19 Professionals Across the U.S. Comprise Center for Wine Origins 'Wine Location Specialist' Inaugural Class

WASHINGTON – In November 2010, the Center for Wine Origins announced the Wine Location Specialist (WLS) Certificate Program inaugural class.  The WLS Certificate Program is a collaboration between the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) and the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP). Authored by Sandy Block, Master of Wine, the program is a comprehensive guide covering two leading wine regions – Champagne and Porto. As a Wine Location Specialist wine professionals are accredited by the CIVC and the IVDP and certified to lead wine education seminars, tastings and dinners specific to Champagne and Port.

“We are thrilled with the caliber of wine professionals in this inaugural class,” said Sonia Smith, director of the Center for Wine Origins. “They earned this prestigious certification to be officially recognized as specialists in Port and Champagne—unique  wines from unique regions”.

The inaugural class includes 19 wine professionals from across the U.S. and Canada from all facets of the wine industry who passed the October 2010 exam. These include:

  • Annette Hanami, Wine Muse, California – is a freelance wine educator and writer based in the Napa Valley.  She conducts consumer seminars and corporate events and trains restaurant, hotel, retail and distributor staff around the country on international wines.  Hanami writes about international food, wine and travel for various publications, as well as on her own site www.wine-muse.com. She holds the Diploma and the Advanced Certificate from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust as well as the Certified Wine Professional credential from the Culinary Institute of America.  Annette is accredited by the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux as an International Bordeaux Educator and by InterRhone as a Master-level Rhone Instructor.
  • Alicia Towns Franken, wine consultant, Massachusetts – was voted by Boston Magazine as the Best Sommelier. A former Wine Director for Grill 23 & Bar, she expanded the restaurant’s wine program from 200 to more than 1000 during her tenure which earned her a “Best of Award of Excellence” from the Wine Spectator. Alicia officially “retired” to stay home with her children, but continues to stay current by conducting wine seminars, private tastings and participating in numerous charity events in the United States and Europe.
  • Brandon Tebbe (with distinction), Summit at the Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado – is a  Sommelier at the Summit restaurant in The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.  He holds the Advance Sommelier title with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and with the Society of Wine Educators his CSW, CSS, and Certified Wine Educator degrees. Tebbe has passed both the Level 1 and 2 courses with the International Sommelier Guild, passed the WSET Advance level with distinction, and is currently pursuing the WSET Diploma, ISG Diploma, and will sit the Master Sommelier exam in 2011.
  • Carolyn Dougharty, Whole Foods Market, California  - received her Business of Wine Professional Certificate from San Diego State University in 2005. She successfully completed the educate-the-educator course known as the Napa Valley Wine Educators Academy in 2010. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) through the Society of Wine Educators and member of the Wine Century Club. She has served as the Wine and Spirits Buyer for the Whole Foods Market in La Jolla California  since 2007.
  • David Speer, Red Slate Wine Co., Oregon is the owner of Red Slate Wine Company, based in Portland.  He is a personal sommelier helping his clients create and maintain their wine cellars. David has been in the wine and hospitality industries for seven years working in restaurants, wine bars, retail shops, and wineries. He served as the first Adjunct Professor of Wine for the Oregon Culinary Institute, and was instrumental in establishing the wine curriculum.  David is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the International Sommelier Guild.  He graduated from Western Culinary Institute with a degree in Culinary Arts.  David is currently studying to become a Master Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
  • Gabriel Key, FoodFortheRestofUs.com, Virginia -  is a European trained Chef with a Master of Arts in International Trade Policy. Gabriel formalized his knowledge and interest in food and wine by spending two years studying the culinary arts and wine in Europe, earning a prestigious Le Grand Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and a Masters in Italian Cooking and Oenology from the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners. After returning to the West Coast of the US and spending several years working in the San Francisco Bay Area food and wine scene, Gabriel successfully pursued a Masters of Arts in International Trade Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Currently, through his website, www.FoodFortheRestofUs.com, and his work with the World Bank, Gabriel is working to better connect consumers with the people, places, and origins of food and wine.
  • Joan Fedus, Wine Educator, New Jersey – has worked for major retailers in the Northern New Jersey area for the past 10 years. Prior to involvement with in the wine arena, she had careers in publishing and fashion. Her formal education includes an MBA from Zicklin School of Business-Baruch College-CUNY, BA from Rhode Island School of Design, and various certifications from Society of Wine Educators, French Wine Society, Spanish Wine Institute and Bordeaux Wine School.
  • James King, The Texas Wine School, Texas – is the president and founder of the Texas Wine School, which is Houston’s  first to offer Wine Education Classes for the consumers and the wine trade. He is an International Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa Wine Educator and offers classes on these subjects in Houston and Los Angeles. He lectured on Burgundy at the French Wine Society Conference and in Calgary, San Francisco and Los Angeles for the annual North American West Coast Burgundy Wine Board.
  • Kerri Robinson, Indie Cellars, Oregon –  is the owner of Indie Cellars in Portland, Oregon.  Kerri comes from a long line of restaurateurs and is passionate about wine and service.  Educated at the International Sommelier Guild and a member of several tasting groups and panels, Kerri offers high end home tastings and personal wine buying services to her clients.
  • Lance Mayhew, Oregon Culinary Institute, Oregon – received his Diploma in Culinary Arts from the Western Culinary Institute in Portland. Mayhew brings more than 15 years experience to the Oregon Culinary Institute. In addition to being a bartender/bar manager in high-volume restaurants such as Sacramento’s Ricci’s Restaurant and Portland’s Meriwether’s, 50 Plates, and Beaker & Flask, Lance has also managed the front of the house – responsible for hiring, training, and scheduling. His original cocktails have been featured in publications including MIX Magazine, Imbibe Magazine, The Bartenders Gin Compendium, and Left Coast Libations.  In 2008, the Beverage Network named him one of America’s “Ten Trendsetting Mixologists”.
  • Michael Cheatham, Coup du Vigne Wine Club, California – is the director of the Coup du Vigne, a local private wine tasting club. He is an independent wine consultant,  Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) through the Society of Wine Educators, Level 1 Sommelier through The Court of Master Sommeliers and a member of the Guild of Sommeliers. Cheatham has taken and passed the Wine Making for Distance Learners course through UC Davis and is a graduate of San Diego State University’s Business of Wine certificate program. In August of 2009 Michael was awarded Certified Spanish Wine Educator (CSWE) credentials from the Wine Academy of Spain. He is currently working towards the Certified Sommelier (CS), the Certified Wine Educators (CWE) and the French Wine Scholar (FWS) credential exams.
  • Michael Maletta, Wine With Mike, Florida – is a graduate of the Johnson & Wales University Wine School and is certified by the United States Sommelier Association. Michael has spent many years studying all aspects of wine – growing and producing, the varietals and blends, the many regions that produce wines throughout the world, and how to best enjoy, buy and store wine.  He has experienced all aspects of the wine industry, from distribution and importing, to selling wine to fine restaurants and wine shops, in addition to his role as wine educator.
  • Megan Yelenosky, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, California – attended the prestigious culinary program at Camosun College in Victoria, B.C. She began her career as a manager at Harry Denton’s, a Kimpton property in San Francisco, Ajax Tavern of in Aspen, and Roppongi in La Jolla as the General Manager.   In March 2009, Megan came to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel to serve as the property’s Wine Director and as Lounge and Pool Manager for the hotel’s signature bars Odysea and Bay Breeze. A Certified Wine Educator by the Society of Wine educators, she has also possess the title of Advanced Sommelier by Court of Master Sommeliers.
  • Rick Schofield (with distinction), Schofield Wine, New York – has been a wine buyer for 14 years. Originally from Montréal, he started working in restaurants at age 16 in the Albany, NY area.  In 1995, while Head Sommelier at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, NY, he was wooed by the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park for the position of Beverage Manager. From 1999 to 2008, Schofield was the Assistant Wine Director and buyer for Viscount Wine and Liquor in Wappingers Falls, NY, one of America’s largest stand-alone retail stores.  Schofield is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers; a Certified Wine Educator with the Society of Wine Educators; an International Bordeaux Educator with the  Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux; a Spanish Wine Educator through the Spanish Wine Academy; and holds the WSET Advanced Certificate (Distinction).
  • Sandra Crittenden-Merovitch, Wine Consultant, Texashas spent more than 12 years as a purveyor of a gourmet dinner club. She has studied with the International Sommelier Guild at the University of Houston’s Hilton School for Hotel & Restaurant Management. She is editor of a wine blog www.wine-thoughts.com and writes frequent wine columns for Texas publications.
  • Suzanne McGrath (with distinction), The Curious Grape, Virginia
  • Tom Firth, Wine Access Magazine, Calgary – started in the wine business in 1996 when he worked for Willow Park Wines and Spirits, one of the largest private wine retailers in Canada in their fine wine department, and later with Calgary’s Kensington Wine Market as one of their on-staff experts and buyers which also included being the host and presenter for a number of consumer tastings primarily focusing on fortified wines and champagne. His formal wine training includes certifications with the Wines & Spirits Education Trust and the International Sommelier Guild as well as accreditations from several wine producing regions around the globe.  He is also a frequent contributor to Calgary’s City Palate Magazine, The Wine Access Canadian Wine Annual, Wine Access Magazine and is a member of the Wine Access National Tasting Panel covering Alberta.

  • Yoko Sawyer (with distinction), Winestone, Massachusetts – was born in Tokyo, and was introduced to the world of wine through a tasting class led by Philippe Faure-Brac, Meilleur Sommelier du Monde. She worked for a number of years as a concierge in some of Boston’s most exclusive hotels. She has studied at Boston University’s Wine Program and is currently studying for her WSET Diploma.

  • Yashar Shayan, Seastar Restaurant, Washington  - has worked in virtually all aspects of the wine industry from production, education and sales. He has received certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers,  Wine Academy of Spain,  Court of Master Sommeliers, International Sommelier Guild and Wine and Spirits Education Trust . He has built wine programs for restaurants across the U.S. focusing on local, boutique, organic, sustainable and biodynamic wines. In addition he served as the sommelier at Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar, winner of a Wine Spectator Magazine “Best of Award of Excellence” wine list.