Rising Star Sommelier Julie DeFriend of Oakroom at the Seelbach Hilton - Biography

Louisville, KY

February 2014

Few sommeliers have a direct career path that leads them to wine. Rather, they find themselves at some point or another confronted with the nuance, variety, and manifold pleasures of wine, and instead of sipping happily like the rest of us, they fall in love. Julie DeFriend is one such person.

Born in Chicago and raised in Minnesota, DeFriend made her way to Kentucky to attend the University of Louisville. Already interested in the nuances of expression that would later show themselves in a glass, DeFriend pursued a double major in art and art history. She might have followed her passion for art into a museum or gallery, but, like many industry pros, DeFriend began waiting tables during college.

She continued in the restaurant industry after graduation, gradually making her way into the wine side of the operation. A Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, DeFriend became an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2013. As head of the wine program for The Oakroom, DeFriend oversees an extensive list, peppering classic and boutique selections with exciting, lesser-known bottles. DeFriend also leads the Louisville tasting group for young sommeliers, never forgetting those early days of pivotal inspiration. In 2014, she earned the StarChefs.com Kentucky-Tennessee Rising Stars Sommelier Award.