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Meet Our Educators

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Sara Malik

Sarah holds a WSET Diploma (Merit), but the story doesn’t end here. She is also a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS), and Certified Wine Educator (CWE). Malik has also earned a Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild and regularly appears on television to present segments on wines and spirits.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Malik studied Institutional Management and Hotel Catering at Manchester Metropolitan University and earned a Master’s Degree in Business from Oxford Brookes University. She has worked for Hilton International and Queens Moat Houses as a Food and Beverage Director, Bass Charrington Breweries and West Midland Taverns as a GM. Studying in Switzerland with Don Smith, she was involved in educating students in hotel management. As a visiting professor to Johnson & Wales University in Providence R.I., she realized this was where she wanted to settle and raise her family.

Sarah worked as a hotel general manager in New England and then returned to Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte where she has worked for twenty two years as a wine and spirit educator. It was at JWU where she received the Teacher of the Year Award.

Cheers to Sarah!

Lyn Farmer

Lyn Farmer has been sharing his passion for wine around the world for more than 25 years. He is a public speaker and one of the most widely traveled and well-regarded wine experts in the United States.

He frequently leads seminars for VinItaly, SOPEXA, Comité Champagne and many other wine industry groups.

Lyn is certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, Society of Wine Educators and the Sake Education Council and has been an ambassador for both the Champagne region and the Port Wine Institute. He is a member of several honorary trade groups, including the Confraria do Vinho do Porto and l’Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. Formerly wine and spirits ambassador for Silversea Cruises, he also served as restaurant critic for two major newspapers, and senior editor of Wine News magazine.

Lyn is director of Veritage Miami, a popular wine festival that attracts thousands of wine lovers each year, and is the arts ambassador of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Lyn is the author of the wine, food and lifestyle blog Engaging the Senses.

We are honored to have Lyn’s gentlemanly and good-humored style at Vitis House!

Raj Sabharwal

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.

Kasey Billitz

Kasey is a cultural enthusiast! A lover of wine, food, art, and travel. Her passion for wine continues to evolve through continued education, her career in the wine industry, and travel. She has worked in almost every area of the industry. Kasey has been a sommelier, managed a prestigious boutique wine store and she recently moved from Miami to Asheville, NC and became a wine consultant for Ocean South Imports.

In addition, she is a passionate bartender and beer lover. She holds a Master of Arts from the University of Miami, is a huge art enthusiast, and believes wine to be an art form of its own. She holds a WSET Level 3 Award in Wines, French Wine Scholar Educator Certificate and she is also a Certified Specialist of Wine.

Fun, humble, energetic and a lover of French Wines!

We are thrilled to have her on our team!

Laura Francis

Laura Francis is both a WSET® Level 3 scholar and a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Masters. She first cut her teeth working through college at The Biltmore Estate Winery, learning about a wide variety of wine styles and guest palates.

When Laura moved back to the Triangle, her wine interest piqued again while working at The Umstead Hotel & Spa. From there, she took over the wine program at Ãn Asian Cuisine, expanding the list to include some of her favorites: rosés, sherries, and sakes. When Ãn closed its doors, Laura joined the Sommelier Team at Fearrington Village. She currently tends to all wine & beer retail needs within the Village at The Belted Goat, and seasonally “slings beers” at the Roost Pizza & Beer Garden. Laura is eager to share her beverage passions with us at Vitis House and we cant wait to toast with her at our next Rosé and Orange class and Sensory 101 classes.

John Szymankiewicz

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.

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Raleigh (Main House)

1053 E Whitaker Mill Rd #115
Raleigh, NC 27604

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