Meet the Board of Directors: Missi Holle

Last week, SWE welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  While many of our board members have served for quite a few years, there are also some new faces in the group as well.  Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our new board members, Missi Holle…and thank her for her service to the Society!

Missi HolleMissi Holle, CSW, CSS is a newly elected member of the Board of Directors for the Society of Wine Educators.  She has over 16 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry, has trained through the Court of Master Sommeliers and has most recently earned the Wine Location Specialist (with distinction) designation through the Center for Wine Origins.

Missi found herself “accidentally” in the beverage industry after earning her Marketing degree from the University of Florida.  Having worked nights and weekends as a server and bartender throughout college, her hospitality experience and the attraction of daytime hours led her to a full time job with a Central Florida wine & spirits distributor.  After 2 years, she decided to try her hand within the Corporate Meetings industry, working for Hard Rock Café and GES Exposition Services before passion led her back into the beverage business as a National Account Manager for Banfi Vintners (4 years) and now Kobrand Corporation (10 years).

Education has always been a focus for Missi and today, in addition to her position as National Account Manager for the southeast US, she is the Education Specialist for the Channel Division at Kobrand.

When not working, her favorite times are spent at the dinner table sharing her husband’s home cooked meals and great beverages with family and friends.  She loves to travel and check out new restaurants and bars, enjoys running and a good book!

Welcome, Missi Holle!

SWE Welcomes New Executive Committee and Board Members

SWE's new President, Guy Stout, MS

SWE’s new President, Guy Stout, CSS, CWE, MS

As of August 15, 2013 the Society of Wine Educators welcomed two new Board Members and a new Executive Committee.  Our new President is Guy Stout, CSS, CWE, MS, Corporate Director of Beverage Education at Glazer’s Distributing.

Rounding out the Executive Committee are:

  • Edward Korry, CWE, Vice President
  • Gary Spadafore, CWE, Educational Liasion
  • Don Kinnan, CWE, Secretary
  • Neill Trimble, Treasurer


Our two new members of the Board of Directors include David Glancy, CSS, CWE, MS, who currently serves as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco Wine School, and Missi Holle, CSS, CSW, National Account Manager and Southeast Education Specialist for Kobrand Corporation.

Continuing to serve on the Board of Directors are:

  • Maria E. Denton, CWE (Pinnacle House – Washington Wholesale)
  • Gary Spadafore, CWE, Educational Liasion

    Gary Spadafore, CWE, Educational Liasion

    Patrick D. Dodd, CWE, CSS (Gallo Family Vineyards)

  • Margie Ferree-Jones, PhD (Collins College of Hospitality Management – Cal Poly, Pomona)
  • Mary Gorman-McAdams DWS, MW
  • Linda G. Lawry, DWS, CWE (International Wine Center)
  • Paul Wagner (Balzac Communications & Marketing)
  • Henry Wasserstein (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP)
  • Barry Wiss, CWE (Trinchero Family Wine Estates)
  • Hayato Kojima, CWE, Director Emeritus (Wine & New Life, Ltd.)
  • William Lembeck, CSS, CWE, Director Emeritus (Wine & Spirits Program)
  • Sharron McCarthy, CSW, Director Emeritus (Banfi Vintners)

The Hard-working office staff of SWE continues to be:

  • Sharron McCarthy, CSW, Director Emeritus;  William Lembeck, CSS, CWE, Director Emeritus; and Neill Trimble, Treasurer

    Sharron McCarthy, CSW, Director Emeritus;
    William Lembeck, CSS, CWE, Director Emeritus; and Neill Trimble, Treasurer

    Shields T. Hood, CSS, CWE, General Manager

  • Vanessa Brandenburg, Operations Director
  • Ben Coffelt, Education & Technology Manager
  • Jessica Morse, Education Programs Assistant
  • Eva Woo, Education Programs Assistant
  • Kerry Lynch, Membership and Events Assistant
  • Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE, Education and Certification Consultant

Welcome and Congratulations to our new board! Here’s to a successful SWE Year.


For contact information, please consult the SWE Website at:

SWE Presents 2013 Grand Award to Professor “Chip” Cassidy

Chip and GobletEvery year, at the annual conference, the Society of Wine Educators grants a prestigious lifetime achievement award to a deserving wine professional.  Known as “The Grand Award,” this award has been presented to a plethora of wine luminaries, includng Robert Mondavi, Sandro Boscaini, Jancis Robinson, Warren Winiarski, Carol Meredith, and Mike Grgich.

This year’s award was presented to Patrick J. Cassidy during the Friday luncheon of the Society’s 37th Annual Conference, held in Orlando, Florida.   

Professor “Chip” Cassidy’s wine experience began over 40 years ago in New York. Working in a wine shop through college led to the head sommelier’s position at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. He later became the wine buyer for the Crown Wine and Spirits chain, and worked previously at Sunset Corners, a large volume wine shop. He currently serves as a wine and beverage instructor at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management of Florida International University.

A member of the entering class of FIU’s inaugural year, Chip graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management. His teaching career began in 1984. Today he teaches Wine Technology, The Business of Wine and recently has developed a Wine Certificate Program offered to professionals already working in the wine or related fields.

A noted speaker and fundraiser, Professor Cassidy was instrumental in developing the concept to build the Southern Wine and Spirits Beverage Management Center, a state of the art wine teaching laboratory. A man of many “hats”, Chip is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, avid reader, and passionate fisherman. Today he resides in South Miami-Dade County with his wife Christine and beloved golden lab, Darius.

Chip and HarrietDuring the awards presentation, Harriet Lembeck, Mistress of Ceremonies, presented Chip with a Riedel “Grand Shiraz” goblet with the following inscription: The Society of Wine Educators toasts  Patrick J. “Chip” Cassidy, CSH & TM at Florida International University for Impeccably High Standards as a Wine Communicator, Fundraiser, War Hero, and Mentor to his Students. Orlando, FL 2013.

Congratulations, Professor Cassidy!

Conference Highlights – Clash of the Titans

SWE Conference Highlights 2013

On Friday afternoon, a large room full of people witnessed a Clash of the Titans.  It was the case of Barolo versus Brunello. Both claimed the title of “Italy’s Greatest Wine.”  It was determined that in this session, the audience would be the jury and would choose the victor.

The jury deliberatesThe courtroom was presided over by Judge Missi Holle, CSW, CSS.  “Barolo Man,” known to many as Nick Poletto, CSW, CSS, DSW; regaled the jury with tales of the history of Barolo, the noble Nebbiolo grape variety, and the majesty and history of the region of Barolo.

Clash team

Don Kinnan Brunello FellowNick Barolo ManBrunello Fellow, know to most as Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE; rebutted with the majesty of Italy’s leading grape, the purely Italian lineage of Brunello, and tales of the land of Montalcino.

After a delicious tasting, many objections, closing arguments and much deliberation, it was determined, that (at least for SWE’s 2013 Conference) Brunello was indeed king.

The audience, of course, is already calling for a re-match, to be held at SWE’s 2014 Conference in Seattle, Washington.

See you there!

Conference Highlights: Wines of Brazil

Nora Favelukes says that if you like soccer, carnival, and samba, it’s time to discover the wines of Brazil!  Brazilian wines are now exported to over 30 countries and are about to make a splash on the American market.

Nora Room Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and considered the fifth largest wine producer in the Southern Hemisphere.  Brazil has been making wine since the beginning of its colonization, and began wine production in earnest with the arrival of Italian immigrants, starting in 1875.  Over the past fifteen years, the Brazilian wine industry has made a tremendous investment in technological innovation and vineyard management.

Glasses Brazil

Currently, the Brazilian wine regions total 83,700 hectares, divided into six regions:

  • Serra Gaúcha
  • Campanha (located along the border with Uruguay)
  • Serra do Sudeste
  • Campos de Cima da Serra
  • no Rio Grande do Sul Planalto Catarinense
  • Vale do São Francisco (located in the northeast, contains the closest vineyards to the equator)

The wines sampled included Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sparkling Wines, Blends, and Moscato.

Crowd Brazil

Conference Highlights – Italy: Did you know or so they say?

SWE Conference Highlights 2013

On Thursday afternoon, Sharron McCarthy, always a conference favorite, led a session called Italy – Did you know or so they say?

Italy Audience

Sharron described Italy as a spirited, thriving, ancient enigma that unveils, yet hides, many faces.

Italy Wines

She told the stories of the invading Phoenicians, Greeks, and Cathaginians, the native Etruscans and Romans, as well as the Saracens, Visigoths, Normans, Austrian and Germans who all left their imprint on the land – and wines – of Italy.

Sharro Italy

Attendees learned that Emilia-Romagna was the birthplace of Sangiovese, which was then diffused throughout the rest of Italy, becoming the leading grape that it is today. Italy Audience 2

Wines from Piedmont, Vento,  Tuscany, Abruzzo, and other regions were all featured, showcasing the depth and diversity of the wines of Italy. Did you know?Italy Bottles


Conference Highlights – Cocktail Evolution

SWE Conference Highlights 2013

Friday afternoon featured a great way to end conference and start the weekend…a master class in mixology, led by Dean Hurst and Stephen Fox, entitled “Cocktail Evolution.”

Dean Cocktail Session

The cocktail is considered to be an American invention, with many claiming that the Sazerac, created in New Orleans, to be the first “official” cocktail.

Mixology Session Bottles

Punches are also an historic type of cocktail.  One of the oldest recipes is for a Barbadian Rum Punch: “One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak” referring to one part lime juice, two parts sugar, three parts rum, and four parts water.

Mixology Session Dean

The impressive line-up of craft cocktails, demonstrating why this session was offered at 4:45 on Friday afternoon, as opposed to 8:30 in the morning:

Mixology Session Line Up

Conference Highlights – Master Level Wine Service

SWE Conference Highlights 2013
On Friday evening, Andrew McNamara, MS and David Glancy, MS presented a lively session entitled “Master Level Wine Service.”  The session featured two Master Sommeliers demonstrating standard wine service, Champagne service and decanting for sediment. Discussion topics included the Court of Master Sommeliers service standards, including the real-world and exam applications; as well as how specific service programs might differ based on house standards.
Here are a few photos from the session:
David Glancy and Andrew McNamara discussing the finer points of service.
David G and Andrew M Service Session
David Glancy demonstrating the importance of keeping one’s thumb and serviette over the cage and cork when opening Champagne.  As expected, this led to the liveliest debate of the session…the CMS service standards call for a quiet opening of a bottle of bubbly, yet the festive “pop” often leads to increased sales…
David G Service Session Bubbly
Andrew McNamara demonstrating cutting the bottle foil while using a decanting cradle.
Andrew Decanting Service
Andrew McNamara demonstrating (with humor) proper service equipment (or not) with his #1 (frist birthday?) candle.
Andrew Service Session

Conference Highlights – Lodi Rules

On Wednesday afternoon, Camron King,  Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, led a group in a tasting of wines produced with fruit from certified sustainable vineyards in the Lodi Rules program.

Camron front of room

The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing is California’s first 3rd party-certified sustainable winegrowing program. It promotes practices that enhance biodiversity, soil and water health, community well-being, and fair practices for employees; all without compromising the needs of future generations.

Lodi Bottles

Lodi is well-known for its old vine zinfandel, but also grows a good deal of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Viognier. Attendees also were treated to samples of Malbec, Graciano, and Tempranillo…just a few of the other grape varieties that thrive in Lodi.

Camron and Audience Lodi

Conference Highlights – International Tasting at SeaWorld

On Thursday night, conference attendees were treated to an international wine and beer tasting at SeaWorld.

Seaworld 6

Over 100 international wines and 20 beers were available for the tasting, along with quite a spread on the buffet.

Seaworld 4

We were joined by several of the Sea World animals, including an otter, an armadillo, and a parrot.

Seaworld 3

Among the happy attendees was our President-Elect, Master Sommelier Guy Stout.

Seaworld Guy

And a good time was had by all!