MIAMI & DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (“Southern Glazer’s”) — the largest North American wine and spirits distribution company — today announced the establishment of the industry’s first national wine team dedicated to providing top quality wine education and certification for their employees across the country. The team, which includes one of only 23 female Master Sommeliers® in the world, is made up of eight of the industry’s most highly-trained experts who hold certifications including Master Sommelier® (MS), Master of Wine (MW), or Certified Wine Educator (CWE). They are being led by Eric Hemer, MS, MW, CWE and Senior Vice President and Corporate Director of Wine Education for Southern Glazer’s.
“Exceptional education is a point of differentiation at Southern Glazer’s and what makes us the best at what we do in the industry,” said Eric Hemer. “Our new wine education team will help ensure that we have the most knowledgeable sales organization in the marketplace, with the expertise necessary to provide insights into the trends that impact our customers’ businesses.”
In addition to overseeing wine education at Southern Glazer’s, Eric Hemer teaches at The Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University in Miami, and is involved in lecturing and examining nationally with the Court of Master Sommeliers® (CMS), the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW), the Society of Wine Educators (SWE), and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET.) He was the fourth person in the world to ever to be awarded both the MW and MS qualifications.
“Having the most knowledgeable staff has been a priority since we began our wine division more than four decades ago and is what enabled us to maintain our reputation as a leader in wine ever since,” said Mel Dick, Senior Vice President of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and President of the Company’s Wine Division. “I’m proud that the Company continues to invest in this area and am excited about where we are headed as we continue to build our world-class wine business.”
The following individuals are Southern Glazer’s state and regional Directors of Wine Education:
- Serafin Alvarado, MS – Serafin is a Master Sommelier® and responsible for the Company’s Illinois market. Prior to joining Southern in 2006, Serafin had more than 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including a role as head Sommelier at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. In addition, he received the Bill Rice Distinguished Sommelier of the Year Award in 2005 for his contribution to the culture of food and wine in Chicago.
- Brian Bauer, CWE – Brian is a Certified Wine Educator and is responsible for the Company’s Midwest region. He is one of only 30 recipients of the prestigious Banfi Award from the Society of Wine Educators for his outstanding score on the CWE exam. He has more than 25 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry and is currently pursuing higher certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers®.
- Matthew Citriglia, MS – Matthew is a Master Sommelier® and is responsible for the Company’s Florida market. Matthew has served on the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers®, Americas since 2004. He has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality and beverage industry.
- Eric Entrikin, MS – Eric is a Master Sommelier® and is responsible for the Company’s California market. He instructs at the introductory level, and examines at the Certified, Advanced, and Master levels, for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas®. He has more than 30 years of experience in the wine and hospitality industry, most recently as an adjunct instructor for the International Culinary center in Campbell, California.
- Kathy Morgan, MS – Kathy is a Master Sommelier® and is responsible for the Company’s New York market. She is one of only 23 women in the world who have earned the Master Sommelier® distinction. She has been the lead instructor for the Capital Wine School’s Italian Wine Professional course, as well as an adjunct instructor for Sommelier classes at New York’s International Culinary Center.
- Ira Norof, CWE – Ira is a Certified Wine Educator and is responsible for the Company’s Southern California market. He is a certified International Bordeaux Educator, certified Cognac Educator, and one of only six Certified Spirits Educators (CSE) in the world. He has four decades of experience in the wine and spirits industry.
- Joe Phillips, MS – Joe is a Master Sommelier® and is responsible for the Company’s Nevada market. Joe is an active examiner and educator for the Court of Master Sommeliers and a WSET Certified Level 3 Sake Professional. He was voted best Sommelier of Las Vegas in 2012 by Las Vegas Weekly magazine.
- Guy Stout, MS, CWE – Guy is a Master Sommelier® and Certified Wine Educator and is responsible for the Company’s Texas market. Guy is a former President of the Society of Wine Educators and former Board Member of the Court of Master Sommeliers®. He is a member of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and owner of Stout Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country AVA. He is also a Certified Spirits Specialist (CSS).
There are only 147 Master Sommeliers® in North America and 14 of them work for Southern Glazer’s. In addition to the above mentioned Master Sommeliers® in charge of wine education, Southern Glazer’s also employs the following Master Sommeliers® in management and specialist positions around the country:
- Frederick Dame, MS – Fred is a Master Sommelier® and VP, Director of Prestige Accounts for California’s American Wine & Spirits division within Southern Glazer’s. He founded the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers® in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the MS program throughout America since then. He is Chairman Emeritus for the board of directors of the CMS and Chairman of the Board for the Guild of Sommeliers. He is featured in the films Somm and Somm: Into the Bottle.
- Luis De Santos, MS – Luis is a Master Sommelier® and Director of High Image Accounts with Southern Glazer’s of Nevada. He is the first person of Filipino decent to earn the prestigious MS title. He is also the first MS to pass the Sake Professional Course – Level 2 in Japan as well as the WSET Level 3 Award in Sake. When off-duty, Luis can be found spending quality time with his family, championing his personal development skills, pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors or helping his favorite charitable foundation to end childhood hunger.
- Laura DePasquale, MS – Laura is a Master Sommelier® and VP, General Manager for the newly formed Artisanal Fine Wine & Spirit Division for Southern Glazer’s Florida. DePasquale was elected to the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers® in 2010 and served as the first female Vice-Chair for three years and a Board Member for 5 years. Prior to joining Southern Glazers, Laura had a long career in the wine and hospitality industry, including on premise, supplier and distributor experience. She is also an accomplished artist.
- Jay Fletcher, MS – Jay is a Master Sommelier® and the Executive Director of Fine Wine for Southern Glazer’s of Colorado. He specializes in the wine and hospitality industry, focusing on sales and service. He lives in Aspen, Colorado with his wife Lynn and enjoys the high altitude lifestyle. Jay is Chairman Emeritus for the board of directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas® and currently serves as a Master Level examiner for the organization.
- Ira Harmon, MS – Ira is a Master Sommelier® and the Trade Development Manager for Southern Glazer’s based in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he works closely with aspiring sommeliers in the market. He has been with the company since 2000. He became a Master Sommelier® in 1993, the 23rd person in the United States to do so at the time.
- Damon Ornowski, MS – Damon is a Master Sommelier® and a Key Account Specialist with Southern Glazer’s in Colorado. He became an MS in 1996 and has had many roles in the wine and hospitality industry, including on premise, supplier and wholesale. He lives and works in the Vail area where he enjoys skiing, cycling and spending time with his family.
- Roberto Viernes, MS – Roberto is a Master Sommelier® and General Manager for Hawaii’s American Wine & Spirits division within SGWS. While apprenticing under a French Chef in Honolulu, Roberto took the CMS Introductory Course in 1997 and has been hooked on wine ever since. He’s been active in teaching courses with the CMS since passing the Master Sommelier exam in 2005. He has judged for the National Sake Appraisal for three years and is a contributing writer for HI Luxury Magazine.
Steve Slater, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Wine Division added, “No other distributor can offer this kind of expertise, which is not only an incredible value-add for our customers, but also will enable us to continue our focus on enhancing the fine wine capabilities of the Company.”
Southern Glazer’s has more certified wine experts than any other North American wine and spirits distributor. Its employees have successfully completed more than 3,500 wine, sake and spirits education programs, from introductory to master-level achievements. These include:
- Over 1,100 Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) wine & spirits certifications;
- 19 WSET Level 3 Awards in Sake;
- 1,500 Level 1 Court of Master Sommeliers®;
- 117 CMS Certified Sommeliers;
- 20 CMS Advanced Sommeliers;
- 14 Master Sommeliers®;
- Over 600 Certified Specialists of Wine (CSW);
- 16 Certified Wine Educators (CWE); and
- 117 Certified Specialists of Spirits (CSS).
About Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is North America’s largest wine and spirits distributor, and the preeminent data insights company for alcoholic beverages. The Company has operations in 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Canada, and the Caribbean, and employs more than 20,000 team members. Southern Glazer’s urges all retail customers and adult consumers to market, sell, serve, and enjoy its products responsibly. For more information visit www.southernglazers.com. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @sgwinespirits and on Facebook at Facebook.com/SouthernGlazers.