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Paula de Pano

Fearrington's Beverage & Service Director

Paula de Pano

Paula De Pano pairs an enduring passion for providing hospitality with deep expertise in the wine industry to create an unforgettable experience for her guests and clients.

Since 2016, she’s led a talented team of beverage professionals at the Fearrington House Restaurant outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As the restaurant’s Beverage & Service Director, she curates a wine list that features more than 1500 unique labels and has garnered a number of industry accolades, including three stars every year since 2015 from The World of Fine Wine, the beverage industry’s equivalent of Michelin stars, its coveted Jury Prize for the top 100 wine lists in the world in 2017, and the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine since 2004.

Paula uses her knowledge of wine to delight and surprise each guest who walks through the door. Whether someone is looking for the perfect pairing with their meal or a wine that accommodates a specific set of preferences, she can recommend a range of options to satisfy the palate. Her natural curiosity drives her to discover every bottle’s unique story, from the soil and climate of its origin to its winemaker’s philosophy. As the wine industry evolves, she never tires of expanding her knowledge and sharing it with others. For the past several years, Paula’s classes at The Fearrington House have given members of the community deeper insight into the beauty and origin of world-class wines. Students and colleagues alike appreciate her reliability, resourcefulness, and enthusiasm for teaching.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Paula first developed an interest in wine as the Marketing & Public Relations Manager for Cav Wine Shop-Café, one of the country’s few wine bars. In 2008, she moved to New York’s Hudson Valley to study at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) – Hyde Park. As a student of the James Beard Award-winning wine writer and educator Michael Weiss, she discovered an aptitude for blind tasting and made her first foray into The Court of Master Sommeliers, the UK-based organization that sets the global standard of excellence within the beverage industry.

After graduating from the CIA in 2010, Paula joined The Fearrington House Restaurant as an Assistant Sommelier to former Wine Director Maximilian Kast. Under his mentorship, she earned the Advanced Sommelier distinction in 2013, making the Fearrington House the only restaurant in North Carolina with two Advanced Sommeliers serving its guests. The same year, she also earned the Advanced Sommelier Level III with Distinction from the Wines and Spirits Educational Trust. Today, she’s one of only a handful of Filipinos in the U.S. to have achieved the Advanced Sommelier certification.

In 2014, Paula moved to New York City to join the sommelier team at Eleven Madison Park, a fine dining restaurant helmed by celebrated Chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara. During her time serving under Dustin Wilson, Master Sommelier, Eleven Madison Park was voted Best Restaurant in North America and the #3 Restaurant in the World by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Committee. The iconic New York restaurant was also re-awarded four stars from the New York Times, received the inaugural 50 Best Ferrari Trento Art of Hospitality Award, and became the only restaurant to win the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurant Service award twice. Paula credits her experience as a sommelier at Eleven Madison Mark for inspiring her to strive for the same flawless service and hospitality.

In addition to her role as Beverage & Service Director at the Fearrington House Restaurant, Paula also serves as the Assistant General Manager for The Fearrington House Inn, where she helps oversee the day-to-day operations of a 32-room luxury facility. When she’s not working in Fearrington Village, Paula travels as much as possible to learn about wines from all over the world from winemakers themselves, ultimately with the goal of finding hidden gems to bring home and introduce to her guests.

In 2017, Paula was selected as one of five finalists for Ruinart Champagne Challenge sponsored by The Guild of Sommeliers, a vineyard immersive opportunity for the nation’s most accomplished sommeliers. For the past two years, she has participated in the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival as a member of the Advisory Council and as a Beverage Talent for several events. She’s also provided food and beverage services for charity events on behalf of No Kid Hungry, a national organization aimed at ending childhood hunger.