Above, from left: Presenter Jeremy Parzen, sommelier Dario Najera, sommelier Jason Barnett, wine educator Walden Pemantle, Italian Consul General for Houston Mauro Lorenzini, and Kroger regional wine manager Jaime De Leon, founder of the Houston Sommelier Competition.
Now in its third year, the Houston Sommelier Competition was created by Kroger regional wine buyer and sommelier Jaime De Leon to help promote wine education in the Houston wine professional community. Since its inception, it has expanded eligibility to include candidates from anywhere in the world who wish to compete.
This year’s first prize went to Walden Pemantle with Jason Barnett and Dario Najera winning second and third place, respectively.
Pemantle, who works as a sales manager for a Houston-based distributor and educator at the Texas Wine School, will be taking part in an all-expenses-paid trip to Abruzzo wine country later this year.
Barnett (sommelier, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse) and Najera (sommelier, MAD Houston) received scholarship awards of $600 and $400, respectively.
Congratulations to the winners and everyone who competed! And special thanks to Jaime De Leon, the founder and organizer, and Master Sommelier Nathan Prater, who oversaw the testing and service exam.