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Monica Samuels |

Industry Partner

I’ve worked with Japanese beverage for over 15 years, although my grandfather worked at a sake brewery after being discharged from WWII, so if you ask my family, they’ll say I was born into the business.


I’ve had the opportunity to wear many hats in this industry, from sushi chef at a jazz club in California to Director of Sake & Spirits at Vine Connections, an importer who sells more sake than wine despite our name. In 2017 I received the recognition of “Sake Samurai” from the Japan Sake Brewer’s Association.


About Vine Connections: Vine Connections is a leading importer and distributor representing fine wines from family producers in Argentina, Chile, and California, and premium Sake from Japan.

Favorite Japanese Words:

  • Shokunin: this translates into “craftsman” or “artisan” in English, but the deeper meaning is “the pursuit of perfection”
  • Omotenashi: the Japanese culture of “elevated hospitality,” or the little touches that let the customer know that an establishment is truly putting their needs first to ensure the most enjoyable experience possible
  • Yabai: this word can mean so many things depending on the context (Risky! Amazing! Extreme! Intoxicating!)

Favorite Sake Snacks:

  • Beef jerky
  • Cheez-its
  • Pickled beets
  • Lox and cream cheese

Favorite Movies For Japan Wanderlust:

  • Mr. Baseball
  • My Neighbor
  • Totoro
  • Tampopo
  • Lost in Translation

Never Take My Advice On:

  • TV shows
  • Directions
  • When to throw things out of the fridge

Favorite Places Outside Japan And NYC:

  • Whitefish, MT
  • Mallorca
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand





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Monica Samuels - Convive Wine and Spirits