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The Wine Experience's Secret Weapon

A team of world-class sommeliers screens every bottle served at the Wine Experience seminars
The 2017 New York Wine Experience Somm Team
Photo by: Shannon Sturgis
The 2017 New York Wine Experience Somm Team

Posted: October 24, 2017

It takes an army to put on Wine Spectator's New York Wine Experience, and one of its most important behind-the-scenes regiments reports at dawn, uniformed in white jackets, and armed with a waiter's key and a well-trained palate. They're the Wine Experience Somm Team, and each year they come from around the world to ensure that no bad bottle hits the table during the event's many seminars stocked with trophy wines.

Led by wine service director Andréa Fulton-Higgins, this year's team included more than 30 sommeliers from 24 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning programs. Among the six Master Sommeliers on the team, Larry Stone was making his 28th tour of duty.

Video: Go backstage at the New York Wine Experience with Wine Spectator tasting coordinator Gillian Sciaretta on Facebook Live as she gives viewers a behind-the-scenes peek at the Wine Experience Somm Team in action.

Shannon Sturgis
The Wine Experience spit-bucket brigade at work

2017 Wine Experience Somm Team

Andréa Fulton-Higgins
Wine Service Director
Arlington, Wash.


Brahm Callahan, MS
Beverage Director, Grill 23 & Bar
Grand Award

Harley Carbery
Director of Wine, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
Las Vegas
Grand Award, Best of Award of Excellence, Award of Excellence

Theresa Carbery
Sommelier, Fleur by Hubert Keller
Las Vegas
Best of Award of Excellence

Shawn Dore
Sommelier Services LLC

Crystl Faye Horton
Wine Director, Del Frisco's Steak House NYC
New York
Grand Award

Jennifer Foucher
Head Sommelier, Fiola
Washington, D.C
Award of Excellence

Juan Gomez, MS
Sommelier, HMF at The Breakers
Palm Beach, Fla.
Grand Award

David Gordon
Wine Director, Tribeca Grill
New York
Grand Award

Jill Gubesch
Wine Director, Topolobampo/Frontera Grill
Best of Award of Excellence

Kyungmoon Kim, MS
Sommelier, The Modern
New York
Grand Award

Janine Loetscher
Sommelière, Post Hotel & Spa
Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Grand Award

Jon McDaniel
Beverage Director, Gage Hospitality Group
Best of Award of Excellence, Award of Excellence

Meghan McDonnell
Chef Sommelière, Nice Matin
New York
Grand Award

Brad Nugent
Beverage Director - Porter House Bar and Grill
New York
Best of Award of Excellence

Virginia Philip, MS
Wine Director, The Breakers
Palm Beach, Fla.
Grand Award, Best of Award of Excellence

Kimberly Prokoshyn
Head Sommelier, Rebelle
New York
Award of Excellence

Rubén Sanz Ramiro
Head Sommelier, PM & Vänner
Växjö, Småland, Sweden
Grand Award

Erin Scala
Wine Director, Fleurie
Charlottesville, Va.
Best of Award of Excellence

Sabrina Schatz
Sommelier, Bobby Flay Steak, The Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa
Atlantic City, N.J.
Best of Award of Excellence

Stephanie Schrankel, CS, CSW
Sommelier, Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar
Bellevue, Wash.
Best of Award of Excellence

Henk Schuitemaker
Wine & Beverage Director, Angus Barn
Raleigh, N.C.
Grand Award

Erik Segelbaum
Corporate Wine Director, Starr Restaurants
Best of Award of Excellence

Robert Smith
Executive Wine Director, Pappas Brothers Steakhouses
Best of Award of Excellence

Larry Stone, MS
Founder, Lingua Franca winery
Salem, Ore.

Aaron Von Rock
Wine Director, Lincoln Ristorante
New York
Best of Award of Excellence

Hristo Zisovski
Beverage Director, Altamarea Group
New York
Best of Award of Excellence

Support Team

Gillian Balance, MS
Napa, Calif.

Michael Bernales
Boca Raton, Fla.

Bernabe De Luna
Salinas, Calif.

Catherine Larsen
Sausalito, Calif.

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