Our Team2019-07-26T15:22:14+00:00

OUR TEAM

Whitebarrel creates happiness through our wine. We offer each of our guests an inviting and fun atmosphere where they can relax & reflect, while enjoying our high-quality, affordable, hand-crafted wines, surrounded by the natural beauty of our vineyards and the unsurpassed service of our staff. Whitebarrel is a leader in quality service, quality wine, and quality farm-to-table food and prides itself in being an example to the Virginia Wine Industry. Our satellite wine and tapas bars located in Blacksburg, Richmond (coming soon), Northern Virginia (coming soon), and our new east coast “Wine Truck” (coming soon), provide not only award-winning Whitebarrel wine, but excellent examples of Virginia Wine to each of our guests and highlighting wine from across Virginia.

Dr. Richard Obiso
Owner, Winemaker, & General Manager

Rik is a successful entrepreneur, having started and managed several successful companies from the ground up. Rik earned a PhD in Microbiology and Biochemistry from Virginia Tech and has a primary background in product development of bacterial diagnostics. Rik left the corporate world of biotech in the Washington DC area in 2006 and started out consulting for the US Government in biodefense, and started Whitebarrel at the same time. At Whitebarrel, Rik oversees everything from winemaking and marketing to distribution and sales. Rik is working to make Whitebarrel the best winery on the East coast for wine quality and customer satisfaction. Rik runs several wine research projects at the winery, and manages the day-to-day operations of the business. Rik is also working on business development and expansion plans. Rik also splits his time with Avila Scientific, an international biotech firm, where he is owner and managing director, and, the Whitebarrel Foundation, where he is the Executive Director. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Winery Association, he is also helping shape the future of Virginia Wine. All this work gets in the way of his #1 passion – Rik is a father (to Alex (20), Erik (17), Ellie (2.5), and two identical twin boys Archie and Harry (1.5) and a husband (to Tess) first, and spends all his free time with his family. Rik’s favorite Wine is the next wine he is making in our barrel room.

Dr. Theresa Gallagher
Owner & Operations & Research Manager

Tess was born and educated in England, earning a Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Brighton. She is a true world traveler, splitting time with Avila Scientific, an international biotech firm, where she is owner and managing director. She’s managed laboratories and properties around the world for the last 15 years. People from around the world know Tess as a subject matter expert in scientific research management and her work in biodefense, including work with Anthrax. Tess is also on the Board of Directors of the Whitebarrel Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that specializes in agriculture and the Virginia Wine Industry. Tess fell in love with Virginia wine while working as an executive in Baltimore and moving to Virginia in 2014. Tess is driven with a sense of purpose to advocate for Virginia wine and handles many aspects of the day-to-day operations of the business, our growing wine bar operations, and the winery finances. Tess is also managing all the ongoing research projects at the winery, including our honey bee research and sanctuary program. In her spare time, she is a mom to Ellie, Archie, and Harry and cat mom to Stella, Franklin, and Kiva and dog mom to Percival, Arthur, and Guinevere and farm mom to the geese, ducks, and chickens. Her favorite wine is the BIN #831.  Tess’s new venture – she has established the O-Co ♡ Foundation – a not-for-profit organization that will provides STEM and educational support to women across the globe.

Ms. Regina Poppie
Events Coordinator

Regina currently serves as our Events and Hospitality Coordinator. She moved from Greenville, South Carolina to Virginia in 2016 with her family as her husband took a position with Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball.

While in South Carolina, Regina was the Marketing Director for an independently owned Chick-fil-A restaurant, where she planned and hosted all events and marketing strategies. Before her transition into marketing and hospitality Regina was a former NCAA Division II volleyball coach.

Regina resides in Christiansburg with her husband (Shawn), their vibrant 2 year old son (Kai) and their fur babies (Champ-dog and Pancake-cat). When she is not at the winery, Regina is spending time with her family, cheering on the Hokies and sipping on her favorite Whitebarrel wine…Bin #260.

Ms. Maggie Bassett
Assistant Manager, Whitebarrel

I am a Michigan transplant who came to the area in 1977 to teach in the School of Nursing at Radford University. I never expected to remain here any extended period of time, but I fell in love with the scenic beautiful of Virginia, and especially the New River Valley, and now consider this my home. My one tie to Michigan is my alma mater, the University of Michigan, whose athletics I staunchly support from a distance.

My professional interests are public health, school health, and access to health care for rural members of the Commonwealth. I love to travel, both professionally and personally, and at last count, I have been in all but 3 of our states and 43 countries and will add three more countries this summer. I thrive on interacting with people, so my position with Whitebarrel Winery is a perfect fit for me. Every day I look forward to meeting new folks who have discovered Whitebarrel and seeing old friends who enjoy our award winning wines.

Ms. Jesse Henderson Burgardt
Assistant Manager, Whitebarrel

Jesse Burgardt grew up in the New River Valley of Southwest Virginia, where she learned the importance of family and community. These values steered her academically and professionally. Her accomplishments include earning a Bachelors of Science in biology from the University of Colorado, participating in international medical missions, attending a prestigious midwifery internship, as well as holding multiple volunteer placements for hospitals, expositions and The Montgomery County Museum. Jesse is also an experienced portraitist. She hopes her artwork reflects the beautiful narratives of both the Appalachian people and its localities. For her, it is a place of invaluable history, with a growing community and a burgeoning future. The wine industry is part of that future, as it segues avenues of culture, nature, history, art, health and wellness. Salúd to this rich place, flowing with exceptional wines!

Ms. Kayla Cole
Vineyard & Natural Resources & Conservation Manager

Kayla oversees the vineyard operations, assists in wine making, and works to minimize Whitebarrel’s environmental impact. “Born and raised in Pulaski County my family has always been farmers in some type of way, whether it was growing apple orchards, running a cattle ranch and having their own vegetable garden for feeding the family, to growing tobacco for large companies. Horticulture has always been my inspiration to finding internal happiness. Having pride in growing a plant from its seed, aiding its growing process, and watching them bloom into the flower or fruit, brings great joy to my life. I would say the great outdoors is where My heart finds comfort… Some of my favorite hobbies are gardening, traveling and site seeing, river kayaking and camping, competitive shooting, and settling down on a crafty paint canvas”.

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