Bohlsen Restaurant Group (www.brgroup.biz) Beverage Director Paulo Villela’s interest in wine began as a youth in southern Brazil. Neighboring Italian immigrants would give away home-made wine as long as Villela brought his own bottle, then a greater expense. In 1983, his journey to sommelier began in the restaurant business as a bus boy. In 1996, he climbed the ranks becoming wine captain and sommelier for Windows on the World Restaurant. Villela was the last person to grace the restaurant’s vast wine cellar on September 11, 2001. He joined the Bohlsen Restaurant Group in 2008 via Blue Fin Restaurant at the W Hotel in New York City. The 1998 class valedictorian from Sommelier Society of America, where he teaches in his spare time, is fluent in five languages and has a degree in Agricultural Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He attributes his deep knowledge about wine to mentors Kevin Zraly and Andrea Immer, friends and family, tasting 40-50 wines per week and visits to Napa Valley, Italy, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Germany and Spain. Says Bohlsen Restaurant Group co-owner Michael Bohlsen: “Paulo brings a breath of fresh air to our wine program. His love and appreciation for wine has fueled a culture at the Bohlsen Restaurant Group where wine knowledge is cool. The members of our staff have intricate experience with wines ranging from local Sauvignon Blanc to Argentinian Malbec. This wine knowledge translates to a more well-rounded, seamless dining experience for our guests at the bar and in the dining room.