and operated winery in Canberra, completed a year-long sommelier course at Holmesglen TAFE and tried her hand as a sales rep with a small distribution company. Six years later she found herself at CellarHand, where her many years of work experience has culminated in the role of Customer Service Manager.
In her downtime Sheona enjoys dabbling in musical theatre performances, cooking for loved ones and watching other-half Nick on the cricket field. Wine is never far away with bubbles always in the fridge, be it red or white, for any occasion.

Nick Baker

Sales Support & Accounts

(03) 9274 8444
nick@cellarhand.com.au

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Nick studied an Arts/Business degree at Monash University Caulfield Campus before heading to Europe in the ‘90s for a spot of travelling, at the end of which he settled in London. In his adopted home he landed a sales job for a corporate art gallery called Art For Offices, based at Tower Bridge. The curtain came down on his European adventure in 1993, when he returned to Australia and kicked off a career in the wine industry with Philip Murphy Wine & Spirits Corporate Services.
A few years later he was promoted to Corporate Wine Manager and headed up a team of 10 at the new Philip Murphy Wine & Spirits store in King Street, Melbourne. When Coles bought the business in the early noughties, Nick became a manager at Vintage Cellars Corporate. Shortly afterwards he was approached by Corporate Express to run the Melbourne division of Corporate Cellars. He spent a decade with the company and helped make it the largest corporate wine supplier in Melbourne.
After 20 years of corporate wine sales he fell into sales support and accounts with CellarHand, where Dönnhoff Estate Dry Riesling has become his house wine.

Ed Merrison

Communications

0478 912 115
ed@cellarhand.com.au

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Ed was born and raised in Kent, England, a place of orchards, beer gardens, village cricket and, improbably but increasingly, some eyebrow-raising wines. A keen traveller from the moment he got his first passport, he studied French and Spanish at university and has since cycled around the world and lived in Paris, Buenos Aires, Granada, Dublin and Melbourne.
These travels sparked an interest in food and wine, which was cemented following his permanent(ish) move to Australia in 2002. More specifically, cycling Clare Valley’s Riesling Trail in the early noughties was the point of no return in his wine-conversion story. Ed is a former journalist specialising in travel, business and wine. He wrote for the Guardian, Herald Sun, Sky News, Bloomberg and Business Spectator before his move to CellarHand in June 2014. He now lives on the Mornington Peninsula with his photographer wife and their three young children.
Riesling and Chardonnay are the most welcome whites at the family table, while favourite reds include Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and, somewhat unfashionably, Cabernet (it’s a pom thing, apparently).

Michael Jappy

Purchasing

0410 489 967
michael@cellarhand.com.au

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Michael Jappy isn’t the first universally adored Scot to join the CellarHand team, but he’s certainly the most incomprehensible. So affable that his very name is more like a nickname, Jappy grew up in a guest house in the small, southern Scottish town of Moffat. As a youngster he always worked in cafes and restaurants to pull in a few pennies for sweets. He mercifully managed to escape Moffat by sneaking into Edinburgh University, where he scraped a degree despite spending most of his time in the student union.

His first job after uni was in a 5-star hotel in Edinburgh, where he encountered proper wine for the first time. From here embarked on the graduate trainee program with Majestic Wine, going on to manage stores across Scotland and snaffling a WSET Diploma in the process.

He then left for a tour of New Zealand and never went home. He spent one year tasting his way around between stints at Wine-Searcher and as a cellar door manager in Wairarapa. Next came Melbourne, and with a little initiative (i.e. nepotism) he got a job as cellar monkey at Stokehouse in St Kilda. He ended up working there for five happy years, the last couple as head sommelier.

He came to CellarHand in early 2016, where he continues to enjoy good booze (which he pronounces like the first syllable of “bosom”) with a tale to tell. He’ll generally give anything a whirl but has particular thirst for often unheralded, overlooked “country” wines – think Barbera, Loire Chenin or Cab Franc, Grenache from the southern Rhône’s supposed ‘lesser’ appellations, Sicilian wines or, indeed, mountain wines from anywhere. As long as they’re fresh, good to drink and show a bit of personality, they have a shot at floating Jappy’s boat.