Laura Maniec is one of only 18 women Master Sommeliers in the world to have achieved the highest accreditation given to wine professionals. Wine and Spirits Magazine named her “Best New Sommelier” the first year they started the award. Laura earned her Master Sommelier designation in 2009, after nearly eight years of intensive study.
In 2001, Laura found her true passion for wine in New York City through an 18-week sommelier certification class held at Windows on the World atop the World Trade Center. Inspired, motivated and excited by what she learned, Laura opted to pursue a career in wine.
At 21, just as she became legally allowed to drink, she became a sommelier at Blue Fin, a 400-seat restaurant in New York City. Under the guidance of Master Sommelier Greg Harrington, Laura’s knowledge and experience blossomed. Later, as part of the wine team at B.R. Guest Restaurant Group, Laura was sent across the country to open new hotels.
At just 25, she was made a partner as well as Wine and Spirits Director for the entire restaurant group, in charge of 20 restaurants. Aside from overseeing purchasing and creating the wine lists, Laura was responsible for educating the entire front-of-the-house team on wine. Laura resigned from B.R. Guest to develop her wine bar and pursue teaching about wine.
Today, Laura is on the Board of Directors for the Guild of Sommeliers, an organization dedicated to educating and rewarding those in the beverage service industry, and she regularly sits on the New York Times tasting panel. She also contributes to industry publications, including Food & Wine and Sommelier Journal, and she consults for various beverage programs as well as teaches and lectures on wine for students and audiences around the world.
This spring, Laura is opening Corkbuzz Wine Studio, an innovative wine restaurant that will serve as a “home base” in New York City for all things wine. Teaching is Laura’s favorite part of her career. She loves to educate, inspire and share her passion with anyone who wants to learn about wine. Her approach is empowering, and her style is welcoming. She says, “Everyone can learn about wine, even if you don’t want to geek out. My only goal is that if you take a class with me, you’ll have fun, and by the end you’ll at least know what you like.”
Laura is a mentor to many sommeliers and feels that she will really be successful when one of her students becomes a fellow Master Sommelier.