James Bube, Master Sommelier
Board member and treasurer of Second City Sommeliers Tasting group in Chicago, Jim is a Master Sommelier and National Wine Director for the Hogsalt restaurant group. Formerly the Director of Education for Heritage Wine Cellars in IL, Jim focuses heavily on mentorship in the Chicago wine community when not cooking or trying to make the perfect canelé. Jim was the 2016 National TopSomm second place finisher and 2017 Guildsomm Online Competition winner.
David Keck, Master Sommelier
Master Sommelier David Keck discovered his love for wine while pursuing a career—and traveling the world—as an opera singer.
David passed his Master Sommelier exam in 2016, making him the 149th American Master Sommelier and the 233rd in the world.
Shortly after, David co-founded Goodnight Hospitality in Houston. The first project with Goodnight was the honky-tonk Goodnight Charlie’s in 2017, followed by retail shop Montrose Cheese and Wine and the critically acclaimed Rosie Cannonball in 2019.
Previously, David ran Camerata at Paulie’s wine bar for three years, which rose to national acclaim under his leadership. He also spent three years as beverage director for the Uchi Restaurant Group.
In 2020, David returned to his home state of Vermont where he leased the vineyards at Boyden Valley to produce organically grown, low-intervention wines from hybrid grape varieties, simultaneously working as Wine Director for VT Wine Shepherd, an independent distributor.
David was named one of Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year in 2016. He has a Master of Music Degree from Rice University, an undergraduate degree in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and attended The Juilliard School for Diploma Studies.
Robert Paulinski, MW
Bob became a Master of Wine in 2002, in doing so, broke a four-year span in which no North American had passed the exam. He’s currently one of about 45 Masters of Wine in North America and 400 worldwide.
Now in his thirty-ninth year in the wine industry, Bob has held a number of key leadership roles. Currently, he’s based in Northern California as the Founder of a B2C e-commerce site, Stellar Bottles. He also consults on a number of US and international wine brands. He’ll soon be launching a wine-based YouTube channel. Previously, Bob headed up Exclusive Brands for Coles Liquor Group, based in Melbourne, Australia. Before that, he was Senior Vice President of Wine for BevMo Stores based in Concord, California. Prior to moving to the west coast, he was Director of Wine, Spirits, and Beer for about 1000 stores under the various banners of Southeastern Grocers based in Jacksonville, FL. His first role in the corporate world was as a category lead over wine, spirits, and beer for Sam’s Club US in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Bob’s career in wine started with twenty years in retail stores, including sixteen years of owning a specialty wine retail business in Traverse City, Michigan. The business was sold in 2002. Before starting his own business, he worked as a clerk and a truck driver for a Detroit area wine retailer, later becoming the store manager.
Throughout his career, Bob has worked harvests, pruned vines, pumped over tanks, and spent countless hours in winery labs creating blends. He’s also judged at many of the major competitions throughout the US, Europe, South America, and Australia, along with traveling to most of the world’s major wine regions.
Tonya Pitts, Sommelier/Educator, Wine Consultant
An industry changemaker, Tonya Pitts is a wine professional who catapults wineries and winemakers into the mainstream. She is also a leader for diversity and inclusion in the hospitality, food and beverage industries.
Tonya is a certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. Her career has been shaped by women chefs and restaurant owners. As Sommelier & Wine Director for One Market Restaurant in San Francisco, Tonya curated a wine list with a bold style and flavor profile, including offerings by women, Black and Latino winemakers. Since 2011, Tonya’s wine programs have received Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.
Tonya is an active philanthropist and mentor. She established Women in Wine to improve representation in the industry. She also holds a professorship with the University of San Francisco, working with students on food and wine pairings. And she joined Wine Unify as an ambassador, advisory board member and mentor to people in the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities who are pursuing careers in the industry. Tonya is a core committee member of Batonnage Forum Mentorship Program, a board member for United Sommelier Foundation and Teneral Cellars, who are dedicated to empowering and elevating women.
Tonya has been a five-time judge for the San Francisco International Wine Competition, a speaker at Culinary Institute of America Summit for Beverage Professionals, and an advisor for Areni Global, the Fine Minds4Fine Wines think tank in Europe. Her media appearances include CBS This Morning, CNBC, ABC 7 News “Sips with Spencer” (video clip), Daily Beast, Wine & Spirits Magazine, Somm Journal, Tasting Panel, Wine Stream, Wonder Women of Wine and Wine Spectator.
Peg San Felippo, Wine Journalist
Peg San Felippo has had the pleasure of working in the wine industry as a journalist, judge, buyer, importer/distributor, consultant, and cellar manager spanning over the last 19 years. As the wine columnist for The Palm Beach Post, she wrote over a 100 articles and has written extensively for several other publications including Wine Business Monthly, Wine Business Insider, The Sonoma Sun, The Palm Beach Daily News, and Milwaukee Home. Currently, Peg is the wine and spirits writer for City & Shore Magazine in Fort Lauderdale, and has judged in a variety of wine competitions on both the west and east coasts of the United States. A certified sommelier, Peg also oversees the wine program and food & beverage operation at the Milwaukee Public Market, listed as one of the best public markets in America by Frommer’s and USA Today.
Sheri Sauter Morano, MW
Sheri Morano MW found her interest in wine initially sparked during a trip to Italy when she was 17. She began her formal wine education at the International Wine Center in New York City in 1997 following graduation from Duke University, where she majored in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Classical Studies with a minor in Art History.
At the IWC, where she later became an instructor, Sheri completed the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Intermediate Certificate in 1998 and the WSET Advanced Certificate in 1999. In October of 2000, she became one of the youngest Americans to complete the WSET Diploma and the following year passed the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) exam designed by the Society of Wine Educators to promote higher standards among wine educators in the United States. In November 2003, Sheri earned the esteemed title Master of Wine and became the youngest American woman to achieve the designation. There are currently 416 Masters of Wine in the world.
With a background anchored in interdisciplinary studies, Sheri enjoys working in a variety of capacities within the wine industry. She is a senior partner at Wine Ring, the market leader in consumer preference technology, consults for a number of wine companies and also judges at wine competitions around the world. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, son, and an assortment of pets. In her spare time, she enjoys running, gardening, traveling, cooking and cheering for her beloved Duke Blue Devils.