At The Royal Poinciana Plaza

Boss-Lady Spotlight: Virginia Philip

Mar 15 - Mar 31 10:00 am – 8:00 pm Virginia Philip Wine, Spirits & Academy

Women LOVE wine…and tequila! Surprisingly though, not a lot of women foray into the beverage business, let alone become industry leaders.  Enter our very own Virginia Philip, an expert among experts! In 2002, this boss-lady became the 11th woman in history to earn the extraordinary accreditation of Master Sommelier, the highest certification of international proficiency.  Today, there are 236 total Master Sommeliers in the world, and just 29 of them are females. Hold your applause, please…we’re just getting started.

Virginia’s interest in wine began at an early age. Studying the subject in college and working at a vineyard during her summers, she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1989 with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Johnson & Wales University.  Fast forward just 12 years, and Virginia was named Best Sommelier of the United States by the American Sommelier Association from 2002-2006.  In 2012, she was a nominee for the James Beard Foundation and in 2015, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Oenology (inserting Google search results here).  Oh, and if you didn’t already know, Virginia is also the Wine Director for The Breakers, overseeing 14 wine lists including the resort’s prized 2,000 selection list.

Now on to wine making!  In the Spring of 2015, Virginia co-created and launched the “Livernano 90 C Lo Cal” wine collection with partner Gudrun Cuillo of Livernano winery…to which we say, “Thank you for keeping our wine calories in-check.”  We would also like to thank her for opening Virginia Philip Wine, Spirits & Academy at The Royal.  It’s incredibly rare to be able to walk into a quaint store in a tropical paradise and receive first-hand recommendations for your wine selections.  Aren’t we lucky?


In spotlighting our female business owners for our month-long celebration of International Women’s Day, we had the opportunity to ask Virginia a few questions! Read on Royals…


You’ve accomplished immense success and respect as a female in an industry dominated by men. What advice or knowledge would you share to other females interested in your line of work?
“My advice to any female who has aspirations in the food and beverage field is this: Perseverance and dedication will always be the right path to success. Integrity, honesty, and hard work are values that at times, may go unnoticed, but allow you to succeed and build confidence in who you are. And quite frankly, allows you to sleep well at night.”
The bottles of wine we’ve been drinking at home seem to have increased (as has our alcohol tolerance) over the past year. As an industry insider, how has the pandemic impacted you and other experts in your line of work?
The industry is undergoing such a massive change due to Covid-19. There are opportunities for self-evaluation and opportunities for sommeliers to look outside the box and consider cellar management, retail, and consulting. Online Zoom classes have created a niche market for events that would normally be done in-person. Looking ahead, I see the Zoom opportunity to be never ending!”


She’s got accolades, integrity, and a shop full of wine, people!  Give her a follow at @virginiaphilip.