Do We Still Need Gatekeepers?

Could the wine world be better without gatekeepers?

A gatekeeper is a person who controls access, be it to places, products or status. By definition, gatekeepers are influential and powerful.

In the world of wine, they are the importers, buyers, retailers, and sommeliers who decide if a wine is worthy of their customers. They are also the journalists, critics and writers who judge if a wine is worth talking about. They are the appellations and regional bodies, who can determine if a producer is in the system, or outside it. They are also the educators, who decide on what’s worth teaching.

But with the rise of peer-to-peer and direct-to-consumer technology has come the idea that tech will—and should—get rid of the gatekeepers and the elitism and exclusive systems that they are – in some contexts – accused of upholding.

Could the wine world be better without gatekeepers?

You are welcome to watch the recording of this webinar, which took place on September 26th, 2023.


Marc Almert, Head Sommelier, Pavillon, Zurich & ASI World’s Best Sommelier 2019

Man in restaurant

In 2019 Marc became one of the youngest ever winners of the ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest aged just 27. Two years prior to this, he was selected as Germany’s Best Sommelier by the Sommelier-Union Deutschland. Today, he regularly shares his knowledge in seminars and hosts tastings. He is also active on behalf of the Sommelier-Union Deutschland, which has provided him with significant support over the years in the form of training and competition preparation. 2020 the Michelin Guide Switzerland gave Almert their Sommelier Award, only weeks before he was the first sommelier ever to be named “Sommelier of the Year” by the Swiss magazine Falstaff. Since 2017, he has served as the head sommelier at Pavillon in Zurich, the historic Baur au Lac hotel’s two Michelin star restaurant, as well as for the associated wine shops Baur au Lac Vins.

Ntsiki Biyela – Winemaker and Director, Aslina Wines, South Africa

Ntsiki Biyela is the Winemaker and Director of Aslina Wines, a company named in honour of her late grandmother, Aslina.

Ntsiki is a Pioneer Woman and has earned many accolades. In 2009, she was crowned Woman Winemaker of the Year. For two consecutive years, she was voted The Most Influential Women in Business and Government. In 2017, she was named in Top 20 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drinks by Fortune Magazine. She has also been named as one of the top 15 Women in Wine to Watch by Food and Wine Magazine in the USA.

She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, which trains young unemployed 18-25 year olds to ready them for careers in the wine and tourism industries. 

Bartholomew Broadbent – President, Broadbent Selections, USA

Bartholomew Broadbent started both Broadbent and Broadbent Selections in 1996. Broadbent Selections is a national importer in the USA which represents over 30 wineries, including some of the worlds finest and most iconic, such as Chateau Musar (Lebanon), Tyrrell’s (Australia), Dr. Hermann (Germany), Sadie Family Wines (South Africa), Chateau Pommard (Burgundy) and Spy Valley (New Zealand).

It was twice nominated Best Importer by Wine Enthusiast magazine, most recently at the 2020 Wine Star Awards. Broadbent Selections also owns the “Auctioneer” from Napa Valley, the “Architect” from Alexander Valley, and co-owns with Badenhorst Family Wines, “The Curator” from South Africa.

Sarah Knowles MW – Wine Buyer, The Wine Society, UK

Sarah has been a buyer at The Wine Society for Italy, North America and Champagne since 2014. Sarah is also a judge for the International Wine and Spirits Competition and Decanter, as well as having judged internationally in New Zealand and the USA. Sarah is involved in multiple networking organisations that aim to encourage women at senior levels within the wine trade, as well as being a mentor both within and outside of the IMW.

Moderated by Pauline Vicard, Executive Director, Areni Global.