Employee Biographies


Stephen Conaway:  Steve was born in Elkins Park, PA in 1963.  In 1976, his family moved to Wilcox, PA. There, he worked at his Grandfather’s dairy farm and John Brawand’s dairy farm until he graduated High School. In 1981, he graduated from the Johnsonburg Area High School, Johnsonburg, PA.  Shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Pittsburg, PA.  For ten years, he served in numerous Air Defense Artillery enlisted positions and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.  During his time, he served for six months in Greece and five years in Germany. In 1992, Stephen was commissioned from the Army’s Officer Candidate School.  He was commissioned as an Air Defense Artillery Officer and later graduated as the distinguished honor graduate from the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS.  Stephen served as an Avenger/Stinger Battery Commander at Fort Drum, NY 1997 - 1999. In 1999, Steve entered into the Army Acquisition Corps as a Military Contingency Contracting Officer.  Following two years of training, Steve was warranted and became the Chief Contracting Officer for the 10th Mountain Division.  Immediately after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he deployed with the 10th Mountain Division to Uzbekistan.  He served on General Hagen beck’s staff as the Chief Contracting Officer during Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan.  He was responsible for the direct supervision of contracting support for in theater US Special Forces and Conventional Forces, Central Intelligence Agency, Coalition Forces (Poland, Australia, Syria, Spain, Canada, and England), and Afghanistan Northern Alliance Forces.  While in combat, Stephen was awarded the Bronze Star in Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan. He was promoted to Major and retired in August 2003 after serving over 22 years in the Army.  He served at Fort Drum, NY during his last 7 years in the military.  He and his family have lived in Alexandria Bay, NY since 1996.  He holds an Associate Degree in Technology from Pierce College, Tacoma, WA and has a Bachelor Degree in Business and Management from Saint Martin’s College, Lacy, WA. Upon his retirement, he established the Thousand Islands Winery in Alexandria Bay, NY.  He currently serves as the Winery’s President.  In eight years, the fledgling winery’s wine production went from 1,100 gallons in the first year of operation to over 42,000 gallons in 2010 and employees 32 people at its seasonal peak and was named New York’s “Winery of the Year” 2009 by the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. He was the founder and President of the Thousand

Islands - Seaway Wine Trail and a founder of the Seaway Wine and Viticulture Association.  Steve served as a member of the NY Governor Spitzer and Patterson’s Wine Grape Task Force.  He has served as the President of the Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Vice President of the Orleans Business Association and. In July 2010, Steve was nominated to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation’s Board of Directors.  His is married to Erika and they have four children, Zachary, Jacob, Joel, and Brianne. Steve enjoys hunting, fishing and playing guitar.


Erika Conaway: Erika was born is Seattle Washington to parents, Bruce and Heather Stine.  She was the only daughter of their 5 children.  She met and married Steve Conaway in 1990.  During Steve’s military service they had 4 children and the Conaway’s moved to several different military posts.  Despite the chaos and Steve’s many deployments Erika graduated with an Accounting Degree from St. Martin’s College.   They moved to Alexandria Bay, NY in 1996.  Prior to Steve’s retirement they purchased the farm adjacent to their home.  In 2002 they started the Thousand Islands Winery.   


Melissa Potrikus: Melissa started with the company in 2007. She is from Columbus, Ohio (The Buckeye State). Melissa’s hard work and dedication earned her the Employee of the Year Award in 2009. She has a BS in Tourism Administration from Bowling Green State University. Melissa’s favorite activities include traveling, boating, fishing, and most of all….horseback riding!

 Shawn Dorr: Shawn started with the company in 2007. Her mom is Swedish; she lived in both Sweden & Germany.  Her dad was in the army until he retired here in NY based out of Fort Drum.  As an adult, Shawn decided to stay in the North Country and attend college for Animal Management and Business.  Shawn is married with one son.  Her favorite activities include hiking, playing sports, and reading.

 Joey Jeffers: Joey was born in Alexandria Bay, NY. Joey is a former business owner who attended Jefferson Community College. Joey started with the company in 2011. Joey’s favorite activities include duck hunting, spending time with his family, and boating on the St. Lawrence River.

James Radcliffe: James received his Bachelors’ of Agricultural Science [Oenology] from the University of Adelaide in Australia in 1997.  After graduation he took an Assistant Winemaker position at Rosemount Estates McLaren Vale Winery.  In 2001, he moved to Western Australia to work for Ferngrove Vineyards so that he could gain additional experience in a newer wine region.  In 2003, James decided to accept a position as Assistant Winemaker at Dr. Franks Vinifera Wine Cellars located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. From 2005 to 2009, James took over as the Head Winemaker at Arcadian Estates Winery on Seneca Lake in New York. During his tenure at Arcadian Estates Winery, he also worked on vintages in Australia from February through April each year, at Difabio Estates.  In 2009, after two years of performing part time consulting work for the Thousand Islands Winery, James decided to move to the Thousand Islands in New York to join the winemaking team as a Winemaker at the rapidly growing Thousand Islands Winery. 

Steve Taddia: Steve joined the winery in May of 2008. Since joining the winery, Steve has contributed to nearly every department, thus earning him Employee of the Year in 2011. Steve currently holds the position of Farmers Markets and Festivals Manager along with numerous duties throughout the winery. Steve was born and raised in Connecticut but spent his summers in the 1,000 Islands Region while growing up, this drew Steve back to the area as an adult to make his permanent home in 2007. Steve’s hobbies include remodeling his house, watching sports, playing golf, boating, fishing, and as of recently horseback riding. 

Nick Shanley: Nick started with the winery in May, 2011. He grew up in Lowville, NY and enjoys camping, kyacking, and hanging out with friends.

Heidi Costello: Heidi grew up in Conway, New Hampshire. Growing up in Mount Washington valley she developed a strong passion for the outdoors. Heidi loves hiking, skiing, water sports and camping. She studied business administration at Granite state college. After spending 28 years in New England she moved to Northern NY. Committed to supporting local and strong passion for wine, Heidi searched for a job to apply her business management background towards. Heidi started with Thousand Islands Winery in 2011.

Heidi Bock:  Heidi was born in Waynesboro, PA and raised in Chambersburg, PA. Heidi spent most of her childhood camping, catching crayfish & playing with her three siblings and numerous cousins at her grandparent’s house.  Heidi graduated from Chambersburg Area Senior High School in 2004 and moved to the Fort Drum area in July 2005. Before working at the Thousand Islands Winery Heidi gained 7 years of customer service and retail management experience through numerous positions. Heidi started at Thousand Islands Winery as an Assistant Tasting Room Manager in December 2011. Her favorite things include spending time w/ loved ones, amusement parks, bonfires, dancing, reading, listening to music and cooking/baking.

Kerri Hunnyman: Kerri started with the company in 2012. Kerri first began in the tasting room and now is our Wholesale Assistant. She was born and raised in Alexandria Bay and has 2 children. Her favorite color is green; Kerri enjoys the outdoors, hiking camping, fishing, and soccer.

 Howard Parker: Howard was born and raised in Western New York. Howard is married, a father of three, and a grandfather of five. He also retired USAF (Air Traffic Controller and Education and Training Specialist) and has earned a degree in Education and Training. Howard has 17 years Wholesale Merchandise experience and has been with the Winery for two years. During his free time Howard enjoys working around the house, gardening, cruising, and visiting other wineries.

B.J Donithan: B.J was born and raised in Alexandria Bay, NY. She started working with the Thousand Islands Winery in October of 2011. She has four kids and enjoys every minute with them. In her spare time, B.J enjoys hockey and snowboarding.

Richard Tuper: Richard is a native of Northern New York, He started with the winery in 2009 working in the tasting room. He worked during the summer of 2009 as an Assistant Tasting Room Manager before making a switch over to production. In 2012 he was employee of the year. He is also an Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran for which he was deployed to Kuwait in 2003. In his spare time, Richard enjoys nature hikes, paint balling, ghost hunting, reading, listening to music, watching movies, doing impressions, and entertaining people with his side-show routine.