Behind the Scenes in Cyprus: a spotlight on our people

15 Dec 2021

Hosting an event such as the recently held ASI Best Sommelier of Europe & Africa in Cyprus takes a monumental effort from dozens of ASI board members, staff, and volunteers. Without their effort these events could not exist. As part of our commitment to showcase our people, we would like to introduce you to three of the members of our team in Cyprus.

Introducing Barbara Wanner, ASI Press Officer

ASI’s little but mighty Barbara Wanner, our ASI Press Officer in Cyprus, started her professional path as a sommelier and hotel manager in Switzerland, and then concentrated on what according to Barbara she does best “communication.” After a good school at “Moet Hennessy” and “Badischer Wein”, Barbara founded her own agency (1993) in the south of Germany, Organize Communications, specialized in all communication areas for wine, sparkling wine, spirits, delicatessen, hotels and restaurants.

In the scope of this activity, she handled the German Trophée Ruinart for many years, supported the Trophée Ruinart Europe, and since then she has been in close exchange with sommeliers all over the world.

According to Barbara “I am very motivated to contribute my skills to ASI. I am happy to commit myself to a new generation of sommeliers and to the profession of “sommelier” itself.  I would like to support the ASI in establishing good and professionally solid press communication for the association. In my opinion, this must be directly anchored within the association, and nevertheless needs to be managed professionally. In the first move, I have created an international press mailing list for ASI, which must now be successively completed and enlarged, also with the help of the national associations. First invitations were addressed to selected journalists in the context of the ASI Best Somm Europe & Africa contest. At the contest itself, I then made sure that the attending journalists were properly looked after and were well informed, for example in a press conference after the contest itself.

This kind of “Guided communication” is an important pillar for an association like ASI. I am convinced that we need to speak with “one” voice, even if we are many. Even though we are only at the beginning of this PR process, I am very confident that it is an important area of marketing that we should all work on together and constructively. I’m happy and proud to be part of it.”

Introducing Haris Stylianides, ASI Contest Best Sommelier Europe & Africa Manager of Volunteers

O Vrakas Taverna’s Haris Stylianides, needs little introduction in his home of Cyprus. Stylianides with his unmistakable handlebar moustache is a familiar face amongst Cyprus sommeliers. Given Stylianides’ background as a hotel manager working with employees representing many different cultural backgrounds, he was a natural choice for the role of Manager of Volunteers. On the decision to support the organization he says, “so after a very short conversation with Georgios Kassianos (and with not a lot of options given for secondary thoughts) I took over the responsibility of managing the volunteers of the competition and start building the team.” His rationale for making the decision was ‘’for the love of wine, it’s people and wine’s culture.’’

With title in hand Stylianides went about to create a team from the various applicants received to volunteer at the competition. According to Stylianides “they had to be screened and double checked if they followed certain criteria including being a member of an active ASI sommelier association, with preference given to those previously involved in ASI competitions, events, or ASI BOOTCAMP. These international sommeliers would act as compliment to the core body of Cypriot sommeliers who would ensure the Cypriot spirit and hospitality was evident.

The organization of such a team demanded a communication system be developed prior to arrival and then an action place which saw the group divided into 4 separate teams for ease of communication. Of the experience Stylianides says “I saw a team of 30 volunteers from 11 countries become a team within 3 hours of knowing each other and performing the absolute best to their powers. Many times, I questioned myself if all this passion was true. But yes the passion, the devotion, the care, the extra service, the attention to detail, the further assistance, the smile, the generosity and the #filotimo is in the character of every true sommelier. We overcome internal issues and we managed, I believe, to deliver service at its best, with high standards and meet everybody’s expectations.”

Stalo Arambantzi, Coordinator Four Seasons Hotel Event

Stalo Arambantzi is Vice-President of the Cyprus Sommeliers Association and sommelier at The Four Seasons in Cyprus took on the role of organizing everything that had to do with the many events held the Four Seasons Hotel. It was a long list which included the opening night dinner, coordinating the smallest details from equipment to materials required for the Quarterfinals and Semi-Finals, four masterclasses, managing the equipment (tables, glassware and chairs) for the finals at the Rialto Theatre and the last, but not least, the gala dinner. Of the opportunity Arambantzi says “As Vice President of the Cyprus Sommeliers Association it was my honor to be a part of such a contest and welcome everyone to our country. For me it was also very important to give back for the hospitality that we have received over the years while attending previous Contests around the world.  It was a once in a lifetime feeling and experience!”

As for the highlights of the contest she says “it was seeing so many people from all around the globe offer so much valuable, hard work in the spirit of the candidate’s interests. Furthermore, it was seeing everyone leave with a Luggage full of laughter and special memories.”