Wayne Belding grew up in the mid-Hudson Valley of upstate New York, now, ironically, a burgeoning wine-producing area. After earning a degree in geology from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1972, he moved to Colorado and ultimately found his way into the oil fields of the U.S. as a geologist. Along the way, he became fascinated with wine, and when the energy boom went bust in 1982, used that opportunity to transform his avocation into his vocation.
He began at The Boulder Wine Merchant, a wine specialty shop in Boulder, Colorado. He then became Sommelier at the Heritage Hotel in Denver which, at the time, had a Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine cellar. During his tenure at the Heritage, he competed in The 2nd Annual French wine and Spirits Sommelier Competition in America, sponsored by Food and Wines from France, in 1985. He won the Denver Regional Competition and placed seventh in the final competition in New York. The examination experience was stimulating and, when the Court of Master Sommeliers first came to the U.S. in 1987 and the opportunity was presented, he began his pursuit of the Master Sommelier diploma. After passing the basic Certificate course and Advanced Sommelier course, he became the 13th American to pass the demanding Master Sommelier examination at Monterey, California in 1990. In addition to passing the rigorous examination, he also earned the Krug Cup - an award bestowed by Krug Champagne on the person who passes all three parts of the Master Sommelier test at the same examination and attains the highest score of those tested. To the present, only 75 Americans have passed the Master Sommelier examination. He has served as Education Chairman and Chairman for the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Throughout his years in the wine business, Mr. Belding has been an educator as well. He has taught wine appreciation classes for over twenty years, instructing well over 1000 students in that time. He has been a wine competition judge at the National Restaurant Association Wine Classic in Chicago, The Jefferson Cup, the Colorado State Fair and the California Wine Celebration in Denver. He has also been a featured speaker at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, The Telluride Wine Festival, The Taste of Vail and the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival in Winter Park, Colorado. He has taught professional wine service classes throughout the country and since 1986, he has been an owner of The Boulder Wine Merchant.