Former St. Thomas resident Shannon Carstens recently moved to California to work as public relations coordinator for The Coppola Companies, owned by renowned filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather" trilogy, "Apocalypse Now"). Based in Rutherford, in Napa Valley country, Carstens is the liaison between all of the Coppola companies and the company's publicist in New York.
"This is quite an opportunity for me," she said about her new job. "I'm a tremendously lucky person."
The Coppola Companies is comprised of its film division, Zoetrope, located in San Francisco, the historic Inglenook winery now called Niebaum-Coppola Estate winery, the food brands Mammarella pasta, pasta sauce and olive oil, and two cafes, one in San Francisco and the second, newly opened, in Palo Alto. Among the wine brands produced by the company are Francis Coppola Presents, Diamond Series, Niebaum-Coppola Estate wines, and the flagship proprietary blend Rubicon.
Carstens brings to the position the experience of having worked for both a retailer and distributor of wines. In St. Thomas, Carstens worked in the advertising department at A.H. Riise where she was involved in the promotion of the store's wine and liquor products. She went on to work for the West Indies Corporation as their marketing director, and then for a brief period operated her own catering business. She now spends her free time learning all she can about the process of winemaking, recently volunteering to pick grape samples to test sugar levels for harvest.
Carstens enjoys the "diversity of the job" and "being able to tackle a wide range of projects." A typical day for her involves sending out press releases introducing new wines, or arranging for a film crew to shoot at the winery. On occasion, Carstens works directly with Coppola, whom she describes as "animated and very gracious." Most recently, she has been involved with the promotion of his new virtual studio, www.zoetrope.com.
Carstens moved to St. Thomas from Minnesota in 1988 after graduating from high school. She attended the University of the Virgin Islands where she studied marketing and received a degree in business administration. She credits Prof. Marie Hermann and Jayne Winter of A.H. Riise as mentors, but says her biggest role model professionally and otherwise is her Mom, Deanna Smith. Smith still resides in St. Thomas and works at Roy L. Schneider Hospital.