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Board members

James Peden


James Peden is the wine director for the Liberty Entertainment Group in Toronto and is responsible for the wine and beverage programs at all 7 properties including BlueBlood Steakhouse in Casa Loma, and three Cibo Wine Bars.
Prior to this James worked as the Head Sommelier at Treadwell Farm-to-Table in Niagara-on-the-Lake. During this time, James curated a list with over 150 VQA wines and developed strong relationships with wineries and winemakers in the Niagara Peninsula. This strong attachment to Niagara is why he decided to run for the CAPS board as an ambassador for the region.
After passing the Advanced Sommelier exam on his first attempt in 2019, James is now preparing to challenge the Master Sommelier exam in 2021. James plans to design and host masterclasses and webinars to allow CAPS members to continue their education. He lives in Grimsby with his wife Kim.

Steven Campbell

Sponsorship & Special Events

Steven Campbell is a sommelier and was the Grand Fromage of Lifford Wines & Spirits which sold 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.  

Shagun Dabral

Digital Director

After a long career as a marketing professional, Shagun decided to follow her passion and immersed herself in all things wine. After moving from New York to Toronto in 2017, she enrolled in the CAPS program at George Brown, which not only enriched her knowledge, but helped her connect to some amazing individuals of the food and beverage industry. 

Actively working and collaborating in the industry, and continuing her education in wine with WSET, she also shares her experiences under “PhenomOenology” on Instagram.
Her passion for food and wines has led her to travel to different parts of the world, exploring different cuisines and wines to pair with them. Her main interests lie in blind-tasting wines, and reading as well as writing about different regions and countries and making the wine world more digital, especially since COVID.
A big supporter of diversity and women empowerment, she wants to keep bringing in new trends to the industry and support more women in wine and keep contributing to our Sommunity!

Manuel (Manny) Gonzalez

Diversity & Inclusion / Regional Liaison

Manuel Gonzalez was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His journey with wine began in 2015 when he decided that this was going to be his area of study. He graduated as a CAPS certified sommelier the following year from Niagara College.
In 2018, he successfully completed the CMS exam finishing with the highest grade overall and was thus awarded the Walter Clore Scholarship.
Manny's experience includes a rewarding stage position at one of Ontario’s notable restaurants, Quatrefoil, under the supervision of Jose Luis Fernandez, 2019 winner of Best Ontario Sommelier presented by CAPS.
He currently holds the Head Sommelier position at Treadwell Cuisine in Niagara-on-the-Lake where he and owner, restauranteur and fellow sommelier, James Treadwell manage the Two Glass- Best of Award of Excellence beverage program.
He's an active working sommelier, with firsthand knowledge to areas in need of expanding the CAPS program so it's viewed by other wine professionals as a program with world-class standards.

Stephanie Guth

Vice President

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.

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

Diversity & Inclusion Director

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. 

Bruce Wallner

Education Director

Benjamin Somers


Ben co-owns Bossanova Wine & Beer,  a tasting bar and bottle shop on Roncesvalles in Toronto and is a WSET Diploma candidate.

Previously, Ben was a leader with the Ontario public service for 20 years where he led a number of multi-billion dollar transformations to enhance Ontario’s economic landscape.

Lynn Abernethy

Past President

Following a varied career in office administration, events and public relations for performing arts organizations and architectural firms, 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 and her business partner are about to launch Corkscrew Imports - a boutique wine agency focusing on family based wineries. She also works behind the bottle as pourer and teacher assistant with Fine Vintage Ltd. and was a co-producer for the 2019 Best Ontario Sommelier Competition (BOSC).  Lynn's active in the community and with her husband split time between their homes in Toronto and Picton, Prince Edward County.


Sara D'Amato


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.