Tuesday, April 17, 2012




Jade Floyd,

Kate Connors,


34 Wine Professionals Become Certified WLS Specialists, 11 with Distinction

(Washington, D.C.) – The Center for Wine Origins today announced the successful completion of the fifth class of Wine Location Specialists (WLS).

To date, the Wine Location Specialist program, accredited by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) and the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP), has certified 126 wine professional as experts in the Champagne and Port regions and educated them in the important role that location plays in the creation of all wines.

Having passed a comprehensive exam authored by Sandy Block, Master of Wine, these Wine Location Specialists are certified to lead wine education seminars, tastings and dinners specific to Champagne and Port regions.

This fifth class includes 34 wine professionals from across the U.S, South Africa and British Columbia from all facets of the wine industry. “The Wine Location Specialist certification is a long standing program cultivated by the Champagne and Port wine regions, both of whom are committed to educating consumers about wine origins.

These specialists are on the front lines as more and more consumers demand authenticity in the products they purchase and enjoy,” said Sam Heitner, director of the Center for Wine Origins. “Our program has grown tremendously over the past two years and we are thrilled with the caliber of experts who are committed to location.

Their expert knowledge is critical in educating U.S. consumers who seek further knowledge about the origins of the wines they consume.”

Certified Wine Location Specialists include:

Adam Aleksy, Student, Oregon Culinary Institute *With Distinction (Oregon) •

John Alonge, Owner, San Diego Wine & Culinary Center *With Distinction (California)

Popularly known as the Wine Heretic, John Alongé is a well-respected “educational entertainer” on food and wine topics with well over 1,000 corporate presentations on his résumé.

He has written a variety of articles for international wine publications, and is the founder of the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center.

Alongé began his career working in the vineyards of the Loire Valley in France. He has studied at both the Ecole d’Oenologie in Bordeaux as well as UC Davis Extension in viticulture and viniculture. He has owned and operated a number of successful restaurants and served as Director of Food and Beverage for a major San Francisco-based hotel and restaurant group. His affiliation with numerous San Diego County wineries has allowed him to participate actively in the renaissance of fine wines in Southern California.

Alongé also sits on the Advisory Boards of both the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival and the Business of Wine Program at San Diego State University. Additionally, he teaches wine business classes at San Diego State University Extended Studies.

Thomas Anderer, Manage/Sommelier, Park East Wines & Spirits*With Distinction (New York)

Thomas discovered his passion for wine while working as a stock-boy at Seaholms in his native Long Island, NY. He says he has been hooked ever since.

Since 2008 he has managed Park East Wines & Spirits in Manhattan, he became a Certified Sommelier from the Sommelier Society of America in 2010.He is currently enrolled in the International Wine Center's Advanced Certificate course and plans on opening his own wine shop within the next few years.

Lori Butler, Liquor Manager, Cricket Consulting (Missouri)

Lori is currently a Partner and Wine Steward for Stefano’s, a small Italian bistro in the heart of downtown St. Louis. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, and is focused on wine buying, education and tastings at the restaurant.

Lori is also an independent consultant through her company Cricket Consulting. Her background is marketing, and she has worked for large corporations such as Coca-Cola North America in brand management. •

Miguel Chan, Group Sommelier, Southern Sun Hotels*With Distinction (South Africa)

Miguel is trained in food & beverage operations, is a certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and has worked at various leading hotels in Mauritius since 1997 before relocating to South Africa in 2003. He is the group Sommelier since 2009, for Southern Sun, one of the leading hotels group in Africa, and also represented South Africa at the International Young Sommeliers final in Frankfurt, Germany in 2007.

Miguel is also active in the South African wine industry as a taster / judge, and has achieved Certificate of Tasting Competence with distinction from WINE Magazine (SA) Michael Fridjhon and University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business Tasting Academy 2008.

He is the vice Echanson of the Johannesburg Baillage of the Chaines des Rotisseurs.

Justin Conlin, Wine Director, Eddie V's Prime Seafood*With Distinction (Texas)

Justin holds certifications from the Center for Wine Origins and the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has worked in a number of top restaurants in Austin, including Tyson Cole’s Uchiko. At Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, as Wine Director, he managed an award-winning list and directed tastings to educate the service staff. He now aims to advocate for sustainable wine as a consultant and educator in the Austin market •

Rachel Ego, Director of Food and Beverage, Roaring Fork Country Club (Colorado)

Rachel has worked in food and beverage operations and general management of the hospitality industry since 1990.

A graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ prestigious hospitality program, Rachel’s experience includes work throughout the United States and internationally. She is currently the Director of Food and Beverage for a private country club, located near Aspen, Colorado. She passed the Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine in early 2010 and the Court of Master Sommelier’s Certified Exam in November of 2010. Currently she is participating in the French Wine Society’s Rhone Master-Level Program. Rachel is active in the Club Managers Association of America and a Certified Club Manager, Certified Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine. •

Debbie Gioquindo, CSW, Hudson Valley Wine Goddess (New York)

Debbie is a marketing professional by day, and through following her passion for wine she began a wine blog "Hudson Valley Wine Goddess" with the intent to educate people about wine. This soon led to focus part of her blog on educating people about the Hudson Valley Wine Region, her home. In 2010 she sat for the Certified Specialist of Wine exam administered by the Society of Wine Educators. Today

Debbie consults with wineries and small business on marketing and public relations, and conducts wine education and tasting seminars. Debbie is also the chairperson of the Hudson Valley Wine & Spirits Competition. •

David Gochros, Director, Wine Young’s Market Co./Estates Group*With Distinction (Hawaii)

David is the Director of Fine Wine and Strategic Retail for Young’s Market/The Estates Group in Hawaii. He is a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), Certified Specialst of Spirits (CSS), Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Certified Spanish Wine Educator, and Chevalier with Les Ordre de Coteaux de Champagne. Before joining Young’s Market Co.

David was Educator and Area Manager for Remy-Cointreau, Wine Lecturer for University of Hawaii, Sommelier for the Princeville Resort and the Kahala Hilton, and Echanson Provincial for the Chaine des Rotisseurs. •

Pamela Heiligenthal, Wine Educator/Writer, Enobytes (Oregon)

Pamela is a wine writer, educator and co-founder and contributor. She has a scientific and engineering background with a decade of experience working as a restaurant manager, wine buyer and sommelier with certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). •

Charles Hesson, Director of Wine Education and Hospitality, Dobbes Family Estate Winery & Wine By Joe (Oregon)

Charles is a native Texan who has spent more than twenty years in the wine industry. After successfully passing tests with The Court of Master Sommeliers, The Society of Wine Educators and the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Charles gravitated to Willamette Valley and joined the Dobbes Family Estate. Charles spends most of his time managing Dobbes Tasting Room and spreading the word that Willamette Valley is “one of the most exciting wine regions on the planet.” •

Holly Howell, Wine Columnist, UNCORKED (New York)

Holly grew up in a food-loving family in Pittsford, New York. After several years of study in Hotel and Restaurant Management, she operated a Cooking School in East Rochester, New York, where she coordinated and ran culinary programs with chefs from all over the world. She returned to school at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Food Marketing. Since then, she has taught wine and food pairing classes for Wegmans Food Markets, several Finger Lakes Wineries, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, the New York Wine & Culinary Center, and her parents own cooking school “The Seasonal Kitchen”.

Holly is a member of the American Wine Society, Women for Winesense, and the American Institute of Wine and Food. She writes bi-weekly wine columns for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper, and monthly articles for Mountain Home Magazine in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Holly is a CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) through the Society of Wine Educators; a CS (Certified Sommelier) through the Master Court of Sommeliers in England; and is currently pursuing her diploma through the WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust). •

Courtney Hughes, Executive Project Director, Domaine Select Wine Estates *With Distinction (New York)

Jack Jelenko, President, Partners Wine Marketing Group, LLC (Louisiana)

Jack launched Partners Wine Group, LLC, which included properties from France, California, Australia, and South Africa. Today, Partners Wine Group, LLC focuses on top family properties from lesser-known wine regions. Within the industry, Jack is a member of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Confrérie de La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, and the L'Ordre de Côteaux de Champagne. Additionally, he was the founder and President of the Crescent City Restaurant Rebirth Project, a non-profit foundation created to help rebuild the New Orleans restaurant community immediately after •

Roberto Pocas Leitao, Mixologist, L'Auberge Del Mar and Vagabond (California)

Kelly Magyarics, Wine and Spirits Writer/Wine Educator, Kelly Magyarics Wine Consulting (Virginia)

Kelly is a wine and spirits writer and wine educator who has been conducting customized educational and interactive wine tastings in the Metropolitan D.C. area for ten years. Kelly is a well-published wine and spirits writer and is the Wine & Spirits columnist for Washington Life magazine, and the co-wine columnist for Northern Virginia Magazine. Her website offers wine, beer and spirits tips, reviews, news, suggestions and food pairing advice. She holds the prestigious Diploma of Wine Studies with Merit, from WSET. She completed The Windows on the World Wine School in New York City, as well as a series of Master Classes offered by the Sommelier Society of America.

Kelly is also Pernod Ricard BarSmarts certified.

Sharon McLean, Wine Instructor, International Culinary School *With Distinction (British Columbia)

Sharon McLean is currently a second year Masters of Wine candidate. She is a certified sommelier (through International Sommelier Guild), libations writer for Boulevard magazine and the instructor of Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses on Vancouver Island for the International Culinary School at the Art Institute. In 2009, she completed the WSET Diploma with the highest marks in Canada. Since then she has gone on to become a Certified Sherry Educator and completed the French Wine Scholar Diploma •

Phil Morich, CSW, Gran cru Solutions (Colorado) •

Michael Rosenberg, Senior Retail and Wine Education Associate, The Curious Grape (Virginia) •

Treve Ring, DRINK Editor, EAT Magazine *With Distinction (British Columbia)

Treve is a certified sommelier, wine consultant, Sherry Educator , judge, writer and editor. After completing her Art History degree 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.

Treve is the DRINK Editor of EAT Magazine, and the Director of Liquid Assets for Edible Canada. She is also British Columbia Regional Editor for SIP Northwest Magazine and a contributing wine writer for Flavours Magazine and YAM Magazine. When not writing and travelling, she is a WSET instructor for the International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Vancouver. She is the recipient of a SWE Rick Carl Memorial Scholarship, as well as a Les Dames d'Escoffier scholarship for her wine writing and studies.

Paul Russo, Fine Wine Consultant, Masciarelli Wine Company (Massachusetts) •

Michael Schaefer, President, Herding Grapes (Pennsylvania)

Michael is the Senior Wine Educator for Approach Guides Wine, contributing content to their online, e-book, and application products. He holds both the Certified Specialist of Wine and the Certified Wine Educator designations from the Society of Wine Educators, and has sat on the Board of Directors for the Society, as well as being the Chairperson of the By-Laws Committee, and Co-Chairperson of the Membership Committee. He also holds the Higher Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, of London; and has been an instructor for the WSET at both the Certificate and Higher Certificate levels. He is currently studying for his WSET Diploma level exams. A Certified Sherry Educator, he has lectured extensively, in the United States, as well as internationally on a wide variety of wine related subjects. Michael is also a member of FIJEV, the International Federation of Wine and Spirits Journalists and Writers, and is the National Delegate for the USA. •

Richard Schlesinger, Director of Marketing, Winesellers, Ltd. *With Distinction (Illinois)

Robert is the Director of Marketing for Winesellers Ltd. and is also the President of Wineknow Productions, a food and beverage education and entertainment company focusing on creative events featuring integrated team building exercises, blind/comparative tastings and other food and wine-related activities. He is a certified Spanish wine educator, French Wine educator and beer judge. He has passed the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 2 and 3 exams with distinction. Robert is also a Contributing Writer and Beer Section Editor for Pour magazine. •

Richard Shore, Volunteer Coordinator, Washington Wine Academy *With Distinction (Virginia) •

Lucinda Smith, Owner, The Vineyard Table (Virginia)

Lucinda is currently the owner of The Vineyard Table, a fine wine shop located in Herndon, Virginia, and has been a wine retailer for the last decade. She also works at The Ashby Inn & Restaurant in Paris, Virginia. Previously, she worked in several Washington, D.C. area restaurants, and in addition she worked as a Fine Wine Specialist for a Virginia wholesaler. Lucinda holds the Certified Specialist of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits certificates from the Society of Wine Educators, the Intermediate Certification with Distinction from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is currently enrolled in the Advanced Certificate program with WSET. She is also a certificate holder from the Sommelier Society of Washington, D.C. and completed the Australian Sommelier Immersion Program. Lucinda is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers and the Society of Wine Educators and was a judge for several years for the Virginia Governor's Cup Competition. •

Carla Snow, Chief Educator, A Grape Affair, LLC (New Hampshire)

Carla is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators and received Advance Certification with merit from Wine & Spirit Education Trust where she is currently enrolled in the Diploma program. She has taken the Bordeaux Educators Certification and continues to be an involved member in the Society of Wine Educators as New Hampshire's first female Certified Specialist of Wine. Carla also studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Australia where she earned both culinary and Sommeliers Certifications. Carla is the Author of Wine & Dine with New Hampshire. •

Brittany Speer, Student, Duke University (North Carolina)

Brittany is a third year doctoral (PhD) candidate in Pharmacology at Duke University. Her professional education has always been centered on the chemical and biological sciences, but she has a passion for wine. She took on a seasonal job as a cashier at ShopRite Wines & Spirits in Westfield, NJ and quickly realized wine fascinated her, both on a business and cultural level. She considers herself a biomedical scientist and a budding wine expert. •

John Sporing, Jr., Owner, A Life Well Drunk LLC (Virginia)

John is the owner of A Life Well Drunk, LLC - a wine consultancy. The company provides educational tastings to private and corporate clients and works with small restaurants to develop wine lists as their menus change. He regularly hosts wine tours around the world. Recently, these tours have included South Africa, Portugal, as well as domestic destinations (California and Oregon). John is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), WSET Advanced certified, and continues to work on his diploma in wine and spirits (DWS). •

Mari Stull, Wine Educator, The Vino Vixen (California)

A wine journalist and columnist whose musings appear in over 25 newspapers, magazines, and online outlets monthly, Mari de-mystifies wine one sip and wine-oh at a time with her down to earth and humorous approach to vino. After a successful career in international trade representing the US and international food and beverage industry before the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and US & foreign governments; Stull began her professional wine career as Vice President of Supermarketing Promotions, founders of the Virtual Wine Selector. A member of the Society of Wine Educators, International Wine, Food, and Travel Writers Association, and Wine Educator with the French Wine Society, she is a consulting wine expert to the Land Rover’s America’s Polo Cup and recognized international wine judge. •

Alice Swift, Wine Educator, University of Nevada, Las Vegas *With Distinction (Nevada)

Alice is the Instructional Designer for the Office of Online Education of the UNLV Division of Educational Outreach. She comes to UNLV from Southern California. Alice has a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from California Polytechnic State University and will receive her master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology from California State University, Fullerton in Spring 2012. •

Dusan Vranic, Sommelier (Pennsylvania)

Dusan is originally from Serbia and is currently living in Philadelphia. Over the last five years he has built foundation of his carrier in the world of wine as a sommelier at "Moshulu" in Philadelphia. He is responsible for maintaining an award winning wine list, as well as providing wine classes and tastings for guests and staff of the restaurant. •

John Vuong, Sommelier, Ame Restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel *With Distinction (California)

John is the new wine director at Ame restaurant. In this position he manages Ame’s wine list of hand-crafted vintages from an international roster of small producers, as well as managing the restaurant’s sake program, and staff training and education. Most recently, Vuong held the position of sommelier at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco, where he expertly navigated a wine selection of more than 1,800 labels and wine pairings. Vuong served as wine specialist at Vinfolio and is a certified sommelier by the court of master sommeliers, a certified specialist of wine by the society of wine educators and is certified by the sommelier association of America. Additionally, Vuong is a regular panelist for Wine & Spirits Magazine and occasionally tastes for The San Francisco Chronicle. •

Charles Waldmann, Senior Buyer, Total Wine and More (Washington D.C.) •

Jay Youmans, Director of Education, The Capital Wine School (Maryland)

Jay has been tasting wine professionally for nearly 30 years. He is the Educational Director and owner of the Capital Wine School, and the owner of Rock Creek Wine Merchants, a sales and marketing consultancy. Jay has served as a wine judge for numerous wine competitions, and has contributed to several books and magazines on wine. Over the years, he has conducted hundreds of public, private, and corporate wine tasting events. Jay is an Advanced Level Sommelier, a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), and Washington, DC's only Master of Wine (MW).