Thief Wine was co-founded in 2008 and is owned by Phil Bilodeau, who moved here from California Wine Country to start this adventure and our passion. We're a boutique fine wine shop and bar, featuring eclectic and distinctive wines from all over the world, both classic and emerging regions and at a wide range of prices. (Don't worry - we have craft beers and spirits to meet all your needs as well!) We've got a great staff and we all love what we do, turning people on to wonderful wines and values, and giving every customer the best possible experience. We look forward to seeing you!
Why Thief? "Thief" refers to a barrel thief, which is a long glass tube used to extract maturing wine from barrels for sampling at a winery. We chose the name to reflect that special insider experience, giving you access to wines you might not otherwise discover. Plus, the name's fun and interesting, hopefully evocative and memorable, not stuffy or boring - exactly what wine should be.
Phil has extensive experience and knowledge in wine sales and education, strategic planning, marketing, and industry consulting. He is a certified sommelier and is currently Wisconsin's only candidate for the Master of Wine designation, the industry's most highly sought-after and difficult-to-achieve certification. Phil has successfully passed both parts (theory and blind tasting) of the exam and at some point will get around to doing his dissertation to complete the process.
Prior to moving to Milwaukee, he spent five years out in Napa and Sonoma, where he worked for Grgich Hills Estate, Trefethen Vineyards, and as Director of Communications at Sonoma County Vintners, a trade organization representing the region's wines & wineries. Originally from Boston, Phil spent five years in Minneapolis as a wine distributor (and in a pre-wine career, online producer for Minnesota Public Radio, freelance writer, and editor for Horticulture magazine.)
Chris has been with Thief Wine since 2010 (and was a customer before that!), starting off as a part-time employee and quickly working his way up to a well-deserved full-time managerial role. He's an invaluable part of the team, with great wine knowledge, impeccable customer service, and is a wonderful wine educator. Chris leads most of our regular wine tastings, and also runs the beer and spirits programs. (If you've got a question on a rare beer, what's a great-value Bourbon, or what to do with that strange mixer you've never heard of, he's the man to ask!)
Jon brings years of experience as a lover of wine and cheese. New to Milwaukee, he most recently worked in Chicago as the sommelier at Eno Wine Room on Michigan Avenue. Before that he managed a small wine bar in New York City's West Village and spent years as a sommelier, wine buyer, and manager for restaurants helmed by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, gaining a in-depth education in the regional wines and cooking of Italy.
He is tickled to have moved with his family to Wisconsin, and to have landed at Thief Wine.
Madeline recently moved to Milwaukee with a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed energy. With a bachelor’s in biology and a minor in design, she brings a deluge of scientific knowledge and creative energy (and a love and fast-growing knowledge of wine, of course!) to the table. Her most recent work experience was performing gong fu (tea ceremony) at a traditional Chinese tea house, working hard to find each patron their perfect cup of tea - pun intended! Now Madeline is here to raise a toast to finding each person the perfect glass of wine and there is no doubt she’ll do it with a smile.