Sommeliers in the USA

Media Release                                                                                                                                                 

11 December 2017

New Zealand Winegrowers Sommelier Scholarship recipients announced

New Zealand Winegrowers is excited to announce the USA finalists who have been chosen to participate in the 2018 New Zealand Winegrowers International Sommit Scholarship.

First launched in 2015 with a scholarship for Australian sommeliers, the programme is now a global initiative with the US sommeliers joining scholars from Australia, Asia, Canada, Europe and New Zealand.

Limited to just 20 attendees at each, the two Sommits™ held in Nelson and Central Otago will be attended exclusively by sommeliers and targeted exclusively to their interests.

Hosted by Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas and Master of Wine Stephen Wong, the events are a celebration of the lesser known aspects of New Zealand wine, with particular emphasis on the facets that resonate with the sommelier community.

New Zealand wine continues to shine in the USA. YTD shipments of New Zealand wine are up 16%. In terms of total value, New Zealand is in third place following Italy and France, and ahead of all other imports.

“This is the first year we have run the official scholarship program in the USA and the response was amazing. We received over 100 qualified applicants with the winners being chosen based on their dedication and excitement towards New Zealand wine. We look forward to hosting our guests in New Zealand and having them become NZ wine ambassadors upon their return,” commented Ranit Librach, Promotions Manager USA, New Zealand Winegrowers.

The nine successful US based sommeliers are:

Lauren Collins Daddona - Les Sablons, Boston

Steve Izzo - Waterbar, San Francisco

Jake Lewis - Momofuku Group, New York

Keith Nelson - Tao Group, New York

Billy Nordmeir - The Patio, San Diego

Virginia Philips - The Breakers, Palm Beach

Rachel Speckan - City Winery, Chicago

Hai Tran - The Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia

Debbie Zachareas - Ferry Plaza Merchant /Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant, San Francisco

Visit for more information.


For further information contact:

Ranit Librach
Manager – USA
New Zealand Winegrowers

Back to top