2019 finalists 

The Netherlands



>> Martien Marcelissen
       

Meet Martien Marcelissen. Young, enthusiastic sommelier residing in Eindhoven, The Netherlands and winner of the Wines of South Africa Sommelier Cup country round in Amsterdam.  Since completing his Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management in Maastricht in 2012, he has gained experience in Austria, Germany and The Netherlands in key restaurants such as Becker’s Hotel & Restaurant in Trier (**Michelin star) and Restaurant Tout à Fait (*Michelin stars). Martien currently works at "winespired" Restaurant Oonivoo in Uden in The Netherlands.  Martien is interested in culture and nature and this unique combination in the Cape Winelands makes it one of the ultimate travel destinations on his bucket list.

SWEDEN


>> Maja Hempel
      

Maja studied to be an International Sommelier at The Restaurant Academy in Stockholm from 2012-2013. She is currently working as Restaurant Manager/Sommelier at the famous Thörnströms Kök in Gothenburg. The restaurant was awarded "Best restaurant team" in Sweden 2016 and Maja herself has been a runner up for the title STELLA Waitress 2019. She also been nominated twice for the title Best Sommelier of the year by the trade magazine Livets Goda. The Wosa Sommelier Cup was her first competition and by winning the Swedish country round she will take her first steps into being recognised as an International known sommelier. Maja has a very ambitious personality and is now studying the WSET Diploma in London. 

kenya


>> sAMuel NDICHU
       

Kenya’s newly crowned sommelier champion Sam Ndichu is well known in the wine circles from his expansive experience working with specialized wine merchants Domaine Kenya,  The Wine Gallery and Urban Wine Shop in the capital’s central business district. He is now an independent wine consultant undertaking projects. Predictably his drink of choice is wine, but a little known fact is that Sam’s chosen mode of transportation is a motorbike, which he used to ride to and from the competition! Riding a motorcycle is a full sensory experience just like drinking wine. 
Sam took up the challenge for the sommelier world cup to test himself against his peers and get the experience of international competitions. The platform attracted the best in Kenya including my former boss, clients and current suppliers. Definitely not a walk in the park! I look forward to flying the Kenyan flag high!


Zimbabwe


>> Takura Makadzange
       

Takura is an Australian trained sommelier and chef, having started his hospitality career in the year 2000, Takura has worked in almost every role from kitchen porter to executive chef owner of his own restaurant. Takura also has qualifications as a barista and Hotel manager. From a culinary side, Takura's main passions lie in Italian food as well as modern desserts. Food and wine education is the major thrust of Takura's current role in managing his family resort in Bvumba. Takura relishes the opportunity to share all of his experience and insights on food and beverage with the Zimbabwean public.

USA


>> ADAM KNOERZER

Adam is a native of Indiana who made his way to Pittsburgh in 2011 after stints in New York and Paris. A polyglot with bilingual fluency in French (he also speaks Portuguese and Spanish), Adam brings over 10 years of teaching, training, and public speaking experience to Dreadnought Wines where he helps lead the School of Wine and Spirits and assists in wine buying and retail operations.
Adam is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and holds WSET awards in Wine (Level 3) and Spirits (Level 2). He is an aficionado of off-the-beaten-path grape varieties and regions who aims to make wine more inclusive through his educational programming and portfolio development.


UK



>> RICHELLE VAN GEMERT
       

The talented and passionate Richelle van Gemert is currently assistant head sommelier at Adam Handling Chelsea, in London. Previously she worked at the home of sommelier ninjas, 67 Pall Mall, London, as a senior sommelier. Prior to her move to the UK, Richelle has held sommelier roles in her native Netherlands, at Hotel de Weverij Restaurant Cordial* in Oss (1 Michelin star), Restaurant de Negenmannen (Boxtel) and Restaurant De Karpendonkse Hoeve* (Eindhoven; 1 Michelin star). Among her many accolades, in 2019 she was named 20th ASI Best Sommelier of the World, she was also runner up in the Netherlands round of the Wines of South Africa Sommelier Cup in 2016. She has studied with the Court of Master Sommeliers.

CANADA



>> ANDREW FORSYTH
       

A relative newcomer to the Vancouver beverage scene, Andrew Forsyth started his wine journey while working as a manager for The Keg Steakhouse and Bar and recently moved on to join the sommelier team at L’Abbatoir.  He is accredited as a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers US and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (Level 3 with Merit).
 
Andrew studied History and English Literature at Simon Fraser University and is an enthusiastic baseball fan.  This is Andrew’s first sommelier competition.

JAPAN



>> Taku Iguro
       

A sommelier at the French restaurant L'Osier in Tokyo, Taku built his career as a sommelier in several restaurants in Tokyo, two of which have 3 stars in the Michelin Guide. He became the Best Young Sommelier in Japan (2015), followed by placing 2nd in the Best Sommelier of Japan (2017), he proceeded to the A.S.I. Asia & Oceania Sommelier Competition in 2018 where he placed 4th. Now, as an Executive Officer of Japanese Sommelier Association, he contributes to the education of young sommeliers. One of his biggest strengths is his command of the English language and bi-cultural background.

GREATER CHINA



>> Derek Li
       

With over 10 years of hospitality experience, Hong Kong born Derek joined JIA as the Chief Sommelier of the group’s flagship venue Duddell’s, and then promoted to Group Sommelier in 2018. He is an Advanced Sommelier of Court of Master Sommelier (CMS) and holder of WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines & Spirits. Talented, passionate and personable, Derek was recognized as the Best Sommelier in Greater China 2015 by Hong Kong Sommelier Association while he worked for Michelin-starred Italian restaurant L’Altro. Prior to joining Duddell’s he was a sommelier at Mr. & Mrs. Fox for Swire Group.

SINGAPORE



>> Chek Wong
       

Embracing the spirit of discovery, Chek has been travelling to wine regions since he first got hooked onto wine in 2005. Along the journey he has expanded his repertoire to include wine writing, education and judging. In 2009 Chek won the Bodegas Torres Wine Scholarship, and three years later was invited as a panel judge at the inaugural Decanter Asia Wine Awards. He is currently an Air Sommelier and WSET educator with Singapore Airlines, which was recently rated as Best Airline in the World by TripAdvisor. He currently holds the WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits.

Germany



>> Maximilian Wilm

Maximilian Wilm excites his guests in the “Kinfelts Kitchen & Wine” in Hamburg with an exclusive selection of wines. In 2008 together with Michelin star chef Kirill Kinfelt (** Michelin Stars) the new wine bar next to the Elbphilharmonie was opened. Maximilian now focusses on an alternating assortment of about 250 wines. Maximilian is a passionate sommelier. Born in the winegrowing region of Franconia, he was associated with viticulture since childhood. After his apprenticeship as a restaurant specialist, Maximilian worked for three years in the InterContinental in Berchtesgaden. He completed several years of training as a sommelier while working. His further professional positions include several years in the Palais Coburg in Vienna (** Michelin Stars), where he oversaw the most extensive wine cellar in Europe. An attractive proposal lured him to Hamburg, to the exclusive Fivestarhotel Am Süllberg to star chef Karlheinz Hauser (** Michelin Stars). As Head Sommelier of the Seven Seas Restaurant, he enthused numerous international guests with his profound knowledge of wine and his perfect food and wine pairings, selected from an exclusive cellar with over 1.000 wines.