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Board members

Lynn Abernethy

President

Following a varied career in office administration, events and public relations, Lynn finally put her geography degree to good use by following her "appreciation" of wine and spirits to more formal learning. After successfully completing her Wine Specialist Certificate from George Brown College, Lynn earned her sommelier certificates from the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) and the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) as well as her WSET Level 3. She currently works behind the bottle as a pourer for hire for a variety of agencies and Fine Vintage Ltd. She was a co-producer for the 2019 Best Ontario Sommelier Competition (BOSC) and is active in the community. Lynn and her husband split their time between their homes in Toronto and Prince Edward County.

416-569-9176

Steven Campbell

Sponsorship & Special Events

Steven Campbell is a sommelier and the Grand Fromage of Lifford Wines & Spirits which sells wine coast to coast in Canada. A passionate cook, he opened his first restaurant in 1978 where he discovered the noble grape. In 1985 Steven purchased Delisle Wine Bar where he won eight consecutive Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence for having one of the most outstanding wine lists in the world. In 1994 he left the kitchen, grabbed his corkscrew and purchased Lifford Wine Agencies,  a small, independent wine agency. Lifford became a pioneer in importing premium wines for the hospitality industry and today is the market leader in Ontario. Steven’s quest for the world’s best wines has taken him to the far corners of the earth seeking artisanal wines made by real people in all the right places and at the right price. Steven’s efforts have been lauded through numerous LCBO Elsie Awards, the Gold Award from the Ontario Hostelry Institute for Supplier of the Year and his inductions to the prestigious Commanderie du Bontemps de Medoc and the Confraria do Vinho do Porto.   Steven is also a passionate environmentalist; Lifford Wine & Spirits is Canada’s only Carbon Neutral wine agency and has planted over 100,000 trees across Canada.   Steven’s dream is to have one of Canada’s sommeliers win the best in the world competition.  

Kari Macknight Dearborn

Social Media Community Management + Digital

Kari was bitten by the wine bug while she was a student in Budapest in the early 90s thanks to a Tokaji aszú from her birth year. Despite working for two decades in the advertising business (including on a number of beverage alcohol clients), it would take her until relatively recently to go from collecting and appreciating wine to joining the wine industry and leaving the ad biz behind.

She works as a freelance salesperson for a couple of agencies, and has recently started her own small agency called Drink Better Wines + Spirits. She is a WSET Diploma candidate, a geography enthusiast, an instructor in Italian wines, and is heavily involved in the Slow Food movement. Her passion for championing indigenous Italian grape varieties is a natural extension of her work here in Canada with Slow Food's Ark of Taste.

Kim Gertler

PR/Social Media Director

With decades of experience working in media as a writer, filmmaker, producer and reporter, Kim Gertler is known for his work at The Economist, CBC News, BRAVO!, Discovery Channel and Global News. Kim has an Honours BA from the University of Toronto and is an alumnus of the Canadian Film Centre, as well as a graduate of the Level 3 program from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET.) Kim has written about wine and food for media like: Wine Television, The National Post and Good Food Revolution and continues to create wine educational content for: The Constellation Academy of Wine, Wine Rack and The Keg. A passionate crusader for local food and wine, Kim is a co-founder of the brand, FAWN – food and wine news, launching this fall. Of his new role with CAPS as PR director, Kim says: “I’m keen to raise the profile of Ontario’s Sommeliers in helping to promote the culture and the enjoyment of wine in this province.”  

Stephanie Guth

Secretary

After completing an H.B.Comm with a focus in Hospitality Management at the University of Guelph she attended culinary school at George Brown College and spent years working as a cook in Toronto and Italy before enrolling in the CAPS program. Upon completing the CMS Certification she has worked as a sommelier in Canada, the UK and New Zealand. Having recently completed an MBA in Wine Marketing and Management at INSEEC in Bordeaux she is back in Toronto and working as the Portfolio Manager at The Living Vine. She is currently working towards her WSET Diploma.

Gary Killops

Vice President

While always curious in learning more about wine it wasn’t until Gary retired after thirty years of service as a Windsor Police officer that he would follow up on this interest. Two months after retirement he began taking the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) courses at Niagara College. After receiving his sommelier certification, he worked at several restaurants in Windsor / Essex County providing service and pouring wine.
There was something about the spirits classes that intrigued Gary, especially the blending of Canadian whisky and the different favours each grain augmented the taste profile. Gary accepted a position at the Hiram Walker & Son’s distillery in Windsor as part of the J.P. Wiser Experience brand team where he talks about the history of Canadian whisky, the fermentation and distillation process and leads tastings of whiskies made at the distillery.
Gary also instructs off-campus Master Taster courses in Essex County for Canadian Food and Wine Institute and a contract wine writer for several wine and food magazines.

519-990-6710

Heather McDougall

Technical Director

Heather McDougall is a certified sommelier (International Sommelier Guild and WSET) who has spent the last decade honing her skills in both retail and restaurant settings. She completed her certifications in 2008 in Calgary and worked as a wine director (Rush, Model Milk and Vintage Chophouse) and as a buyer / sommelier in top boutique wine stores, including BIN 905 and Metrovino. Teaching and tasting have always been a large component in all of Heather's roles and continues to be since moving to Toronto. She has held the position of wine director at Splendido and The Chase and has been the general manager and head sommelier at Montecito Restaurant and By The Glass Wine Bar. In addition to her work in hospitality, she is actively involved in the mentoring and training of junior sommeliers.

Renée Sferrazza

Hospitality Liaison

As a Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier, Wine Consultant and Contract, and wine writer of The Wine Effect in the Distillery District Magazine, Renée has worked in many roles within the wine industry. From importer to contracted peddler of fortified juice, she has seen all the ups and downs this exciting industry has to offer. Renée has a specialty for critical thinking, working to create brand and idea presence and has a knack for breaking down the world of wine into simple sips. Exploring the world wine has become more than just a driving force in her life and she is passionate about bringing all sides of wine to the table. 

Debbie Shing

Membership Director

Debbie Shing is a WSET Level 4 Diploma graduate and Certified WSET Instructor specializing in sales, marketing, events and public relations. After nearly 20 years of experience at three of Canada’s largest beverage alcohol companies, Debbie decided to create  Quvé Group, a sales and marketing firm, and e-commerce brand,  Quvé, in 2020 to better serve the evolving tastes and needs of today’s consumers. A Hong Kong native, Debbie speaks fluent English, Cantonese and French, with some Mandarin, Italian and Spanish.
Debbie teaches WSET Level 3 Advanced and Level 4 Diploma for IWEG (Independent Wine Education Guild) and is a judge for the Canada's 100 Best Restaurants competition.
 

Benjamin Somers

Treasurer

Benjamin Plisky-Somers is a WSET Diploma candidate and lifelong wine enthusiast. Ben frequently leads tasting seminars for charitable functions.

Ben has been a leader with the Ontario public service for approximately 20 years. Ben has led teams to design and implement world-leading accessibility standards for Ontarians with disabilities, enhanced safety standards for the building industry following the collapse of a mall in Elliot Lake, and overseen the multi-billion dollar transfer of gaming operations from the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation to private sector partners. He currently leads a team to support organizational transformations to better achieve business objectives.

Bruce Wallner

Education Director

Christopher Wilton

Regional Liaison Director

Hailing from South Africa, Christopher is currently involved in sales with the The Small Winemakers Collection in Toronto and runs Wilton Wine Consulting. In addition to sales and consulting, Christopher is a wine instructor at Durham College and was previously Sommelier at Coca Tapas Wine Bar after earning his Sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers. 

705-772-7440

Sara D'Amato

Past-President

Sara d’Amato is a Toronto-based wine consultant, sommelier and contributor to Vines Magazine. She has worked in cellars both in Niagara and in France and formerly as Sommelier of Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. A graduate of the University of Toronto and of Niagara College’s winery and viticulture technician program, she was the youngest and only woman to win the grand prize at Canadian Renaissance Wine Tasting Challenge in 2006 as featured in CBC’s Wine Confidential Documentary. Sara has been awarded The Ontario Hosteliery’s “Top 30 Under 30” Award and is a staunch promoter of local wine and gastroculture. . In addition to serving on the CAPS Board, Sara is a member of the Wine Writer’s Circle of Canada and participates in judging wine competitions across the country.

John P. Nadeau

Treasurer - Special Advisor

Co-founded Toronto’s “The Wine Establishment” which brought such products to Canada as Home and Commercial Wine Cellars, Riedel Crystal, Spiegelau, Le Nez Du Vin and Steven Spurrier’s “Academie Du Vin”, has also worked in brand creation and global market development with wineries, breweries and distilleries from Canada, France, Brazil, Ukraine, Australia, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and the USA. Strengths include sound overall business management, unparalleled customer focus and a keen ability to foster product cross functional, customer and industry relations.