Main fundraiser photo

United Sommeliers Foundation

Donation protected
Emergency Fund for US Sommeliers affected by COVID-19 restaurant closures

With enforced restaurant closure across the country, the hospitality industry has come to a screeching halt. Like so many restaurant workers, professional sommeliers now find themselves jobless, without income, and in a particularly vulnerable and uncertain position. 

It takes years of study to become a professional sommelier. And yet — almost overnight — thousands of sommeliers across the country have lost 100% of their income, with no guarantee jobs will be available if and when the restaurant industry recovers. 

Did you know: Many sommeliers work in hourly, tipped or commission-based positions and often make less than the servers at the restaurant. 

When we do emerge from these trying and unprecedented times, restaurants will have to prioritize when it comes to rehiring staff. That means servers, bussers, chefs and dishwashers will be the first to return to employment. But what about sommeliers? 

If we find ourselves in a deep recession, as many are already predicting, the demand for wine and those who bring years of wine knowledge and service experience may not be so immediate. 

With this in mind, we have started a fund that can be accessed immediately by restaurant sommeliers in the U.S. whose hours have been cut or jobs have been eliminated due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In order to distribute the funds, we've created a short survey to help us prioritize those in our community who are most in-need. (Rest assured, all information shared will remain confidential.) Applicants will also be given the opportunity to sign up for unemployment coverage to get a full scope of what support is needed. Grants of $250, $500, and $1000 will be awarded to those determined by the board to be of the greatest need. Depending on availability of funds, distribution will begin as soon as possible.

Please consider donating or sharing if you are unable to give at this time. 

If you need funding, please apply here.  We will consider sommeliers in distribution, depending on the circumstances.

We will reach out to those we feel are most in need of support shortly.  

The funds are being collected and grant recipients will be chosen by a panel of board members including Chris Blanchard MS, Geoff Labitzke MW, Jackson Rohrbaugh MS, Advanced Sommelier Erik Segelbaum, Advanced Sommelier Jon McDaniel, Lindsey Geddes MS, Advanced Sommelier Yannick Benjamin, Cristie Norman and board members who wish to remain anonymous.

United Sommeliers Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that is in the process of filing an application for federal tax exempt status with the IRS. If the organization receives a favorable Determination Letter from the IRS, its status as a 501(c)(3) organization will relate back to its date of inception and all contributions made to the corporation since inception will qualify as tax-deductible charitable donations. Until the corporation receives a Determination Letter from the IRS, it cannot guaranty that donations will be tax deductible. Once received, a copy of the Determination Letter will be provided to all donors.

Fundraising team: United Sommeliers Foundation (5)

Chris Blanchard
Napa, CA
Cristie Norman
Team member
Erik Segelbaum
Team member
Geoff Labitzke
Team member
Jon McDaniel
Team member

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the GoFundMe Giving Guarantee