Raise Your Glass: Fil-Am Sommelier Wins James Beard Journalism Award For His Essay On Wine Industry - LA Lives

A toast to excellence!

Filipino-American sommelier and writer Miguel de Leon has won the 2022 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for the Personal Essay, Long Form category.

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His winning essay, “It’s Time to Decolonize Wine,” was originally published by Punch in June 2020.

The James Beard Awards seeks to recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system. Its Media Awards, in particular, honors the best food authors, broadcast producers, hosts, journalists, podcasters, and social media content creators.

Personal Essay, Long Form entries must cover any food and/or drink-related topic with a 1000-word minimum.

De Leon discussed the “wine world’s culture of gatekeeping, racism, and silence.”

He beat out fellow nominees Jackie Summers, who wrote “All the Food You Can Eat and Only the Family You Can Stand,” and Adia Victoria, who wrote “The Creature Comfort of Aunt Jemima.”

Decolonizing wine

De Leon wrote how he doesn’t want to perpetuate the systems that “dehumanized and demeaned” him and his colleagues. In addition, he considered how much more he can do as an immigrant, Filipino, American, cis gay man, ally, advocate, sommelier, friend, and son.

“I want to dismantle white supremacy in wine… spark change, to remove the barriers of entry, to call in and call out peers and industry leaders about the results of their actions and the consequences of their inactions… get loud, get angry, do better,” De Leon wrote.

He added how he won’t stop and even ask his colleagues to do the same.

The sommelier in 2021 became the inaugural recipient of the Michelin Guide Sommelier Award in New York City. He also landed a spot in the “75 People Working to Build a Better Drinks World” by Imbibe Magazine.

Banner Photo by Miguel de Leon via Instagram

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