With a background in science from Duke University, the wine industry was not immediately the obvious career path for Barclay Prime’s sommelier, Hai Tran. A first generation Vietnamese-American, wine had virtually no presence during his upbringing in Orlando, FL. A stint in the restaurant industry, while pursuing a career in biotechnology, proved transformative. His exposure to fine dining and the world of wine sparked a great passion and a new calling.
Looking for a way into the wine industry, Hai started his beverage career on the distribution side before finding an opportunity to head up a program for one of the most unique fine dining experiences in North Carolina centered around Southeast Asian flavors as the wine director for ăn New World Cuisine. This would then lead to opportunities to oversee the programs of two luxury hotels, The Umstead Hotel & Spa (Cary, NC) and The Rittenhouse (Philadelphia, PA). Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hai was heading up the wine program for Starr Restaurant Group’s luxury steakhouse, Barclay Prime. With the challenges that were brought on by the pandemic, Hai joined Sommation Live, a collective of nine sommeliers working to promote the beverage industry through the lens of the sommelier, while keeping the doors open for all of those interested and promoting mental and physical wellness.
Hai is an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and has been recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as one of the “Top 40 under 40 Taste Makers of 2016.”
Hai Tran is a member of the SommCon Advisory Board