Board of Directors

Sean Dolenuck


Sean Dolenuck is a professional Sommelier and restaurant specialist with La Boutique del Vino. He holds the Professional Sommelier Diploma from CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers) as well as a Diploma in Hotel and Restaurant management from SAIT (Calgary), and has been involved in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, specializing in fine dining.

Sean has worked at some of the best restaurants in both Calgary and Winnipeg. His passion for wine and the hospitality industry moved him to Winnipeg for his Sommelier studies, and that opened the door to his current position as a both Manager of Licensee Sales and Purchaser with La Boutique del Vino. He offers Sommelier service including developing wine lists, marketing, training staff and management, cost controls and implementing sales strategies.

Sean has joined the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Association as an Associate Board Member where he is able to provide his experience and education to assist with current and future developments.

Sean was the first person awarded the best Sommelier of Manitoba in 2015 and competed in the Canadian nationals in Toronto in March 2015.

Sean is happy to speak about wine whenever he can; he feels that passion and personality are his best qualities when it comes to the wine world, offering a fun and refreshing approach. Over-delivering Malbec; ever-elegant Pinot Noir; and reality-bending high quality Priorat are some of Sean’s particular wine loves. 

He is also a keen teacher and competitor: he teaches martial arts as a 4th Degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.


Vice President

With more than 25 years in the wine industry, Flavia has developed strong, reliable relations with people from different areas of the industry including journalists, winemakers, winery owners, wine clubs, importers, exporters and government authorities.

She can assist establishing new wineries and use her talents to help promote and boost awareness and sales of wines.

She is a recognized wine educator and Sommelier back home in Argentina and with the expertise to organize wine training and marketing meetings, food and wine events, wine tastings and wine fairs.

She can also coordinate media events and conduct promotion campaigns. Fluent in English and Spanish, with working proficiency in Italian and French. She has written about wine and covered International Wine Shows for renown magazines and newspapers.

As a consultant, she has launched 2 wineries into the market in Argentina, USA, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Europe, with outstanding results. Flavia lived in the USA for over 2 years, working for an importer of European wine, and so got to know and understand the American market from an insider's point of view.

Now settled in Canada, representing wineries from Argentina, Pomerol (France) and Italy, organizing marketing events, tastings, training sales teams and media appearance.


Sharon Steward


As a fresh culinary red seal graduate, pairing wines with her menus was the integral next step in Sharon’s professional development. Studying through the International Sommeliers Guild with mentors like Gary Hewitt and Patrick Oakes, led to opportunities both in restaurant and hotels, importing and consulting that produced numerous award-winning cellars throughout the Canadian prairies. 

Currently as a chef and sommelier, mother of three, an educator at Red River College, and with the release of her first cookbook, Sharon continues to dig into the hospitality industry to share her knowledge and passion for good food and wine that is meant to be shared.


Seema Pal

Director of Operations

Seema Pal is a graduate of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers and holds the WSET Diploma designation. 

Seema is also a recipient of the Capstone California Wine Education Scholarship and has Highest Honors in the French Wine Scholar certification through Wine Scholar Guild.    

Currently a private tutor at her own tutoring business, Seema continues with her passion of educating her students academically through their high school and university courses.  

Seema loves to share her wine knowledge and has experience with wine consulting and has led educational wine tastings/seminars, privately and through CAPS.  What excites Seema the most about wine is the fact that it is the product of history, culture, science, and art in a bottle. 

Domer Rafael

Past President

Domer Rafael has dedicated his career to the service industry with a focus on guest experience, fine wine and management. 

He is currently the Food and Beverage Manager at the Manitoba Club and oversees a wine cellar and private wine program of over 500 wines, an ever-evolving beverage program, a stellar cigar selection and the finest cuisine in Winnipeg. 

Domer is a graduate of the International Sommelier Guild, the reigning Best Sommelier of Manitoba (2017) and hopes to further evolve Manitoba's food and wine industry.

Christopher Sprague

Executive & Past President

Currently the Sommelier and Wine Director for the prestigious Fort Garry Hotel undertaking the launching of multiple restaurant concepts within.

Previously the wine director of WOW! Hospitality in Winnipeg, and Sommelier at prestigious 529 Wellington, Christopher directed the wine program that holds the Wine Spectator Magazine’s “Best of Award of Excellence” and boasted one of the province’s most extensive and exciting wine cellars.  

He holds the Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild and has been a restaurant professional for more than two decades. With a contagious enthusiasm for wine, Christopher understands the importance of promoting the Sommelier profession and working to support the Association.

Gary Hewitt

Chair-Education & Past President

Gary was the first person from our province to qualify to teach the Sommelier certification, the first person to hold Certified Wine Educator and the first Manitoban to obtain the prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma (graduating with the Wines of Australia Scholarship for high achievement).

Gary’s MSc in industrial fermentation gives him an envious scientific background for the study of wine. He is an instructor in our WSET and Sommelier programs as well as for the Wine Scholar Guild.

He has served as president of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers Manitoba Chapter.

His work has included extensive travel through the world’s wine regions and a wine-making practicum in Germany’s Pfalz (at Lingenfelder Estate). 

Andrea Eby

Co-Chair Education

Andrea quickly earned her sommelier certification through the International Sommelier Guild and enrolled at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust’s flagship school in London, England. She graduated with Distinction (an honour earned by fewer than 3% of graduates) and was awarded the prestigious ProWein Scholarship in recognition of her academic achievements. Along the way, Andrea also earned the Society of Wine Educators Certified Wine Expert title and earned the designation of Italian, French and Spanish Wine Scholar through the Wine Scholar Guild. Andrea also achieved the title of Italian Wine Ambassador through the prestigious VIA VinItaly Academy.

During this intense period of study, Andrea also gained valuable experience working in retail wine sales and wine education at one of Canada’s top wine boutiques. Here, Andrea transitioned into her role as a member of the store’s buying team. Her close connections in the wine world gave her a distinct advantage and she was able to source and import a carefully curated selection of wines from around the globe.

Andrea is the Italian Programs Director at the Wine Scholar Guild (WSG), an internationally recognized wine education organization. Her role at the WSG allows her to bring her love of Italian wine to students from around the globe and she takes great pride in being an ambassador of both the Guild and Italian wine.

Perennially curious and eager to learn, Andrea is a Stage 2 student at the prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine. This arduous program is considered the pinnacle of wine education and just over 400 individuals worldwide are currently able to call themselves Masters of Wine. Andrea is also a sought-after wine judge, judging for the International Wine and Spirits Competition, International Wine Challenge and 5 Star Wines.