Marsha Palanci, Founder & CEO
Speaking French brought me to the world of gastronomy. My first job after graduate school was promoting French wine and foods at Sopexa where I was the resident cheese expert. Both areas of expertise were part of my early DNA having been raised in France and Belgium. Later, I joined Schieffelin & Co—a wine importer now part of LVMH—where I further enhanced my knowledge and passion for wines promoting iconic brands such as Dom Pérignon, Hennessy Cognac, Ruffino, Simi, and Cinzano. An entrepreneur at heart, I started Cornerstone Communications 25 years ago and overnight became my own boss. Now when I meet winemakers and winery owners around the world hear their remarkable stories and taste their wines, I constantly remind myself that I have chosen one of the most enviable jobs in the world.
Favorite Food and Drink: If money were no object, I’d indulge in Beluga caviar and Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne. But in the real world, it would be my father’s City Chicken with my mother’s West Virginia version of scalloped potatoes, paired with the same Dom Ruinart. A woman needs to spoil herself after all.
Natural Talent I’d like to have: a full, rich voice which would induce goose bumps when people heard me sing.
Favorite Motto: “Carpe diem.” The Roman poet, Horace, was as right back then as now. In today’s unpredictable world, it is the only way to live your life.
Beth Cotenoff, Senior Vice-President
The first wine I fell for was Russian River Pinot Noir in my early days of living in Manhattan. Working in Paris for 5+ years (in the hotel industry, in marketing, teaching English), Beaujolais and Chinon were the wines of choice. A Francophile from birth (it runs in the family), when I moved back to New York, a job at Sopexa was an excuse to concentrate on French food and wine for a living. As Sopexa’s Director of PR, I managed campaigns for Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Cognac, and Richart Chocolat, among others. After a brief stint at DeVries PR working with Gallo’s international brands, Cornerstone welcomed me and my focus turned to Italy, Spain, and occasionally the New World. A part-time gig at NYC retailer Astor Wines & Spirits further broadened my horizons. With still so much to learn, I’m working towards the WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits.
Favorite Food & Drink: Blanc de Blancs Champagne with oysters or fish tacos, salted-caramel gelato or my homemade Nutella pound cake.
Natural Talent I’d Like to Have: If reincarnated, I’d be a musician or an athlete. Without aptitude for either, I attend as many concerts as possible and am a fervent tennis fan.
Favorite Motto: “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” - Hilaire Belloc
Carli Vierke, Account Executive
I fell into the world of food and wine when I was hired for my first serving job at 19 years old. Finding myself in the midst of a culinary “scene” I hadn’t realized existed, I suddenly wanted to discover everything there was to know about it. This often meant spending nearly all my wages eating and drinking at some of the finest establishments around Vancouver BC, and teaching myself to cook at the same time. I continued working in restaurants for 8 years, eventually becoming a food writer in Toronto, which in many ways led me to pursue an MA in Media, Culture and Communications at NYU. Ultimately these experiences have coalesced in the work I do today - public relations for food and beverage – a true marriage of my passions and expertise.
Favorite Food and Drink: A pre-dinner aviation cocktail made my best friend (her ratios are godly) followed by freshly made pasta with Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce and a brick of good parmesan to top it with.
Natural Talent I’d like to have: If I had a natural talent for math, the frustrations and stress of my high-school years would have been much alleviated, I suspect.
Favorite Motto: Live in the past and regret everything.
Lesley Hennen, Assistant Account Executive
I’ve always loved food, and growing up my parents instilled a love and appreciation of good wine. They brought me with them to Napa Valley when I was 8 years old, and while I may have been too young to fully appreciate the experience (my favorite memory is eating French fries at a local diner), it sparked a lifelong interest in wine, food and travel. After graduating from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study within NYU, I began working for Cornerstone where I continue to learn as much as I can about wine!
Favorite Food and Drink: A “Juicy Lucy” – hamburger with melted cheese inside the patty – from its origin, Matt’s Bar (or the 5-8 Club, depending on who you ask!) in Minneapolis. Paired with hot and crispy French fries and an ice cold Blue Moon. A classic Midwest combination!
Natural Talent I’d like to have: Dancing – I like to think if my mom hadn’t let me quit dance classes when I was seven, I might be dancing in the NYC Ballet, but now there’s no way to know. (I most definitely would not be, I quit because I was terrible.)
Favorite Motto: Go wherever there is a you-shaped hole in the world.