Residing as Wine Director at The Breakers Palm Beach, one of America’s most iconic luxury resorts, Philip is responsible for the continuous elevation of the 140-acre property’s award-winning wine program and cocktail culture. Since joining the company in 2000, Philip has been the force behind The Breakers’ retention of two esteemed accolades: Wine Spectator’s – Grand Award since 1981 and the Best of Award of Excellence (Flagler Steakhouse – since 2014). She has expanded the resort’s impressive wine collection to more than 55,000 bottles throughout 10 distinctive restaurants, banquet operations and in-room dining.


In addition to her role at The Breakers, Philip added entrepreneur to her career profile in 2011 with the debut of the Virginia Philip Wine Spirits & Academy in Palm Beach, FL. Her namesake retail boutique features over 1,000 personal wine selections, an extensive collection of spirits, weekly education programs, as well as guest appearances from national and international winemakers. In January of 2024, Philip added a Delray Beach location.


Throughout her 23-year tenure at the resort, Philip has built a tremendous reputation as an expert while earning many of the industry’s most respected distinctions: the extraordinary accreditation of Master Sommelier, the “Best Sommelier in America” (2002) from the American Sommelier Association; and the eminent James Beard Foundation’s nomination for “Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional” (2012). She received her “Honorary Doctorate Degree of Oenology” in 2015 from her alma mater, Johnson & Wales University (Providence, RI); and was named 1 of 50 of the most influential women in today’s wine & spirits industry by WINWSA (Women in Wine & Spirits Association) in 2020.


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

I am currently a small business owner and the Wine Director for The Breakers. I own the Virginia Philip Wine, Spirits & Academy in Palm Beach and Virginia Philip Wine in Delray Beach. I was working at The Breakers when in passed in 2002. I have enjoyed a long tenure at The Breakers and am thankful for their support.


What made you want to become an MS?

I wanted to become an MS because I knew it was the right path and choice for me. I have a competitive nature and wanted to be like Madeline Triffon and Andrea Robinson. I was so impressed by their accomplishments as female leaders in the industry. I wanted to obtain that level and be able to help others – male or female – one day. Passing the exam for me, was like being in the Olympics – amongst the best in the world. Pass or Fail. For me, to not at least try to pass was to fail.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

My advice to others is to never give up. Believe in yourself and be confident in who you are. The exam is going to test every inch of your brain and your physical state. Take time to do some things for yourself. For me, that was exercise. As for relationships, make sure you have the support of those around you. The naysayers have to go- at least for a bit. Try to embrace the experience knowing you will make some mistakes, but learn from them as well. You will be better for it and hopefully like yourself more. And don’t forget to laugh! Some of my best moments are tasting and studying with others. We had a lot of heartache but a lot of laughs too. When my family would read questions to me and mess up all the pronunciations – it was hysterical and it meant the world to me that they were trying to help.


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

What is your desert island wine, or what wines/beverages are you currently excited about? I might change my mind next year or in two years – who knows. For now, I would love a great bottle of Manzanilla Sherry. When I think desert island, I think sunny, sandy and warm. So Manzanilla will work with fish, nuts and whatever else I am going to find to eat to survive! I just hope I land with a bag of tootsie rolls to treat myself once in a while.