Monica Samuels is the VP of Sake and Spirits for Kome Collective, the Japanese division of Vine Connections. She is based in New York City.
Monica’s 15+ years of experience in the sake industry include working as a restaurant beverage director, overseeing the category for one of the country’s largest wholesalers, and now directly importing sake and spirits from Japan and beyond. She has been recognized for her efforts in sales and education in Wine Spectator’s “Sake’s True Believers (2013),” Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Tastemakers Under 40 (2014),” received the title of “Sake Samurai” in 2017, and as part of the IWSC and WSET’s “Future 50 Awards (2019).” Monica’s education in sake includes studying under John Gauntner and his Sake Education Council, where she received both Certified and Advanced Sake Professional distinctions; she is also a WSET certified Educator for the L3 Award in Sake. She participates as a judge for many international competitions including TEXSOM, IWC, and the US National Sake Appraisal.
Monica was born in Los Angeles and spent summers in Tokyo at her grandparents’ house growing up. As a bilingual individual with a unique perspective on two very different cultures, she has been particularly successful in demystifying sake for the US audience. Her years in the hospitality business and ingrained passion for the restaurant industry have given her an exceptional understanding of pairing sake with food, particularly outside of the traditional Japanese setting.