Wine lovers unite
As so many of the best things are, Uncorked Access is the result of passion, fate, collaboration, and timing. We did not write down "take wine classes" on our bucket list. It started with simply enjoying a delicious beverage and turned into so much more.
Both of us are curious by nature. Peter traveled to numerous wineries around the world and often during these visits, communication was a big deal. Almost none of the workers and winemakers knew any sign language, which led to communication obstacles. Laura is a professional sign language interpreter who became very passionate about wine. During her experiences traveling to wineries, attending tastings and classes, she couldn't help but wonder what these opportunities would be like for her Deaf friends.
Laura knew there had to already be Deaf people pursuing wine education. She began to search for someone from the Deaf community who was equally as passionate, as she simultaneously began advocating for Deaf-friendly accessibility and inclusion in the wine industry.
Laura met Peter and they immediately connected over a love of wine. They quickly agreed that obstacles to access should be uncorked, and so Uncorked Access was born.
Laura Brown Unterstein, WSET 3
Laura is a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter who spent fourteen years in the hospitality industry, working in restaurants and bars in multiple cities.
As her interest in wine developed and she traveled to visit wineries, attended tastings, and took certification courses, she couldn't help but see these experiences through the lens of an interpreter. Laura wondered how members of the Deaf community could enjoy the same opportunities, both as enthusiasts and aspiring professionals. She knew that as she became more entrenched in the wine industry, she needed to encourage people to think about this. Laura is currently WSET Level 3 certified (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) and works as the national sales manager for Maysara Winery.
Laura was recognized in 2021 as a Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 Tastemaker. She hopes to be a vehicle of change and to use her privilege and platform for the betterment of others. Her dream is to see Deaf wine professionals in the industry who will lead the next generation of curious consumers without barriers. Wine is an equalizer, and she believes we can all sit at the same table to experience it together.
Laura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter S.Cook, WSET 3
Peter S. Cook is an internationally reputed Deaf storyteller and poet and has been traveling the world since 1984. He holds the Advanced WSET* level 3 certification, works as a wine educator, and teaches workshops about Wine and American Sign Language. He is also advocating for greater access in wine and hospitality for employers and consumers.
Peter is honored to be selected as the one of the cohorts of the 2022 Wine Enthusiast Future 40, which recognizes innovative professionals in the wine and hospitality industries.
Peter provides his expertise in visual information related to viticulture and vinification in the wine industry for greater, more equitable language access.
He is also currently the Chair of ASL Department at Columbia College Chicago, where students are trained to become professional sign language interpreters and community advocates.
Peter can be reached at email@example.com
* Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) qualifications are globally recognized as the international standard in wine and spirit knowledge. For more info: https://www.wsetglobal.com/