There’s a new Best Sommelier in B.C. (and he’s from Vancouver)


Let’s raise a glass to Sean Nelson of Vancouver’s Vij’s who was just named B.C.’s Best Sommelier for 2018.

Photo: Pixabay

The annual competition, run by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers British Columbia Chapter (CAPS BC), was held this week at Rogers Arena, bringing together the region’s brightest minds in wine to tackle a rigorous written exam and a hands-on practical test that put the top finishers through their paces.

13 competitors from B.C. sat for the morning’s exam, and the top three scorers–Nelson, and second and third place winners Matthew Landry (Stable House Bistro, Vancouver) and Todd Prucyk (Hawksworth Restaurant, Vancouver)–went on to be tested further. They were tasked with all sorts of practical wine actions, like opening and pouring sparkling wine perfectly, spotting errors in a written wine menu, and blind tasting and identifying wines.

sean nelson sommelier
Sean Nelson during the competition (Photo courtesy Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers British Columbia Chapter)

Oh, and the finalists did all of those in front of an audience of about 100 spectators.

Another exciting facet of the competition was a new branch designed for somms just getting their start in the business. The all-new 2018 BC Aspiring Sommelier Competitio mimics the Best Sommelier B.C. format in order to give aspiring sommeliers the opportunity to understand what the competition is all about.

The winner of the inaugural Aspiring Sommelier Competition 2018 is Ian Wharton of Blue Water Café in Vancouver, while the runner-up was Alex Anderson of Tap Restaurant in Surrey. Anderson, incidentally, works at Tap under the supervision of a prior Best Sommelier in B.C. winner (2016), Alistair Veen.

“B.C. is leading the way with this competition. The sommelier community continues to build in BC and it is truly something special,” says 2015 Best Sommelier in B.C. winner Jason Yamasaki.

Wine lovers, if you are looking to dine out in Vancouver, you may want to head to the spots that just sent their somms into either of these competitions, as you know they will know their stuff! Here’s the full list:

Christina Hartigan, Botanist
Calen Macdonald, Blue Water Cafe
Michael Hiram, AnnaLena
Matthew Landry, The Stable House Bistro
Shane Lobsinger, Sonora Resort
Adam Mayhew, Yew at Four Seasons Hotel
Scott Mitchell, AnnaLena
Sean Nelson, Vij’s
Jayton Paul, Hawksworth Restaurant
Todd Prucyk, Hawksworth Restaurant
Tereza Roux, Wedgewood Hotel
Peter Van de Reep, Campagnolo
Jesse Walters, Burdock & Co.

Aspiring Sommeliers:

Ian Wharton, Blue Water Cafe.
Alex Anderson, Tap Restaurant.
Noel Hollett, Vancouver Club
Jasmin Kohli-Bryans, AnnaLena
Michael Wong, Chambar
Eliza Bashkirova, Botanist

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Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Vancouver Is Awesome, and the co-host and co-producer of the Vancouver Is Awesome Podcast. A fifth generation Vancouverite and life-long foodie, Lindsay also serves as a judge for the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Previously the Food Editor of Daily Hive, Senior Editor of Vancity Buzz, and Editor-in-Chief of, in her past life in L.A. she earned an MA in English, attended culinary school, and was an English professor. Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: // Twitter/Instagram: @squashblossom