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Meet Our Educators


Sarah 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 James Beard Award-winning food and wine writer, 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 holds a Diploma with Wine & Spirit Education Trust and he is certified with the 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!

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 home brewer for more than 25 years and has brewed – literally – hundreds of different beers. He is our WSET Beer Nominated Educator, he holds a WSET Level 2 Award in Beer and Level 2 Award in Wines.

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.

John is also a BJCP Certified Beer Judge, Certified Cicerone, Licensed Professional Engineer, Certified Mediator, as well as a lawyer practicing in NC, WV, VA, and Washington DC. Apparently, John likes taking tests.

Get ready to have a blast at his beer classes and WSET courses.

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.

Brett Chappell

Brett is a 35+ year veteran of the wine, restaurant, and hospitality industries. He is a Certified Sommelier, Wine Educator, and a French Wine Scholar educator.

He developed a love for wine while curating a wine list during his first restaurant general managership. This led to numerous wine-related positions.

In metro Washington, Brett worked in restaurants and hotels for the Ritz-Carlton, Ruth’s Chris, and Morton’s. A few years later, he decided to expand his knowledge and worked as an importer and distributor. During this period, he began ‘collecting’ certifications, developed wine education programs for retailer in VA, and created and led seven hospitality courses at Stratford University.

In 2020, after 30 years in the Washington, D.C. area, he and his wife Jen returned to his native NC. They currently own MF Chappell Wine Merchant in Atlantic Beach.

He enjoys witnessing the ‘Aha!’ moment when drinkers discover new wines and concepts. He believes wine education is the key to deep enjoyment of wine.

Questions? Contact Us Today!

We welcome you to contact us for more information!

Raleigh (Main House)

1053 E Whitaker Mill Rd #115
Raleigh, NC 27604

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