Italian wine in Southern California

About IVDC Wines

IVDC Wines was founded in 2016 by veteran Marketing Executives (and Wine Lovers) Eileen Rivkin and Julia Hodge, who worked together over a decade ago. Female-owned and operated, IVDC Wines is Southern California's sole importer of the finest wines from Cirò in the lush and magnificent Ionian coastal Region of Calabria - Italy's Best Kept Secret! Wine connoisseurs will fall in love with the wines produced from the ancient vines of historic Calabria, Italy’s untapped jewel. 

Meet the Team

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Eileen Rivkin (Founder / C.E.O. & Certified Italian Wine Specialist)

After a long and successful career in advertising sales, Eileen Rivkin retired and traveled to Southern Italy, where she made roots in the region of Calabria. There, she fell in love with the sensuous wines, particularly those from Cirò and Strongoli —all organically grown and produced. Inspired and seduced by the Calabrian lifestyle, Eileen now wishes to share “Italy’s best kept secret" with wine lovers in California. To that end, she has earned her certification as an Italian Wine Specialist through the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), which is the U.S. affiliate of Associazione Italiana Sommelier. Also through NASA, she is working toward earning a coveted Silver Pin Sommelier certification. With over 37 years of experience selling for major consumer magazines and publishing companies—ELLE, Hearst, Hachette Filipacchi Media and Time Inc. Eileen’s foothold and expertise in the California market serves as a strong foundation for her new endeavor: Bringing these Southern Italian jewels to West Coast wine lovers. Ms. Rivkin holds a B.A. in philosophy from Sonoma State University.

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Julia Hodge (Co-Founder & C.M.O.)

Ms. Hodge has diverse experience in every form of marketing. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University and an M.B.A. in International Marketing from Loyola Marymount University, where she wrote her masters thesis on International Wine Distribution in the U.S. vs Australia and New Zealand. She has 10+ years of experience working in the Southern California market in such industries as Radio, Newspaper Publishing, Tech/Online Advertising, and luxury Real Estate marketing. An award-winning marketer, published writer and designer in the marketing field, Julia's unique experience and extensive knowledge have enabled her to execute creative and successful marketing strategies throughout her career. Her experience studying the International wine industry gave her inside knowledge and broad understanding of how to import, market, and distribute wine in the United States.  

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Alessandra Mazza (V.P. of Corporate Communications - Italy)

Alessandra Mazza, a native and current resident of Crotone, Calabria, joins IVDC Wines with experience in the wine export business. At Caparra & Siciliani cantina, Ms. Mazza managed the transportation of varietals distributed to clients in both the EU and Italy. Ms. Mazza successfully maintained existing customer relationships and recruited new clients to maximize profitability. Ms. Mazza studied Economics at Luiss University in Rome. Mazza also attended University of California - Santa Barbara (north of Los Angeles), where she became fluent in English and received the certification necessary to teach English as a second language. Alessandra brings her deep Calabrian heritage, education and passion to IVDC Wines, stating: “I think the Calabrian wines are superior to North-Italy wines; they just need to be introduced to the American market.”  

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Giuseppe Paternoster (Director of Sales)

Giuseppe Paternoster joins IVDC Wines as a professionally-trained chef, fine dining expert, and rising star in the Wine Industry. Born and raised in Bari, Southern Italy, Giuseppe’s interest in wine was piqued at an early age. His grandfather owned and ran his own winery, and Giuseppe eagerly observed and helped out during various stages of the winemaking process. Coming from the renowned food and wine-making region of Puglia, Giuseppe developed a keen taste and appreciation for Southern Italian wines, which he was able to parlay into his culinary career in Italy, training for six years at the Turi Culinary Institute in Matera, Italy. After moving to California in 2004, he was able to hone his wine and culinary knowledge and experience throughout several fine dining and private establishments in Southern California. Now, he is training to become a Silver Pin Sommelier through the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), which is the U.S. affiliate of Associazione Italiana Sommelier (AIS). IVDC Wines is thrilled to have Giuseppe bring his many talents and expertise to their team.

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Irina Ponomarenko (Wine Sales Consultant)

Fresh out of University, Irina Ponomarenko fully intended to pursue a graduate degree in political science from UCLA, but the seductive lure of wine captured her spirit, and blossomed into an everlasting love story. Irina comes to IVDC Wines with a host of credentials and experience, including Wine Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 3, French Wine Scholar (FWS) and Italian Wine Specialist (IWS).  In 2013, Irina received her Silver-Pin Sommelier and Master Taster certifications from the North American Sommelier Association (member of the Worldwide Sommelier Association).

Additionally, Irina is a Certified Educator for the regions of Cognac and Jerez, and in 2019, she became the winner of the Languedoc National Sommelier Challenge and traveled to the region for an immersive wine experience.  Irina shares her love of wines by teaching wine & spirits at various education venues. 

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