We're a dynamic group of libations-loving professionals headquartered in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of beautiful Pittsburgh, PA. Our team of experts are committed to bringing you the latest and greatest in the wonderful world of wine and spirits. We provide an exceptional selection of educational courses and private events, as well as an amazing collection of unique and boutique gifts. .
At Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits we enlighten, excite and educate palates through wine and spirits. Whether consumer or professional, neophyte or connoisseur, our team of highly experienced educators have the knowledge, experience and passion to unveil the wonderful world of wine & spirits.
Whatever your level of knowledge or confidence, we offer a fantastic range of educational courses to cater to all. Wine, Spirits, Beer, Cocktails, Olive Oil...
You name it, we offer it!
Explore our exceptional selection of world-class events. Whether you're planning a large party, an intimate affair, corporate outing, or consumer-facing celebration, our team of event experts will help you craft and execute an amazing experience.
From Dreadnought Wines exclusive wine collections hand-selected by our Sommelier to our gourmet food selections and exclusive accessories, the Palate Partners store is filled with unique and boutique selections you won't find anywhere else.
In 1992 Mike Gonze and Deb Mortillaro created Palate Partners to fill a need in the wine accessory and table top market. Over the years the company has grown and evolved into so much more. Now a major wine and spirit school for both the general public as well as beverage industry professionals, Palate Partners is educating palates in Pittsburgh (and beyond).
In 2015 Mike and Deb completed a goal that they’d been working on for over five years when they bought an amazing building in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh to house their three companies. This purchase played a major role in allowing Palate Partners to become a greater force in the wine and spirits education field.
2015 also brought the ability for Palate Partners to offer internationally recognized WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) qualification courses. This was another huge step in advancing the company’s role within the wine, spirit and sake education world.
In 2018 Palate Partners hired its first ever ‘Dean of Drinking’ dedicated to accelerating their mission to enlighten, excite and educate palates through wine and spirits. The Dean of Drinking focuses on education, training for the service industry, and making wine a more approachable beverage for the consumer.
Throughout the years, and all the exciting changes, Palate Partners has remained true to its roots offering unique wine accessories and exquisite gifts. Beloved by individuals and business alike, their gift programs have become more sophisticated, offering custom gift boxes handsomely wrapped filled with wine and elegant foods.
Palate Partners continued history will focus on new and dynamic ways to teach and spread the word about wine, spirits, and (of course) providing the best in wine accessories.
Meet The Team
Queen of Quaffing
After 15 years as one of Pittsburgh’s private chefs, Deb decided to dive into the wine business partnering with Mike Gonze of Dreadnought Wines. Her professional drive within not only Dreadnought, but also its two sister businesses Palate Partners and Soiree Partners, ensures customers an amazing experience.
Traveling the world as both a distributor and wine educator, Deb has a truly unique insight into the industry. Her hands-on approach shows through in her teaching, giving students and event-goers a real glimpse into the fun and fabulous world of wines.
Deb’s exceptional wine knowledge, coupled with her culinary prowess brings an expertise to Palate Partners that allows us to give our customers experiences they truly can’t get anywhere else. Want to really see our Queen of Quaffing in her element? Check out one of our Wine & Grilling events. (You can thank us later)
Graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America
WSET Level 3 in Wine
WSET Level 2 in Spirits
WSET Level 1 in Sake
Completed WSET Educator Training Programme.
Connoisseur in Chief
Connoisseur and Chief... The Grand Poobah of Wine... Our fearless leader, Mike Gonze, is a man who wears many hats. As President of Dreadnought Imports, LTD, the successful 35+ year old wine and spirit importing company, he brings an amazing representation of boutique wines and spirits from all over the globe to establishments and consumers here in Pennsylvania.
In 1995 he created Pittsburgh’s premier wine school with his partner Deb Mortillaro helping to educate and expand palates. Mike’s key relationships with winerys and winemakers alike allows Palate Partners to showcase some of the most amazing wine and spirits collections Dreadnought has to offer.
Mike’s extensive knowledge of wine and spirits comes from years and years of studying and traveling to some of the most renowned vineyards and wineries in the world. For a truly fantastic experience, join Deb and Mike for one of their annual international wine trips.
Certified by the Wine Academy of Spain
Certified by French Wine Academy
WSET Level 3 in Wine
WSET Level 1 in Spirits
Dean of Drinking
Adam is a native Hoosier who made his way to Pittsburgh in 2011 after stints in New York and Paris. A polyglot with bilingual fluency in French (he also speaks Portuguese and Spanish), Adam brings over 10 years of teaching, training, and public speaking experience to Palate Partners where he helps lead the School of Wine and Spirits.
Adam is an aficionado of off-the-beaten-path regions and varieties with a particular passion for and expertise in the wines of South Africa. He was recently honored with a spot as one of the expert sommeliers selected to participate in the prestigious Wines of South Africa 2019 Sommelier Cup. Adam has made it to the top five in the country and will be heading to the National Finals in June!
On those rare occasions where Adam isn't talking wine, you can find him playing ice hockey or enjoying copious amounts of Thai food.
Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers
WSET Level 3 in Wines
WSET Level 2 in Spirits
As Event and Logistics Manager at our sister company, Soiree Partners, Carrie is an invaluable asset to our team.
With over 17 years of hospitality experience, our resident events aficionado assists in several areas of coordination, overseeing office management, and offering unique events insight to the Palate Partners team.
Carrie is WSET Level 1 in Wine and Level 1 in Spirits certified. She's another helping hand and educated team member to our customers!
Master of Marketing
After bouncing between the Fashion and Beauty industries in New York and San Francisco, Ashley landed here with us in The ‘Burgh.
She brings almost a decade of Public Relations, Social Media and Marketing experience to the team. Her eye for design and fast-paced work-style keep us all on track and looking our best.
When our bi-coastal branding addict isn’t busy being our biggest cheerleader you can find her rummaging through her collections of vinyl records and vintage decor.
Lauren is the Gifting Guru that keeps on giving. Recently graduating with her BSBA in Marketing & Human Resources, she brings fresh insight as well as several years of exceptional customer service to the team.
She uses her personality and creativity to provide unique and boutique gifts for our corporate and private customers alike. Not only does Lauren hand-craft many of our amazing boxes and baskets herself, she also runs everyone’s favorite Wine of the Every Other Month Club!