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New Zealand Sommelier of Year 2017, Stephanie Guth

Women win top sommelier honours

We are delighted to announce two women have won the New Zealand Sommelier and Junior Sommelier of the Year 2017 titles, in a field which has traditionally been a male domain. 

NZ Sommelier of Year 2017 with Committee low

Winner Stephanie Guth with members of the committee of the New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals.

L-R Cameron Douglas MS (Patron), Karen Fistonich, Stephanie Guth, Michael Darby, Celia Hay (Chair).

Stephanie Guth, who won the New Zealand Sommelier of the Year 2017, said she was humbled to win the top prize and also by the process itself, which included tasting six wines with their identities concealed, opening Champagne for the judges and an audience, and pouring the Champagne into eight glasses while answering questions about different beverages. 

 NZ Sommelier of the Year Awards 2017

L-R Wayne Sheenan from Ebisu, Runner-Up, Stephanie Guth from The French Café and Andy Reid from EuroVintage representing Champagne Louis Roederer.

At elite level a sommelier needs to have have developed both an exceptional palate and comprehensive knowledge of beverages. While wine styles, grape varieties and regions are important, a sommelier must also be knowledgeable about cocktails, spirit brands, beer and Japanese sake as well as tea and coffee. A sommelier must also have excellent communication skills.

Stephanie works as the sommelier and runs the beverage programme at The French Café in Auckland. Raised in Canada, Stephanie trained first as a chef and five years ago made the transition to front of house. Stephanie is part of the global growth in women pursing this career path.


The New Zealand Junior Sommelier of the Year was won by Amelia French from The George Hotel, Christchurch. Runner-up was Bethany Jeffries from Oyster and Chop, Auckland.

Junior Sommelier Winner with Celia ane Cam copy 

L-R Betthany Jeffries from Oyster and Chop, Sponsor Andy Wilkinson from Misha's Vineyard, Amelia French from The George Hotel, Cameron Douglas MS, Celia Hay 

The annual competition was recently held at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine in Auckland. Head Judge Cameron Douglas MS and Patron of the New Zealand Sommeliers and White Professionals, Celia Hay (Chair) and guest judge, Marek Przyborek,  newly arrived in New Zealand from Poland along with Michael Darby from Canterbury made up the panel.

This competition is open to entrants from throughout the country and has seen past winners travel to visit Champagne Louis Roederer in France and for the Junior Sommelier winners to visit Central Otago hosted by Misha’s Vineyard. It recognises the vital role played by the hospitality professional as part of the dining experience and serves to inspire others to look beyond the traditional roles of chef and server.

Somm judges

Judges Celia Hay,  Cameron Douglas MS and Marek Przyborek.

The Awards were presented at a celebration dinner at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine featuring the Lebanese Cuisine of Samir Allen from Gemmayze Street restaurant in St Kevins Arcade, Karangahape Road, Auckland. 

1Celebration Dinner Invitation copy


Chef Samir Fish 

Poached Hapuka, burnt cabbage and saffron sauce.

 Federico 1 low res


The dinner was preceded by a wine tasting of innovative Lebanese wines lead by Gemmayze Street Sommelier, Federico Rutolo 

  • Chateau Kefraya Blanc 2011 
  • Chateau Kefraya 2008 Cabernet - Grenache - Mourvedre - Syrah
  • Chateau Marsyas Red 2011
  • Chateau Marsyas B Qa de Marsyas 2013 

Thanks to Negociants New Zealand for:

  • Chateau Musar Jeune Red 2013  Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chateau Musar Hochar Red 2011  Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon 

Lebanese Wines low res


dinner 1

About to sit for dinner. 

Janet and Andy 

Janet Blackman and Andy Wilkinson

 Dinner Rose on thte floor

Tim Ting from O'Connell St Bistro and Dida Hernandez from Villa Maria.

Dions Speech

Dion Wai, NZ Sommelier of the Year 2016 talks of his experience following the 2016 competition including the visit to Champagne Louis Roederer and to the European Sommelier Competitions in Vienna. 

Ameila and competitors 

Jarrett Buffington, Bethany Jeffries and Amelia French.




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Celia Hay

Celia is a qualified chef and holds the WSET (London) Diploma of Wine. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History, Master of Education (Distinction) and MBA Master of Business Administration from the University of Canterbury.

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The School

Founded by Celia Hay, the New Zealand School of Food and Wine opened its first campus in Christchurch in 1995.

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