Main content starts here, tab to start navigating

Juan Valencia


Juan started in the industry back in 2010 working in restaurants to pay for his college degree. He started working at Luma on Park in 2013, and was inspired by the extensive wine list to start learning more about wine to be more successful working in the restaurant. Juan’s “Ah-ha” moment occurred during one late night drinking wine with a coworker who opened a bottle of 2007 Domaine du Pegau Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This was around the time that the Somm documentary was released and he was very curious about the profession. Juan was mesmerized by the difference in aroma versus flavor on the palate. He wanted to understand the “why”. Why does this smell and taste so different, why did this wine resonate with him, why do other wines differ from the same region, etc. Later that week he dropped out of college and committed to studying wine full time. 

After Luma, Juan was hired to work for Norman Van Aken at Norman’s. This was Chef Norman’s second restaurant located at The Ritz Carlton in Orlando. Juan was the Assistant General Manager and Head Sommelier when Norman’s was nominated by the James Beard foundation for Outstanding Restaurant in 2019. After Norman’s, Juan opened the London House Private members club in Orlando and was charged with creating an extensive collection of rare wine and spirits.

Juan has passed the certified exam by the court of master sommeliers and has passed 2 of the 3 portions of the advanced exam. Juan also passed the WSET level 3 exam in wine. In 2020 he represented the southeast region in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Best Young Sommelier Competition and competed with the 8 other sommelier finalists for best young sommelier in America.

After Juan failed his advanced court of masters exam for the third time, he wanted to give himself another mental challenge to work out his brain in a way that had nothing to do with wine. He then discovered his passion for chess. If he’s feeling like a true degenerate, he’ll play 20-25 games. Juan’s guilty pleasure is a big mac with no pickles and extra cheese. Paired with a bone dry riesling, it might be the greatest thing on earth!