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The United States’ largest organization of professional wine stewards has announced that they will award a scholarship to a female student who is pursuing a career in the wine and spirits industry. The scholarship is to be awarded every year, and has been named in honor of the late Debbie Lewis. Lewis, who was an active member of the United States Bartenders Guild, was the first woman to be certified as a master sommelier in the country. She was also the first woman to pass the Court of Master Sommeliers examination in the Pacific region, and was the first woman to pass the Master of Wine exam in the world.

The United Sommeliers Foundation (USF) announced the creation of the Debbie Lewis Scholarship: Women in Wine. This scholarship will offer financial aid to female students wishing to enroll in an intensive wine service training program. The scholarship will be awarded to one female applicant every other year.


The fair was created in honor of Debbie Lewis for women wine professionals.

New York, NY, 29. April 2021. – The United Sommelier Foundation, a charity created to support those in the wine industry affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, is honored to announce today the establishment of the Debbie Lewis Scholarship for women who wish to continue their studies in the wine industry and are in need of financial assistance.

Debbie has had an indelible impact on the Napa Valley community: Along with her husband Randy, she helped found Lewis Cellars and has shown her passion for winemaking by making some of the best wines in the region. Shortly before his death in 2017, Lewis Cellars received the 2013 Wine Spectator Wine of the Year award for Cabernet Sauvignon. Debbie always had a passion for mastering the wine business and was an example of dedication and hard work to everyone around her.

Selected winners will receive $5,000 from the United Sommeliers Foundation in partnership with Randy Lewis of Lewis Cellars. Applicants are eligible for one of the following accreditations: Diploma or master’s degree, WSET or master’s degree, bachelor’s degree in wine economics or MBA, and UC Davis degree in viticulture, winemaking and enology. The scholarship is for women studying in the United States who wish to pursue a degree in wine.

When I heard that Randy Lewis wanted to partner with the United Sommelier Foundation to create the Debbie Scholarship, I was immediately excited, says Chris Blanchard, treasurer and co-founder of the United Sommelier Foundation. Debbie and Randy were frequent guests at REDD in Ontville, where I was the winery manager, and I always loved Debbie’s energy and enthusiasm for life. I am honored to be able to help Randy honor his name by giving such a generous scholarship to a sommelier in need.

Established during the global COVID-19 crisis, the United Sommeliers Fund’s primary purpose is to provide financial assistance to members of the wine community – primarily sommeliers and other hospitality workers – who are on leave or laid off due to circumstances beyond their control. As a quick response to the needs of the sommelier community in America, the Foundation’s founding team includes several master sommeliers, master winemakers and other beverage experts.

I am very happy to be associated with the United Sommelier Foundation on behalf of Debbie. Our friends in the sommelier community have been and continue to be a big part of Lewis Cellars’ success in the wine business. It’s a great opportunity to give something back, says Randy Lewis, co-founder of Lewis Cellars. I hope this will help women in the wine industry continue to thrive in these difficult times and beyond. In supporting women in the wine industry, we will remember Debbie’s dedication to her family, friends and the wine community, her strength and courage, her quiet devotion and hard work.

The United Sommeliers Foundation is a non-profit organization working to apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS. If the organization receives a positive recognition from the IRS, its status as a 501(c)(3) organization relates to the date of its formation and all contributions made to the organization since its formation are considered tax-deductible charitable contributions.

About the United Sommeliers Foundation

The United Sommeliers Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to provide immediate financial assistance to sommeliers who face interruption or discontinuation of their business due to circumstances beyond their control. The organization, which supports sommeliers across the country, was founded by a number of leading industry professionals with more than 100 years of experience and expertise. The goal of the organization is to continue to make a positive impact on the wine industry and the sommelier community for years to come. For more information, see www.unitedsommeliersfoundation.org.

About Lewis Cellars

Lewis Cellars is involved in all aspects of vineyard management, winemaking, sales and distribution, and they thrive on these challenges and the relationships that develop along the way. Their ongoing goal is to create world-class wines. Total production is about 10,000 cases per year of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.


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