Toshio Ueno DipWSET

Vice President, Sake School of America, Director of Sake Specialist at MTC

Toshio is the creator of Sake School of America and English Shochu Adviser Certificate program, and first one in the world to hold Master of Sake (酒匠), Master Sake Sommelier (日本酒学講師), WSET Sake Educator diploma and WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits. Born in Japan where his family has grown Japanese wine grape, Koshu, for generations, Toshio grew up helping the business from a young age. Following his college education in the US and employment at an international trading company in Tokyo, Toshio joined Chateraise, a pastry and wine company as Director of Sales.

There, he was put in charge of overseeing the personal wine collection of the company's president, which intrigued him to enter the world of wine stewardship and research. Toshio joined Mutual Trading Company in 2002, where he is Director of Sake Specialist Division in marketing Japanese foods, Sake, and Shochu to the mainstream American trade. With his passion and expertise in Sake, Shochu, and Wine, Toshio aims to further promote Japanese food and Sake cultures to new, international audiences. Since 2010, he has been Vice President & Executive Instructor at Sake School of America. In 2016 he was awarded the industry’s most prestigious title Sake Samurai from Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association. In February 2021, he was appointed as The Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. And in 2023, he was awarded Foreign Minister’s Commendation by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Toshio is also a Board Director of Society of Wine Educators, and a member of Circle of Wine Writers and International Drinks Specialists.

Honors & Awards:

2023 Foreign Minister’s Commendation by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

2022 Ambassador of Yamanashi, Yamanashi Prefectural Government

2021 Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

2021 Brewing & Distilled Spirits Education Award, Brewing & Distilling Educational Services

2020 Awamori Jinbner, Okinawa Awamori Distillers Association
2019 Professionnel du Vin and Chevalier de la Societe Mondiale du Vin, Chaine des Rottiseurs
2019 to Current Board of Director, Society of Wine Educators
2017 Distinguished Service Prize, FBO Japan
2016 Sake Samurai, Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association


日本酒学講師 Master Sake Sommelier & 酒匠 Master of Sake, Sake Service Institute (SSI)

南部杜氏協会 研究科生 Nanbu Toji Guild Pre-Toji Candidate

WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits, Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET)

WSET Certified Sprits Educator & Sake Educator, 

Certified Specialist of Wine, Society of Wine Educators
Certified Sommelier, Court of Master Sommeliers
French Wine Scholar, International Wine Guild

Spanish Wine Scholar, International Wine Guild
Certified Italian Wine Specialist, North American Sommelier Association
Citified Beer Adviser, FBO

Cicerone Beer Server, Cicerone

Meet the other judges

Valerie Cao

Director of Operations and Beverage Director at Le Colonial Chicago

Josh King

Director of Food and Beverage, Virgin Hotels, Chicago

Kat Hawkins

Wine Director at Miru, Tre Dita, and the St. Regis Bar, St. Regis, Chicago