At Wine4Food, we’re passionate about wine—discovering it, discussing it, drinking it, and sharing it. When wine can be a way to change people’s lives for the better, we fall even more deeply in love.
Join us as we talk with Yannick Benjamin, Head Sommelier of New York City’s University Club and Co-Founder of Wheeling Forward, about how he’s using wine to change the world. In 2003, a car accident left Yannick paralyzed but did not stop him from pursuing his dreams of going on to college and becoming a world class sommelier. After his accident, he “really had this moment of flashbacks of every significant and insignificant thing in my life in a couple of seconds,” Yannick remembers.
In rehabilitation, Yannick and his roommate Alex Elegudin realized that they “didn’t have the same anxieties as the other individuals on the same floor. They didn’t have the financial resources to make simple modifications, like widening the doors or putting grab bars in the bathroom.” That was the inspiration for Wheeling Forward, and Yannick hasn’t looked back. His wine tastings and events raise money to help support people with disabilities.
Yannick is currently an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and featured on Esquire Network’s TV show Uncorked. He’s also a para-athlete who has competed in several marathons and races including the New York, Boston, and Chicago marathons.
We talked to some of the members of the community at the Axis Project on Church Avenue in Brooklyn, a health and wellness facility for people with disabilities founded through the collaboration of Wheeling Forward and Wheels of Progress. They offer programs from yoga and spin classes to handcycling in the park and game nights. “I get to take my pleasure of wine and turn it into hope,” Yannick says.