North Carolina Wine Academy was founded as a whole immersive wine education experience aimed at professional and wine aficionados. We believe in wine education being accessible to everyone while offering visibility to women in wine and minorities in the industry.
Yellymary ‘Mary’ Montalvo is the co-founder of North Carolina Wine Academy. She has excelled in her education, which qualifies her as a WSET Certified Educator. She currently holds the title of WSET Level 3 in Wines Certified Specialist and is currently a Diploma of Wine student. Additionally, she has recently earned both a Spanish Scholar Wine Guild Diploma with Honors and a Certified Beer Server with the Cicerone Program.
Formerly, Mary owned Luisa’s Cellar for 10 years in Sanford, Florida where she proudly curated the extensive wine selection. She also owned and operated Vineyards of the World in Clermont, Florida, which was in business for 5 years until the location moved to Sanford.
She started visiting Asheville more than 10 years ago and fell in love with the people, wineries in the area, and the beautiful scenery. Once she got settled in, NCWA was born. Created from her passion to educate, Mary takes great pride in running the education programs along with creating fun and interactive course for her students. She facilitates the WSET Level 1/ Level 2, and the Spanish Wine Scholar Guild courses.
"Life is too short not to enjoy wine, or to make it all snobbery and pomp," Mary says. Making wine easy, fun, and educational for everyone certainly sparks joy for her. Hosting private parties with you and your friends is icing on the cake. She loves making *you* the star of the party.
She is a proud geek, a Doctor Who fan, and loves superheroes. She is proficient in Spanish, English and German.
WSET Level 3 in Wines /
WSET Certified Educator
Spanish Wine Scholar Guild Certified
Court of Master Sommeliers
Certified Beer Server
Brianna is a certified wine educator for the WSET and French Wine Scholar. She thoroughly enjoys watching and encouraging wine lovers as they move from hobby to passion to career as she has done. She completed her Level 4 Diploma in Wine and Spirits in 2019 and is currently working to complete the Italian Wine Scholar. She received the French Wine Scholar with Highest Honors and completed the Master-Champagne Level with Honors. She can’t wait to start your wine journey with you!
CARA DE LAVALLADE
ADVANCED SOMMELIER, WSET L3 IN WINES, FWS, CSS
An Advanced Sommelier with over a decade of experience in the wine industry, Cara is happiest traveling the world, roaming through vineyards and sipping Champagne whenever possible. While living in Mendoza, Argentina, she was fortunate to work alongside Chef Pablo Renea as Sommelier for Restaurante Azafran. As part of the sommelier team for Silversea Cruises, Cara worked with top wines from around the world while sailing the Mediterranean. In Seattle, she worked with James Beard Award winning chef, Tamara Murphy, managing the wine list for Terra Plata and then spent four years as Wine Director for Willows Lodge in Woodinville. Most recently, she’s managed the beverage program for the remarkable destination, Enchantment Resort, in Sedona, Arizona. Currently studying for the Master Sommelier Theory exam, Cara also holds a Level 3 certification from WSET, a French Wine Scholar Certificate, and is a Certified Sherry Specialist through Lustau.
Lourdes is joining NCWA to assist with social media management and daily academy logistics. She has a Marketing degree with a concentration in Public Relations from Columbia College. She has been in the e-commerce arena for 25 years operating an online store. She handles inventory selection, pricing, customer transactions and does all of the advertising, marketing & social media for the store. She also works as a Recreation Assistant and handles the social media, digital communications & administrative work for the Parks & Recreation department. She loves living in Tryon surrounded by the beautiful mountains.