We are so thrilled to have John in the house! John Szymankiewicz has one of the best jobs in the world.
John is an attorney that works almost exclusively with breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Helping small and independent craft alcohol producers start and grow is John’s business. Finding great craft beverages is John’s passion.
John has been an avid homebrewer for more than 20 years and has brewed – literally – hundreds of different beers.
From deep, rich German doppelbocks, to effervescent and strong Belgian Tripels, to English milds and porters, to American West Coast IPAs, John has cultivated a palate and a passion for all things beer-y.
Steeped in the literature and culture of craft beer for decades, John dedicated his legal practice to craft alcohol beverages more than 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back.
When John hears “I don’t like beer,” he takes that as a personal challenge and sets out to prove to you that there is, in fact, a beer out there that you’ll love. He is currently undefeated in converting people to beer drinkers, often hearing “Wow, I didn’t know I liked beer!” His passion is as strong as the rest of our team.
Get ready to have a blast at his beer classes coming soon.
Allie was born in New Jersey and has lived in North Carolina for over 12 years. She has been working in the beverage industry for the past 4 years as the operations manager at a small urban winery in downtown Durham.
Allie’s love of wine started through a trip to Austria, then Napa, then Walla Walla Valley and so on, and continues to grow through travel and the local North Carolina Wine industry. She has achieved the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines certification as well as being a Cicerone Certified Beer Server and an ACA Certified Cider Professional. Allie also works as a freelance food photographer (she is awesome) and recipe developer. In her free time, Allie enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her husband, their two rescue dogs and of course with our students.
Cheers to Allie!
WSET Diploma / Wine Educator
Brianna Burns has lived in the Triangle for over 30 years. She has worked in hospitality and the wine industry for over 10 years, most recently as the general manager of a wine store and wine bar in downtown Durham.
After living in Ireland and traveling all over Europe, she caught the wine bug and began pursuing a career in wine education. She completed her WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits and recently began studying and teaching through the Wine Scholar Guild. “I’m looking forward to inspiring a new wave of wine-lovers through education. A Master Somm once told me that wine was a condiment for food as a way to elevate the meal. But I like to think of wine one step further, wine brings people together, creates experiences and elevates our lives.” Brianna Burns is our educator for our WSET certification programs and the French Wine Scholar.
Cheers to Brianna! Happy to have her on board!
WSET Level 3 Spirits, Certified Educator, Certified Whiskey Ambassador, Founding Partner Glass Revolution Imports
Raj was born in England, grew up in Toronto, Canada and so far has lived in 18 cities in 5 countries.
After 25 years in the corporate world Raj decided to follow his passions for fine wine and spirits and in 2010 started Purple Valley Imports USA LLC, known today as Glass Revolution Imports. “The new name reflects our focus to revolutionize what is in the consumer’s glass” says Raj.
He is an avid wine and spirits collector and has spoken at Whisky and Spirits Conferences around the world. In close to 10 years Raj and his two partners have grown their company from representing 1 brand in 3 states to today representing 10 brands in over 45 States. Glass Revolution is an importer specializing in world class spirits from independent distilleries. Raj personally selects the brands and selections offered.
Glass Revolution has been recognized as “Whisky Importer of the Year” for 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Whisky Magazine’s Icons of America Whisky. In 2017 Whisky Magazine recognized Raj as World Whisky Ambassador with their American Icon’s of Whisky Award.