Our Wine

Sommelier Profiles

Our wine team is experienced, knowledgeable and passionate about wine. They watch over a temperature-controlled cellar of more than 30,000 bottles from wine-producing areas all over the world.  Your sommelier is ready to recommend everything from a fresh young Moscato d'Asti to a 50-year-old first growth Bordeaux.
Cortney Lease

Cortney Lease
Company Wine Director:
Wild Ginger + The Triple Door

Cortney graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Chemistry and a minor in Dance. She began her wine career upon moving to Cambridge, England in 2005, with a job as a Wine Advisor at Odd Bins.  Cortney took the Wine Spirit Education Trust’s intermediate and advanced exams in London, passing both with Distinction.

Cortney made her way back to Seattle and pursued a job at the company for which she had worked in college, Wild Ginger and The Triple Door.  She accepted the position of Cellar Master in 2007; company Cellar Master in 2009 with the opening of Wild Ginger at the Bravern, then Wine Director for Wild Ginger Seattle and The Triple Door in 2010.  In that time, Wild Ginger Seattle was awarded the Grand Award by Wine Spectator in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, along with Wine Enthusiast’s Award of Ultimate Distinction and the Washington Wine Commission’s Grand Award for all three restaurants.  With 2012 came yet another opportunity, as Cortney took over the reins of the entire wine program to become Company Wine Director.

Cortney is an active participant in the Court of Master Sommeliers examinations.  Passing both the Introductory and Certified exams, she was selected for a tour of Australia through the Court and Wines of Australia in 2010 and passed her Advanced exam in 2012.  Cortney is continuing to cultivate her education in wine through study and tasting groups to pursue becoming a Master Sommelier, and desires to one day combine her love for wine and her degree in Chemistry to make her own wine.
When Cortney is not in the restaurants, she enjoys reading, playing outdoors, enjoying a craft cocktail with friends, and generally relaxing with her husband David, two cats Nora and Tybalt, and their ridiculously energetic puppy Adelaide while fixing up their house.

Seattle Magazine
9th Annual Washington Wine Awards - Sommelier of the Year

Mark Thostesen

Mark Thostesen
Manager/Wine Director:
Wild Ginger Bellevue

From sous chef to flair bartender, craft barkeep and then sommelier, Mark spent over twelve years knee-deep in every aspect of the restaurant life.  He always had a strong affinity for the craft cocktail world, adores the juice of the barley, and is a complete scotch nerd.  His passion for wine, however, only truly began with a less-than-thought through decision to sit for the Court of Master Sommeliers intro exam.  By the time Mark passed his certified exam, he was a full-fledged oenophile, he had drank the Kool-Aid and was hooked on a life in wine.

Mark has been a part of the Wild Ginger for one and a half years now.  He enjoys the challenge of pairing international wines with the diverse world of Southeast Asian cuisine. Now Mark turns his focus to education, not only for guests, but for his colleagues and other aspiring wine professionals.  Later this year he will be sitting for the Certified Cicerone exam and Certified Specialist of Spirits.

When not jetting around the Wild Ginger opening esoteric vintage Rieslings bottles, you can usually find Mark cooking with his wife, catching up on TED talks, or playing video games.  A Theatre and Drama major from Indiana University with a minor in Voice, there is also a good chance you can find him poking around underground gorilla theatre troupes and off-off-broadway productions.
Martin Beally

Martin Beally
Assistant Wine Director:
Wild Ginger Seattle

Although he started his career as a technology consultant, a passion for fine cuisine led Martin to enroll in culinary school in 2004 to become classically trained as a French chef at the Alain & Marie LeNotre Culinary Institute in Houston.  In January, 2005, Martin moved to Seattle and started his career in the restaurant industry as a line cook.  He quickly made the transition into the front of the house, waiting tables at Seattle's Tulio Ristorante in 2007.  Over the years, he eventually became the Wine Steward for Tulio Ristorante where he developed his love for Italian wine.  He continued that passion by assisting in the opening of Stoneburner in Ballard during the summer of 2013, but when the chance to join Wild Ginger was offered, he could not pass on the opportunity.
His passion for wine came almost as an accident when a last minute chance to take the Court of Master Sommeliers intro exam was offered by his mentor, Master Sommelier Emily Wines, in the summer of 2011.  Since then, Martin has traveled to Italy, delving into the depths of Tuscany, Veneto and Piedmont, as well as visiting California's Central Coast for harvest in 2012 and Napa Valley in 2013.  In 2013, Martin was thrilled to pass his Advanced exam at the happiest place on earth, Disney Land's Grand Californian.
When not extolling the virtues of Italian wine on the floor at Wild Ginger, Martin can usually be found continuing his studies towards the Master Sommelier exam.  But in those fleeting moments of free time, Martin enjoys learning the Italian language, taking his dog Cheeks out for a run, watching an NFL game, or having a great meal and a night out dancing with friends.
Jason Smith

Jason Smith

Jason Smith is a Certified Sommelier, Walter Clore Scholar, and a Certified Specialist of wine. Before making a decisive career switch to wine, Jason worked in film, photography, social services, theater production, fine art, and many restaurant kitchens. His passion for wine began innocently when, disappointed by a hastily purchased bottle leftover from a recipe calling for a single cup, Jason picked up a wine book. A few cautious pages in, rabid curiosity and an obsessive nature took over.

It happened slowly, beginning with weekend work at a wine bar and shop, leading to full time work as a restaurant server and, finally, full-service bartender. Along the way, he carried and served countless plates of food, hushed crying children, cleared tables, and attended to any task required, logging thousands of miles commuting by bicycle. What he found was an astonishing capacity for the simple service of food and drink to communicate care, confer enjoyment, and elevate sustenance to a gesture of affection.

Now, in a marriage of disciplines, Jason continues on as a Sommelier, grateful for the chance to do justice to wine's role at the table. He is proud to be part of the orchestrated dance that provides a stage for what wine does best: bring the world to us as a drinkable document of all the hands, history, and labor joined in its creation.

In between work and sleep, he’ll go as far as his bicycle will carry him. You’ll see it parked outside wine shops, libraries, restaurants, coffeehouses and close to cherished friends and loved ones. The rest of the time, he’s probably cooking. It’s what got him in all this trouble to begin with.
Justin Biskup

Justin Biskup

A recovering travel addict, Justin first fell into the wine industry in New Zealand while bartending his way around the world with a chance opportunity to work at a winery in Central Otago.  While working in the attached restaurant, his curiosity of the inner works gained him the nickname “Questions.” A few months of pestering the winemakers and self-study later, and he was working in the Cellar Door answering other people’s questions while guiding visitors through the vineyards and wine cave.

After hitchhiking through a number of other Kiwi wine regions and still pursuing an endless summer, Justin returned to Alaska for another season behind the bar, hiking and kayaking. Migrating back with the sun to the Southern Hemisphere, he continued his trend of cellar door work by day and barman by night in the Margaret River and Swan Valley regions of Western Australia.  Having had the opportunity to work side by side with some of Australia’s best sommeliers, he returned to the States determined to delve deeper into the wine world and was fortunate enough to have found a home at the downtown WIld Ginger location in March 2014.

When not opening bottles at the Wild Ginger location or studying, Justin enjoys adventure motorcycling, observing different drinking customs, and running the odd marathon.

1401 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
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11020 NE 6th St. Ste 90
Bellevue, WA 98004
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