Hai Tran has been in wine for 14 years, but with a background in science from Duke University, the wine industry was not an obvious career path. As a first-generation Vietnamese-American, wine had virtually no presence during his upbringing in Orlando, FL but a stint in the restaurant industry, while pursuing a career in biotechnology, proved transformative as his exposure to fine dining and the world of wine sparked a new calling. Looking for a way into the wine industry, he started on the distribution side before landing an opportunity in 2008 as Wine Director for one of the most unique fine dining experiences in North Carolina centered around Southeast Asian flavors at ă New World Cuisine.
This led to opportunities to oversee the programs of two luxury hotels, The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, NC) and The Rittenhouse (Philadelphia, PA), and in 2016 he was named one of the “Top 40 under 40 Taste Makers” by Wine Enthusiast magazine.
In 2020 he was leading the wine program for Starr Restaurant Group’s luxury steakhouse, Barclay Prime before COVID-19 hit, so with the challenges that were brought on by the pandemic, he 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, and promoting mental and physical wellness.