Baltic Wine Forum & Awards in association with Cross Keys Gin

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Baltic Wine Forum & Awards in association with Cross Keys Gin

April 3, Friday, at 09.30-18.00

Art Academy of Latvia, Kalpaka bulv. 13, Riga

Once again we are bringing together the leading Baltic and European sommeliers to share stories on building engaging and profitable wine lists. Isn't this awesome?

Why don’t we get the best wine minds together in order to exchange ideas and experiences? The Baltic Wine Forum and the Baltic Wine List Awards Ceremony in association with Cross Keys Gin will feature some of the world’s most talented and accomplished sommeliers, wine directors, wine critics and authors, restaurateurs and bar creators sharing their knowledge and insights.


This is the 3rd time Riga is hosting Baltic Wine Forum and Awards ceremony in association with Cross Keys Gin – and it’s a pleasure to welcome you all! Please note that the final line-up of speakers and programme will be published during February. 

International keynote speakers (to be finalised in February)

Jon Bonné, USA, @jbonne
Jon Bonné is the Senior editor of PUNCH, a James Beard Award-winning online magazine focused on wine, spirits, beer and cocktails. Over the past 15 years, Jon Bonné has become one of the most influential and widely-read American voices on wine. His work in wine and food journalism has won numerous awards, including two James Beard Foundation awards, repeated accolades from the Association of Food Journalists, Feature Writer of the Year at the Roederer Awards, and Roederer International Wine Book of the Year for The New California Wine (Ten Speed Press). Jon’s second book The New Wine Rules, is currently published in several international editions, and he is currently working on his next book, The New French Wine. Additionally, he has served as the U.S. columnist for Britain’s Decanter magazine and the wine columnist for Seattle magazine, and has written about wine for such top publications as Saveur, Food & Wine, The Washington Post, The Art of Eating and Noble Rot. For several years he served as the U.S. Chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Ariel Arce, USA, @arcecool
Ariel Arce is the 31-year-old New York entrepreneur, also known as the Champagne Empress of Greenwich Village and Nightlife Hitmaker, behind Tokyo Record Bar, Air’s Champagne Parlor, Niche Niche, and Special Club, all of which opened within the past two years on MacDougal Street in New York City. Ariel’s passions for wine, dinner parties and music shine throughout her spaces. Each has a distinctive identity and offers guests a singular experience yet share the common philosophy that going out in New York should be more than just picking food from a menu or getting a ticket to a show. It should inspire conviviality, human connection, discovery, and be affordable! A native New York Yorker, Ariel lives in the same apartment where she grew up in Hell’s Kitchen. Her former experiences as a professional actor and competitive gymnast greatly inspired the theatrical elements showcased throughout her venues. Ariel earned her wining and dining stripes at The Office in Chicago, a speakeasy below the renowned Aviary restaurant, and at Pops for Champagne, the "oldest family-operated Champagne bar in America", before heading back home to New York to serve as wine director for Birds & Bubbles and later Riddling Widow. She is a thought leader in the wine industry and a tastemaker in the New York dining and entertainment scenes. She is due to publish a book on Champagne in 2020 among other projects that will soon be announced.


Nicolas Pavavero, France, @nicolaspapavero
Nicolas Papavero is the Head Sommelier and Owner of the legendary Le Wine Bar by Le Vintage in Reims, Champagne (France) with one of the best wine lists not just in Champagne, but France. 


Baltic speakers


Raimonds Tomsons, Latvia, @raimonds.tomsons
Raimonds is the Head Sommelier and CEO of Vincents restaurant in Riga, Latvia, one of the top restaurants in the Baltic countries. In 2017 Raimonds won the title of The Best Sommelier of Europe and Africa, while 2019 brought him the world’s No.3 Sommelier title. Raimonds is a Board member of the Latvian Association of Sommeliers, Jury member of Latvia’s Wine of the Year competition, The Head of Jury of Baltic Wine List Awards.


Arūnas Starkus, Lithuania, @bestdessertsin 
Arūnas is one of the founding fathers of Lithuanian wine scene, Arunas set up Lithuania’s Sommelier Association and founded the Sommelier School alongside his duties of running a successful fine wine importing business Vyno Klubas, and organizing Wine Days exhibition. Arunas is also known as the publisher and editor-in-Chief of Lithuanian wine journal Vyno žurnalas, organiser of Lithuania‘s open wine and dessert matching competition Wine+Dessert, and the National coordinator for Lithuania of Wine in Moderation. Arunas is also studying for his Master of Wine qualification. 


Kristjan Peäske, Estonia, @kristjanpeaske
Kristjan is one of the most visible restaurateurs and wine opinion leaders in Estonia, partner of Leib restaurant and Lore bistro in Tallinn, Estonia, also partner at the award winning Hopster Brewery! He started his career as a maître d’ at Pädaste Manor on the island of Muhu, worked in 5* hotels across Estonia and won a number of sommelier competitions (Estonia’s best sommelier, Baltic’s best sommelier) before opening Leib in 2011 and Lore bistro in 2019. 


Aigars Nords, Latvia, @nordsaigars
Aigars is wine lover & entrepreneur, the first in the Baltics to acquire WSET Diploma in 2010. Since Aigars set up Riga Wine & Champagne festival in 2012, the festival has grown into a grand celebration of fine wine & champagne, and includes Latvia’s most anticipated tastings & gourmet events – Top 100 Wines + Chefs, Wine of the Year competition, Audi Bubble Parade at the National Museum of Art, Baltic Wine List Awards. A new tradition celebrating wines of Burgundy in the company of Jasper Morris has been created in 2020. 



Forum will be concluded with the Baltic Wine List Awards ceremony. The Baltic Wine List Awards has been created to discover and spotlight Baltic restaurants with good, great and extraordinary wine lists at a time when an appreciation for wine is becoming an integral part of Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian cultures. Welcome to the Awards ceremony in association with Cross Keys Gin!


Every contestant of Baltic Wine List Awards as well as participants of the Baltic Wine Forum are welcome to participate in the Awards Ceremony!

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