Eric Hemer, Master Sommelier
Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida
Eric began his career at Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) in 1988 as an On-Premise Wine Consultant in the Palm Beaches. In 1990 he was promoted to District Manager and in 1991 to Sales Manager, Wine Division, On-Premise and Independent Retail. In 1993, this became Sales Manager On-Premise Wine & Spirits North. In January 1995, he was promoted to General Manager of the newly created American Wine & Spirits division (now Transatlantic.) And in the fall of 1995, he went back to SWS as General Sales Manager, Wine Division, responsible for all wine sales and a team of 130 sales personnel in South Florida. Three years later, as similar positions were created around the country he was appointed Educational Director for SWS of Florida, a return to his original interest in fine wine.
Over the next decade, he went about creating a new department, opening the EducationCenter in the Miami office, writing a Wine and Spirits Sales and Educational Training Manual, and conducting hundreds of training classes for personnel in all SWS Florida markets, and more recently, other SWS markets including Pennsylvania and New England. In addition, he went back to school himself, joining the Society of Wine Educators (SWE), the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) program and the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) program.
Professional Credentials and Timeline
1998-Passed the CMS Introductory exam in Chicago.
1999-Passed the SWE “Certified Wine Educator” exam, additionally earning the Banfi Award, awarded annually for the highest passing score by a first time candidate.
2001-Passed the CMS Advanced Sommelier exam in New York.
2002-Passed theory and service portions of the Master Sommelier Exam in San Francisco.
2003-Passed the tasting portion of the Master Sommelier Exam held annually in San Francisco and awarded the diploma and title of Master Sommelier (MS).
2005-Passed the Practical (blind tasting) portion of the Masters of Wine examination in NapaValley.
2010-Received a Conditional Pass in the Masters of Wine Theory exam and embarked upon the Dissertation portion of the program.
Educational Responsibilities and Activities
As Educational Director for SWS of Florida, Eric teaches wine and spirits classes for SWS sales personnel and key restaurant and retail customers throughout Florida, as well as “Mastery of Wine for Professionals” at the SWS Beverage Management Institute at FloridaInternationalUniversity (FIU.)
Eric is involved with organizing and conducting wine seminars at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival, the Outer Limits Tour, and Disney’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival. Hemer is also the resident sommelier and wine lecturer for Chef Jean-Pierre’s CulinaryCenter in Ft.Lauderdale. In addition, he is actively involved in lecturing, examining, and mentoring around the country with both the Court of Master Sommeliers and with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He currently mentors a group of Advanced and Master Sommelier candidates. Eric is also a judge and examiner for the Top Somm! and Top New Somm Competitions run by the Guild of Sommeliers. Eric is also on the Board of Directors for the Jimmy Mancbach Scholarship Fund to promote wine education for young professionals.
Hemer is still involved in sales management and brand development, overseeing the SWS Bordeaux wine portfolio, managing other fine wine selections for Florida, running the Education Center in Miami, the EPIC program, on the Corporate Item File committee, and works closely with SWS of America on numerous wine projects, including contributor and editor of the wine portion of the current SWS University wine project.
Resides in Lake Worth, Florida with wife, Marianne and daughter, Julia.