Authored by Erika Benfield
Erika Benfield

Erika Benfield

I am honored to be a recipient of the Somm Con scholarship. The experience from that trip has opened many doors, fostered new friendships, and been life-changing as I am the owner of a new wine room in Florida, Frederick’s Wine Room.

The well-organized preparedness Zoom calls provided a clear idea of the education I would receive, listing the classes available upon arrival in San Diego. The mentor assignment was incredibly helpful; I was able to communicate with my mentor, Jaime from Florida, as soon as I hopped in a taxi to the resort. This was my first time in an educational wine tasting setting, and I was thrilled to meet Master Sommeliers and various wine experts from around the world.

The mentor-mentee opening session was refreshing and welcoming. I even met a fellow attendee who, despite being blind, shared my passion for wine. I appreciated that the selection process focused solely on identifying future leaders in the wine industry, regardless of gender or other factors. It was truly about the potential impact of the takeaways from SommCon 2023.

The room was a diverse mix of individuals I never imagined meeting, such as a wine buyer for Costco and a sommelier wine buyer for a high-end, high-volume restaurant in New York. This exposure was exactly what a new wine shop owner like me needed. Understanding the complexities of wine purchasing in Florida has helped me stand firm as a small brick-and-mortar wine room, named after the original importer of G.H. Mumm champagne in the 1800’s Frederick DeBary. I am the first wine shop in our city.

Since attending, my profitability has increased. I’ve added events and educational experiences with confidence and curated my first complete printed wine list featuring about 200 wines, 29 BTG.  

I now have added a new licensure hotel and restaurant, I have Provi which helped save time on the buying process for payments on my purchases and include AI, chat GPT to help with marketing. Yes it is more than tasting fine wine, it is the overall business of wine.

I am so thankful to SommCon, and can’t wait to attend again.


Erika Benfield


Frederick’s Wine Room


Facebook: Frederick’s Wine Room