After studying political science at the University of Maryland and spending two years in Washington, Alicia and her husband packed their bags to fulfill a dream of living in Europe. While working at an economic think tank in London, Alicia took a trip to Burgundy and returned so inspired that she began her wine education journey at WSET’s London Headquarters. Alicia is the Wine Educator for Binny’s Beverage Depot, the largest wine and spirits retailer in the Midwest. She also teaches classes on the Champagne region for some of Chicago’s best collegiate hospitality programs on behalf of the US Champagne Bureau, an extension of the CIVC. She holds the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines.
Originally from Ireland, Eamon moved to Chicago in the summer of 2013. His passion for wine developed over 10 years ago while studying for his undergraduate degree and working part-time for Ireland’s largest wine retailer. There, the manager took him under her wing, passed on her enthusiasm for wine, and pointed him towards the WSET qualification. In 2009, Eamon moved to New Zealand where he worked and conducted tastings in Central Otago. Having spent almost 4 years as a corporate trainer in financial services in Dublin, Eamon is thrilled to share his trainer skills by teaching for the American Wine School. Eamon currently works as Area Manager for Taub Family Selections. He holds the WSET Level 3 and is undertaking the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines.
Brandon has been an American Wine School educator for more than a decade. By day he is Director of a Cleveland based beauty Accelerator and a corporate attorney. It was while in law school, that he took a consumer class offered by the American Wine School and was hooked. Since that time, he has studied, taught, and enjoyed wine travel. Brandon holds the WSET Level 3 in Wine & Spirits and is a Certified Spanish Wine Educator. Brandon also has a strong passion around tea and holds his Level One and Level Two certifications through the Specialty Tea Institute and is a Certified Tea Blender through the Australian Tea Masters Association. He was also awarded an Honorary Tea Master designation by the Australian Tea Masters Association.
Silvia Ortega Franco
Silvia came from Barcelona in 2015, changing the vineyard views of the cava country in her homeland for Lake Michigan in Chicago. In Spain, Silvia developed a career in the European environmental industry for 14 years, getting a vegetal biology and ecology science degree and an MBA, but it was after a wine trip when she decided to change her path, joining a 101 wine class in La Rioja in 2013. After that, there was no way out: she studied Oenology and Pairing in Granada and began to develop her passion for wine over her previous career. In 2016 she decided that WSET was the best way to build solid and critical knowledge about wine. Silvia is very excited to join WSET educators in the American Wine School. She holds the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines.
G. Anthony “Tony” Gatti, CS, FWS
Tony took a circuitous path to his wine career. Originally from Cincinnati, he left at 17 to serve four years in the US Army as an Arctic infantryman and survival specialist in Alaska. In the years after, he lost track of time in the Caribbean, got a degree from the University of Arizona in Latin American Studies and Creative Writing, and traveled abroad with a wild abandon while working for adventure travel companies. He eventually settled down on St. Croix in the USVI, got married and had children. Wine came into the picture when Tony was offered the chance to run an all-Italian import company. Soon he built and managed an import/distribution business with global wine, spirit and beer products. In 2012, Tony left St. Croix for Chicago where is studied wine at the American Wine School. Tony is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Certified Sommelier as authorized by the Court of Master Sommeliers, a French Wine Scholar, and holds a WSET Level 4 in Wines & Spirits. Currently, Tony is the Midwest/Great Lakes Regional Sales Manager for Hall Winery and, in a full circle move, resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Vernon found wine in his passion for the French language. After completing his undergraduate studies in Economics and French, he wanted to learn more about the wine industry. Vernon passed his WSET L1, just before traveling to France in pursuit of an MBA in Wine Marketing & Management in Bordeaux. Since returning from France, he has continued to study wine (WSET L3) and exploring the world of wine. He currently works in fine dining, finding ways to bring diversity and inclusion to an industry that needs more representation.
Mark Maruszak, J.D., CS
Mark, a native of Cleveland, Ohio moved to Toledo, Ohio graduated from the University of Toledo College of Law in 2013. During his last year of law school, Mark found his true passion in the world of wine. He is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and holds a WSET Level 4 in Wines & Spirits. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Beer Server through the Cicerone Program. With the goal of continuous education in mind, Mark has traveled extensively throughout the United Kingdoms and Paris, while also partaking in sommelier outreach programs such as the Napa Valley Vintner’s Somm Napa Valley, Oregon’s Pinot Camp, the Russian River Valley Pinot Forum, and Washington’s Walla Walla Vintner’s W2U. Currently, Mark is a sales representative for Connoisseur Wines in Chicago.
Jill Zimorski, Master Sommelier
Wine & Spirits Educator
Born and raised in Charlottesville, VA, Jill Zimorski got her start in the hospitality industry while in studying sociology and biology at the University of Virginia. After graduating, she served in management roles in two local restaurants before moving to Washington, D.C. to work for several nationally-recognized chefs; notably Charlie Palmer & José Andrés. After two years at Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill, Zimorski left to work as a Sommelier for Andrés at his Penn Quarter restaurant, Café Atlantico, ultimately becoming the first beverage director for his company. As Beverage Director, she oversaw the award-winning wine and cocktail programs at José Andrés’ popular Washington, D.C. restaurants, including Café Atlantico which, under her direction, was named one of the most innovative in the country by The New York Times.
In 2013, Jill assumed the role of Wine Director at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. Once in the Windy City, Zimorski accepted a position as Sommelier at Chicago’s culinary gem and Michelin-starred, Alinea Restaurant. Within six months, she was promoted to Wine Director of the Alinea Group (Alinea, Next, Aviary & Roister). In 2016, Zimorski left the restaurant world to take an education-focused position of Champagne Specialist representing the Champagnes of the Moët Hennessy portfolio (Krug, Ruinart, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot & Moët & Chandon). Outside of work, Zimorski enjoys baking, gardening and entertaining and in September 2018, passed the Master Sommelier Exam. Jill is one of 273 professionals in the world (and one of 29 women in the United States) to earn this prestigious accreditation. Jill successfully completed the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines & Spirits in 2019.
Tuli has been affiliated with the American Wine School since volunteering at the 2006 Fabulous Food Show. She has participated as a captain regularly since then. Tuli passed the Advanced WSET certification exam and is preparing to become a Certified Specialist of Wine in 2013.Tuli grew up in Mumbai India and moved to Sumter, South Carolina in 1990 as a Rotary International exchange student. She received her Bachelors of Science in Pre-Med from Wofford College, South Carolina and her Masters in Healthcare Administration from University of South Carolina. Tuli currently works for Cleveland Clinic as a Senior Contract Manager.Besides wine appreciation, she loves to paint and read about health, fitness & nutrition. She also is a fan of rock and roll music.
For Deborah, her career as a Travel Agent eventually sparked her passion for wine. She says it all started in New Zealand after visiting many wineries and falling in love with Sauvignon Blanc. After that trip, her pursuit for wine knowledge began. Shortly after she returned home from her trip, Deborah attended Wines of New Zealand hosted by Marianne Frantz. She was hooked. “Marianne was so terrific. I took the (WSET) Intermediate Immersion class the following month.” Deborah now holds the Level 3 WSET Certificate, is a Certified Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educator, a Spanish Wine Educator offered by the Wine Academy of Spain and a French Wine Scholar. Currently, She is a WSET level 4 Diploma candidate. Outside of wine and travel, Deborah is a book worm who enjoys cooking!
Giordana is a Detroit-based wine educator and marketer that has lived, worked, and tasted around in the world. With a Masters in Wine Marketing from Bordeaux, she has worked for a winery in Tuscany, has completed wine harvests in Australia and Napa, and done consulting and wine exporting everywhere else in between! She is a Certified Specialist in Wine (CSW), holds her WSET Level III certificate, and is going for her Certified Wine Educator’s certification. Champagne is her favorite wine and she always has a bottle chilled, ready to make the occasion!