Hours of Operation
Complimentary valet and free garage parking
Meet the Chef
Chef John-Michael Hamlet developed his passion for fine cuisine at an early age. At 15, he began his culinary career working in various restaurant kitchens around his hometown in Northern Virginia.
In high school, he was awarded a coveted 2-week stint at Le Cordon Bleu, in London, England by Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). His extraordinary talent, coupled with his fervor and dedication, ultimately earned him a degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduating in 1996, he ventured north to Boston where he continued to hone his skills at L’Espalier, one of the city’s top kitchens, under Chef Frank McClelland.
In 2002, Chef John-Michael returned to the Northern Virginia region and worked as the Executive Chef at Stone Manor Inn in Middletown, MD. His stellar cuisine at Stone Manor Inn earned him critical acclaim and a slew of accolades including a score of 27 for food in Zagat and a spot on Washingtonian Magazine’s “100 Very Best Restaurants” list.
In 2007, Chef John-Michael opened John-Michael’s Restaurant in North Salem, NY, fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning his own restaurant. In the 3 ½ years the restaurant was in operation, Chef John-Michael, his wife and their staff received numerous awards in the Westchester area and was ranked as one of the top 15 restaurants in Westchester by The New York Times. During this time, John Michael appeared as a contestant on the Food Network’s popular competition show “Chopped.”
Chef John-Michael is thrilled to be back in Northern Virginia, with his wife and three children, Gavin, Samuel and Olivia. He is proud to be heading Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro’s kitchen and can’t wait to share his mouthwatering dishes with its patrons.
Meet the General Manager
Cara Helstrom joins Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro with over 10 years experience in the local hospitality industry. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Cara received a B.A. in Communications, Peace and Conflict Studies and Philosophy from Juniata University in Pennsylvania in 2004. Upon completing her education, Cara has held a number of managerial positions in the metropolitan area.
Prior to Vinifera, Cara served as general manager at Todd Gray’s Watershed in Washington, DC. During this time, she managed the acquisition of the concept on behalf of Culinaire International and was responsible for hiring and training a brand new staff. Cara also worked as manager of banquets & catering and restaurant manager for Trattoria Nicola’s, another concept under the management of Culinaire International.
When she’s not busy overseeing food and beverage operations at Vinifera, Cara enjoys traveling.
Meet the Assistant Restaurant Manager & Sommelier
As the Assistant Restaurant Manager/Sommelier of Vinifera, Nicole Bernard brings with her a passion for wine and food cultivated over a 16-year career in the hospitality industry. She has held an assortment of restaurant positions including cooking, kitchen management, bartending, serving, restaurant management and sommelier positions.
Nicole is a Certified Level II Sommelier, granted by The Court of Master Sommeliers, and is currently studying for the Advanced Level III Exam. Prior to joining Vinifera, she worked at a slew of notable restaurants in the metropolitan area including Range by Bryan Voltaggio, Willow Restaurant and Trummer’s on Main. Nicole also spent time at various restaurants in Las Vegas and in her home state of Massachusetts.
“Food and wine are passions – they are fun and they are meant to make you pause in instant moments of delight, splendor and bliss. A bottle of good wine is like a good book – it develops its own life and changes over time.”
Meet the Executive Sous Chef
A native of Northern Virginia, Chef Jason Hopkins has over 23 years of culinary experience ranging from kitchen and restaurant management to menu planning and kitchen design consulting. He studied Spanish and History at Virginia Commonwealth University and went on to get his Bachelor of Professional Studies in Culinary Arts Management from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Prior to joining Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro, Chef Hopkins spent two years as executive chef at the popular DC bistro, Café Deluxe, where he managed kitchen operations and assisted on rebranding efforts for all four locations. Before returning to the metropolitan area, Chef Hopkins worked at the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Here, he learned to uphold the highest level of standards in a five-star hotel and resort.
In his spare time, Chef Hopkins enjoys traveling.
The Westin Reston Heights
Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro is conveniently located adjacent to The Westin Reston Heights, surrounded by great shopping, area museums and galleries. The hotel is moments from Dulles International Airport and a short cab ride from our nation’s capital.