Alex Bardsley earned two degrees in Asian Studies before his curiosity turned towards wine. Now he is the Sommelier at L'Auberge Chez François in Great Falls, Virginia. He holds diplomas from the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. While pursuing his studies, Alex worked at such restaurants as Maloney & Porcelli, the Oceanaire Seafood Room, New Heights, and Le Zinc, where he served as Wine Director. He has also taught Food and Beverage Operations and Dining Room Operations in the Culinary Arts program at the Art Institute of Washington.
Elli Benchimol was named Beverage Director for Chef Geoff’s Restaurants in March of 2010, capping more than 10 years of work within the food and beverage industry. Elli Benchimol had her first sommelier position in DC at Rasika in 2006. She is currently studying for her third level at the Court of Master Sommeliers and taking the Diploma courses for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust through the Wine Institute in New York. Elli Benchimol is a member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild.
Bartholomew Broadbent was named one of the "fifty most influential in the wine world" by Decanter magazine in 1997. In 2008, Wine&Spirits Magazine named him one of the ten "driving the most revolutionary changes in wine". Broadbent makes Port, Madeira and Vinho Verde in Portugal under the Broadbent name, as well as Malbec in Argentina and Gruner Veltliner in Austria. Broadbent currently imports wine under Broadbent Selections, Inc.
Matthew Carroll came into the wine industry by way of the classroom. As a teacher and counselor, Carroll honed skills that serve him well as a sommelier. He has lent his talents to such venues as The Inn at Little Washington, 2941 Restaurant and Rogue 24. Matthew works incredibly hard to demystify wine and teach his guests and staff with his contagious passion for drink. He is currently working toward his Master Sommelier certification.
Molly Christhilf Finnegan started her wine career at Jefferson Vineyards in Charlottesville, Virginia. For the past eight years Finnegan been a wine sales representative for Winebow, Inc, a distributor who represents over 3,000 international wines. Finnegan has passed the Introductory Level 1 of the Court of Master Sommeliers, earned her Wine & Spirits Education Trust Advanced certificate as well as her Certification for a Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educators.
Bill Curtis is one of the most experienced wine tasters in the industry, with a career that started in the late 60s. In 1981, Curtis started the Wine Club of Charlottesville which has met continuously for more than 30 years. He has judged at numerous wine competitions, and tastes nearly 100 wines each week for his wine program.
Julie Dalton got her start in wine while working at restaurants in college. Despite having a successful career in the biotech industry, wine eventually called back to Dalton and she returned as the full time sommelier at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. Aside from the Four Seasons, Dalton also consults for restaurants and collectors and is part of the Wit & Wisdom team. Dalton is an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educators.
George C. Davis graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1975, and immediately put that degree to work as the Manager of Fine Wine and Gourmet at Bacchus & Bread in Richmond VA. Davis has been the Senior Judge for the Virginia State Fair Wine Competition since 1999. George C. Davis is a Certified Wine Specialist from the Society of Wine Educators.
Kristi Delovitch is a top sales consultant for The Country Vintner in Washington, DC. Prior to her tenure at The Country Vintner Kristi was the top off-premise, fine wine consultant at Republic National for 5 years. In her current role, she consults closely with more than 30 fine wine retailers, hotels and restaurants and specializes in high-end wine from all over 15 countries. Kristi is a current WSET Diploma Candidate having passed the Wine Spirit Education Trust Intermediate and Advanced examinations. She is a WSET instructor for the Capital Wine School.
David Denton is the only American faculty member of the Wine Academy of Spain in Madrid and is a sommelier at Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, DC. He has passed the Advanced Sommelier exam, is a Certified Bordeaux Educator, and holds all three certifications from the Society of Wine Educators: Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Specialist of Spirits and Certified Wine Educator.
Maria E. Denton is an educator, restaurateur and consultant working in the Washington, DC area. She has been on the board of the Society of Wine Educators since 2008 and is a Certified Wine Educator with the SWE, a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Spanish Wine Educator with the Wine Academy of Spain
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. Franz worked as the regular wine columnist for The Washington Post from 1994 through 2005 before leaving to help found Wine Review Online. Franz tastes approximately 9,000 wines each year and regularly judges wine competitions around the world.
David Hale has been working in the restaurant/wine industry since he was 16. Most recently he spent 6.5 years working for acclaimed Chef Michel Richard in Washington, DC-first as sommelier at Chef Richard's 4-star flagship restaurant, Citronelle, and later as GM/Wine Director of Richard's award-winning Penn Quarter Bistro, Central Michel Richard. He currently represents wines from France, Spain, and Portugal as Brand Ambassador for Vinifrance Imports and Vin de Terra Imports.
Andrew Howells is a Partner and Beverage Director at EatWell DC. After graduating from Bowdoin College in 2000, Howells lived in France where he experienced a love for all things beverage-related. Andrew Howells is a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers, Certified Specialist of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators. He is currently pursuing a Diploma Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.
Julian Mayor graduated from Boston University and worked in foreign policy before shifting careers and enrolling at the French Culinary Institute in New York. Upon graduation, Mayor managed French restaurants, helped to open Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, Washington, DC and eventually was promoted to Head Sommelier of Bourbon Steak and Wine Director of the Four Seasons Hotel.
Kathy Morgan is an award winning sommelier and wine director. She has offered her expertise and experience to many of the world’s leading wine publications as a taster, commentator, contributor and panelist. Morgan's credits include The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, The Washington Times, Sommelier Journal, Food and Wine Magazine, Northern Virginia Magazine, and Flavor Magazine. Kathy Morgan is the 105th Master Sommelier in the United States.
Tim O'Hare is a graduate of the Baltimore International Culinary College, a former Salesman of the Year with Reliable Churchill Distributors and is currently the Lower Atlantic Regional Director for is a graduate of the Baltimore International Culinary College, a former Salesman of the Year with Reliable Churchill Distributors. Tim O'Hare is a Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Specialist of Spirits, Certified Wine Educator as well as second level Master Sommelier and a Bordeaux Facilitator.
Ray O'Mara is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, a Sales Consultant with Washburn Wine Company and a founding member of of the Texas Sommelier Society. He is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Certified Wine Educator, CWE, and a WSET Diploma Graduate. O'Mara is also an Accredited International Bordeaux Tutor, a Spanish Wine Educator, a Certified Burgundy Instructor, a Rhone Master, and a French Wine Scholar.
Deborah Parker Wong is a wine writer, industry expert and professional wine competition judge. She judges approximately a dozen competitions each year, including the Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition, the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the London-based International Wine and Spirits Competition. Deborah Parker Wong is also the Northern California editor for The Tasting Panel, where she maintains a monthly column. Deborah Parker Wong is an Associate of the Institute of Wine and Spirits.
Eric Rohleder’s passion for wine started when he was attending culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu. Rohlder worked in the Austin restaurant industry before transitioning into the wine industry, first in sales at Glazer's Distributors and then as a restaurant consultant. Rohleder is currently embarking on a retail experience, Cordial Fine and Spirits and holds advanced degrees from the International Guild of Sommeliers and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
Nick Stengel is the Executive Sous Chef of Willow Restaurant in Arlington, VA. He earned his BA at American University and an MPA from George Washington University. After leaving the political and research field, Nick Stengel became a cook in 2002. He is a member of the American Association of Wine Economists and the French Wine Society. Nick Stengle blogs at Mastering Wine.
Douglas Zerbst is the Director of Fine Wine for Republic National Distributing Co. of Virginia. He has many years of experience in restaurants, kitchens and hotels as a chef, food and beverage manager and sommelier.
Jeni Bonorino has been in the wine business for over 15 years with a focus on international wine sourcing and selection for companies such as Total Wine, Vino Volo and WineNation. Jeni earned her MBA from Bond University in Australia with a focus in International Wine Marketing from the University of Adelaide. She has written wine numerous articles for international publications as well as taught wine education classes in the United States and Brazil. Jeni is currently enrolled in the WSET Diploma program.
Antonio Busalacchi comes from a family that has been in the restaurant business for over 65 years. He is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a Master Sommelier Candidate preparing to sit for his Master’s exams in 2014. He is also a Certified Wine Educator, Certified Specialist of Wine, and Certified Specialist of Spirits with the Society of Wine Educators. In 2011, he was chosen as one of 10 Americans invited to the Deutsches Weininstitut Spring Sommelier Class in Germany.
Hayley R. Curry is the founder of the popular blog The Washington Wine List. She became interested in wine while attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania, where students regularly attended law firm receptions and events involving copious amounts of Champagne and Chardonnay. Hayley is a French Wine Scholar and presently finishing her Wine & Spirits Education Trust Diploma. By day, she is a lawyer in the Army Office of the General Counsel at the Pentagon.
Barbara Ensrud is a frequent speaker on the subject of wine, including its role in culture, history, myth and symbol. She conducts wine tastings and wine seminars for corporations, conferences and private gatherings. She also consults for restaurants in creating or upgrading wine lists, and with individuals interested in collecting wine or starting a wine cellar.
Shields Hood has spent over 40 years in the world of wine and spirits. He is a Certified Wine Specialist as well as a Certified Wine Educator. He has worked in almost every aspect of the industry, from retail stores to managing a distributor. He's also a highly respected educator and does seminars and trainings for large companies around the country. In addition to being a former President of the Society of Wine Educators, Shields is currently the General Manager of the SWE. His areas of expertise include California and Bordeaux.
Gus Kalaris is the founder and owner of Constantine Wines, Inc a twenty-six year old wine distribution and import company. Kalaris founded AXIOS, super premium Napa Valley wine brand in 1999. The success of Axios has spawned the WORTHY, TRUTH, and KALARIS FAMILY brands.. He, his wife and their two children reside in Maryland.
Brent Kroll, Wine Director of Adour at The St. Regis Washington D.C., brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise on wines and spirits. Recently, Kroll served as Wine Director of The Oval Room and Ardeo/Bardeo in Washington, D.C., a position held from 2008 until joining the Adour team in 2011. Kroll was nominated in 2010 for the Starchefs’ “Rising Star” award and has been featured in publications such as The Washington Post and DC Modern Luxury.
For 30 years, Don Kinnan has been active in the fine wine trade, both on a business and personal level. Kinnan joined Kobrand Corporation, in 1985 covering the DC, Virginia and West Virginia areas. In 1992, he was promoted to Director of Education and was responsible for Educational Services nationwide. For the next 20 years, he conducted over 60 seminars, annually, for distributor sales forces, trade groups, and consumers. He has been cited by the U. S. Government for his role as founder of the Society for American Wines in Canada. He founded and acted as President of the Decanter Club in Washington, DC, and frequently presents to groups such as the Society of Wine Educators, where he holds that organization’s highest credential, CWE (Certified Wine Educator). In 2012, Kinnan organized the curriculum and is currently the lead instructor in the French Wine Society’s Master Burgundy Certificate program.
Richard Leahy is a wine professional based in Charlottesville. He has been writing about wines of Virginia and the East since 1986. His book Beyond Jefferson’s Vines was published to high praise. In 2007, Leahy organized the Virginia Wine Experience in London. He was a regional editor for Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide, and was Mid-Atlantic and Southern Editor for the Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America. He is a member of the Society of Wine Educators, the American Wine Society and the Circle of Wine Writers, and a Board member of Drink Local Wine.
Christopher McCririe was born and raised in Virginia, and is a big advocate of local wines. He is currently studying for his Wine and Spirit Education Trust Diploma under Master of Wine Jay Youmans at the Capitol Wine School. Chris is also a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Currently, he works at Calvert Woodley Wine and Spirits, the premier wine shop in Washington, DC.
David Metz started his wine career in 2007 when he worked as a consultant for Frederick Wildman & Sons in New Jersey. After moving to Washington D.C., David earned the position of sommelier at Bourbon Steak in the Four Seasons Hotel located in Georgetown. A passion for instructing led to his position as a sommelier as he consistently teaches weekly wine classes for the hotel. David’s favorite wine subjects include Champagne, Italy, and Bordeaux.
Lindsey Parris ia a wine educator, business economist and retired AF colonel. As the CEO of a chemical company, Parris researched and worked with wineries on the problem of “corked” wines and general microbial contamination in wineries. Parris is finishing work on the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Diploma and has wine education certifications from the Society of Wine Educators, the French Wine Society, Burgundy, Provence, and Spain.
Winn Roberton always found himself enthralled by food, geography and foreign languages, so it’s no surprise that wine became his passion. Working in restaurants while attaining a music degree at Penn State, he found himself lost in maps of France, Italy and California and subsequently honed his service skills as a server and bartender in Las Vegas' mainstay restaurants such as Nobhill, Craftsteak, and Carnevino.
Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon, is an award-winning wine writer whose blog is one of the top 100 wine sites in the world and the author of the “The Wine Curmudgeon's Guide to Cheap Wine.” He is the co-founder and former president of Drink Local Wine, the first locavore wine movement. He has written seven books, including a travel series, and parts of four others. He lives in Dallas.
Marguerite Thomas is an award-winning photojournalist specializing in wine, food and travel. She is a columnist at Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine. For the past ten years she has been an annual contributor to Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book. Her work regularly appears in scores of publications, including Decanter, Santé, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits. She frequently serves as a judge in national and international wine competitions.
Neal Wavra is a certified member of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He is the recipient of the Commanderie de Bordeaux Wine Scholarship and the Kopf Foundation Wine Excellence Scholarship. Wavra and his wife currently operate the Ashby Inn & Restaurant.
British-born Steven Spurrier joined the wine trade in London in 1964. He moved to Paris in 1970 where he purchased a small wine shop and in early 1973 created L’Academie du Vin, the first independent wine school in France. For the next fifteen years he was deeply involved in the French wine business and in 1988, named “La Personnalite de l’Annee" (Oenology) for his contributions to French wines. That year he returned to the UK as an international wine consultant and wine writer, authoring several books on wine since.
Only the third recipient of the “Le Grand Prix de l’Academie Internationale du Vin since 1982 - he created and manages the Christie’s Wine Course and is Consultant Editor for Decanter Magazine and President of the Circle of Wine Writers. A renowned international palate, he has Chaired the Decanter World Wine Awards, the world’s largest wine competition, for 7 years.
Jim started in the wine business 20 years ago with a part time job at a Richmond, VA wine shop while in law school. After completing law school and while practicing law, Jim's passion for wine got him back into the wine business as a part-timer at his favorite wine store, Arrowine, in Arlington, VA. He was hooked, and joined Arrowine full time in 2002, leaving his legal practice. Jim now selects wines for Arrowine and writes Arrowine’s popular e-mail wine features (read by thousands of wine fans in Northern Virginia and around the world each week). His wine career has been spotlighted in Arlington Connection Newspaper and he’s been selected as a buyer/representative on two European Union sponsored tours to wine regions in Spain and Italy. Jim has earned WSET Advanced Wine and Spirits Certification (with Distinction).
Kristina first discovered her passion for wine while entertaining clients during a decade on Wall Street. Since leaving the world of finance behind, Kristina has pursued her interest in wine while working for the Momofuku restaurant group in New York City and currently managing the French portfolio for importer/distributor Michael Skurnik Wines. Kristina holds the Diploma of Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust in London and is a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. When not indulging her passions for eating and drinking, Kristina can be found in vineyards all over the world preparing for the Master of Wine examinations.
Katarzyna Tomecka has been in the Food and Beverage industry for over 15 years. She has loved wine since before that time; she enjoys the beauty and elegance that wine can offer. She is a WSET Dimploma candidate and hopes to finish the program this year.
Tracy Waldron has been in the wine industry for 13 years. She spent the first 10 years of her career in the Napa Valley, where she worked as a Sommelier for the Michelin-starred Martini House restaurant; was the very first Director of Sales and Marketing for Vineyard 29 winery, instrumental in developing the brand’s “California cult” status; and eventually started her own Napa Valley wine label, Analog Wine Co. A Virginia native, she made her way back to the East Coast, first as President of PellOneda, a fine wine import and distribution company based in New York City. She now resides in Washington, D.C., where she has founded Waldron Wine Selections, a cellar management and wine education consultancy.Tracy holds the WSET Level III Advanced Certificate (with Distinction), and is scheduled to complete the WSET Diploma in January of 2015.
Jessica Helfand is an Economist by training who has spent the last five years exploring her love of wine. Jess is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, and is presently working towards her Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust. She is the Senior Wine Consultant for the Arlington based Crystal City Wine Shop. Jess lives in Alexandria, VA with her two cats.
Brent Kroll is the wine director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which includes ten distinctive chefdriven restaurants, a bakery, a butcher shop and a retail wine shop. As wine director, Brent oversees the wine programs at each of the group’s concepts, leads staff training, and creates unique beverage programming & events.
David Kurka grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. His first job was working at a fish cannery gutting salmon. He moved to Virginia at 20, and has been in the Washington area ever since. David started his career in the restaurant industry as a waiter at a mid-tier Italian restaurant. He got his first real break when, in 2009, he was hired at Inox restaurant as a Bar Manager. It was there that David had his first experience working at a fine dining restaurant with a Sommelier, John Wabeck. After Inox closed he was hired by Chef Robert Weidmaier as a floor manager at Brasserie Beck. He did well and was promoted to Assistant General Manager/Sommelier working under Wine Director Jaime Lang. When a Sommelier position became available at another one of Chef Wiedmaier’s restaurant’s, Brabo, David was given the opportunity to run his own wine program. Along the way David earned certifications from The Society of Wine Educators, The International Sommelier Guild and the Court of Master Sommelier’s. In 2011 David took a position as the Bar Manager at award winning restaurant CityZen, under James Beard award winning chef Eric Ziebold, where he had the chance to work under two talented sommeliers, Andy Myers and Jarad Slipp. Their mentorship helped David pass the difficult Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier exam in 2012. He has since then been promoted to Sommelier at CityZen and is preparing for his first attempt at the Master Sommelier exam.
David is fully immersed in the culture of food and wine. When he is not at work he spends much of his time going to tasting groups as both a student and as a teacher. He also enjoys cooking, especially homemade pasta. David’s pumpkin gnocchi with a brown butter sage sauce is a fall time favorite. When he is not focusing on wine he can be found going on bike rides with his girlfriend, Abby and playing catch with his dog, Leo.