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2019 Speakers

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Alpana Singh, MS

Television Personality and Entrepreneur

At 23, Alpana landed the sommelier position at the world-renowned Everest Restaurant in Chicago. Just three years later at the age of 26, she went on to become the youngest woman ever to pass the final level of the Master Sommelier exam. For ten seasons, she served as the host of the Emmy Award-winning restaurant review television show, Check, Please!, on Chicago’s PBS station, and returned in 2018 after a five-year absence. In December 2012, Singh opened The Boarding House, a wine-driven concept in the River North neighborhood. In February of 2015, she opened her second restaurant, Seven Lions, on Chicago’s iconic Michigan Avenue. In 2016, Alpana announced her third restaurant venture, Terra & Vine, in Evanston, Illinois.

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Emily Wines, MS

VP of Wine and Beverage Experience, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants

Emily’s responsibilities include expanding and strengthening the Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club community and advancing team members’ knowledge of wine. She serves as the liaison between the company and its individual restaurants, engaging with guests and the brand’s 350,000+ Wine Club members to create unique experiences centered around wine and spirits. Prior to joining Cooper’s Hawk, Emily worked for Skipstone Winery, where oversaw winery operations and traveled the country to educate restaurant staff. She has also served as Senior Director of Beverage and Bars at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, where she spearheaded the wine and spirits programming for 65 unique dining concepts across the U.S.

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Sheri Morano, MW

Senior Partner, Wine Ring, Inc.

In November 2003, Sheri Morano earned the esteemed title Master of Wine and became the youngest American woman to achieve the designation.  She is a senior partner at Wine Ring, the market leader in consumer preference technology, and has consulted for a number of companies including Rutherford Wine Company, Vinventions and Strategic Insights, Inc., a full-service marketing research firm. Sheri is very involved with the Institute of Masters of Wine, serving as the Stage 2 Bordeaux Seminar Coordinator and as a member of the board of the Institute of Masters of Wine North America.  She also judges at a variety of wine competitions around the world, including the UK-based International Wine Challenge where she is a panel chair, and the TEXSOM International Wine Awards.


Ariel Arce

Owner, Air’s Champagne Parlor, Tokyo Record Bar, Niche Niche, Special Club

Ariel Arce is the 31-year-old New York entrepreneur, also known as the Champagne Empress of Greenwich Village and Nightlife Hitmaker, behind Tokyo Record Bar, Air’s Champagne Parlor, Niche Niche, and Special Club, all of which opened within the past TWO years on MacDougal Street. Ariel’s passions for wine, dinner parties and music shine throughout her spaces. Each has a distinctive identity and offers guests a singular experience yet share the common philosophy that going out in New York should be more than just picking food from a menu or getting a ticket to a show. It should inspire conviviality, human connection, discovery, and be affordable!

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Julia Coney

Wine writer and Consultant

Julia Coney is a Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas-based wine writer, wine educator, and consultant. Her wine writing includes stories on wine, winemakers, and the intersection of race, wine, and language. She holds a WSET Level Two Certification in Wine and Spirits and is currently pursuing her Master Level Champagne Certification with the Wine Scholar Guild. Her work has been featured in Wine Enthusiast, The Tasting Panel, Plate Magazine,,, Glamour, Essence, The Washington Post, and numerous print and digital publications.  She is a 2019 Fellow of the Professional Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley.

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Leslie Sbrocco

Author, Speaker, Consultant, and Television Host

An award-winning author, speaker, consultant, and television host, Leslie Sbrocco is known for her entertaining approach to wine and food, as well as inspiring others to live a life of passion. Voted as one of the Top 100 most influential people in the American wine business, Sbrocco’s engaging personality, humor, and ability to connect with the audience – whether on screen or on stage – are her trademarks. As host of the PBS restaurant review series Check Please! Sbrocco has won a coveted James Beard award, three Taste Awards, and three Emmy awards in the span of 10 seasons on air.


Jessica Milli

Study Director, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Jessica Milli, Ph.D., is an Economist and Study Director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), the leading think tank in the United States that focuses primarily on policy research through a gendered lens. Once referred to as a “wonk star,” Dr. Milli leads the Institute’s work on innovation and entrepreneurship and diversity in corporate leadership. She has presented her research at events across the country and her research has been widely cited in national press, including Bloomberg, The Atlantic, and MarketWatch.

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Alicia Lini - Lini 910

Guided Wine Tasting

Alicia Lini represents the fourth generation of the Lini family, producers of some of Italy’s most acclaimed and highly rated sparkling wines. Since 1910, when they first established their winery in Correggio township (Reggio Emilia province, in the region of Emilia-Romagna), they have never followed the trends or fashions that have driven Lambrusco production in this century and the last. They make their Lambrusco — including their classic method Lambrusco, produced using traditional hand-riddling — the same way they always have: the traditional “dry” style of Lambrusco, with a focus on freshness, brilliant fruit flavors, and food-friendliness.

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Magali Combard - Figuière

Guided Wine Tasting

Magali is a tireless globetrotter who loves learning about the world and people. She brings her passion for traveling and meeting new people to her role as sales and marketing manager at the family-owned winery that she joined in 2004. Alongside her father and today with her brother François and sister Delphine, Magali is always on the lookout for new ideas and up on all the latest trends. She devises, together with her team and partners, the most comprehensive marketing strategy to shape the Figuière portfolio to its unique DNA, based on solid family beliefs and practices.

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Andrea Tavares da Silva - Quinta de Chocapalha

Guided Wine Tasting

Andrea Tavares is one of the three daughters of Alice and Paulo Tavares da Silva, the owners of Quinta de Chocapalha. After graduating with a degree in finance and economics, Andrea worked in the finance sector for many years, but her dream was always to join the family business full-time. Starting in 2011, she began working with her parents and sister at Quinta de Chocapalha, handling daily management tasks, including sales, finance, and logistics.

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Virginia Willcock - Vasse Felix

Guided Wine Tasting

Virginia is the Chief Winemaker behind some of Australia’s most critically acclaimed wines, at Margaret River’s founding wine estate, Vasse Felix. She joined as Chief Winemaker in October 2006. Virginia has an insatiable curiosity for the role microbiology plays in grapes and vineyards in making more environmentally expressive wines. This has driven the revolutionary development in winemaking style at Vasse Felix and served as inspiration for many other producers around Australia – in particular her work with wild-yeast fermentation in Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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