Like many people, Julie got into wine by accident. She discovered her passion for wine while waiting tables in undergrad at Texas A&M University. A career in biotechnology took her to Maryland where she continued to study wine for fun and work in wine bars while completing a Biotechnology graduate program at Johns Hopkins University. When Julie finished grad school, a friend was opening a restaurant and put the program in her lap. She was able to cut my teeth in the wine business by night while still working in the land of PCR and Western Blots by day. For four years Julie lived both lives.


When she passed the Advanced Sommelier exam as well as the Certified Wine Educator exam in 2010, she realized she should probably make the jump. An opportunity to represent the Terry Theise portfolio for Michael Skurnik Wines presented itself and she took the leap. Sometimes it takes a big mistake to learn where you really belong. Julie loves restaurants. She loves working the floor. That year working with Skurnik was a big milestone for me. She is so grateful to this day for that opportunity, but was a fish out of water. It taught her so much.


She came back to Maryland in 2011 when the Four Seasons opened and worked for Michael Mina until 2017 when Tilman Fertitta opened the Post Oak Hotel in Houston, where she is now. She was part of the opening team that built the Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine list from the ground up. After nine grueling attempts, she finally passed the MS exam in 2022.


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

I’m working as the Chef Sommelier for the Post Oak Hotel in Houston, TX. I’m based out of Stella’s Wine Bar on property, but I’m essentially on call for any of the outlets for service and education.


Where were you working when you passed?

Post Oak Hotel, Houston, TX


What made you want to become an MS?

I never wanted to be a sommelier. I thought it sounded snobby. I was happy just being the person on the floor of a restaurant that was able to help with wine service, staff education, and inventory management. I hated the word ‘sommelier.’ But when people kept calling me the sommelier, after two years of actually working as a sommelier, I thought I should just get the credential. When the Introductory Course was being offered in Washington, DC in 2008, I signed up for it. My instructors were absolutely inspiring and I became hooked. It was the first time I was in a room with people that knew as much and more about wine than I did. It was intimidating and inspiring all at once. It was Ron Edwards, specifically, that changed my mind. Two months later I went for Certified. Two years later I passed Advanced. Fourteen years later I finally got to join him on stage.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

Have gratitude and humility along the way. Surround yourself with people who know more than you and who will hold up the mirror and give you tough love. Embrace the tough love. You won’t get any better being the smartest person in the room. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad tasting day. Take every ‘failure’ as a learning opportunity and be grateful for it.


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

People ask us this all the time, ‘what’s your favorite wine?’ I’ll say this: my desert island *country* is Italy. I can have everything from bubbles to Riesling to Barolo and beyond. My desert island grape is Riesling – probably from Austria or Germany. Mezcal is definitely a problem for me, and Spanish brandy is glorious.