Keeper Collection Announces Finalists to Compete in 2019 Somms Under Fire

AUSTIN, Texas [October 24, 2019] – Keeper Collection, LLC, host of Somms Under Fire the preeminent live sommelier wine and food pairing competition, is pleased to announce the three finalist and alternate competitors for the 2019 event. Sommeliers from 17 states contested in a qualification exam, designed to select the most knowledgeable wine professionals to compete in Somms Under Fire, which will be held Sunday, January 27, 2019 at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in Austin, Texas.

In its eighth year, Somms Under Fire has become one of the most significant sommelier competitions in the country. Its prestige, quality of competition, and substantial prizes regularly draw an outstanding group of wine professional applications from across the U.S. This year’s competition drew one of the largest fields of highly qualified sommeliers.

The three final competitors are (listed alphabetically):

  • Dustin Chabert is the fifth generation of his family pursuing a career in the hospitality industry. Located in Aurora, Illinois, he is currently working as the Illinois Market Manager for DNS Wines, as well a sommelier at Spiaggia.
  • Phil Laramore has worked in all facets of the wine business, from restaurant wine programs to distribution and importing. He started his own import company, SAmandla, in 2014 and resides in Littleton, Colorado.
  • David Reuss, a resident of Denver, Colorado, describes his life as one dedicated to wine. He is the wine director at Shanahan’s Steakhouse, known for its modern interpretation of the classic steakhouse.

Three alternates have been selected to compete should a contestant not be able to participate. In order of rank, the alternates are:

  • Kathleen Thomas, training manager, Las Vegas NV, Hakkasan Group
  • Nick Davis, sommelier of Medium Plus, Seattle, WA.
  • Brandon Kerne, sommelier of Pappas Bros Steakhouse, Houston, TX.

The sommeliers earned a spot in Somms Under Fire based on their extensive wine knowledge and impressive professional experience in the industry. Applicants were required to meet specific professional wine industry requirements, as well as required to complete a wine knowledge exam as the final determinant in the selection process.

Contestants will test their mettle in the in-the-moment food and wine pairing challenge before a panel of expert judges. Becky Wasserman & Co will provide the grand prize of a one-week wine internship with a renowned Burgundy expert, in Burgundy, France, and the TEXSOM Foundation will provide a travel grant for the winner.

Somms Under Fire formed a strategic alliance in 2017 with TEXSOM. Keeper Collection owner, Diane Dixon says, “At Keeper Collection, we feel our mission of advanced education for consumers and wine professionals aligns extremely well with that of TEXSOM. There is great synergy between our organizations, which creates a natural fit to collaborate on this event. We are fortunate to have TEXSOM Foundation as the sponsor for the grand prize travel grant, which is a great giveback to the wine industry. In addition, wines used in our competition are selected from the TEXSOM International Wine Awards submissions, and a member of the TEXSOM team, Master Sommelier James Tidwell will participate as a member of the esteemed judges panel.”

Tickets to attend Somms Under Fire will be announced soon on the Keeper Collection website:

About Keeper Collection

Keeper Collection is a distinguished wine and food experience, event and travel company that operates #SommChat, Somms Under Fire, Wine Ride, Chefs Under Fire, Life Tastings Blog, and Keeper Travel. Keeper has garnered international attention for its creation of #SommChat, a weekly wine education forum on Twitter, held every Wednesday, from 12-1 PM EST. Wine and Spirits Magazine says, “#SommChat is ‘Wine in 140 characters’ and has garnered an impressive guest list.” Guests include international wine professionals and an audience comprised of active participants from around the world. Connect with Keeper Collection on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for the Finest Blend of Taste and Technology®.