John Szymankiewicz

We are so thrilled to have John in the house! John Szymankiewicz has one of the best jobs in the world.

John is an attorney that works almost exclusively with breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Helping small and independent craft alcohol producers start and grow is John’s business. Finding great craft beverages is John’s passion. 

John has been an avid homebrewer for more than 20 years and has brewed – literally – hundreds of different beers. 

From deep, rich German doppelbocks, to effervescent and strong Belgian Tripels, to English milds and porters, to American West Coast IPAs, John has cultivated a palate and a passion for all things beer-y. 

Steeped in the literature and culture of craft beer for decades, John dedicated his legal practice to craft alcohol beverages more than 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back. 

When John hears “I don’t like beer,” he takes that as a personal challenge and sets out to prove to you that there is, in fact, a beer out there that you’ll love. He is currently undefeated in converting people to beer drinkers, often hearing “Wow, I didn’t know I liked beer!”  His passion is as strong as the rest of our team.  

Get ready to have a blast at his beer classes coming soon. 

Chef Doreen Colondres

Allie Nelson

Allie was born in New Jersey and has lived in North Carolina for over 12 years.  She has been working in the beverage industry for the past 4 years as the operations manager at a small urban winery in downtown Durham. 

Allie’s love of wine started through a trip to Austria, then Napa, then Walla Walla Valley and so on, and continues to grow through travel and the local North Carolina Wine industry.  She has achieved the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines certification as well as being a Cicerone Certified Beer Server and an ACA Certified Cider Professional.  Allie also works as a freelance food photographer (she is awesome) and recipe developer.  In her free time, Allie enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her husband, their two rescue dogs and of course with our students.

Cheers to Allie!

IG: @alliealacarte

Brianna Burns

WSET Diploma / Wine Educator

Thrilled to announce a new ingredient in the house! 

Brianna Needle was born in California, but has lived in the Triangle for almost 30 years. 

After a year living in Ireland, traveling all over Europe, she caught the wine bug and began pursuing a career in wine education. She recently completed her WSET Diploma and has 10+ years of experience in the wine industry as general manager of a retail store and bar in the triangle. “I’m looking forward to inspiring a new wave of wine-lovers. An Master Somm once told me that “wine was a condiment for food as a way to elevate the meal”. But I like to think of wine one step further as an addition to life. Wine brings people together, creates experiences and elevates our lives.” – BN

Cheers to our new educator!

IG: @burnsthroughwine

Monica Marin

WSET Diploma / Wine Scholar Guild Certified Instructor / Bordeaux Ecole du Vin Instructor / Napa Valley Educator / German Wine Academy Certified / WSET Intermediate, Advanced & Diploma Instructor/Sherry Wine Educator / Rioja Certified Educator / MW Candidate/2019 WSET Best Educator of the year Nominee/2019 French Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year.

Monica was born and raised in Madrid, Spain.  She attended the Complutense University of Madrid, where she graduated with a B.A. in communications, advertising and public relations.  She then moved to London where she held several executive positions at marketing and hospitality companies.  Her numerous celebrity clients demanded the best wine and cuisine.  In order to meet the expectations of her famous clientele, Monica enrolled in the Wine and Spirits Education Trust where she successfully completed all the wine certification levels and earned the WSET Diploma. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Wine program.

Throughout her career, Monica has visited the best wine regions of Italy, Spain and France, falling in love with the culture, wine and gastronomy in Toscana, Bordeaux, Champagne, Jerez, Rioja and Ribera del Duero.  She has also traveled extensively in Germany, California, Chile and Uruguay. 

Monica now live in California, where she dedicates her professional efforts and time to wine by working as the Director of Education at The Wine House.  She is the head WSET instructor for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust at the foundation, intermediate, advanced and Diploma levels in California, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Panama.

Monica is bilingual in English and Spanish and has a good knowledge of Italian and French. In December 2019, Monica has been short-listed for the WSET Educator of the Year Award, the only Latin female nominee among 10 candidates worldwide. 

Raj Sabharwal

WSET Level 3 Spirits, Certified Educator, Certified Whiskey Ambassador, Founding Partner Glass Revolution Imports

Raj was born in England, grew up in Toronto, Canada and so far has lived in 18 cities in 5 countries. 

After 25 years in the corporate world Raj decided to follow his passions for fine wine and spirits and in 2010 started Purple Valley Imports USA LLC, known today as Glass Revolution Imports. “The new name reflects our focus to revolutionize what is in the consumer’s glass” says Raj.  

He is an avid wine and spirits collector and has spoken at Whisky and Spirits Conferences around the world.  In close to 10 years Raj and his two partners have grown their company from representing 1 brand in 3 states to today representing 10 brands in over 45 States. Glass Revolution is an importer specializing in world class spirits from independent distilleries. Raj personally selects the brands and selections offered.     

Glass Revolution has been recognized as “Whisky Importer of the Year” for 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Whisky Magazine’s Icons of America Whisky.   In 2017 Whisky Magazine recognized Raj as World Whisky Ambassador with their American Icon’s of Whisky Award. 

IG: @whiskyraj