Wine Educator and Sommelier is Toasted with Lifetime Achievement Award

National society salutes Lorraine Hems for contributions to wine and spirits industry




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Lorraine Hems

Shortly after being honored by her peers for service to the wine industry, Lorraine Hems did what she does best—she gave a sparkling presentation about some of New York state’s finest wines and wineries.

Hems, a lecturer in the School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation at Rochester Institute of Technology, was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the national organization, Women for WineSense, at its gala May 6 at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus in Napa Valley. She was recognized for her extensive educational and community-service programming about wines and spirits from around the world.

“I feel too young to be nominated, much less to be given the recognition,” says Hems, whose workshop presentation was about Finger Lakes Rieslings. “I am honored to receive the award.”

Women for WineSense is a national educational and networking organization for wine professionals and enthusiasts, with more than 800 members in a dozen chapters across the U.S. Hems was the founder and past co-president of Rochester’s chapter.

She was recognized for her 30-plus years of work within the wine and spirits industry where she has held positions in retail, wholesale, training and higher education. Hems is a certified sommelier—a professional wine steward—and a prominent judge for local, national and international wine competitions. She has also organized numerous wine tasting and fundraising events throughout the state.

In 2011, she published her first textbook, Passport to the World of Wines, about her experiences in the industry and international travel to explore the best of the wines of the world. Hems, a resident of Irondequoit, N.Y., also provides training programs and classes at the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua, N.Y., as well industry training at wineries throughout the state. She has also received a Teddi Award from Camp Good Days and Special Times for her long-time support of the local nonprofit agency for children with cancer.

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Lorraine Hems