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Meet the Houston Wine Merchant Staff

Our staff includes some of the most experienced wine professionals in Houston. Prior employees have gone on to get two of wine’s top awards – Master Sommelier and Master of Wine. Both designations are extremely exclusive with fewer than 300 members each around the world.

Our team's expertise is not only in wine, but spirits as well. Whether you're stocking a new bar, hosting a party or just seeking something unique to add to your collection, our knowledgeable staff will be able to assist you.

We always love a challenge. Come in and ask which wines are best to pair with anything from movie candy and popcorn to Chilean sea bass in a rich beurre blanc sauce.  Let us try to help you recreate that unusual cocktail you found on vacation. We're more than happy to help you find the best beverage for your unique tastes.


Scott Spencer Scott Spencer
Founder & Owner of Houston Wine Merchant and buyer for Bordeaux and New Zealand

Scott grew up living in a variety of locations as a child of an Air Force pilot, later graduating from high school in northern Virginia. He attended college and graduate school in California prior to moving to Texas with home electronics retailer Pacific Stereo. After a number of years, he decided to open his own business and Houston Wine Merchant, then Wines of America, began to serve customers in 1984. Scott has enjoyed managing the business, developing associates, learning about wines and spirits, and meeting and greeting a host of people throughout the years.



Antonio Gianola Antonio Gianola
Manager and buyer for Austria, France, Germany and Italy

Antonio grew up in Houston and graduated from St Thomas Episcopal High School before attending the University of Houston. He has had a significant impact on the wine industry in Houston by using his expertise and unique skill set to curate and educate in all aspects of the business. He’s operated some of the city’s best restaurants, worked as a wine broker and currently manages a wine shop—all the while maintaining a commitment to excellence, continuing education and charity.

Antonio spent a decade running the wine programs and front-of-the-house operations of top Houston restaurants. He served as Da Marco’s general manager and sommelier for five years and built the restaurant’s regional Italian wine program. He traveled to Italy each year to extensively study Italian food, wine and culture and is still considered one of the city’s preeminent Italian wine experts.

In 2006, he opened Catalan Food and Wine with Chef Chris Shepherd, where he ran all restaurant operations in addition to the wine program. He built a boutique international list with a near-retail pricing structure, which was named Best New Wine List by Food & Wine magazine in 2007, in addition to a slew of other local and national accolades.

Antonio stepped away from the life of a restaurateur in 2010 and began working as a wine broker at Mosaic Wine Group and represented the national portfolios of Kermit Lynch and Vias Imports as well as the wineries of Chateau Routas, Groom and Patz & Hall.

In 2013, Antonio accepted the position of general manager of Houston Wine Merchant, Houston's oldest independent, fine wine merchant.

Throughout his career, Antonio has been committed to the Houston community. He’s a longtime supporter of the Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and the Periwinkle Foundation’s Iron Sommelier fundraiser. He’s been a guest sommelier and lecturer at the University of Houston’s Conrad Hilton College and was a judge on the Italian panel at the TexSom International Wine Awards in both 2016 and 2017.

Antonio was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2014, which increased the scope of his charitable efforts. He’ll frequently build wine lists for small bars and restaurants in exchange for a donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Additionally, he is the honoree of Southern Smoke, an annual food and wine event in Houston that has raised nearly half a million dollars for the MS Society. 



Everett Lynch Everett Lynch
Buyer for Spirits, Sparkling Wine/Champagne, Chile, Fortified & Dessert Wines

Everett came to Houston Wine Merchant after working at the iconic Houston restaurant Charlie’s 517 and as a software development project manager. He grew up in South Carolina and graduated from Rice University. Everett has passed the Certified Specialist of Spirits exam (CSS) given by the Society of Wine Educators.



Marcus Gausepohl Marcus Gausepohl
Buyer for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, & the United States

A native Houstonian, Marcus Gausepohl has been in the service industry all his working life—since the age of 16. After falling in love with wine while traveling through Europe, he dove into his new passion, reading, learning, tasting, and eventually making it a career in 2009. Marcus has been running wine programs at well-known spots like Ibiza Food & Wine Bar, Mark’s American Cuisine and Brennan’s of Houston ever since, learning from some of the city’s best and producing award-winning wine lists.

At home, Marcus is happily married to his fellow wine-loving wife, Angie, who also works in the industry. Before wine and Angie, he admits that his first love was music, and he continues to play as often as he can, not to mention his growing record collection on the side. Though he can’t pick just one favorite album, jazz is among his favorite genres, and he is always on the hunt for original pressings.



Cole MurrayCole Murray

Cole Murray recently joined the Wine Merchant Team. Welcome. Updates to follow.





Jeffrey Barrientos Jeffrey John Barrientos
Buyer for Spain, Portugal, Mexico, South America, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Lebanon and Serbia. (whew!)

Jeffrey is a Certified Sommelier with extensive experience in the restaurant industry. He came to Houston from Washington D.C., where he managed the beverage programs at the Michelin-starred minibar and barmini by José Andrés and Le Diplomate, to be with his partner Sarah, who shares his passion for volunteer work.  They met while providing humanitarian food relief with World Central Kitchen after Hurricanes Laura and Sally, and they still enjoy the opportunities the organization provides. Most recently, Jeffrey and Sarah assisted in providing thousands of hot meals for tornado survivors in Mayfield, KY for the Christmas holiday. At home, they share a dog (Ralph, Dachshund/Chow) and a cat (Stevenson, adopted from Haiti). Jeffrey’s favorite thing about working at Houston Wine Merchant? “I get to work beside some of the most knowledgeable, passionate, and funny beverage professionals around!”


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