The 2024 Naples Winter Wine Festival is pleased to feature 18 talented sommeliers.
The sommeliers shared their wine passion and expertise at Vintner Dinners and on Auction Day.
To read about the 2024 Sommeliers, click their names.
The sommeliers shared their wine passion and expertise at Vintner Dinners and on Auction Day.
To read about the 2024 Sommeliers, click their names.
High Road Wine & Spirits
Fernando Beteta’s education in food and wine began at his parents’ top-rated restaurant in La Antigua, Guatemala. He attended the prestigious École hôtelière de Lausanne and worked in hotels in Rome, Florence and Sardinia in Italy and Koh Samui, Thailand. He has overseen award-winning wine programs at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago and NoMI at the Park Hyatt Chicago where he supervised a wine cellar that contained over 10,000 bottles of wine. In 2009 Fernando became the 99th Master Sommelier in North America and the first Guatemalan in the world to earn the honor. He placed second for “The Best Sommelier in America” in 2009 and has been named one of “America’s Best New Sommeliers” by Wine & Spirits magazine, in addition to appearing on the Wine Enthusiast list of “40 Under 40.”
Estate Wine Brokers
After growing up in a small town in the Córdoba province of Argentina, Pablo Braida felt the urge to see the world. His travels initially took him to London, where he worked in a top hotel and was introduced to the world of fine wine. While in Barcelona he met his wife Lila, who was on vacation in Spain, and followed her to Napa where he began studying with the Court of Master Sommeliers. In 2022, he passed the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination, becoming the first Argentinian and second South American to achieve the title. He currently lives in Texas, where he has worked with Estate Wine Brokers and as a consulting sommelier for Monarch Restaurant in Dallas.
Jim is national wine director for the Hogsalt restaurant group in Chicago and a board member and treasurer of the Second City Sommeliers tasting group. He became a Master Sommelier in 2017. In the course of his career, Jim has worked the restaurant floor, risen to top management at the 3rd largest wholesaler in Illinois and managed a seven-state territory as an importer. He was the 2016 National Top|Somm second place finisher and 2017 Guildsomm online competition winner. Jim focuses heavily on mentorship and has helped organize an annual, immersive, two day hospitality and tasting boot camp for the wine industry, drawing participants from across the United States. He is regarded as one of the most coveted sommeliers in the industry. When he’s not extending a helping hand to aspiring sommeliers, Jim is cooking or trying to make the perfect canelé.
After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, a stint at The Little Nell in Aspen made Andy find his true interest in the front of the house. He moved to Walland, Tennessee and began his career at Blackberry Farm in 2002, focusing on the wine program. In less than six years, the wine cellar grew from 17,000 bottles to 166,000, and wine became central to the success of the resort. He took on the role of food and beverage director in 2007. Under Andy’s direction, The Barn at Blackberry Farm has been honored with three James Beard Awards. He was promoted to senior vice president of food and beverage for both Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain in 2022. Andy has proceeded past the Advanced level of the Court of Master Sommeliers and was the recipient of the Michael Bonaccorsi Scholarship.
New York, NYDetails
Craig Collins caught the wine bug while working at a winery as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, which led him to study abroad in Italy during his senior year. He learned about the Court of Master Sommeliers during his postgraduate stint with a wine distributor and began honing the professional skills and industry knowledge that would help him advance through the program. Craig passed the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination in 2011, a feat achieved by less than 200 people worldwide at that time. He now represents some of the most pedigreed wines from around the world as the sales manager at VINTUS, one of the premiere import companies in the country. He is an active member in the Court of Master Sommeliers and frequently serves as a featured speaker at wine and food festivals across the country. Recognized as a leading educator in his field, Craig is often asked to judge wine competitions and contributes to both local and national publications.
Stella's Wine Bar at The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston
Julie discovered her passion for wine while waiting tables during her undergraduate days at Texas A&M University. She continued to study wine and work in wine bars while completing a graduate program in biotechnology at Johns Hopkins. After achieving the Advanced Sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers, as well as the Certified Wine Educator credential, she said goodbye to the biotech industry. Over the years, she represented the Terry Theise portfolio for Skurnik Wine & Spirits, worked with Chef Michael Mina at the Four Seasons in Baltimore, and built a “Grand Award” winning wine list with her friend and mentor, Keith Goldston. She passed her Master Sommelier Diploma Examination in 2022 and achieved numerous accolades along the way from both press and peers. Currently, she is chef sommelier for The Post Oak Hotel and wine director for Stella’s Wine Bar in Houston.
St. Helena, CADetails
Although Erik graduated from Temple University with a degree in business administration focused on marketing, Erik fell in love with hospitality and wine while working at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Philadelphia. Dreaming of becoming a Master Sommelier, he sold everything he owned and moved to Aspen, Colorado and spent six years in the renowned hotel and wine program at The Little Nell; during the off season, he traveled in Europe and visited the most esteemed wine estates to hone his appreciation and knowledge. He accepted a position as estate director at Napa’s historic Heitz Cellar in 2019, where he continually aims to reimagine the luxury hospitality experience for guests of the winery. He passed the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination in 2022. At Heitz, he focuses on crafting elegant and balanced wines from sustainably farmed vineyards while enriching the lives of his guests through hospitality and service.
The Inn at Little Washington
After graduating from Boston’s Simmons University with a degree in Developmental Psychology, Lindsey fell in love with wine during the three years she spent traveling in Europe and South Africa. She has worked in restaurants all over the world including London, England; Ibiza, Spain; Miami, Florida; and San Francisco’s Bay Area. Lindsey joined the wine team at The Inn at Little Washington in 2014 as their cellar master and moved up through the ranks; in 2021, she became the first female wine director at a Michelin Three Star restaurant in the U.S. Lindsey is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the mother of two beautiful teenaged girls. “When I think of how I want to be thought of in my career,” she says, “it’s to be generous and to help create opportunities for women in wine.”
Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant | Oxbow Cheese & Wine | Mission Bay Wine & Cheese
San Francisco, CA | Napa, CA | San Francisco, CADetails
Peter spent 25 years in the hospitality industry as a food and beverage director, wine buyer, sommelier, bartender and waiter, including two years in the Burgundy region of France, and a year with a Relais & Châteaux hotel in Switzerland. In 1991, he became the 15th American to earn the coveted title of Master Sommelier and earned the Krug Champagne Cup by passing all three parts of the exam on the first attempt; he also received the James Beard Foundation “Sommelier of the Year” award. In January of 1995 Peter and his brother-in-law Robert Olson, a software engineer, launched Virtual Vineyards, an ecommerce pioneer and the first U.S. entity to sell wine on the Internet. He is active as a speaker, panelist, judge and educator in numerous wine consumer and wine industry settings both here and abroad. He continues to work today as an examiner and lecturer for the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory, Advanced and Master level programs.
Logan’s love of hospitality began at a young age, preparing food alongside his parents and grandparents in the family catering company. He heard about the Blackberry Farm beverage program while studying at The Culinary Institute of America and joined the team after graduation in 2011. Over the years he gained knowledge and experience and was promoted to director of food and beverage at Blackberry Mountain, where he helps oversee all aspects of service in the dining rooms. He loves crafting cocktails that have a sense of place and utilizing ingredients from the Mountain, and he enjoys being on the dining room floor sharing his knowledge of wine and creating memorable moments for the guests. Logan is a Certified Sommelier and was part of the wine team when The Barn at Blackberry Farm received a James Beard Award for “Outstanding Wine Service” as well as “Outstanding Restaurant Service.”
San Francisco, CADetails
Morgan Harris passed the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination in 2018. After ten years of working on all sides of New York City’s world-class restaurant scene, he relocated to San Francisco. Morgan’s experience selling to a diverse, demanding clientele for over a decade informs his tailored approach to shaping beverage narratives. In the digital beverage space, he has worked with major players such as Wine Folly, Vivino, Punch Drink, GuildSomm and WineAccess. He has appeared as a presenter on NBC and the Esquire Network and was a principal character in the 2018 The New York Times best seller, Cork Dork. Morgan was recognized by Wine & Spirits magazine as one of “America’s Best New Sommeliers,” and he was a national-level finalist for competitions sponsored by the Guild of Sommeliers and the Châine des Rôtisseurs. In addition to his other endeavors, he still works several dinner shifts each week at San Francisco’s acclaimed Italian restaurant, Cotogna.
Élyse became Canada’s first Québecer, fourth Canadian and second Canadian woman to hold the prestigious and globally recognized title of Master Sommelier in 2015. Born in Montréal, Québec, Élyse graduated with a degree in hotel management from the prestigious Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) in 1998 and as sommelier from École Hôtelière des Laurentides in 1999. She has worked at exclusive properties such as The Ritz-Carlton, Montréal and the XO Restaurant of Hôtel Le Saint James and earned numerous accolades, including “Best Sommelier of Québec”, “Best Sommelier of the Americas” and “Best Sommelier of Canada” (2015). She lives in Montréal and shares her passion for wine on Radio-Canada’s Morning Show. Élyse consults for private and corporate clients and is often invited to facilitate wine education seminars and corporate functions in Canada and around the world.
Georgia Crown Distributing Co
Michael McNeill became Georgia’s only Master Sommelier in 1993. He was the back-to-back recipient of the “Best Sommelier in America” award and represented the U.S. in two world finals: the Sopexa Gran Prix du Sommelier in Paris in 1994 (which allowed him to serve as President of the Jury for the U.S. competition in 1997) and the Concours Mondial du Sommelier in Tokyo in 1995. He has been employed by some of the nation’s most prestigious properties, such as the St. Regis New York and The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta Buckhead, and has also worked alongside numerous Five-star top chefs, including Lespinasse’s Gray Kunz, The Ryland Inn’s Craig Shelton and Gunter Seeger and Bruno Menard of The Dining Room. Michael is currently director of education for Georgia Crown Distributing Co., which also includes Alabama Crown Distributing; in that role, he offers a wealth of knowledge regarding wine service and food and wine harmony, in addition to general sales expertise.
Wine Bar George
George’s childhood was steeped in hospitality: as the child of Greek immigrants growing up in Orlando, his passion for food and wine was nurtured in the café owned by his parents, which became a gathering spot for local chefs. As general manager of California Grill at Walt Disney World Resort, he wrote an award-winning list that was one of the first in the country to offer 100 wines by the glass. He became a Master Sommelier in 2007. From 2002 to 2016 he oversaw all aspects of wine culture for Darden Restaurants, including The Capital Grille and Eddie V’s, and was one of the founders of Seasons 52. In 2018, he returned to Walt Disney World and opened Wine Bar George, the only wine bar in Florida led by a Master Sommelier. Wine Bar George is a unique venue that offers 170 wines by the glass, bottle and ounce, along with innovative flights, educational tastings and frequent visits by celebrated winemakers.
A New Orleans native, Chris worked at Emeril’s and the Brennan family’s restaurants. After graduation from Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business, he pursued his wine passion as a sommelier at Seattle’s Canlis restaurant. Chris worked his first harvest in 2005 at Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla. By 2007 he had taken top honors at his Advanced Sommelier exam and won the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs “Best Young Sommelier in America” competition, winning the worldwide competition a year later. He was subsequently named “Best New Sommelier” in America by Wine & Spirits magazine. Soon after, he took over the beverage program at Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant, Spago Beverly Hills, quickly developing the program into a Wine Spectator “Grand Award” winner; while there, he earned his Master Sommelier Diploma in 2012. After spending harvests learning the finer points of producing coastal Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Chris founded Seabold Cellars in Monterey County in 2017 and acquired his first estate vineyard in 2023.
St. Helena, CADetails
Vincent moved to California from his native Phoenix to attend Sonoma State University on a soccer scholarship. His proximity to wine country piqued his interest in the subject, and he ended up concentrating in wine business strategies and marketing. After graduation he honed his knowledge at renowned wineries such as Ridge Vineyards, as well as at famed Bay Area restaurants such as The French Laundry, Gary Danko and Benu, becoming a Master Sommelier before the age of 31. 2022 was a banner year for Vincent: he was designated the “Sommelier of the Year” by VinePair and was named the Michelin Guide California “Sommelier of the Year.” He acts as the Chairperson of the Diversity Committee of the Court of Master Sommeliers, where he focuses on making the organization more inclusive of women, LGBTQ+, BIPOC and other unrepresented communities within the wine and hospitality industry. He is currently wine director at PRESS Restaurant in Napa, where he oversees a Wine Spectator “Grand Award” winning list containing 2,700 selections, including the largest collection of Napa wines in the world.
JF Restaurants | Lilac
New York, NY | Tampa, FLDetails
Amy’s passion for food and wine began as a child around the dinner table in Cleveland, Ohio. After attending The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, she spent a year in the Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program at the CIA’s Napa branch. While working at Michelin-starred Sons & Daughters in San Francisco, Amy received her Level 3 certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and was named one of the “Best New Sommeliers” by Wine & Spirits magazine and Zagat’s “30 Under 30” for San Francisco. She moved to New York in 2016 to become wine director at Chef John Fraser’s Michelin-starred Dovetail and grew into the role of beverage director for JF Restaurants, Chef Fraser’s full-service hospitality group. Supporting Chef Fraser’s unique culinary vision from the beverage side, Amy leads innovative cocktail creation and development of the group’s extensive wine lists and pairings while fostering close collaboration with the teams at each restaurant to curate an excellent beverage program for guests.
Fine+Rare | Vinfolio
Scott originally planned to be a French teacher and taught for several years in the Rhône Valley. One of his school’s former students was the head sommelier at Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia, and after a quick letter of introduction, Scott was able to trade the classroom for the cellar. His two years at Le Bec-Fin were followed by head sommelier roles at Seeger’s in Atlanta, as well as the Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons Philadelphia. He moved west to take over the wine program at Solage Calistoga, before joining the team at The Restaurant at Meadowood in 2018. After the 2020 fires claimed the restaurant, he joined Winebow in 2021, where he became a Certified Wine Educator, Certified Specialist of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators. Scott achieved the Master Sommelier title in 2022.
We are appreciative of the generosity of previous sommeliers who have made this event a success.View Past Sommeliers