About CellarHand

CellarHand is a 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 served as 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

General 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.

Ed Merrison

Communications Manager

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 read French and Spanish at Oxford 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. Two years later he completed his WSET Diploma as Australian Dux, achieving a rare overall distinction for the course. 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 Manager

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.
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

Nevada Jones

NSW State Sales Manager

0448 921 103
nevada@cellarhand.com.au

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Nevada was born and raised close to wine, in the Adelaide foothills. Her somewhat cinematic name is derived from Sierra Nevada Jones, a character Barbara Stanwyck played alongside Ronald Regan in the 1954 movie The Cattle Queen of Montana. But it wasn’t to be a cowgirl’s life for her; instead she started out on an career path in forensic science, before deciding she preferred the company of the living. This meant a shift in study towards the world of marketing, particularly hospitality. When it seemed the front-of-house team were having all the fun, Nevada decided to get in amongst it. A planned six-month stint on the floor turned into six years of restaurant management in Adelaide.

Nevada’s love affair with wine was born from this experience, so she decided to take on the challenge of the Melbourne wine trade. Several years at Bress immersed her in everything from the vineyard to the final pour into a glass, and this experience was bolstered with other sales-focused roles with Echelon Wine Partners and Vinous. Following her heart to Sydney led her to cross paths with CellarHand – and here she is! Riesling and Chardonnay make her happy, but she finds nothing more therapeutic than something Piedmontese or Sicilian in her glass while rolling out freshly-made pasta dough for loved ones.

Harry Seville

NSW Account Manager

0437 845 673
harry@cellarhand.com.au

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Harry’s journey into the world of wine is one of coincidence. After finishing at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand with a Criminology & Psychology degree, he flew one-way direct to Sydney where it all slowly fell into place. After some minor turbulence in trying to land a job, he managed to find something at Langton’s working as a casual, doing the dreaded job of telemarketing. The wine world was starting to take hold. After some quick successes, a Woolworths takeover and 200,000-odd phone calls, it was time to leave.

The world of wine repping seemed the logical next step. After a good stint selling South American and Spanish wines to the wonderful sommeliers of Sydney, then a small Australian and Italian distributor role, he found his place at CellarHand. Outside of wine, he plays football every season his Achilles tendons can take it, and is an avid spectator of most sports.

Carlos Guerra

NSW Account Manager

0400 266 946
carlos@cellarhand.com.au

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Carlos Guerra was born in Cabramatta in Sydney’s west, the child of Chilean immigrants. This was also, incidentally, the place where James Busby experimented with viticulture before going on to pioneer what we now know as the Hunter Valley wine region.

Carlos started out studying Medical Science at university and fell into the liquor industry as a way to get cheap booze. He scored a job in online retail and it was there that a unicorn bottle – 1996 Salon Champagne – crossed his path and sealed his fate as an eternal wine-lover.

Carlos went on to complete WSET Level 2 and 3 studies followed by a postgraduate course at the University of Adelaide, majoring in Wine Business, a few years later. He would later work in other online wine start-ups, and also did a stint on the digital side of things at Dan Murphy’s. His first wine-rep gig was with De Bortoli before he took a role as chief salesperson at Mobius Distilling Co, helping broaden the imprint of a boutique distillery based in Sydney’s inner west.

He always wanted to get back in to wine as this is where his heart lies. When CellarHand offered an opening, his fondness for Riesling and everything S.C. Pannell made the move a no-brainer.

Gabriel Soltys

Victorian Account Manager 

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.

Meg Daniher

Victorian Account Manager 

0448 043 374
meg@cellarhand.com.au

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It was a strong desire to travel the world that initially spurred Meg to gain hospitality experience. She started out at Sydney’s internationally acclaimed Regent Hotel in the late ’80s. It was here that Meg was exposed to the world of wine and the broad horizons of restaurant lists.

Returning to Sydney after living overseas in the US, UK and Europe, Meg continued to work in hospitality while studying Business and Advertising. In 2001 she enjoyed a long weekend in Melbourne with friends, then returned to Sydney, packed up and moved. After a short stint in Melbourne restaurants, she gave up working nights and weekends to enter wine distribution on the sales and marketing side. She has completed a Bachelor’s in Wine Marketing at the University of South Australia and worked for some of the big and small names in distribution.

Always looking for a new challenge, Meg happily joined the team when CellarHand came knocking, knowing she had now reached the pinnacle of wine distribution in Australia. A lover of acid-driven wines and good Cabernet, when not working Meg can be found daydreaming with a book and a glass of bubbles, on a beach in southeast Asia.

Cornelis Ribbe

Domestic Purchasing Manager

0424 641 391
cornelis@cellarhand.com.au

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Cornelis was born in Rotterdam and grew up above his parents’ restaurant, running around the floor and kitchen from an early age. There wasn’t a lot of wine around in his early days; Beaujolais Nouveau and Heineken were the norm. He lived across the road from the Feijenoord stadium, the best supported but most average football team in the Netherlands, which taught him humility from an early age.

He took up golf after picking up a hockey injury, and found he was pretty good at it. He represented the Netherlands at under 21s and played golf full-time around Europe for two years after high school. The abundance of other established and up-and-coming players made him think twice about the full-blown golf career, so he decided to blend in some education. He duly headed to Queensland. Golf quickly became secondary to university life and bar work. (He still plays off scratch at Woodlands Golf Club on the sandbelt, so don’t get any ideas.) During the final year of an undergraduate degree in Communications he met a girl and never left.

It wasn’t until 2010ish that Cornelis really got into wine. This was at Melbourne’s iconic Stokehouse restaurant, where Matt Skinner and Lincoln Riley were running an inspiring program. After the Stokehouse fire of 2014, he moved next door to Donovans where he bumped into George Mihaly of Paradigm Hill, who invited him to work harvest on the Mornington Peninsula in 2016.

That sowed the seed for a Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology at Adelaide University beginning in 2018. He’d already produced his first wine under his own Cor Ribbe label in 2017, and has since worked in Beaujolais, the Mâconnais and Adelaide Hills, as well as a string of harvests at Paradigm Hill. 

As well as his restaurant and winemaking experience, this consummate all-rounder also worked in retail at South Aussie institution East End Cellars prior to joining CellarHand in early 2020 as domestic purchasing manager.

Fittingly, his desert island wine is Riesling – any producer, any style. Why? Because it’s delicious, refreshing and so versatile, with the purest expression of soil and aspect in grapes and wine.

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.

Jude Chapman

Customer Service 

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

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Auckland-born Jude Chapman spent most of her younger years hanging out at the sports club managed by her dad. She served as assistant glass clearer, sneaking as a perk a cheeky beer or two (locally known as “jungle juice”, as what came out of the taps would be excessively flattered by the term “beer”). She grew up playing cricket, briefly representing her local division, and had always been an avid netballer until the pile-up of injuries forced her recent retirement. She still enjoys sport, though, as well as travelling, walks, wine with friends and a good Netflix binge.

She moved to Melbourne in 2012 and landed a sales administration job in the wine industry shortly after. In 2020 she was fortunate to travel overseas. Highlights included a wine tour of Stellenbosch in South Africa on a tram, some shark cage diving, Table Mountain climbing and copious consumption of delicious Chardonnay. CellarHand was lucky to snap up Jude in April 2021, and the pay-off access to more Chardonnay and the odd bottle of bubbly rosé, to which she’s also partial.