Charles Yeates

Charlie is the co-founder of International Wines & Craft Beer – a family-owned beverage distributor located in Birmingham, Alabama. Brothers Charles and Rud Yeates, Jr. started the business in 1974 based on their common interest in wine. Both were intrigued by their father’s cellar and were entertained by his stories about wine. His enthusiasm was infectious. At special dinners Mr. Yeates would let them try a small glass with the meal. Here was a beverage that had been grown by families for hundreds of years, witnessing all the history ... and it tasted good! So, the idea of starting a wine company in 1974 made a lot of sense, especially because both brothers were fresh out of college with degrees in art and photography!

The first warehouse was a small operation across from the original Dr. Pepper building in downtown Birmingham; but it was the first in the south to be fully air-conditioned. International was also the first distributor in the South to have a full refrigerated delivery fleet. This is quite a change from the first year’s delivery vehicle – an orange Volkswagen square back “vintage 1970.” The original sales force was a roster of one. Today, International has 25+ sales representatives and four sales managers, distributing over 800 wineries to the Alabama and Mississippi markets. The company also direct imports over 20 different producers from around the world.

Charlie and his wife, Betsey, have two grown children and live in Birmingham, Alabama.  You can often find Charles online late into the evening, reading and sharing information on all things wine while listening to a wide variety of music. 

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Seth Poole

Seth is the captain behind the WLS wheel. That duty does not come easily or quickly, but you can definitely say that Seth has put in his time in the world of wine.  A Birmingham, Alabama native, he was bitten by the wine bug while traveling through Europe after graduating from college. In 1979, while taking graduate classes at University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB), Seth took a part-time job at The Grape Vine, a local retail wine shop, where he met Charlie Yeates. In 1982, Seth went to work at International and today can claim the honor of having held almost every job title and responsibility in the company – from warehouse manager, to the second sales representative, to purchasing and receiving, to VP.

In addition to his day-job as the now President at International, Seth holds the reigns for the day-to-day workings of WLS. No small feat as this encompasses tasting barrel samples sent through Jeff Libarle and Harry Parducci, to negotiating pricing, to working with graphic designers in creating new names and labels, to coordinating all matters of shipment, payment, delivery, distribution and inventory control.

And, in his spare time (!), Seth cycles in a semi-pro racing circuit! He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, Dr. Paula Rookis, and their two children. And, yes, he still rides his bike to work.

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Brian Herr

Like all of the founders of WLS, Brian has experienced all facets of the wine industry, starting at International in 1995 – one week after turning 21. After being exposed to the world of wine while taking college classes in Belgium, Brian was hooked. Back in Alabama, his first position with the company was as a retail merchandiser. Since then, Brian has worked as a sales representative, a brand manager, the Director of Sales,and presently holds the title Vice President of Sales.

This comprehensive, hands-on understanding and experience of wine combined with his extensive travel and research all over the world gives Brian and the other members of the WLS team a unique and relevant perspective when it comes to the creation, development and continued growth of the WLS portfolio. It is not just about bottling bulk wine from anywhere, throwing a label on it and hoping for the best. It is definitely a project born of passion for wine and the art of winemaking. Brian brings this passion to life.

While Brian, his wife Allison and their two children live in Birmingham, Alabama, he spends a lot of time on the road. In addition to multiple trips throughout Europe, Brian has journeyed the wine route in South Africa, South America, Australia, the Pacific Northwest and California.

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Jeff Libarle

Jeff Libarle was born in Sonoma County, California to Italian and French parents. He grew up making wine with his Italian grandfather. Later he attended and graduated from U.C. Davis with a degree in Enology and Viticulture. After graduating, Jeff traveled to France to work for six months in Burgundy and Bordeaux. He returned to California and found work at Chateau Montelena, then moved on to Souverain Winery, where he apprenticed with Bill Bonetti, founding winemaker at Sonoma Cutrer.

Ultimately, Jeff began a consulting business, making and blending wines for various clients. He began a direct marketing company in 1984 that continues today. Jeff planted a small vineyard to several Dijon clones of Pinot Noir in the Sonoma Coast appellation, which produces 250-300 cases of high quality Pinot Noir each year.

With 34 years of winemaking experience, Jeff continues to consult and blend for various clients.

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Caroline Anna Haugh

Caroline has worn many hats during her time with International Wines & Craft Beer and the Wine Liberation Society since she came on board in 2006. When she is not in her office serving as your first point of contact for all things WLS and craft, she is a competive amateur boxer (and former Alabama Golden Gloves champion), Walt Disney World fanatic, and vintage Barbie collector.  Contact her here.