Benchmark Wine Group is pleased to announce that it has named a customer and client, Master Sommelier Jay James, as its next President. Jay brings nearly four decades of experience in all tiers of the fine and rare wine industry.
“We selected Jay based on his unique experience in service, distribution, production and retail in the top-end, wine rare wine space, said David Parker, owner/chairman of Benchmark. “We were very impressed with his broad background and dedication to the customer experience, knowledge of Benchmark’s special place in the industry, and energy. We feel he’s the perfect fit for our company culture of outreach, service, inclusion, and access to the best products in the world for collectors, investors, top restaurants and other buyers.”
As President, Jay will apply his wealth of knowledge in the industry to overseeing all of Benchmark’s strategic development initiatives and daily operations.
On accepting the role, Jay James said: “I have been a customer and a client of Benchmark Wine Group for many years now, so I am well versed on their legendary track record with first-tier collectible collectable wines. I'm very excited to join their high energy, service-oriented team. Benchmark provides access to the world’s most exceptional wines in a way no other company can” added Jay. “I’m looking forward to bringing my background to their operation and being a key part of their management.”
After starting his career at the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta and working at several other top restaurants in the city, Jay moved to distribution, handling key account sales for Atlanta Wholesale Wine. After earning the coveted Master Sommelier Diploma in 1997, Jay was selected as the opening Director of Wine for The Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas. To date, only 273 people worldwide to have earned the Master Sommalier Diploma.
He then joined the country’s largest wine distributor Southern Wine & Spirits (now Southern Glazer's) in Nevada, where he became vp of their fine wine division. Jay has headed up sales and operations at three of the top collectable wine producers in Napa: Chappellet, Larkmead and Joseph Phelps Vineyards, and most recently led innovative wine and spirits distributor Springboard Wine Company.
He is a co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the educational charity SommFoundation. Jay has been featured as a wine business expert within multiple national publications. He regularly speaks at top wine and food events internationally, and he teaches and examines for the Court of Master Sommeliers.