Current Bracket Standing:
OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES
OUR 2024 JUDGE PANEL
CSW, Resident Sommelier, Sail Away Wine
Katie Hendley fell in love with wine when she studied in Florence, Italy in 2001. She’s been hooked ever since and decided to make it official in 2008 with a diploma from the International Sommelier Guild and, in 2014, a Level 2 Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Katie worked as a wine director/sommelier in Seattle, Naples, Evergreen, Denver, and beautiful Lake Lotawana before moving to downtown KC in 2018. She likes long walks on the beach, eating delicious foods and drinking wine, and talking about delicious foods and wines. She is currently the Resident Sommelier at Sail Away Wine and a server at Affäre Restaurant.
Sales Representative, Pinnacle Imports
Kathi Rohlfing graduated from the University of Missouri with B.A. in Education. She moved to Kansas City and took a “summer job” at the Longbranch Saloon on the Plaza while interviewing for teaching positions. The summer job turned into a management position and a 23-year career in the hospitality industry including the following: Manager at McCoy’s Public House and 75th Street Brewery; Food and Beverage Director at Hotel Phillips (where she created a Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence” for the Phillip’s Chophouse); Director of Restaurants at the Marriott Downtown; General Manager/Wine Director at Room 39 in Leawood. After years of loving the wine and spirits in the Pinnacle Imports portfolio and striving for the opportunity to share them with others, Kathi joined Pinnacle in 2017. Kathi completed her Level One Certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2003.
Owner, Cellar Rat Wine Merchants
Having started at the ripe age of 20 as a backwaiter at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis, Kevin quickly learned that he loved food and wine. With stints in restaurants, clubs, retail, wholesale, and suppliers, over time he has learned that retail was where his many talents were best served. He says, “The customer interaction, joy, and love are addictive, and it is where I belong.” In 2013, when the owner of Cellar Rat approached him about buying Cellar Rat, it was a perfect fit. Since then, he has experienced a wonderful 10 years at Cellar Rat, working with his amazing staff, to make Cellar Rat exactly the place he wanted it to become!
OUR 2024 LIVE FINALE EMCEE
KSHB-TV Traffic Anchor/MMJ
Wines Our Contestants Have Tasted So Far:
SOMMIER SHOWDOWN 2023 HIGHLIGHTS
A well-deserved congratulations to Kerri Lesh, the 2023 Sage of Wine!
Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) & Txakoli Enthusiast
Dr. Lesh is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), having worked harvests in the Basque Country, Chile, and the US. She is currently based in Kansas City, dividing her time between working at a local vineyard, teaching for the Culinary Center of Kansas City, as well as teaching in the Anthropology Department at a local college. Kerri has lived in the Basque Country of Spain for cumulatively two years and returns there as much as she can to meet with both academics and local food and wine producers. She is obsessed with all Basque wines – especially Txakoli – and hopes to increase awareness of this wonderful culture and its gastronomic products in the local KC market.
SOMMELIER SHOWDOWN 2022 HIGHLIGHTS
Congratulations to Steven Hultgren, the 2022 Sage of Wine (the very first)!
Supervisor, Risk Adjustment at Sunflower Health Plan
You’ll find Steve drinking a nice glass of red wine and working, and working! Professionally Steve is entering his 38 th year in the insurance industry, working in a variety of project management, enrollment and risk adjustment leadership roles. In his spare time he also is entering his 38 th year as an Adjunct Professor at an area College and University teaching a variety of IT, Project Management and Strategic Management courses. His interest in wine began early, assisting his father who was a home wine making hobbyist. Later in life this passion landed him in yet another part time role at Off The Vine in Overland Park, KS developing the software for and running their wine club, and pouring at their tasting events. After they closed up shop in OP several years back Steve moved on to Wines By Jennifer in Parkville back in 2017 where he manages the wine club and hosts the various wine tastings for Club members. Recent wine excursions have taken him to Italy, Willamette Valley, Paso Robles, and Walla Walla. Steve has also passed his Level 1 Somm exam.
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