Ultrapremium Wine & Distilled Spirits - Grown, Produced & Bottled in the American Southwest
Flying Leap is a committed team of Arizona family farmers, skilled winemakers & artisan distillers, and a team of passionate wine & spirits retail merchants. Flying Leap is also a full-service, direct distributor of its wines and spirits portfolio to on & off-premise wholesale customers across the United States. We grow a vast portfolio of French, Spanish and Italian winegrapes at our vineyards in southern and southeastern Arizona, and we produce a delicious array of ultrapremium wines and distilled spirits from our harvests.
Flying Leap is also the parent company of Arizona Rub. Arizona Rub is home to a family of premium dry rubs and seasonings that add authentic Southwestern flavor to all BBQ foods, including steaks, chops, ribs, roasts and grilled vegetables. Arizona Rub products are made from the highest quality, premium spices available and contain no MSG or gluten.
Scroll down to learn our
unique story & meet our staff
But First … Take a Photo Tour of Our vineyards, Winery & Distillery
Our Unique Journey from the Cockpit to the Wine Business
Flying Leap Vineyards was founded in 2010 by three lifelong best friends: Mark Beres, Marc Moeller and Tom Kitchens, who met as freshmen in their late teen years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the late 1980s. Following graduation & commissioning, Mark, Marc and Tom served their country as Air Force pilots in multiple theaters of war and in a number of different roles and aircraft. A native of Walla Walla, Washington, Mark flew as a special operations pilot in the MH-53M Pavelow IV and later graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School, serving as a developmental test pilot for many years. Marc – a native of San Diego, California flew Boeing 757s, serving several US Vice Presidents, First Ladies and Secretaries of State as a distinguished pilot of Air Force Two for many years. Tom “Kitch” Kitchens – a native of Costa Mesa, California flew global airlift missions, flying the Lockheed C-17 for many years in both active duty and in the Air Force Reserve. Our founders performed a tactical rejoin in Arizona following their years of service to found Flying Leap Vineyards, which was incorporated in Vail, Arizona in the Fall of 2010.
Initially envisioned as a collaborative small business venture, primarily as a small-scale wine grape farming operation, the Company began in earnest developing what would later become its Block 1 vineyard in a small, rural agricultural growing area south of Willcox, Arizona known as the “Kansas Settlement”. These initial vines were planted in April 2011, and developed & trellised over three full growing seasons.
During these years and as serendipity would have it, a very young, unknown and somewhat disorganized Flying Leap would purchase a small farm winery called “Canelo Hills” located in the heart of Arizona’s most scenic wine country south of Tucson. The purchase of this property in Elgin in February 2013 launched Flying Leap’s wine retail operations, and it was at this exact time that Flying Leap discovered Rolf Sasse – a European native of Bavaria with experience in the alcohol production trades & sciences who had recently relocated to Tucson after retiring from military service with the German Air Force. Initially hired as a tasting room manager, Rolf’s skills as a winemaker become readily apparent and he was quickly moved from sales to production.
With a new portfolio of ultra premium wines and a place to market and sell them, Flying Leap’s sales soared. The growing demand for the Company’s wines required more planting, more expansion and the creation of more jobs. Flying Leap’s Block 2 vineyard was planted in 2012 and the estate vineyard was restored and expanded from 2013-2016. In 2016, the Company planted the Block 3 vineyard, and Block 4 is already designed and slated for planting in 2020. Recognizing the folly of fruit sales in the small Arizona wine market, Flying Leap chose instead to design and build a distilling capability so that surplus fruit could be distilled.
The Company began distilling in the Fall of 2016 and opened its distilled spirits tasting room at the winery estate in April 2017. Today, Flying Leap produces between 3,000 and 8,000 cases of wine annually depending on market demand and fruit allocations to the winery and distillery, which share the Company’s annual harvest. Flying Leap operates seven wine tasting rooms and one distilled spirits tasting room in the Arizona market. Our products are grown, produced and bottled by Flying Leap – our wines and brandy-based spirits, including vodka are made from wine grapes harvested by-hand at our southern & southeastern Arizona vineyards. They genuinely express the distinctive terroir of Arizona’s unique growing sites and our microclimate, as well as the skill and patience of our production staff.
Meet Our Team
Mark BeresRead More
Mark BeresPresident & CEO/Co-Founder
E-Mail Mark Beres
Mark is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Flying Leap and is the company’s co-founder. A native of Washington State, Mark grew up in Walla Walla, one of Washington’s most exclusive winegrowing regions – his formative years spent steeped in agriculture and ranching. He has several years of successful large-scale commercial viticulture experience, including all aspects of vineyard development, operations and harvesting. These include land preparation, efficient vineyard design, surveying, heavy equipment use, project scheduling and commercial planting. Mark has extensive experience in managing grapevines throughout their life cycle, from nursery to setting of fruit to all aspects of annual vine canopy management and harvest. A highly successful entrepreneur, Mark leads Flying Leap’s core teams – agriculture, production, sales & marketing, and investor relations. Among his chief responsibilities are establishing & executing the company’s business strategies, organizing its infrastructure and promoting Flying Leap’s brands.
Marc MoellerRead More
Marc MoellerVice President / Co-Founder
E-Mail Marc Moeller
Marc is a first generation American who grew up with deep and diverse connections to his family in Europe. The artistic side of his family in Switzerland is part of the “old-world” wine culture. His family owns a small private vineyard and has produced wines for many generations. Marc’s experiences working with his family and learning the craft first-hand have left an indelible impression on him. Throughout his life his regular family visits abroad have cultivated a knowledge and appreciation for the traditions of winemaking creating a passion that has come back full circle with Flying Leap. Marc completed the Winemaking Certificate Program from the University of California, Davis in the autumn of 2012.
Tom KitchensRead More
Tom KitchensDirector of Logistics & Co-Founder
Tom “Kitch” Kitchens is the company’s Director of Logistics and is a co-founder of Flying Leap. Kitch grew up in Costa Mesa, California, but his family is originally from Tucson, Arizona. He hails from a family of engineers and highly-decorated combat pilots, and he himself served as an Air Force pilot in both the active duty and reserves for a career. Tom is also the creative mind behind Flying Leap’s iconic triskelion logo and many of the company’s wine label concepts. Tom can be found almost anywhere around Flying Leap – pouring wine, talking about Arizona Rubs or just being – as he likes to joke – an overage intern.
Stacy LunaRead More
Stacy LunaDirector, Vineyards
Rolf SasseRead More
Rolf SasseDirector, Wine & Spirits Production & Cellarmaster
Rolf Sasse is the chief winemaker and master distiller at Flying Leap, and he guides all production and cellaring operations at the company. A native of Germany, Rolf grew up in the Bavarian Alps south of Munich in the small lakeside village of Schliersee. He served in the German Air Force, and was stationed in El Paso, Texas for many years before relocating to Tucson. In his youth, Rolf apprenticed for years in butcher shops while working in his family’s restaurants, where he developed a talent for cooking, preparing meats and hospitality. Years later, he developed a great interest in fermentation sciences and began as a brewer. Rolf came to Flying Leap in 2013, when he was hired to manage the company’s tasting room in Elgin. His winemaking skills became apparent quite quickly, and he was moved from sales to production that Fall. Rolf returned to Bavaria in 2015, where he attended a distillation academy to learn and practice the art of distillation under the guidance and instruction of some of Germany’s most skilled and distinguished distillers. In 2017, Rolf was promoted to Chief Winemaker and designated as Flying Leap’s Master Distiller and Cellar Master for both wine & spirits. Rolf’s wines have received substantial recognition, both in and outside our regional market.
Rose SasseRead More
Rose SasseWinemaker & Distiller
Rose Sasse originally comes from Michigan working her way through college as an EMT. She then fell in love with sunny Arizona and with a natural affinity for wine, malt, and all things fermented- accepted an apprenticeship with Rolf Sasse. Rose is also a professional artist and her work is featured in several Flying Leap tasting rooms through our partnership with Trust Gallery.
Tasting Room Staff/ Sommeliers
Elise GaynorRead More
Elise GaynorSommelier - Flying Leap Winery Estate
Elise has called Southern Arizona home since her college days at the University of Arizona. She took her fashion merchandising degree plus an additional 10 years of buying and managerial experience at Target & Dillard’s to purchase and operate a cutting edge fashion boutique in Tucson called The Strand. Her instinct for all things on the cusp of breaking through lead her to Flying Leap. As the Arizona vine & wine industry is burgeoning, Elise’s desire to be a part of it has been satisfied at Flying Leap. She enjoys sharing her zest for exploring new things with you as she introduces our skillfully crafted wines to your pallet.
Lisa KaufmannRead More
Lisa KaufmannSommelier - Willcox Tasting Room
I was raised in Arkansas & moved to Arizona 8 years ago with my parents. My husband and I relocated our family to Willcox a few years ago. I enjoy traveling and exploring new areas, and we look forward to more traveling as our children get older. I’m devoted to community service and am involved with many volunteer efforts with different organizations in the Willcox region, including serving on the Rex Allen Days committee. I am very passionate about wine and have enjoyed becoming a part of the Flying Leap family. I love meeting all my customers from around the world, hearing about their adventures and sharing our delicious portfolio of wines with them.
Tod YoungRead More
Tod YoungSommelier - Sedona Tasting Room
Tod‘s essential keys to loving Arizona are watersheds, dogs and wine. A native of Upstate New York, Tod got an early start on wine appreciation during a summer spent in the heart of the Bordeaux region as a teenager. He never forgot it. Work experience in newspapers, property management and hospitality eventually led him to the position of wine buyer for a Sedona specialty shop, where he got to know outstanding Arizona wines and winemakers. When he’s not sharing his enthusiasm for wine at Flying Leap, look for him along a creek, stream or river with spirited canine co-adventurer Rajah.
Kinsey WilsonRead More
Kinsey WilsonSommelier - Prescott Tasting Room
Kinsey is an Arizona native and wine enthusiast. Her passion for wine started right away, growing up in a family of huge “winos.” After spending a semester working for The Walt Disney Company and frequently attending the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, she was able to try wine from around the world. Because of this experience, she knew that she needed to further her education about wine and now hopes to study Viticulture. Spending most of her life in the Phoenix Valley, Kinsey decided to escape the heat and head up North to Prescott, AZ. Much more accustomed to small town living, she now runs our newest Flying Leap Vineyards tasting room located in historical Downtown Prescott.
Tom KitchensRead More
Tom KitchensBisbee Tasting Room
Three’s a Company: Mark Beres and Marc Moeller became close friends with another pilot, Tom Kitchens. Tom is the creative source of Flying Leap’s logo. Its three elements stand for the three partners, but it also resembles three vine leaves, an airplane propeller, and a variation on the Celtic Knot, a symbol of friendship and tradition. It’s done in copper, to represent Arizona. Tom can be found almost anywhere around our enterprise – pouring wine, talking about Arizona Rubs or just being – as he likes to joke – an overage intern.
Karen RollinsRead More
Karen RollinsSommelier - Distillery Tasting Room (Elgin, AZ)
Karen was born and raised in the south and after her father retired from the military, he moved the family to NH. Her work experience ranges from managing a martial arts studio to telephone company lineman and even a dental assistant. Though she remained there for most of her life and worked outside Karen never fit in to the New England lifestyle nor the climate. In 2010 Karen fell in love with AZ after a vacation here with her youngest son. She bought property and waited 7 years until she retired and was able to build her home and move here. AZ is Karen’s little slice of heaven on earth.
Janie GouldRead More
Janie GouldSommelier - Tucson Tasting Room (Plaza Palomino)
Janie spent 30 + years working with one of the largest Wine and Spirit Wholesalers while living in Texas. After moving to Arizona to be with her family and missing the business she went to a Flying Leap Vineyards wine tasting and fell in love with the wines, commenting “These were some of the best I had ever had!” Janie became fascinated with the Arizona wine industry and loved the passion Mark, Marc and Tom had for their business. Janie holds several wine certifications and she is also a Certified Spirit Specialist from the Society of Wine Educators.
Julie KlugeRead More
Julie KlugeSommelier - Flying Leap Winery Estate & Tubac Tasting Rooms
Julie loves to discover new places, foods, and wine whenever possible. Originally hailing from Detroit, she has called Tucson home for over 15 years. She brings her enthusiasm for all the good things in life to Flying Leap and she looks forward to pouring you a flight of our outstanding wines.
Lanny HardyRead More
Lanny HardySommelier - Tubac Tasting Room
Lanny was born and raised in Wisconsin, so he’s a true cheese head. He’s even named his golden retriever – Lambeau. Over the years, Lanny has held leadership positions with a number of national membership organizations including the American College of Occupational Medicine, American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society on Aging. More recently he and his wife have owned a restaurant and managed a historic hotel in Northern California. Lanny is an avid runner and this past year completed both the Chicago and Boston Marathons. He and his son are now training for a 50-mile trail run event.
Sales & Marketing/Events & Promotions
Greg MaciullaRead More
Greg MaciullaBrand Ambassador/Wholesale Accounts Manager
E-Mail Greg Maciulla
Greg is a Tucson native, having lived in the southwestern United States his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona, where he studied Communication and Spanish. He has had the opportunity to travel throughout Latin America as well as live and study in Guadalajara, MX and Alicante, Spain. He has a deep passion for the outdoors and is an accomplished archer. Greg has always loved fine wines and spirits and he grew up working in of some of Tucson’s finest restaurants. He has also spent over 6 years as a fine wine and spirits distributor and loves to share his knowledge and passion with everyone.
Nicole MaddoxRead More
Nicole MaddoxEvents & Promotions
E-Mail Nicole Maddox
Nicole grew up right down the road from our Elgin Vineyard Estate, in Sonoita, AZ and graduated from the University of Arizona a proud Wildcat. She lives in Tucson with her husband and two beautiful daughters. She has spent the last 3 years coordinating ballet productions and fundraising events for a local Tucson dance company that her daughters dance with. Dance life can be very time consuming, but she has found a way to make it a family affair, recruiting her husband and parents into the productions and even having all three generations perform in The Nutcracker last year. Now, after recently joining the Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery family, she gets to combine her passion for wine and spirits with her love of working with people.