Serafin Alvarado’s love of wine began more than decade ago, as a room service waiter for Hilton Hotels in his native Puerto Rico. It was the beginning of a career path that would ultimately lead him to achieve the remarkable distinction of becoming a Master Sommelier (M.S.) in 2005, achieving the status that only 149 other North Americans have reached after passing the rigorous M.S. examination.
Serafin has also turned his passion for wine into a successful career, working in positions in wine service, wine sales and most recently, wine education, joining Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Illinois, the largest wine wholesaler in the United States headquartered in Miami, Florida, as Director of Wine Education.
After two years working in the hotel industry in Puerto Rico, in 1994 Alvarado transitioned to a key role at Cadierno Corporation, a Puerto Rican fine wine distributor, where he established the island’s most prominent wine school. His wine courses became very popular and highly acclaimed by local press, attributed to his easy, entertaining, yet informative teaching style.
Alvarado’s most formative wine experience came after a move to Chicago in 2001 to work alongside Chef Charlie Trotter at his famed restaurant Charlie Trotter’s. Alvarado led a team of sommeliers responsible of managing one of the finest restaurant wine programs in America, following in the footsteps of his mentors: Larry Stone, M.S. and Joe Spellman, M.S. In his five years at the restaurant, Alvarado received considerable praise for his work establishing himself as one of the top sommeliers in the nation.
In October of 2005, Serafin received the Bill Rice distinguished Sommelier of the Year Award for his contribution to the culture of food & wine in the city of Chicago.
Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine included Serafin Alvarado among 40 outstanding individuals local to the Chicago area who have made a major impact in their respective industries before the age of 40. Former winners include professional actors and athletes, presidents and CEOs of major Fortune 500 companies, and high ranking political figures. Crain’s calls these rising stars “The Top 40 Under 40”.
Most recently, Johnson & Wales University recognized Serafin as a Distinguished Visiting Master Sommelier, an honor that only 3 prior individuals had received.
Today, along with his education responsibilities at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Serafin also finds time to teach and mentor Master Sommelier candidates through the program.
Serafin lives in suburban Lisle, Illinois. In his spare time he enjoys playing bass with The Rack & The Riddler, a local band, and training for the Chicago Marathon.
Based in the Finger Lakes, Christopher is a Master Sommelier and Owner/Operator of F.L.X. Hospitality, Element Winery and F.L.X. Culture House. Christopher teaches about booze for the Court of Master Sommeliers and the International Culinary Center.
Jesse Becker is a Master Sommelier and has worked for some of the top restaurants in the United States including Tra Vigne (Napa Valley), NoMI at the Park Hyatt (Chicago), and Frasca Food and Wine (Colorado). His training included three harvests: Miner Family Winery in Napa Valley (2001); Maison Camille Giroud in Burgundy (2004); and Domaine Alphonse Mellot in Sancerre (2008).
Jesse has written extensively about the wines of Germany and Austria contributed the annual Germany and Austria vintage reports for Sommelier Journal magazine from 2008 to 2013. He serves as an ambassador for Germany’s VDP and continues to educate consumers and trade about the wines of Germany and Austria.
In addition to holding the titles of Master Sommelier and VDP.Ambassador, Jesse is a CIVB Accredited Bordeaux Tutor, and Certified Wine Educator. He is currently an advisory board member for Somm360 and works as a Portfolio Specialist for Craft+Estate, an import division of Winebow specializing in the wines of France, Austria, and Greece. Jesse resides in Chicago, Illinois.
Originally trained as a geologist, Wayne Belding found his way from the oil fields to the vineyards. He began in the retail wine business, became an award-winning sommelier in Denver, and in 1990 became the 13th American to pass the Master Sommelier examination. He was also awarded the prestigious Krug Cup for passing all three parts of the examination on his first attempt. He has served as Education Chairman and Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers-Americas. He has been a wine teacher and competition judge both nationally and internationally for over 30 years. From 1986 – 2010, he was an owner of The Boulder Wine Merchant. He is the author of the recently-published book for wine consumers entitled “Diving Into Wine”.
Based in the sublime city of Seattle, Shayn is currently the Examination Director for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. In his role, he oversees all levels of Examinations in content and delivery, including the prestigious Maser Sommelier Diploma. Previously, he served as Education Director for the Washington State Wine Commission, the state marketing arm for the world-class wines of Washington state, directing content for such highly lauded yearly efforts as Taste Washington! Seminars and Road Trip Washington Wine. Prior to that, Shayn was Wine Director of one the most respected restaurant wine programs in the United States as Wine Director at Canlis Restaurant. During his tenure, Canlis garnered numerous awards for its vinous efforts, including the Pacific Northwest’s only Wine Spectator “Grand Award” each year to run the restaurant’s total to 10 consecutively. The program was also named a “Top 6 Most Trustworthy Wine Programs of 2004” by Gentleman’s Quarterly, “ 2005 National Wine Program of the Year” by Santé Magazine and “Best Wine Restaurant in Seattle” by Food and Wine, Gourmet, Seattle Magazine and The Seattle Times. Under his tutelage, two Canlis Restaurant sommeliers were awarded the prestigious Wine and Spirits “Top Young Sommeliers in the United States” in consecutive
John Blazon MS is Vice President of Sales for the Spire Collection since February 2010. The Spire Collection is a luxury driven division representing the artisan brands from the Jackson Family. As its educational and sales brand ambassador, John travels the US to work with a talented team of sommeliers in key markets focusing on collector and AAA accounts to build and strengthen equity for a unique selection of handpicked brands. A 35-year veteran within the Hospitality/Beverage industry, John is perhaps most noted as a former wine director for Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. During his tenure, Blazon was responsible for the development of wine concepts and standards, including product selection, service and training for 55 restaurants, 20 lounges, 18 resorts,and 3 theme parks which also included Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. John received his master sommelier diploma from the International Court of Master Sommeliers, during a fall 2004 exam in London, England and became the 59th MS for the American Chapter. In 2003, Blazon’s efforts were applauded by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), which awarded its “America’s Best Wine Lists Special Innovation” honor to Walt Disney World Resort at the Monterey Wine Festival. In addition, Santé magazine named Blazon its 2003 “Wine Professional of the Year. John continued to develop educational courses for Disney’s food and beverage team which included the Disney sommelier certificate program in partnership with the Court of Master Sommeliers. More than 750 cast members passed the introductory certificate level since the training began in 2000, which is a greater number than any food and beverage organization in the world. In 2006, Blazon was recognized by The STARWINE International Wine Competition as their “Sommelier of the Year.” In 2008 and 2013, John was elected to serve two terms on the board for the Court of Master Sommeliers and was appointed as an inaugural board member to the Guild of Sommeliers.
Master Sommelier Devon Broglie attended Duke University on an ambitious academic track, pursuing degrees in both psychology and economics; in his senior year he scored an internship with a prestigious consulting firm. But Broglie’s side job in a restaurant ended up being the catalyst that sparked his impressive career in the wine and spirits industry, leading to his current position as one of the top two global beverage buyers at grocery giant Whole Foods Market. After graduating from Duke, Broglie spent four years in the restaurant industry, as well as a grape harvest season in Spain, before joining the Whole Foods team in 2001. In his current position, he is in charge of purchasing and programming for the chain’s 320-plus U.S. stores that sell alcohol. Broglie also provides guidance and support for buyers across 11 regions and each store or metropolitan area’s beverage team. Broglie earned his Master Sommelier certification in 2011, and while that was certainly a career highlight, he describes his stint in Spain—in 2000 he moved to the Priorat region in Catalonia to work a harvest at a prominent winery—as instrumental in cultivating his passion for wine.
Dilek Caner currently is the Director of Tasting World/Dallas Wine Center, an organization that educates the wine trade and the consumer since 2005. Prior to the formation of Tasting World, Dilek taught at other organizations such as Institute of Culinary Education and American Sommelier Association. Earlier in her career, she has worked at Wine & Spirits Magazine and has been a sommelière at Restaurants Bruno Jamais and Alain Ducasse. Dilek is a Master of Wine, a title which has been earned only by 312 people in the world to date. She also holds a Ph.D. in Economics from New York University.
Journalist, speaker, blogger, author, and judge based in Manthattan. Former Global Beverage Director for Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the National Wine Director for Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group.
Elaine Chukan Brown serves as the American Specialist for JancisRobinson.com, and as Contributing Writer to Wine & Spirits Magazine.
She contributed to the upcoming 8th edition of the World Atlas of Wine, as well as the recent award-winning 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine. In 2019, the Wine Industry Network named Brown one of the 9 Most Inspiring People in Wine, and she was named by the International Wine & Spirits Competition and VinItaly as one of five of the top Wine Communicators of the Year in the world. Her writing has been featured in Decanter, World of Fine Wine, the Robb Report, and others, and recommended by Food & Wine, Imbibe, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and more.
She has been a celebrated key note speaker and seminar leader for events in wine, philosophy, and writing in New Zealand, China, Australia, Chile, Germany, Canada, and throughout the United States. Her work also appears on her own website WakawakaWineReviews.com. She is known online as Hawk Wakawaka, and is known for having created illustrated tasting notes, which @KermitLynchWine named “a new standard in wine reviews.”
Prior to her career in wine, Elaine was an academic philosopher. She served as the Charles A Eastman Fellow at Dartmouth College, and a Tomlinson Fellow at McGill University, where she did her doctoral work. Prior to her academic career, Elaine owned her own commercial fishing business in Bristol Bay, Alaska, where the rest of her family still operate their own commercial salmon fishing businesses.
Matthew Citriglia has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality and beverage industry, which began by stocking beer, wine, and soda at the age of fourteen at his father’s beverage store. His broad-based skills include retail ownership, winery sales ambassador, restaurant service and beverage management as well as wholesale management, sales and marketing. Currently, Matt is the Director of Education for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits Florida. Matt became a member of the Court of Master Sommelier, Americas in 2002 and has served on the Board of Directors since 2004. He has chaired multiple committees and has been deeply involved with the creation and development of examination and education programs offered by Court of Master Sommelier, Americas. Matt is regularly asked to lecture on a variety of beverage topics; helps coordinate and administer the Court of Master Sommelier exams and mentor’s numerous students attempting to pass the MS exam. He created series of training seminars geared toward motivating and educating wait staff as well as an innovative online e-learning server-training program. Matt’s passion for the beverage industry is infectious and highly motivational. When he is not traveling or speaking, he spends his time defying gravity on a yoga mat and drinking Champagne from a flute.
Jim Clarke is the Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa as well as a writer, contributing to both consumer and trade magazines including World of Fine Wine, Beverage Media, and Details magazine. Jim studied wine with the American Sommelier Association and worked as sommelier and wine director in New York for several years, initially at Megu, a high-end Japanese restaurant, and then at Armani Ristorante, inside the clothing company’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue. In September 2013 he left the restaurant industry to join Wines of South Africa.
Master Sommelier Craig Collins first became enamored with wine while working at a winery as an undergrad, an interest that led him to study abroad in Italy during his senior year at Texas A&M. He spent the next 20 years immersed in the beverage industry, from wineries to distribution and importing to restaurants. In 2011, Collins passed the esteemed Master Sommelier Exam, a feat mastered by just 200 people worldwide at that time. He now represents some of the most pedigreed wines from Italy as the Italian Portolfio Manager for VINTUS, one of the premiere import companies in the country. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Court of Master Sommeliers and frequently participates as a speaker and judge at wine and food festivals across the country.
Master Sommelier Brian Cronin began his wine career in Raleigh, North Carolina. After studying biology in college, Brian realized that he wanted to make wine. However, it was his exposure in restaurants to wines from all over the world, and his growing passion for wine that made him want to learn everything that he possibly could. Brian then went to work as sommelier in some of the top restaurants in the country. He has been the wine director for Charlie Trotter’s, Gary Danko, and Aqua. Brian is a very active member of the Court of Master Sommeliers and has also been an elected member of their Board of Directors. Brian’s diverse career in the wine industry has helped him build his philosophy of fresh, funny and informative education that he now uses as National Education Manager for Palm Bay International. Brian devotes much of his spare time to running marathons&quat; for charity with the American Cancer Society. In 2016 he ran all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, which are Tokyo, London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, and NYC marathons for charity – one of only a few people in the world to accomplish this feat. Best thing about the race…”Finishing, eating great food, and drinking great wine! But most importantly it is about the people that benefit from this wonderful cause.”
Founder of WineAlpha, a fine- and rare-wine advisory serving private, trade and institutional clients. Author of The Original Grand Crus of Burgundy and columnist for the Chinese version of La Revue du Vin de France and other magazines. Former Head of Wine (Asia and the Americas), Christie’s and former Director of Wine and Spirit Education, Moet Hennessy USA. Board member, Institute of Masters of Wine, North America.
Ian D’Agata has been speaking and writing about wine for over thirty years. An award-winning writer, his Native Wine Grapes of Italy (Ed. University of California Press) was recently named 2015 Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year, the first time an Italian wine writer has ever won the award. Amongst his many other awards, Ian has been named numerous times Italy’s best wine writer and his contributions to the world of wine have been recognized not just in Italy. In 2016 he was nominated by French wine producers and winemakers one of the world’s eight best international wine writers (Les Plumes d’Or awards); in 2017, he was awarded the 2017 Cuvée Award of Excellence in Canada for his support and forwarding awareness at the international level of the quality wines of Canada, a recognition that was renewed when in 2018 he was awarded the VQA Promoter Award, “Out of Ontario” section. Ian is the Senior Editor of VINOUS (USA), where he writes mainly on the wines of Italy, France and Canada, as well as restaurant reviews. He is the the Creative director of Collisioni’s Wine & Food Project, Italy’s largest music, literature and enogastronomy festival held annually in Barolo (www.collisioni.com) and the director of Indigena, an annual festival entirely dedicated to Italian native grapes and wines made from them. Most importantly, he is the director of 3iC (Italian International Indigenous Center for Wine and Food Studies) a wine and food school that is located in Barolo, Italy. A trained medical doctor, Ian’s scientific background characterizes his work in the field of wine. His research interest focuses on native wine grapes and he is actively involved in resurrecting forgotten old native wine grapes of Italy and having wine made from them again. He has been a Research Professor in Oenology at the University of New Mexico (USA), and has lectured on wine culture, history and tasting in NYU’s Master’s Program in Food Sciences and in numerous Italian universities.
Dame’s ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine make him a natural teacher. One of just seventy-three Americans at the time, to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time.
As Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years, Dame created a wine list which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award. With the many wine events held in the brick and wine lined Wine Cellar, Dame turned The Sardine Factory into a wine destination restaurant of world renown. He is also active in the culinary arts serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Careme Medal and was made a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000. He was elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates in 2004. In 2006 he received Sante Magazine’s Wine Professional of the Year as well as Starwine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Chefs Hall of Fame.
A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in journalism and communications. A European trip after high school piqued his curiosity about wine and food. Since then, he has applied his considerable persuasive skills to the service and appreciation of fine wine.
Born in London, raised in Sydney Mark has over 35 years of experience in the hotel, restaurant and wine business, fifteen of those as a Sommelier.
In 2001 he was name Sommelier of the Year at the Vancouver Wine Festival and also won the Spirited Industry Professional in 2014. As a Department Head and instructor with the International Sommelier Guild he was instrumental in the on-going development of the curriculum and has taught classes in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.
Mark is an annual judge at the TEXSOM International Wine Awards, Sunset Magazine and LA International wine competitions. In addition, he developed a wine education and restaurant etiquette course for Simon Fraser University Global Asset and Wealth Management MBA program. Mark is currently Head of Education for Wine Australia in North America.
Born and raised in America’s heartland, Jeni Dodd has journeyed far from the plains of Kansas to remote tea-growing regions throughout the world in search of the perfect cup of tea. The owner of Jeni Dodd Tea, a company dedicated to importing hand-crafted, unique specialty teas and offering tea education for groups and events, Jeni seeks to expand the public awareness of the specialty tea market and lead consumers to discover the exquisite joy of the leaf.
Over the last decade, Jeni Dodd has dedicated and committed herself to acquire as much possible knowledge about the tea industry, tea culture and tea processing. She is a Certified Tea Specialist through the Specialty Tea Institute and has completed all of STI’s Level IV courses offered to date. She holds a Certified Tea Masters’ designation from the International Tea Masters Association.
Ms. Dodd has taught future tea entrepreneurs and enthusiasts at the Specialty Tea Institute. She has presented several times at the World Tea Expo, as well as regional tea festivals throughout the United States. Jeni was a keynote speaker at the Australian Tea Cultural Seminar and was a judge for the World Tea Brewing Championship in Melbourne. She was a guest speaker at Nepal’s International Tea Day and Nepal’s 3rd International Tea Festival. As a firm believer in trade, not aid, as a means to propel Nepal from poverty, Jeni currently trains Nepalese farmers and producers on the successful marketable quality and flavor profiles empowering competition in the global market.
In her pursuit of a comprehensive understanding of tea, Jeni Dodd has traveled to several countries of origin, including Taiwan, Japan, Korea, China, India, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Nepal, visiting hundreds of tea estates and tea gardens, observing and participating in the various growing and processing methods unique to each country and region.
While finishing law school in London, Jeni Dodd first developed a passion for tea. Earl Grey was her ‘gateway’ tea that eventually led to her appreciation of specialty tea. While practicing as a corporate litigation attorney in New York City, she found that her desire to know more about tea outweighed her desire for the law and she formed Jeni Dodd Tea. While she still does some legal work and never forgets her Kansas roots (and continues her enthusiastic support of the Kansas Jayhawk basketball team,) her primary focus now is growing her tea business and continuing to learn about and facilitates the discovery of others to the endlessly fascinating world of tea.
Sarah Jane is Co-Chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards, the world’s largest wine awards, and joint Vice-Chairman of the Decanter Asia Wine Awards. She travels widely to speak at conferences, consult for wineries, judge at wine shows, and to research material for her journalism. She became a Master of Wine in 2006, winning the Robert Mondavi Winery prize for the highest marks in the theory and dissertation. She was Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine 2014-16. In 2018 she was awarded the WSET’s Outstanding Alumni Award.
She has a longstanding affection for Spain, ever since living there pre-university. She is Vice-Chairman of the Gran Orden de Caballeros de Vino, and has been made a Dama de Albariño, and a Dama de Solear. Her MW dissertation was on the Almacenista producers of Jerez, and she is a Certified Sherry Educator. Her first book on Spain was Seville, and her latest is The Wines of Northern Spain. She is currently researching The Wines of Mediterranean and Southern Spain. She also writes the Spain and Sherry entries for the Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine Book every year.
With James Tidwell MS and Richard Mayson she is a Series Editor of the Classic Wine Library.
In her other lives, she is a founder member of the Academy of Chocolate, which promotes fine chocolate, and the author of Chocolate Unwrapped. She was President of the Guild of Food Writers in the UK, and was Associate Editor of the BBC’s Good Food magazine for over a decade. The first part of her degree at Cambridge University was in Classics, and when she is not thinking about wines from Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, and the world’s great fortifieds and sweet wines, then she has a special place in her heart for Greece and its exciting wines.
Michael Franz is a wine writer, educator, and consultant. He is editor of Wine Review Online and a freelance contributor to many national and international wine magazines. From 1994 through 2005, he wrote as wine columnist for The Washington Post. Franz is also a wine consultant for 14 restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area, as well as an instructor for L’Academie de Cuisine and the Capital Wine School. He has conducted more than 1,200 site visits at wineries across Western and Eastern Europe, South America, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He tastes approximately 9,000 wines each year, judges wine competitions regularly around the world, and has acted as Chief Judge for international competitions in Washington, D.C., San Diego, New Zealand and China.
Klaus studied viticulture and winemaking from 1981 to 1986 and began his career in Germany in 1988. He joined Cantina Terlano in 1994. Although the plan was to stay for one harvest, he fell in love with the wines and has been there ever since. He is a collector of old and rare wines, and also enjoys hiking, biking and exploring nature.
Born and raised in Napa Valley Keith is one of the world’s youngest Master Sommeliers and proud recipient of the illustrious Krug Cup trophy. He has more than 20 years of experience ranging from bussing & waiting tables, to writing award-winning wine lists, consulting, training and lecturing for prestigious and renowned restaurants, hotels, cruise lines & wineries including; Domaine Chandon, Masa’s, Spago, Picasso, Aureole and Crystal Cruises.
Jamie Goode is a London-based wine writer who is currently a wine columnist with a UK national newspaper, The Sunday Express. He also contributes regularly to a range of publications including The World of Fine Wine, Noble Rot and Wine and Spirits (USA).
Jamie came to wine writing by a rather convoluted route, via a Ph.D in plant biology.
Also a published author, his first book, Wine Science, won the Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Book in 2006; a second edition was released in 2014. In addition to writing
He also lectures and judges widely.
Mary Gorman-McAdams is a Master of Wine, wine educator, wine judge and wine business strategist. Since May 2019 she is the Director at International Wine Center, New York City, the First WSET School in the Americas.
Between 2014 and 2019, she was the North American Market Adviser for the Bordeaux Wine Council, where she led its marketing and educational programs focused on growing the market for Bordeaux wines. During her tenure the United States moved from being the fourth most important market by value to the second most important market by value at the end of 2018, where volumes imported were the highest in 35 years
Since 2012 Mary has also served on the Institute of Masters of Wine Global Education team, which manages the Institute’s academic program around the world.
Mary became a Master of Wine in 2011, also winning the Viña Errázuriz Award for the highest marks in the Business of Wine paper. When not talking and tasting wine, Mary can be found on the sidelines of a soccer field with husband Joe McAdams, cheering on their 16 year old son Luca.
Owner/Partner – Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, San Francisco, CA
Owner/Partner – Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant, Napa
In his more than 40 years in the wine business, Master Sommelier Peter Granoff has worn many hats. From schlepping boxes and busing tables to receiving the “Sommelier of the Year” award from the James Beard Foundation and launching Virtual Vineyards (the first U.S. entity to sell wine on the internet), Peter has traveled the world to immerse himself in almost all facets of the wine industry. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers~Americas, and is internationally known as a speaker, wine educator, wine competition judge, and provider of free wine insulting. His goofy sense of humor and unconventional approach to the business of wine bring a refreshing change of pace to the partnership’s San Francisco and Napa wine shops.
Master Sommelier & Winemaker/Founder, Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla, WA. Former Chair, Court of Master Sommeliers–Americas. Formerly ran wine programs for Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, and BR Guest Restaurants. Accolades include “Best New Winemaker in Washington” and “Best New Winery” for Gramercy, by Seattle Magazine.
Chief Executive of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He has had a lifelong career in the wine and spirit industry since leaving London University with a French degree in 1977. Having left school with the intention of becoming a teacher, he decided – following a year spent in Bordeaux – that the wine and spirit industry “seemed more fun than teaching”. He started working for Christopher & Co, and its parent company Waverley Vintners, where he was their first Wine Development Manager, designing – and running – sales courses for the salesforce. Ten years later, in 1987, he joined Seagram UK. His career in sales and marketing included a 2 year posting in 1993 as Global Marketing Manager for Martell, based in Cognac, France.He returned to UK in 1995 as Marketing Director, then Commercial Director for Seagram UK, also assuming General Management responsibility for the Nordic markets.Upon the takeover of Seagram in 2002, Ian joined the Wine & Spirit Education Trust as Chief Executive, where he has overseen the ten-fold growth of WSET since joining as Chief Executive in 2002! The business has grown ten-fold since the turn of the millennium, and this year (2018/19) over 108,000 students took a WSET qualification across 75 countries.
Rich Higgins is all things beer: brewmaster, beer travel operator, author, public speaker, and a consultant to breweries and restaurants. He is one of 19 Master Cicerones in the world, and additionally is a Certified Sommelier. He runs Beer Immersions educational beer tourism trips to Belgium and Germany. To offer an organized approach to blind beer tasting, he is the author and developer of the Deductive Beer Tasting Method.
He teaches public classes, industry trainings, video beer courses online, and is a public speaker and coordinator of events around the world. He spent over a decade as a professional brewer and brewmaster, is a past president of the San Francisco Brewers Guild, and served as Event Director of San Francisco Beer Week.
Contact him at www.richhiggins.com.
Director of Trade Sales, Chappellet Winery. Chairman, SommFoundation (The Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation). Formerly member of executive team and VP of Fine Wine for Southern Wine & Spirits–NV. Developed the Bellagio Hotel’s first wine program, which he led to become the most successful in the world.
Founder, Masterful Wine Events. Has traveled to more than 60 wine regions across four continents. Formerly ran purchasing operations for prestigious retailers Morrell & Co in Manhattan and JJ Buckley in California. Works as a professional skydiver on weekends, having completed over 1000 jumps.
Terry studied physics at the University of Athens while working for some of the best restaurants in Greece. He became more involved in the hospitality industry after falling in love with wine, and began completing the first three levels of WSET in Greece. Following this, he moved to the UK and began working for The Fat Duck while finishing his WSET diploma and completing the Advanced level of the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. He then left The Fat Duck and accepted a role at The Ledbury where he became the Assistant Head Sommelier. During his time at The Ledbury, he earned the title of the Best Sommelier in Greece 2015 just shortly before passing his Advanced exam of COMS. He then joined the 67 Pall Mall private members’ club as head sommelier and represented Greece in the European Final 2017 in Vienna, where he managed to progress to the semi-finals. Terry won the UK Sommelier of the Year Competition in 2016 and is currently preparing for his Master Sommelier Diploma.
In addition, he has been a judge for the Cyprus and Greece in the Decanter Wine Awards for the last three years and is part of the technical committee of the UK Sommelier association.
Olga Karapanou Crawford is a winemaker spending her time between Greece and California. Olga is one of the three Greek MWs and the first Greek winemaker to earn the Master of Wine title. With a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in her native Greece and a master’s in viticulture and oenology in California, Olga has embarked on a career that explores winemaking around the globe. With various roles that touch nearly every aspect of the wine industry (viticulture, winemaking, sourcing, marketing, sales and winery management) she is currently the deputy CEO for her family’s wineries, Achaia Clauss and Antonopoulos Vineyards. Olga’s passion lies in indigenous grape varieties and mountain viticulture.
Master Sommelier David Keck discovered his love for wine while pursuing a career — and traveling the world — as an opera singer. David passed his Master Sommelier exam in 2016, making him the 149th American Master Sommelier and the 233rd in the world. Shortly after, David co-founded Goodnight Hospitality in Houston. His first project, the honky-tonk Goodnight Charlie’s, opened at the end of 2017, and several more projects are planned for 2019. Previously, David ran Camerata at Paulie’s wine bar for three years, which rose to national acclaim under his leadership. David was named one of Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year in 2016. He has a Master of Music Degree from Rice University, an undergraduate degree in English from Columbia University and attended Juilliard for opera performance.
Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth is the president of GuildSomm, an international membership organization for wine professionals. He hosts the popular GuildSomm podcast and contributes to wide-ranging content. Geoff also travels and speaks extensively, promoting GuildSomm, wine education, and the sommelier profession.
Ernst Loosen was born into a great tradition of German winemaking. The Dr. Loosen estate on the Mosel River has been in his family for over 200 years, so you’d think it only natural for him to take up the family legacy as a profession. The truth is, though, that as a youngster Ernst was more fascinated by the numerous Roman ruins in the area than by the family vineyards. So he went off to college to study archaeology. In the mid-1980s after his father fell ill, Ernst agreed to take on the estate and finally found his true calling among the broken slate of his family’s vineyards rather than the hewn stones of an old Roman ruin. Since Ernst took over, Dr. Loosen wines have received countless awards and glowing reviews in the press. The estate has become a member of the prestigious VDP, Germany’s association of top-rated wine estates, and has been named one of the 10 best estates in Germany by nearly every wine publication worldwide. Ernst was named Germany’s Winemaker of the Year in the 2001 edition of Gault Millau’s Weinguide Deutschland and Decanter magazine’s Man of the Year in 2005. In addition to his passion for Riesling, Ernst is a lifelong Pinot Noir fanatic, a variety that he has produced in the Pfalz since 1996. After numerous visits to Oregon over the years, he found a kindred spirit in winemaker Jay Somers, founder of J. Christopher Wines. They formed a partnership in 2010, built a new J. Christopher winery and are establishing a new vineyard in the northern Willamette Valley.
Paul Mabray has been a powerful change agent in the wine industry for over twenty years. He began his career working in traditional three-tier sales and marketing with Napa Ale Works and later innovating direct-to-consumer sales and marketing models with Niebaum Coppola.
Since then, he has been at the forefront of all major digital trends for the wine industry, working with WineShopper.com and Wine.com when they entered the wine-digital space. He founded two companies that have significantly changed the US wine landscape for digital. First by introducing winery e-commerce with Inertia Beverage Group that transformed into WineDirect.com pioneering winery e-commerce and then again introducing social media and social customer relationship management with VinTank.com.
He is considered the wine industry’s foremost futurist and thought leader, harnessing the power and potential of digital tools and methodologies to move the industry into the future.
Mary Margaret is one of only 41 Masters of Wine in the U.S. She was the recipient of two awards for her performance on the MW exam, earning the Bollinger Medal as best taster as well as the overall top-scorer on all parts of the exam in 2016. Mary Margaret has worked in retail, restaurants, and wholesale in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area. She happily keeps one foot in Napa and the other in Burgundy, holding positions as both the Sales Manager at Screaming Eagle and General Manager for Karolus Wine Imports, which represents the wines of Bonneau du Martray in the U.S.
Peter Marks, Master of Wine, is an internationally respected wine industry consultant and educator based in the Napa Valley. Marks is one of only 52 Masters of Wine residing in the United States and one of 382 in the world. The prestigious Master of Wine (MW) title is bestowed by the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) in London. Marks received his MW designation in 1995 when he became the 10th American to pass. That year he also became the first American to receive the Madame Bollinger Foundation Award, which is bestowed annually to the MW candidate with the highest blind tasting score.
From 2008 to 2018 Marks was Vice President of Education for Constellation Brands, overseeing programs such as the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) for employees and customers. He implemented a diverse education curriculum delivered both in-person and online.
Before joining Constellation Wines, he was the Senior Vice President of Wine at Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in Napa, where he was responsible for all wine sales and education programs.
Previous to working at Copia Marks was the Chief Wine Merchant at Wine.com, a wine Internet retailer serving more than 40 states. For 15 years prior, Marks was Director of Wine for the upscale Draeger’s Supermarkets located in Northern California.
Marks graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1976 with a B.S. degree with highest honors in Food Service Management. His personal interest in wine led him to the wine trade in 1981.
Marks is on the Education and Exam Board of the Institute of Masters of Wine, he is the Panel Chair of the Practical (Tasting) Exam for the Institute of Masters of Wine and he judges many international wine competitions. He is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, teaches wine classes independently and through the Napa Valley Wine Academy, and he assists with many charitable fundraisers throughout the year. Marks enjoys riding his bike in the Napa Valley, especially up Mt. Veeder and through the beautiful vineyards.
Benoît Marsan holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS). He is a professor at the University du Québec à Montreal (UQAM) and is internationally recognized in the field of solar energy whose innovations have been listed among the Top 10 discoveries of 2010 by Quebec Science magazine. Being a great wine passionate, he was educated in professional tasting by Bertrand Eichel, the best sommelier of Quebec 2009. Having refined his knowledge and expanded his expertise in wine chemistry, he founded scienceetvin.com in 2015. Speaker at national/international conferences, symposia and wine shows, he teaches wine chemistry to wine professionals and general population. From 2013 to 2016, he has been an important contributor to the course Analyse sensorielle et analyse organoleptique at Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ).
His numerous discussions with winemakers and œnologists worldwide, together with private sessions with some of the best sommeliers of the world, have strengthened his conviction to create a course at UQAM dedicated to wine chemistry. This very popular course, entitled Science et vin : de la vigne à la dégustation, has greatly contributed to the Teaching Excellence Award he received in 2017 from the Faculty of Science at UQAM. In 2017, he created an innovative two-part wine chemistry course (total of 48 hours) specifically for sommeliers: Chimie et sommellerie, Volet 1 : Pour mieux comprendre le vin, and Chimie et sommellerie, Volet 2 : Pour mieux déguster le vin. In November 2017, he contributed as a wine scientific expert to a workshop held at ITHQ on the perception of minerality attended by 50 top sommeliers. Since then, Professor Marsan has been invited worldwide to deliver wine chemistry seminars, including his first Wine Chemistry for Professionals seminar in Toronto in November 2018 and a series that has been launched in New York in 2019 (organized by Pascaline Lepeltier MS, MOF).
In June 2019, he was invited to deliver (with John Szabo MS) a lecture on the subject of minerality and saltiness at the opening session of the 2nd Annual International Volcanic Wine Conference. More recently, he has been part of a panel discussing the chemistry and sensory impacts of lees aging at i4c (International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration) in Niagara, Ontario.
Vice President of Wine Development, Breakthru Beverage Group. Oversees the Luxury team and Augustan Wine Imports in Florida. Chairman Emeritus, Court of Master Sommeliers–Americas. Krug Cup winner. Prior to Breakthru Beverage, Andy was a member of the sommelier team at the Breakers.
Certified Cicerone. Education Director, Court of Master Sommeliers–Americas. James Beard Nominee, Best Sommelier (Philadelphia). Diverse industry experience including bartending, importing, distribution and education. CIA graduate.
Sheri Sauter Morano is a Master of Wine and an independent wine consultant, educator, writer and judge. She also works for Strategic Insights, a full-service marketing research firm where she specializes in handling the firm’s food and beverage research. Since 2004 Sheri has worked with Sopexa on the Wines of France campaign educating American consumers about French wines. She is in the process of establishing the Triangle Wine School in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area which will offer the Wine and Spirits Education Trust certifications to local trade professionals. An experienced wine judge, Sheri has judged at competitions in the US, the UK and Argentina. Sheri resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband, son, and an assortment of cats and dogs. In her spare time she enjoys running, gardening, traveling and cooking.
Qualifications Director, Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Manages the teams responsible for WSET’s examinations and education materials. Oversaw the development of WSET’s Awards in Sake, and in 2014 was inaugurated as a Sake Samurai by the Sake and Shochu Makers Association in recognition of this work.
Nicholas Paris is the Director of Global Sourcing for the E. & J. Gallo Winery, and holds the title of Master of Wine from London’s Institute of Masters of Wine. Additionally, Nicholas has been recognized as an Advanced Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and Certified Wine Educator and Certified Specialist of Spirits by the Society of Wine Educators.
Nicholas began his career as a fine wine retailer at Zachys in Scarsdale, New York, later assuming the role of auction coordinator for Zachys and wine specialist at its partner, Christie’s. Charged with bringing fine wines to auction, Nicholas sampled many of the finest and rarest wines in the world, some of which dated to the 19th century. It was an experience which piqued his interest in gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities of wine and eventually led him to pursue in-depth wine studies.
“I had the opportunity to regularly taste extraordinary wines,” said Nicholas. “Seeing how much there was to know, I was inspired to dedicate myself to learning more.”
In 2005, Nicholas became a distributor sales representative with Premier and later a manager at Peerless, today part of Empire Merchants, in New York. Two years later, he joined E&J Gallo Winery as an on-premise field marketing manager in the northeast, focusing on fine dining, and was soon promoted to manager of fine wine retail and later public relations for the region. Nicholas also continued his studies, along the way sharing his growing knowledge with audiences including distributors, retailers, restaurant staff and winery colleagues. Ultimately, after achieving success in numerous fields—from retail to auction to sales and PR—Nicholas found his niche in education.
In 2014 Nicholas’ dedication to his ongoing studies paid off when he became America’s 34th Master of Wine. As an influential educator for E&J Gallo Winery, Nicholas shares his knowledge with students from a variety of backgrounds and organizations. “While my early experience in the wine industry revolved around a very exclusive and rare set of fine wines, at Gallo I have the opportunity to distill what I’ve learned about a broad spectrum of wine for students of every knowledge level,” he said. “I really enjoy being a part of others’ ongoing wine journeys.”
Beyond these pursuits, Nicholas judges at prestigious regional and international wine competitions and travels widely to continue learning about the world’s classic and emerging wine regions.
Co-founder of Domaine de la Côte, Rajat is a three-time James Beard Award winner and is regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on wine.
A trained chef, Rajat grew up in Calcutta, India, before journeying to the United States where he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. At the CIA, his interest in wine took hold. After graduation, choosing to pursue the cellar instead of the kitchen, Rajat ventured to San Francisco to join the staff of Rubicon, the renowned wine-focused restaurant of Master Sommelier Larry Stone. As a protégé of Stone, he honed the wine knowledge and tasting talent that would propel him to become one the world’s most celebrated sommeliers.
Ragat eventually left Rubicon to take over the wine program at San Francisco’s landmark Fifth Floor restaurant before moving to join chef Michael Mina as wine director of that chef’s eponymous restaurant. The Mina Group would eventually spawn over 20 restaurants across the country, with wine programs overseen by Rajat. During this period, winemaking began to evermore capture his imagination.
Fascinated not just with the taste of wine, but the question of why wines taste the way they do, Rajat frequently traveled to European wine regions and to California wine country where he became close to several of California’s top winemakers. This ultimately led to bottling his own wines. At first, these were blends selected from wines produced by others, but, in a short time, Raj became more deeply involved—calling picking times, overseeing fermentations, etc. As vineyards and winemaking became ever more an obsession, Raj made the transition from sommelier to producer.
During this period, he became closer to Santa Barbara County winemaker Sashi Moorman as they found a mutual interest in pushing the boundaries of California wine, every vintage seeing how much earlier they could harvest to achieve more balanced alcohols, racier acidity, and purer flavors. In 2011, Rajat and Sashi launched Sandhi, producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from select vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills. In 2013, they released wines from his new estate vineyard, Domaine de la Côte, located on the westernmost edge of the Sta. Rita Hills. Most recently, in early 2014, Rajat and Sashi took over the historic and acclaimed Seven Springs Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon. In 2018, they launched the Raj Parr Wine Club, a label of unique and esoteric wines and styles sold directly to members. And soon, with Le Bernadin’s sommelier Marie Ponsonnet, Raj will release a Merlot called Colete.
Beyond his wineries, Raj collaborated with writer Jordan Mackay on the James-Beard-Award winning book Secrets of the Sommeliers and a 2018 book, the André Simon-Award-winning The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste. Rajat lives in Santa Barbara, though he can still be found frequently traveling the world speaking, teaching, tasting, and obsessively learning.
Tegan, a Napa Valley native, got his start in the wine industry working in winery labs in Napa. He has worked in the cellars of Craggy Range in South Africa, and with Alain and Maxime Graillot in the Northern Rhône Valley of France. For the past eleven years, he has worked for Turley Wine Cellars, working his way up from harvest intern to Winemaker/Vineyard Manager.
Francis Percival is food editor and columnist for The World of Fine Wine. His work has been shortlisted at the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards for the last five years, winning Best International Wine Columnist in 2013 and Pio Cesare Food & Wine Writer of the Year in 2015. Apart from The World of Fine Wine, his work has appeared in Decanter and the Financial Times in the UK and Culture, Saveur, and Gourmet in the US. Besides writing, Francis also teaches wine and cheese classes for Neal’s Yard Dairy and cofounded and hosts the London Gastronomy Seminars, a long-running series of lectures and talks in London dedicated to making the technical side of food and drink fun and accessible. Together with his wife, Bronwen Percival, Francis is the author of Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese.
Bronwen Percival is the cheese buyer for Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. In addition to working with cheesemakers and the company’s maturation team to select and optimize the quality of the cheese they sell, she works to mobilize collaboration between cheesemakers and the scientific community. In 2012, she instigated a biennial conference on the Science of Artisan Cheese. In early 2014, she spent two months in the Dutton Lab at Harvard University studying the role of marine-associated Proteobacteria on cheese rinds. Along with Dr. Benjamin Wolfe, she co-founded the website MicrobialFoods.org, a scientific resource for producers, purveyors, and enthusiasts of artisan microbial foods. Along with her husband Francis, she is the co-author of the book Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese (UC Press, 2017).
Emily’s career in wine began just out of college when a burgeoning interest in wine landed her a job as a server at Gramercy Tavern in New York City. For the past 16 years, she has worked in various capacities in the wine business: first as a salesperson for wine importer Kysela Pere et Fils and later moving to Napa Valley to be in the heart of wine production. She spent two years with Chappellet Winery in Napa before coming on board with Jackson Family Wines. There, she has held various roles and currently represents the Spire Collection in the Southeast U.S. Her passion for learning about wine encouraged her to embark upon the Master Sommelier diploma– in 2009, she enrolled in the Court of Master Sommelier introductory course, going on to earn the Master Sommelier diploma in 2013. Emily was the 19th woman in the world to earn the title and is one of 256 Master Sommeliers worldwide.
Thomas Price has been in the hospitality industry for his entire adult life. His first restaurant job was as a dishwasher at a diner in Juneau, Alaska, at the age of 14. By 18, he was the day lead cook at an upscale burger house called Harry’s in Anchorage. He moved into the front of the house as a server and bartender upon turning 21. His passion for wine was instantaneous, and was fueled by stints at Zeppo’s, an Anchorage wine bar, and its parent restaurant, The Marx Brothers Cafe. Thomas and his wife Jessica operated their own restaurant, Luau Polynesian Lounge, in Seattle, between 1997 and 2004. Following that, Thomas took a positon at Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill and began to pursue Master Sommelier certification. He achieved Basic certification in September 2004; Certified Sommelier certification in 2006; Advanced Sommelier certification in 2007 (passing on the first try); and Master Sommelier certification in May 2012. During those years, he was promoted to Sommelier/Captain at Metropolitan Grill; moved to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, where he was Wine Director for its Seattle and Bellevue locations; and returned to the Metropolitan Grill in 2007, where he served as Head Sommelier. He is currently the National Director of Wine Education for Jackson Family Fine Wines.
Editor at Vinous, covering the wines of Spain, Australia, the Rhône Valley, Beaujolais, Oregon, Paso Robles, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Chile as well as pink wines from around the globe. Formerly Assistant Editor of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and, long ago, the National Sales Manager for Rosenthal Wine Merchant.
Philip Reedman has spent his working life in wine. He became involved with wine while working in a restaurant. Gripped by the seemingly endless dimensions of wine, he pursued a career in wine retail. WSET study followed, along with vintages at Hugel, Saltram and Taylor Fladgate. In 1996, Philip passed the Master of Wine examinations. He consults to wineries, vineyards and regional associations on new product development, blending and winemaking, business transition, market access, brand development and marketing.
He has served as a judge at regional, capital city and international wine shows and was Chief Judge at the Riverland Wine Show in 2018. He has been a speaker at industry conferences and lecturer by invitation to University of South Australia. Philip also works with The Australian Wine Research Institute’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course. He is a certified educator for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and Barossa Wine School. He is highly involved in wine education through the Institute of Masters of Wine where he is Chair of Theory Education. He mentors students and teaches at IMW seminars in Europe and Australia.
In October 2017 Philip co-authored, with a team of international researchers, the peer-reviewed publication: “Expectation or Sensorial Reality? An Empirical Investigation of the Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers.”
Laura’s career in wine started as a Sommelier in 2004. The early years were spent alongside the industry’s finest, including World Sommelier Champion Gérard Basset MS, MW.
In 2009 Laura won the prestigious “UK Sommelier of the Year” title and in 2010 achieved Master Sommelier status from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Laura’s time as a Sommelier saw her visit many of the world’s vineyards and head up wine teams for restaurants, including Gerard Basset’s Hotel TerraVina and Michelin-starred, award winning La Trompette.
Inspired by the passion of the English winemakers she met and excited by the quality of the wines she tasted, Laura continued her career at the pinnacle of the rapidly evolving English wine industry.
Laura joined Gusbourne in 2015, as Global Ambassador, where her role encompasses ambassadorial and development duties both in UK and internationally.
She also works closely with winemaker Charlie Holland and the winemaking and vineyard teams.
Based in London, Laura judges for Sommelier competitions as well as national and international wine competitions. She is an active member of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe and a regular host of tastings, wine dinners and seminars.
Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. A certified sommelier, WSET diploma holder, French wine scholar and instructor, and Sherry instructor, she is based on Vancouver Island, Canada, though is most often found on a plane or in a vineyard.
After completing her Art History degree with Distinction from the University of Victoria and being exposed to the world of wine business at Christie’s in London, England, she switched gears, leaving the realm of art for the world of wine. Her work is regularly seen in numerous publications including Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine, Sommelier Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, Quench Magazine, WineAlign and Alchemist, and she is an executive editor at Gismondi on Wine, Scout Magazine, and SIP Northwest Magazine.
She tastes thousands of wines each year, and is an established wine judge in Canada, the UK, South Africa and the US. Though her travels take her all over the wine world, Treve has spent the last few years concentrating and researching sparkling wine globally.
Justin Vineyards and Winery. Former Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers–Americas. Awarded “Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines and Spirits.” Has worked principally as a sommelier since 1979, with stints in wine retail, wholesale, and importing. Avid reader and award-winning writer.
Bree is an Australian-born Master of Wine with nearly two decades of international experience in the wine industry in Canada, the US and Australia. Her wine career began in Canada with sommelier and buying roles in Vancouver and Nova Scotia. In Australia, she has national sales and a brand management position with Australia’s family owned DeBortoli Wines and was director of sales and buying with The Spanish Acquisition, a premium Spanish and Portuguese wine importer.
A certified WSET educator since 2008 and Master of Wine since 2016, she lectures across all levels of the WSET certification and produces wine education programs for both trade organizations and consumers in Canada, the US and Australia. Extensive travels through the wine regions of the Mediterranean, Central and Eastern Europe, the US, South Africa, and Australia have informed her market presentations and writings for wine publications Alquimie, Hardie
Grant and Gourmet Traveller Wine, as have consulting vintage positions in Australia, Austria, Georgia, Portugal and Oregon. She is a regular wine judge at international competitions such as TEXSOM International Wine Awards, Decanter and regional shows across Australia.
She currently resides in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she is director of education at the Oregon Wine Board and owns a wine brand and consulting company, Constant Crush Advisors, with her winemaker husband.
After Krug-Cup-winning* Master Sommelier Larry Stone won the prestigious Grand Prix de Sopexa title in Paris for Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines, he continued as a restaurateur and sommelier for the next 25 years, associated with Four Seasons Hotels, Charlie Trotter’s, and Rubicon. At Rubicon, he joined forces with NY restaurateur Drew Nieporent, Robin Williams, Robert De Niro and Francis Ford Coppola.
Larry has served as Trustee of the James Beard Foundation, on the board of the Court of Master Sommeliers and also served on the board of the Kronos Quartet. He has won numerous awards and mentored a host of young sommeliers. With everyone he teaches, Larry tries to instill a sense of service and respect for all people.
A Seattle native, Larry has had a long love affair with the Eola-Amity Hills. There, he bought a highly coveted farm on an exceptional site in 2012. He planned and planted Lingua Franca, using clonal and massal selection of vines to ensure the finest quality material. In 2016 Lingua Franca winery was completed, with Dominique Lafon as the consulting winemaker and the brilliant young French winemaker, Thomas Savre.
Today his sole focus is on Lingua Franca Estate Wines, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
*The Krug Cup is awarded to those Master Sommeliers who pass their exam on the first attempt.
Guy is one of only 274 Master Sommeliers (MS) in the world. He is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), Certified Spirits Specialist (CSS), Certified Bordeaux Wine Educator, and previous board member & past President of the Society of Wine Educators. Guy has also served on the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers, and has been recognized as a Houston icon for his contribution to the wine and food industry of Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Houston Hilton School for Hotel Restaurant Management. He is the Texas Director of Wine Education for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits Company. Guy has been the featured “wine expert” on the PBS cooking series Cucina Amore with Damian Mandola and Johnny Carrabba, the founders of Carrabba’s Restaurants. He has also appeared on a number of radio and television talk shows covering wine and food. He was a featured speaker at the Smithsonian Institute Folk Life Festival in Washington D.C. lecturing on the Texas wine industry. He is a member of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and owned and farmed Stout Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country AVA, producing Syrah and Tempranillo grapes for the pasted 20 years. He is an active wine judge for a variety of national competitions; including the TexSomm International Wine Awards, California State Fair, Jefferson Cup, Missouri Grape Growers, Indiana State Wine Competition, and the Houston Rodeo Wine Competition. Guy is also a member of the Houston Food and Beverage Managers Association and founder of the Houston Caesar Salad Competition for Charity.He is an active spokesman for the adult beverage industry.
Chris is a New Englander, having grown up throughout upstate New York, Amherst, Boston and Cape Cod. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY graduating in 2000 and has worked in restaurants across the country including Denver, Phoenix, Santa Barbara and Seattle.
His interest in wine first began while at the CIA under the tutelage of Stephen Kolpan and Michael Weiss but didn’t become the focus of his career until later as he was only 18. Pursuing the idea of owning a restaurant, Chris took additional classes in 2006 from the International Sommelier Guild to round out his cooking skillset. A newly minted Master Sommelier was his instructor, and Chris was immediately inspired to pursue the Court of Master Sommelier path. After seven years of hard work and study, Chris passed the Master Sommelier exam on his second attempt in 2013.
He has since worked not only in restaurants but also as a portfolio manager for an importer and distributor in Seattle where he managed relationships with over 300 producers. He also consults on beverage programs for new restaurants, judges for the Decanter World Wine Awards and speaks at numerous wine events throughout the year.
Currently Chris’ station is with Guildsomm as their Chief Instructor traveling all over North America teaching in-depth masterclasses on the world of wine. He also contributes to podcasts, videos and Guildsomm.com.
Dr. Liz Thach, MW (pronounced “tosh”) is the Distinguished Professor of Wine and a Professor of Management at Sonoma State University where she teaches in both the undergraduate and Wine MBA programs. Liz’s passion is wine, and she has visited most of the major wine regions of the world and more than 50 countries. In addition, she is an award winning author who has published over 140 articles and 8 wine books, including Call of the Vine, Best Practices in Global Wine Tourism and Wine Marketing & Sales. A fifth generation Californian, Liz finished her Ph.D. at Texas A&M and now lives on Sonoma Mountain where she tends a small hobby vineyard and makes pinot noir wine. She also works as a wine judge in various competitions, and has served on many non-profit wine boards. Liz obtained the distinction of Master of Wine (MW) in May of 2011.
Dirceu Vianna Junior, known to most as “Junior,” is originally from Brazil, where he studied forest engineering and law, before moving to the U.K. in 1989 and becoming involved in the wine trade the following year. For the most of his career, he has been a director at some of the most important wine distributors in the U.K. In 2008, he became the first South American male to obtain the title of Master of Wine and received the Viña Errazuriz Award for Excellence for the Business of Wine paper. After three decades of experience in different sectors of the wine industry, he founded Vianna Wine Resources, a company that consults to wine businesses across Europe, Africa and South America. He is also a judge at selected wine competitions, a wine educator and writer. He is a regular speaker at wine events around the world, as well as making appearances on radio and television.
Kelli White is the senior staff writer at GuildSomm, an international membership organization for wine professionals. Previously, she was a sommelier at Veritas in New York City and PRESS in Napa and a writer for Vinous. Kelli is the author of “Napa Valley, Then & Now” and recipient of the 2018 Roederer Chairman’s Award.
As a teenager, Virginia saw the happiness and joy wine brought to her parents and their friends after a hard day’s work in their small vineyard. It was here she decided winemaking was going to be her career. “I loved the idea of growing fruit, and then turning it into something that could be more beautiful and would make people happy.”Virginia Willcock is now the Chief Winemaker behind some of Australia’s most critically acclaimed wines, at Margaret River’s founding wine estate, Vasse Felix. She joined as Chief Winemaker in October 2006.Virginia has an insatiable curiosity for the role microbiology plays in grapes and vineyards in making more environmentally expressive wines. This has driven the revolutionary development in winemaking style at Vasse Felix and served as inspiration for many other producers around Australia – in particular her work with wild-yeast fermentation in Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.Virginia is one of the most awarded female winemakers in Australia, having been named ‘Gourmet Traveller WINE Australian Winemaker of the Year’ in 2012 (she was also a finalist in 2010), ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by The West Australian Good Wine Guide 2013, and ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in the 2017 Australian Women in Wine Awards. Virginia was also nominated as ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in Wine Enthusiast Magazine USA’s 2014 Wine Star Awards, and ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in the ASVO (Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology) Award for excellence 2016. A respected authority on Margaret River winemaking, Virginia has represented the region as presenter and panellist of numerous international media, trade conventions and masterclasses, in addition to being a sought-after regional wine show judge. She also served on the board of the Margaret River Wine Industry Association for several years. Virginia has completed 27 vintages in Margaret River, and worked international vintages in Albania, Italy in Trentino, Sicily and Abruzzo as well as New Zealand. Virginia’s Winemaking Philosophy:“Make the wines you love to drink. As winemakers we scour the world to find those rare and precious wines we will most love. So at Vasse Felix, with our pristine environment and historic vineyards, we must strive to make just that. To perfect a distinctive style that is unique and special, that people all over the world will recognie.”
Laura Williamson is one of 27 female Master Sommeliers’ in the world. Originally born in a dry county in Arkansas, Laura passed the Master Sommelier exam, “the world’s toughest wine exam” as noted by Forbes Magazine, when barely a dozen women in the world had done so.
She directed Italian and German wine imports across the US for various companies prior to her role as Beverage Director and Chef Sommelier for Jean-Georges, a Michelin Three-Star, New York Times Four-Star Restaurant in NYC, and remains one of the few women globally to have held a position of this stature within the restaurant industry.
She currently advises, speaks, consults and teaches wine lovers to expand their joy and become their best personal guide by exploring exotic grapes from remote areas. Her online wine courses have assisted numerous consumers in unlocking their palate via the embrace of individual preference. Dually, she mentors executive women, training them to amplify their business negotiation power through meticulous wine list navigation and succinct dining etiquette.
Laura has shared her esteemed expertise through features on CBS, FOX, NBC, Forbes Magazine and Wine Spectator and is a best-selling author of Unlock Your Palate: How to Taste Wine, Impress Your Friends and Become a Wine Pro.
To contact Laura with questions regarding services, email: [email protected] or contact her cell: 970-376-0906.
Emily Wines brings an infectious vibrancy to the subject of wine. While she has earned the highest distinction from the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers, she is able to blend her vast knowledge of wine with an approachable personal style, translating the complex and often elitist world of wine into language that’s simple and straightforward.
Emily’s responsibilities include expanding and strengthening the Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club community, and advancing team members’ knowledge of wine. She serves as the liaison between the company and its individual restaurants, engaging with guests and the brand’s 350,000+ Wine Club members to create unique experiences centered around wine and spirits. She spearheads initiatives designed to enrich the guest journey through education, immersive events, collaborative partnerships and curated lifestyle adventures.
Emily is an internationally qualified sommelier, and one of only 149 individuals in the Americas to earn the designation of Master Sommelier. She is also one of just 15 professionals who have been awarded the prestigious Remi Krug Cup for passing all three sections – theory, service and blind tasting – of the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination on her first attempt.
Prior to joining Cooper’s Hawk, Emily worked for Skipstone Winery, where oversaw winery operations and traveled the country to educate restaurant staff. She has also served as Senior Director of Beverage and Bars at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, where she spearheaded the wine and spirits programming for 65 unique dining concepts across the U.S. Emily began her career at San Francisco’s acclaimed Fifth Floor, and was integral to the restaurant’s receipt of Wine Spectator Magazine’s prestigious Grand Award, as well as its nomination from the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Wine Service.
David has been involved in professional education and qualifications in the field of wines and spirits for most of his career. He first got interested in training whilst working for what is now Diageo in the UK through the 1980s. A qualified teacher and a Master of Wine, he has worked for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust in a variety of roles since 1990, including teaching and assessing at all levels, quality assurance and business development. He is now part of WSET’s Global Education team with particular responsibility for the delivery and assessment of its “train the trainer” program. Success in this Educator Training program is a critical element in any new application to offer WSET courses. Outside WSET, David is also a non-executive Director of the UK-based International Wine and Spirit Competition, and a regular judge in other wine competitions around the world. He is also a director and shareholder of a small nature reserve near his home in the countryside 50 miles north of London.
Debbie Zachareas is the proprietor and managing partner at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco’s restored Ferry Building and at the Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant in downtown Napa. She is a luminary for IfOnly and the consulting wine buyer for Boulibar in the Ferry Building. She is a well-known wine judge, lecturer, sommelier, and guest speaker throughout the country.
In Zachareas’ career, she has developed some of the most innovative wine programs that have helped to shape the city’s wine culture. She was the founder of one of San Francisco’s most extensive wine programs at bacar restaurant, the wine buyer for the Ashbury Market, EOS Restaurant and Wine Bar, the opening sommelier at Rubicon Restaurant, and the opening wine director at Vertigo in the TransAmerica Building. She won the inaugural Wine Director of the year award for San Francisco Magazine and was the only sommelier ever to have won the award twice. Zachareas has been nationally recognized in many publications, including Food and Wine Magazine, Market Watch, Wine Spectator and Saveur magazines, Bloomberg, Women in Wine Leadership, The California Wine Institute, and was named a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier. She remains a renowned competition judge and brings passion and expertise wine to her profession.
Outside of the industry, Zachareas is a trustee for the French American International School and International High School, as well as Family House, San Francisco. She is involved in numerous fundraisers, including Family House, French American International, Make-a-Wish, and the Food Bank, just to name a few.