Thief Wine was founded in 2008 by Phil & Aimee, 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.)
Aimee's got a rare mix of wine, restaurant, and hospitality experience. Previously Director of Hospitality at Hanna Winery in Sonoma County, Aimee has also worked in production at Testarossa Vineyards, a renowned Pinot and Chardonnay producer. Previously Aimee owned her own catering company, Bonne Bouche, for six years, managed front-of house at Restaurant LuLu in San Francisco, and been a hotel Director of Food & Beverage. Additional wine experience includes passing the Level 1 course of the Court of Master Sommeliers. Born and raised in California, Aimee has wholeheartedly embraced fish fries, the Brewers, and the genuine niceness of the people here. (She still has not gotten used to the winter.)
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!)
This eccentric, strange bird (his words!) joined the Thief team in 2018. He brings with him a decade of industry knowledge and experience (including passing the Level 1 Sommelier exam) from his time working as a manager, buyer, and educator at a fine-wine shop in Minneapolis and then running on-premise beverage programs as a restaurant manager. He brings an enthusiastic yet professional weirdness that enlivens our social media / marketing and in-person customer service – you’ll get both a smile and a great wine recommendation! His “desert island” drink of choice is Champagne; however, since daily Champagne consumption is not always fiscally responsible, he’s also a craft beer expert and aficionado. “Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia” (the fear of long words) is his second favorite word; “Cheers” is his first.