In Memoriam of SWE Member Michael Bryan (1966-2017)



Michael James Bryan, founder and managing partner of the Atlanta Wine School and wine emporium Vino Venue, left this life on July 9, 2017 surrounded by his family following a long battle with cancer.

A Certified Sommelier and longtime member of the Society of Wine Educators, Michael was an eloquent speaker, superb instructor, and mentor to many. His inspiration and enthusiasm helped thousands of people to evolve as oenophiles.  He founded the Atlanta Wine School in 2003 and brought Vino Venue into being in 2012.  Vino Venue embodied Michael’s talent, knowledge and passion in the wine and culinary world as an Atlanta destination for dining, wine tasting, and private events.

Michael was a 1989 graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.  He held certifications from many internationally-recognized organizations, including: Certified Specialist of Wine from The Society of Wine Educators; Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers, Advanced Certificate (with Merit) from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust of London, Spanish Wine Educator from the Spanish Wine Academy, and International Bordeaux Wine Educator from L’Ecole du Vin in Bordeaux.

Michael’s love for wine education ran deep, and he was passionate about sharing his knowledge with others. You could sense it when he led a wine class, when he talked a customer through the wines in Vino Venue’s Enomatic machines, or when he took a group through wine regions such as Bordeaux, Oregon, or Tuscany.

Michael was also passionate about music, travel and life in general. He was a genuine, generous, ambitious and loving soul. He lit the room up with his presence.  He was optimistic and courageous in the face of cancer until the very end. His perseverance and positive attitude were inspiring.

Michael was born in Oklahoma City in 1966, son of Dorothy Hall Bryan and Larry James Bryan. He is survived by his parents and his wife Lelia Lee Bryan; daughters Willa Napier Bryan, Mackenzie Hidell Bryan and Berkley Kelleher Bryan; brother Dustin Lee Bryan; and step-mother Diana Marie Bryan.

Michael’s life will be celebrated according to his wishes with a party in Atlanta for his friends and family on Sunday, August 13.  In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Sarcoma Foundation of America at or to The Willa Bryan Education Trust, care of Mason Bahr LLP, 155Technology Pkwy #400, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.

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