She’s Helping Sommeliers Impacted by the Pandemic

sommeliers during the pandemic

So many people were put out of work during the pandemic, particularly those in the hospitality industry, like sommeliers. In an effort to help impacted sommeliers, Cristie Norman co-founded The United Sommeliers Foundation — a nonprofit that supports wine professionals in crises due to circumstances beyond their control. 

“We have given over 1,200 relief grants to people in need,” Norman tells CircleAround. “We raised nearly one million dollars for COVID-19 relief in the last nine months.” 

Through the United Sommeliers Foundation, Norman built a community of over 400 sommeliers who participate in free or low-cost, virtual wine education events all over Southern California. 

While Norman is passionate about helping those in her industry, she’s had to fight to make it herself. “I'm a young, female, Asian woman; a triple minority. On a day-to-day basis, I face people who don't take me seriously.” 


We raised nearly one million dollars for COVID-19 relief in the last nine months.

Despite that, Norman has risen to the top. At 26, she became the youngest person to receive a 40 Under 40 nod for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and was honored as Wine Educator of the Year in 2020. Now, she is the CEO of Cristie Norman, Inc., a business that aims to make the world of wine more accessible to everyday enthusiasts.

She created The Online Wine Course, a driver's ed-style workshop for those looking to get into wine, but don’t know where to start. In about three to five hours, attendees are given a comprehensive tutorial about the fundamentals of wine. 

“The pandemic really gave me the opportunity to spread my wings,” she tells CircleAround. “I have taught nearly 100,000 hours of wine education through my course in the last 1.5 years. I gave it away for free to all hospitality professionals out of work at the beginning of the pandemic.”

For now, Norman is working on creating more courses while offering support to her expanded community. “My relationship-building for years actually gave me the tools to launch everything that I have in my life,” she says. “A lot can come from being kind to everyone, remembering people’s names, and being intentional with your relationships.” 

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