Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
As Senior Director of Wine Education and On-Premise Development, Rob Bigelow oversees all wine education programs for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. As part of his dual responsibilities he also plays a critical role in the company’s work with key stakeholders in the on-premise trade. Rob holds the coveted title of Master Sommelier, which he was awarded in 2002 as the fiftieth American recipient and the seventh American to pass all three parts of the rigorous exam on the first attempt.
Raised only an hour away from Napa Valley wine country, Rob grew up with wine running through his veins. Yet it was a 1961 Château Margaux served at a party in his parents’ home when he was ten years old that confirmed his interest. From that point forward Rob has dedicated himself to the study of wine.
After studying hotel and restaurant management in college and working several sommelier positions, Rob became the Wine and Spirits Director at Canlis Restaurant in Seattle. There, under Rob's direction, the wine program received the coveted Wine Spectator Grand Award.
Following this singular achievement, Rob moved to Las Vegas to work at Bellagio as sommelier for Le Cirque, Circo and Aqua restaurants while preparing for his master sommelier examination. When appointed as Wine Director of Bellagio, he took charge of the hotel’s entire wine program, one of the largest and most successful in the world. In addition to managing daily operations and a staff of 16 Sommeliers, Bigelow also conducted a comprehensive wine education program for the entire Bellagio service staff.
Rob left Bellagio briefly to become Corporate Director of Education for a prominent Las Vegas wholesaler where he was responsible for implementing and executing their national wine, spirits and beer education program. Then, from 2008 to 2009, he worked as a Director of Fine Wine Sales for the Wirtz Beverage Group, overseeing the entire wine sales and distribution efforts for the state of Nevada.
Most recently, Rob was the Director of Food and Beverage for ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. During his tenure there, ARIA earned a Five Diamond rating from AAA and a Five Star rating from Forbes. Rob opened ARIA as the Director of Wine and maintained those duties after being promoted to Director of Food and Beverage.
Rob serves on the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers, where he also served as Education Chair in 2011. Rob was also an Adjunct Professor for the Hospitality Management Program at the esteemed College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. Rob was honored as the 2007 Wine Professional of the Year by Santé magazine.