Gillian Ballance, MS, DWS, is an acclaimed wine expert with over 20 years of experience directing esteemed wine programs at top restaurants, hotels, and resorts across the United States. Currently the National Education Manager at Treasury Wine Estates, Ms. Ballance’s career highlights include managing wine services at The Rainbow Room, Windows of the World, Cello NYC, Bacara Resort, Bottega Napa Valley, and Cavallo Point.


A passionate wine authority, she received her Master Sommelier Diploma from the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers in 2012 as one of only 25 female Master Sommeliers in the Americas. At the time, Ballance says she was at a point in her career where she wanted to put decades of experience to use. Since her first wine job, Ballance recounts being inspired along the way by so many great industry professionals- especially Master Sommeliers. It has always been her goal to pay that forward by becoming a member herself. Additionally, The Diploma served as justification to friends, family and colleagues the countless hours, holidays and weekends spent on “the floor”. Ballance also holds a Higher Certificate and Diploma in Wines & Spirits from the British Wine and Spirits Education Trust. An approved WSET wine educator, Ms. Ballance shares her expertise lecturing and leading seminars nationwide.


Recognized for her contributions, she has been featured in Wine Spectator, Food and Wine, and various trade publications. Recently she was appointed to the James Beard Foundation Beverage Advisory Board and the Court of Master Sommeliers Board of Directors.


Where are you working currently and how has being a MS supported you in your current role?

I currently work as a Senior Wine Educator for a global wine supplier, Treasury Wine Estates. The skills that Master Sommelier’s develop in their time on the floor, can be transferred to many different facets of the Supplier/Distributor side of the business. I think one of the things that has contributed to my success here at TWE is my ability to communicate about wine with people at all different levels. You can really “read” your customers after years on the floor. Also, great hospitality skills are an integral to my role, wether I am hosting a consumer event, tasting with journalists or pouring at a trade tasting.


Where were you working when you passed?

When I passed the exam I was working at Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, CA as the Wine Director – overseeing all aspects of the Wine program.


What made you want to become an MS?

The desire to become an MS stemmed from all of the great MS’ in the industry. I found them all to be so inspiring, all with different stories and backgrounds and proof that hard work , passion and determination will get you far in this industry. I truly wanted to be a source of inspiration for other beverage professionals.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

I think everyone in pursuit has specific needs which require different pieces of advice. Individuals also have very different ways of learning so I remain cautious and try to advise on a broader level….
For example, there are many more tools & resources available than when I was studying to become an MS-to that I say, proceed with caution – be careful about where you are sourcing information and also who you are tasting with. Additionally, there is no “shortcut” to the have to dive deep and do the work!


What is your desert island wine, or what wines/beverages are you currently excited about?

I don’t really have a desert island wine- but hopefully there is plenty of it!!! I am excited about lower alcohol wines- there has been a lot of technological advancements in this area and there are some really stellar examples out there.