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Our Wine Director, Rhett Gadke


Rhett Gadke, Wine Director at Bounty Hunter

ounty Hunter Wine Director Rhett Gadke never imagined that his teen years spent slinging sandwiches in a Cleveland deli would lead to a full-time career in wine and food. Like so many so-called 'working class' jobs, this one had its perks, and one of them was that the proprietor enjoyed sharing his passion for wine with his impressionable employees.

Rhett discovered, as he says, that he had 'a pretty good palate for a pup,' but when he went off to the University of Georgia, he bypassed the food and beverage industry and came away with a degree in psychology instead. His early wine education always lingered in the back of his mind, and while contemplating graduate school and the life of an academic, Rhett decided that 365 days of soul searching in wine country was in order. One year in the Napa Valley – and one chance introduction with Bounty Hunter’s founder and visionary Mark Pope – later, Rhett abandoned his Ph.D aspirations for 'the good life.'

After 12 years as the Bounty Hunter Wine Director, Rhett’s work defies description. Multi-tasker seems an inadequate moniker for a job that requires resourceful juggling and constant adaptation. While most folks recognize Rhett as the creative, sometimes twistedly funny voice behind the Bounty Hunter Catalog, the 34-year old Cleveland native actually spends a large part of his days brokering contracts with Napa Valley’s (and the wine world at large) most exclusive and elusive wine brands. He works directly with the vineyard growers and winemakers for Bounty Hunter’s in-house brands in order to ensure vineyards are managed according to the company’s exacting standards. He also sits in on daily tasting sessions and approves the final blends for every single Bounty Hunter label, from Streamside to Blind Justice.Rhett Gadke, Wine Director at Bounty Hunter Hanging Out With Mark Pope

Impromptu blending sessions held after hours in his home kitchen and last minute interviews with wine legends like Terry Theise or the Loosen brothers are not outside the young wine director’s realm of expertise. And it takes little prodding to 'force' Rhett to hop a plane to Burgundy and spend a day deep underground in an earthy cellar picking out single barrels to bottle as Bounty Hunter exclusives. Rhett finds very little to complain about when it comes to his CV. He’s spent the past twelve years scouting the world’s top wine regions, tasting the planet’s finest wines, and writing about and recommending them to over a million readers. 'I also get to interact with some pretty incredible people along the way,' he says. 'It sure beats working for a living!'