Rule No One Hospitality is pleased to announce our new leadership for Merchant who will carry the restaurant into its next important chapter post-renovation — General Manager and Maggie Roovers and Executive Chef Matthew Schieble.
James represents the next generation of talent at the top in their respective fields with strong Madison roots.
James pursued his interest in wine after graduating from UW-Madison with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry. That scientific background translated well into working in a winery, and after a short tenure working at a local Wisconsin winery he enrolled in UC-Davis’ Extension Viticulture and Enology certificate program. Shortly after, he and his wife took jobs working for the government of Andalucía as teachers for grade school students in rural Spain. During this time James was able to continue his studies while having the opportunity to travel to vineyards and wineries throughout Spain and the rest of Europe.
After a year abroad, James returned to the USA and accepted a Cellar Hand position at Alexana Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to help process, ferment, and prepare the freshly harvested 2014 vintage for élevage with a focus on artisanal, single plot pinot noir ferments. Between harvest work, he furthered his professional wine background by completing the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level 3 – Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits. James continued the path toward winemaker and accepted a position as Cellar Hand at Wither Hills in New Zealand’s Marlborough region. There he worked almost exclusively with their pinot noir program, and gained perspective on quality oriented, commercial production during the 2015 vintage. Upon completion of his work in New Zealand, he and his wife made the decision to return to Wisconsin to be closer to family and friends.
After moving back to Madison, Wisconsin, James accepted a position at Tory Miller’s James Beard award winning, L’Etoile. There he rose to sommelier and cellar manager. He worked closely with Chef de Cuisine, Itaru Nagano, to curate wine pairings for their seven course tasting menu, and honed his knowledge of wine producers, appellations, and styles.
During his time at L’Etoile he and his close childhood friend, Thomas Gering, began to make plans for their own concept. Together they built Casetta Kitchen and Counter, a small Italian American deli that focuses on made-from-scratch ingredients, freshly baked bread, and sliced-to-order meats to create a new take on lunch in Madison. Here James built a small, but unique, wine program with different daily wines by the glass, wine tastings and events, and a retail selection focusing on quality, terroir driven wines. At Casetta he also gained invaluable experience utilizing social media, public relations, and grass root methods to build a successful marketing program that effectively delivers the restaurant’s culture and offerings to the public.They have been warmly received by their community since opening in February 2017, and have received recognition for “Best Sandwich” and voted by their peers as one of the “Top 10 Places Chefs Like To Eat” as published by Madison Magazine. Eater named Casetta as one of “The 12 Hottest New Restaurants in Madison” in 2017 (along with Lucille!), and has since been featured on Food Network’s “50 States of Breakfast Sandwiches.”
Throughout the course of his studies and time as a wine professional James has had the opportunity to visit dozens of wineries, vineyards, cellar doors, and wine bars in the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. He is able to draw upon international inspirations to curate both unique wine and a brand of hospitality that is inspired both by his travels, and his roots in Wisconsin.
Wine Director and Director of Hospitality, Rule No One Hospitality, Inc.
President, Rule No One Hospitality, Inc.