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Meet the Master Somms!

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

On October 15, 2020, Vinequity will start to accept applications for mentorship posts. What's more, the five Canadian Master Sommeliers have all agreed to act as mentors!

As the October 15 deadline is fast approaching, we thought it prudent to introduce you to the Master Sommeliers.

We are excited to offer this type of learning experience to our Canadian, BIPOC wine community.

Meet the Five Canadian Master Sommeliers

Jennifer Huether, Master Sommelier

Jennifer’s love affair and studies started in her early twenties with taking an interest course at George Brown college in wine.

From there, she immediately leapt into the Sommelier

Certification from ISG graduating top of class, then Diploma of Wine from WSET, followed by the Advanced Sommelier passing in 2005 and finally the Master Sommelier Exams-becoming Canada’s first female Master Sommelier in 2011 graduating in Dallas Texas.

Her restaurant industry is vast, starting off in Toronto Restaurants is where she found wine. Jennifer has also worked for Canadian owned Cliff Lede Vineyards based in Napa Valley, and for 7 years ran one of Canada’s top wine programs at MLSE in Toronto, spanning over 6 restaurants and overseeing a multi-million dollar beverage program, while mentoring the properties 11 Sommeliers. Jennifer most recently was employed with California based Jackson Family Wines representing their brands throughout Canada. Jennifer is a founder of @socialherbivore together with Priya Rao now writing a book on plant-based food & wine matching and feels that this is the next huge wine trend. She also is a curator for the popular Gargoyle wine club which sells wine across Canada.

After winning the Ontario Sommelier Competition in 2006, Jennifer decided to invest her energy heavily in the execution of the competitions from 2008 to 2019. Jennifer together with Alex Evans made it their mission to hold the Ontario & Canadian ASI Competitions to the highest level of quality, integrity and standards therefore giving the best possible experience to the Candidates. She sat for several years on the board of directors of CAPS Ontario and focused her energy into building competitions and the content for them. She is also a continually active teacher with the Court of Masters, and mentors several Advanced and Master Sommelier Candidates throughout Canada and teaches with WSET. Jennifer sits on the Board of Directors for Guild Somm and Femmes du Vin.

Areas of Mentorship: Wine Sales, Wine Reviews, Wine Business,

Elyse Lambert

Her career as a Sommelier began in the Québec Laurentians at the award winning Relais & Châteaux l’Eau à la Bouche.

Her next move was to the Eastern Townships where, from 2000 to 2004, she was an integral member of the sommelier team at Auberge Hatley, a 5 diamond CAA - Relais & Châteaux.

In 2005 she joined the XO restaurant of Hôtel Le St. James in Montréal, where she lead the sommelier team until 2008. Subsequently, went on to build the wine program and was on the opening team of Montreal’s Le Local restaurant in 2008 and curated the restaurant’s much lauded wine list until 2013 when she joined the sommelier team at The Ritz Carlton Montreal’s Maison Boulud.

Throughout her exciting career path, Elyse continued to earn credibility for her craft and accolades in Canadian and international competitions.

After winning Best Sommelier of Québec in 2004 and third best in Canada in 2006, she won the title of Best Sommelier of the Americas 2009 in the prestigious competition held in Buenos Aires.

Representing the Americas at the Best Sommelier of the World competition 2010 in Chile, she reached the semi-final and was classified amongst top 12 sommeliers in the world.

In May of 2015 in Aspen Colorado she became Canada’s first Quebecer, fourth Canadian and second Canadian woman to hold the prestigious and globally recognized title of Master Sommelier. There are only 269 Master Sommeliers in the World.

After winning Best sommelier of Canada in 2015, she again represented Canada in the competition for Best sommelier of the World in Argentina.

Elyse lambert is now the 5th Best Sommelier of the World 2016.

She is currently working as a Sommelier Consultant and continues sharing her passion at Radio-Canada’s morning show. Elyse lives in Montreal and consults for private and corporate clients and is often invited to facilitate wine education seminars and to speak at corporate functions in Canada and around the world.

Pier-Alexis Soulière

Pier-Alexis has dedicated the past 12 years of his career to providing world class wine service

and enhancing guest guest experience in some of the most demanding environments.

The journey started in Montréal and brought him to excel in 3 different continents; from London to Sydney to New York City and recently California. He has been working in some of the most prestigious Michelin stars establishments, such as Dinner by Heston Blumenthal **, The Modern **, and Manresa Restaurant***.

In 2014, he won the World Young Sommelier of the Year competition held in Copenhagen. A competition where participants from 15 different countries must present their skills and “savoir faire” under highly competitive, intense and grueling testing conditions.

In 2016, he became one of very few to earn the Master Sommelier title before the age of 30, a title held by a total of 5 individuals in Canada, only 2 in the province of Québec, and 266 worldwide. The Master Sommelier Diploma is one of the most difficult certifications to obtain in the world of wine. In order to obtain the Master Sommelier title, successful candidates must exemplify blind tasting skills, extensive wine knowledge, and outstanding abilities in service and beverage management.

In 2017, Pier-Alexis was named Québec’s Best Sommelier by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers and one year later he won Best Sommelier of the Americas by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale amongst 20 participants from 10 countries. In 2019, he represented the Americas at the World’s Best Sommelier Competition held in Belgium and reached the World top 10.

John Szabo

Master Sommelier John Szabo was the first Canadian to add the “MS” after his name in

2004, and he holds the WSET Diploma with honours, as well as the Canadian Sommelier guild diploma. Today, John is a partner and principal critic for, Canada’s largest wine publication, and buyer for the WineAlign Exchange wine club, as well as columnist at Modalina, MarQuee and Monarch magazines. Most recently, he joined the team at CellArt as content contributor (words and wine!), a company fusing art and design with function in one-of-a-kind luxury wine cellars. John is co-host of the podcast Wine Thieves with WineAlign partner Sara d’Amato, host of IGTVs 5-7 Winedown on johnszaboms, and also contributes occasionally for international publications such as Wine & Spirits Magazine, Meininger’s, Wine Enthusiast, Canopy, and VinCe Magazine. His latest book, Volcanic Wines: Salt, Grit and Power, earned critical acclaim including the André Simon award for best drinks book. On the consulting side, John has built wine programs across Canada, and is currently sourcing wines for Accor/Fairmont/Sofitel Hotels in Québec. He speaks regularly in Canada and internationally and (used to) spend many weeks each year travelling wine country worldwide to keep on top of this fascinating industry.

Areas of Mentorship: consulting, writing, teaching/presenting, tasting/wine judging

Bruce Wallner

Master Sommelier Bruce Wallner, is the founder and director of Canada’s finest

wine educational facility, The SOMMELIER FACTORY.

Originally, designed to help Sommeliers prepare for the MS exam and for world

competitions, The SommFactory now trains industry professionals to become

Certified Sommeliers and helps wine loving consumers to access and enjoy

better wines.

Previously, Bruce spent 12 years as the Head Sommelier of Palazzo Versace

and Hotel du Vin.

He was certified as Master Sommelier in London, November 2009.

Bruce Wallner has previously served on the CAPS board, helping to create the

current form of the BOSC completion and usher in the modern era for

Sommeliers in Ontario.

He likes to drink Riesling, Sangiovese, Syrah and anything else that touches the


Bruce’s restaurant, GRAND CRU DELI, opened in downtown Toronto on

Thursday, February 28th, 2019.



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