Symposium Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Dr. George Soleas
President & Chief Executive Officer, LCBO

George Soleas

George Soleas is the President & Chief Executive Officer of LCBO, the largest liquor jurisdiction in Canada with 667 stores and annual sales of over $6 billion. He is responsible for corporate strategy, executive leadership and providing a forum for consultation and dialogue on matters affecting the beverage alcohol industry.

George was born in Cyprus and trained as a chef until the island was invaded by Turkey and he was forced to flee to Canada.  Once settled in his new home, George went on to receive his B.Sc. from McMaster University, a diploma in Oenology from U.C. Davis, and later his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.  

After serving more than 11 years with the Canadian Wine Industry, George joined LCBO in 1997 in Quality Assurance where he held progressively senior leadership positions until he was named President & Chief Executive Officer in early 2016.

George serves as a professional affiliate of both the McMaster Institute of Transportation & Logistics and the Brock University Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute. He was appointed to the Special Graduate Faculty of the University of Guelph in support of the Department of Food Science. George’s executive training includes the New CEO Workshop at Harvard Business School and the Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland.

His oenological and biochemical research has led to eight book chapters, 51 peer reviewed publications and several national and international industry and scientific presentations devoted to beverage alcohol.

George is a recipient of the Ontario Imported Wine-Spirits-Beer Association’s Industry Partnership Award, the Greek Wine Industry Award, and was recently inducted into the Jurade de Saint Emilion. In 2017, George was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Retail Council of Canada.

George lives in Burlington with his wife Christine. When not working, travelling and enjoying food, wine and soccer, he loves spending time with his two children Ireena and John.

Featured Speakers

Marnie Old
Sommelier, Author, Teacher, Consultant

Marnie Old

Sommelier and wine author Marnie Old is best known for her ability to engage beginners and experts alike with powerful ideas of real-world relevance. Marnie’s refreshingly direct explanations of complex drinks concepts are driven by innovative simplifications and intuitive infographics, and her influence as an educator has helped to revolutionize how wine is taught worldwide.

Formerly the director of wine studies for Manhattan’s legendary French Culinary Institute, Marnie also served as founding education chairperson for the American Sommelier Association. Raised in Winnipeg and based in Philadelphia, she was a pioneer of online video and long-distance learning. Marnie’s bite-sized wine tutorials can be found on YouTube’s Wine Simplifiedchannel and her latest seriesExplaining Wines from Spain, commissioned by the Spanish government, features animated wine-education cartoons designed for social media.

Marnie first earned national acclaim in 1999 as beverage director for Philadelphia’s Meal Ticket restaurant group and sommelier for its flagship Striped Bass. Since launching her own business in 2001, Marnie has designed wine programs for restaurants like Morimotoin Manhattan and consulted for the world’s largest wineretailer, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Today, in addition to her trend-setting content marketing work for wine companies and trade associations, Marnie travels the world as an expert speaker and writes for daily newspapers and trade magazines.

Marnie has written five books on wine and beer. Her newest, launching in 2018, is Passion for Wine: The French Ideal and the American Dream, co-authored with the inimitable Burgundian vintner Jean-Charles Boisset. However, Marnie’s most influential title remains the award-winning Wine: A Tasting Course from DK Publishing, a revolutionary infographic crash course that is now available globally in 13 languages and counting.

Darryl Brooker
General Manager, Mission Hill

Darryl Brooker

Darryl Brooker is General Manager of Mission Hill Family Estate and Sebastian Farms. In this role he is responsible for all aspects of winemaking, viticulture, and guest experiences at Mission Hill Family Estate. He also oversees Sebastian Farms, the von Mandl Family's collection of exceptional estate vineyards located throughout the Okanagan Valley. 

Australian-born Brooker is driven by a single passion: To produce wines of incredible depth and unprecedented quality that reflect the unique terroir of the Okanagan and can stand alongside the best in the world.

He joined Mission Hill as chief winemaker for the 2015 harvest following his successful five year tenure as lead winemaker at CedarCreek Estate Winery, where he worked tirelessly to elevate the quality of the wines in the portfolio by placing careful attention to all aspects of viticulture and winemaking.

Prior to this he began his 20+ year career in winemaking at Mountadam Vineyards in Barossa Valley, one of Australia's pioneer Chardonnay makers, followed by senior winemaking roles at Villa Maria Estate in Hawkes Bay and Marlborough, New Zealand. With the desire to channel his career in a new direction, he relocated to the Niagara Region in Ontario where he led the effort to produce award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling at Flat Rock Cellars.

Darryl holds a Bachelor of Applied Science - Wine Science degree from Charles Sturt University in Australia and he also has a Wine Business diploma from Adelaide University. Beyond wine, Darryl is active as a mountain trail runner and he enjoys wine travel with his family.