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Jay Youmans MW (Master of Wine) • Educational Director

Jay Youmans has been tasting wine professionally for nearly 30 years. He is the Educational Director and Owner of the Capital Wine School; and the Owner of Rock Creek Wine Merchants, a sales and marketing consultancy. Jay has served as a wine judge for numerous wine competitions and has contributed to several books and magazines on wine. Over the years, he has conducted hundreds of public, private, and corporate wine tasting events. Jay is an Advanced Level Sommelier (AS), a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), a French Wine Scholar (FWS), an Italian Wine Professional (IWP), a Bordeaux Wine Educator, a Burgundy Wine Educator, and Washington, DC’s first Master of Wine (MW).

                                                   For more information on the Institute of Masters of Wine, visit www.masters-of-wine.org


Matthew W. J. Brown, DipWSET, CSW

Since graduating from the University of Virginia in 2010, Matthew has built his career in the Virginia wine industry at King Family Vineyards in Crozet. With experience in wine service, distribution, viticulture, enology, and business management, he has a broad understanding of many aspects of the wine industry. Matthew’s late grandfather, Robert French, was involved in the wine world and imported wines in New York for Alexis Lichine. Channeling this family legacy, Matthew always seeks opportunities to both learn more and share with others. He holds a Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators.


Michael Franz, Ph.D.

Michael Franz is a wine writer, educator, and consultant. He is editor of Wine Review Online and a freelance contributor to many national and international wine magazines. Michael wrote nearly 300 articles as regular wine columnist for The Washington Post from 1994 to 2005. Franz left the Post in 2005 to help found Wine Review Online as editor and managing partner. Wine Review Online has quickly become one of the world’s most widely viewed wine publications, now logging as many as two million hits and 100,000 distinct visitors per month.

Michael is also a wine consultant for 14 restaurants in the National Capital area with combined annual wine sales of more than $10 million. He has conducted more than 1,000 site visits and tastings at wineries across Western and Eastern Europe, South America, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

He tastes approximately 9,000 wines each year, judges wine competitions regularly around the world, and has acted as Chief Judge for international competitions in Washington, DC, San Diego, New Zealand, and China. He has appeared on television shows, has served as an expert witness in several cases regarding the wine trade in Federal District Court, and is interviewed frequently on public radio.

carolineCaroline B. C. Hermann, DipWSET, CSW

Caroline Hermann holds a Diploma in Wine Studies (DWS) with merit and an Advanced Certificate with distinction from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). She is a Certified Specialist in Wine (CSW) with the Society of Wine Educators and is a Master of Wine candidate. She has researched and written on a variety of global wine issues, from the French wine crisis to the success of Champagne, biodynamic viticultural practices, rosé wine trends, and wine competitions.

Caroline lives in Washington DC, where she is a WSET and CSW instructor for the Capital Wine School. Additionally, she works in wine retail sales with Whole Foods Market. Caroline has an interest in vineyard management and winemaking, which stem in part from her longstanding commitment to environmental protection–a commitment she practices every day as an attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

No matter where in the world she lives or travels, Caroline enthusiastically seeks out the best food and wine in the region. Prior to moving to DC, she lived in San Francisco where she balanced her law firm responsibilities with exploring California’s most famous Napa and Sonoma areas to its oldest vineyards in the Sierra Foothills dating back to the Gold Rush. Before law school, she was an equities analyst in international finance with Creditanstalt Securities (now Bank Austria), where she lived in Prague, Czech Republic, and London. There, she acquainted herself with copious vinobrani harvest festivals along the Czech-Austrian border which celebrate the first press burcak, and braved wines from communist state-run wineries. She also held a teaching fellowship at Athens College in Greece and embarked on a year-long critical analysis of the finer points of retsina and Greece’s indigenous varietals. Although she found no vines planted in the Tian Shan Mountains during her multiple China, Kazak, and Kyrgyz treks, she looks forward to China’s emergence onto the global wine stage.

lapierreAdam Lapierre, MW

Adam Lapierre is a Master of Wine based in Washington, DC. Beginning his career working in New York’s Finger Lakes region, Adam’s interest in wine soon grew into a deep passion. After earning the Certified Sommelier designation from the Court of Master Sommeliers, Adam went on to pursue various credentials from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, earning his Diploma in Wines and Spirits in 2007. Upon entering the Master of Wine program, Adam went to work for the prestigious wine importer Frederick Wildman and Sons. There, Adam held numerous management roles overseeing the company’s national accounts division and also working as National Sales Manager. Adam earned the Master of Wine qualification in 2013 and now works as a Director of Purchasing for the international retailer Lidl, overseeing the Adult Beverage categories.

 rayRay O’Mara, DipWSET, CWE, FWS

After graduating the Culinary Institute of America, Ray began his career with Marriott International and ascended through the ranks of Food and Beverage to General Manager. A long-standing member of the Society of Wine Educators, he holds the accreditation of “Certified Wine Educator.” Ray was a founding member and past president of the Texas Sommelier Society and has judged in numerous wine competitions including the Dallas International Wine Festival, the Sonoma County Fair, and the Virginia Governors Cup.

He passed both the WSET Intermediate and Advance courses with distinction and was invited to travel to Bordeaux by the CIVB to attend Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux where he became an “Accredited International Bordeaux Tutor.”

Ray has participated in numerous study programs and has earned several other accreditations including: The Court of Master Sommeliers, Certified Sommelier; Spanish Wine Academy, Spanish Wine Educator; French Wine Academy, Instructor; BIVB, Certified Burgundy Instructor; French Wine Society, French Wine Scholar Instructor; French Wine Academy & Inter-Rhone, Rhone Master; Napa Valley Vintners Association, Wine Educator; WSET Diploma, DWS / Associate of the Institute of Wine & Spirits AIWS; WSET, Certified Instructor.

Ray is currently a Sales Consultant with Washburn Wine Company, Baltimore, Maryland.

lindseyH. Lindsey Parris, DipWSET, CSS, CWS, FWS

A business economist, author, and retired AF colonel with advanced degrees from FSU and Harvard, Lindsey has had a long-time love of wines during his careers in the private and public sectors. He has judged and worked with the Virginia Governor’s wine competition the past two years.

Lindsey holds the Diploma in Wine and Spirits (DWS) from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is an Associate Member of the Institute of Wines & Spirits (AIWS).  In addition to the WSET Diploma, he has wine teaching certifications from the Society of Wine Educators, the French Wine Society, Burgundy, Provence, and Spain, and is also an Accredited Cognac Educator. While CEO of a chemical company, Lindsey researched and worked with wineries on the problem of “corked” wines and microbial contamination in wineries. He is on the board of Spirits Acquisitions, an incubator company for developing emerging wine and spirits brands into attractive businesses for acquisition or long-run profitability. He works with marketing and strategic business issues in the wine and spirits industry and instructs and lectures on wine topics in a variety of venues.

Lucas Paya1Lucas Payà

Lucas is a member of the respected L’Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne and a Certified Sherry Educator. His expertise on wine and beverages has appeared in multiple publications such as Wines from Spain News, The Boston Globe, El Mundo, Verema, LA Times Magazine, Gourmet, The Tasting Panel, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Somm Journal, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, Wine Spectator and Punch, among others. Lucas has been invited to take part in numerous international wine events and seminars. He currently works as an independent consultant for several quality firms within the wine, beverage, and gastronomy industries.

Before striking out on his own, Lucas worked as the wine & beverage director for José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup (TFG), where he oversaw the wine and beverage programs for all fifteen TFG restaurants in the U.S. and internationally. His involvement in the design and development of these unique beverage programs also marked the expansion of TFG restaurants outside the DC area.
Prior to working for TFG, he represented and promoted a number of top-tier wineries from Spain in the U.S. wine market, and was a collaborator in Eric Solomon’s prestigious wine importing company.

When he began in the wine industry, Lucas worked as a sommelier. In his early years in the industry, he worked as sommelier for the Spoon+ concept by chef Alain Ducasse in London. After that, for five years, Lucas served as sommelier for acclaimed chef Ferran Adrià’s highly esteemed restaurant elBulli, in Catalonia, Spain, with a wine inventory of over $2M. Between 2002 and 2007, he was employed as one of the restaurant’s two sommeliers / wine buyers [working under Juli Soler’s direction] and, one of the core team of fewer than a dozen who stayed on and worked throughout the winter too. During that period of time elBulli’s wine list doubled its offerings.

tomeckaKasia Tomecka, DipWSET

Kasia has loved wine since she studied abroad in France, at which point she was exposed to the “best wines in the world” according to her host family–French wine! Luckily, she already had some experience in the restaurant world, and upon her return to the states, she continued to grow and develop as a wine enthusiast and wine professional. In the more recent years, she managed a winery in the developing wine region of Virginia, worked as a Sommelier of a luxury resort, and continued to spend her free time learning about (and teaching about) wine through the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) at the Capital Wine School. She is a WSET Certified Educator and a Diploma (Level 4) Graduate. Kasia says, “I love wine, love learning about wine, and love teaching people why wine is worth loving!”