NYC Wine Sommelier who defied the odds pays it forward to those in need

It's a G Thing
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK— “Every Sunday was a big meal. I would have a glass of wine”

And so began Yannick Benjamin’s love affair with wine.

Fast forward many years, and he’s among the top wine tasters under the age of 40 and head sommelier at the University Club in Manhattan.

“Hey, hey we’re with a sommelier! What’s the most expensive bottle of wine you’ve drank?” asked Mr. G.

“To be honest with you, 15,000 dollars,” Benjamin said.

“For a bottle of wine? So each sip is $500,” Mr. G commented.

A dream of his that was almost crushed by a serious car accident in 2003.

“I’m spinal cord injured. I’m paralyzed from the waist down,” Benjamin explained.

But rather than letting it define him, Yannick says he focused on getting back to his dream of a career in the wine business.

‘What my parents sacrificed for me, I mean I think it would be wrong of me to take a step back,” Benjamin said.

Not only did he realize that dream, he wanted to make sure other people with disabilities had the same quality of life he had. So he helped found the non-profit, Wheeling Forward, with his friend Alex he met in the hospital all those years ago.

“We were in 2 separate car accidents. We realized there were so many people who were coming to visit us. We also had the good fortune to go back home, some of these individuals did not, they got stuck in nursing homes. We were just so upset, this is just so unfair,” Benjamin said.

Wheeling Forward gives the opportunity of a better life for those living with disabilities, including two wellness and fitness centers in the five boroughs.

“It’s extraordinary to see the change in these people lives. It’s so gratifying,” he said.

And if Yannick hasn’t inspired you enough, he completed his 8th New York City Marathon this past November.

“Once you cross that finish, that gratification that paid off, it’s a unique feeling,” Benjamin described.

The same sort of feeling he gets from a good glass of wine.

“I mean seriously to have love, it’s such an important thing. Without love what do you have?”

Click on this link for more info on Wheeling Forward’s annual event, Wine on Wheels.

Trending Stories

Connect with PIX11 Online

Connect with PIX11 Online

Don't Miss

Latest Video

'Happily' star Kerry Bishé talks dark romantic comedy from Jack Black

NYPL celebrates Women's History Month

Movie theater owner talks NYC business reopening

Stepfather charged with murder of 10-year-old Harlem boy

Chilly Monday before spring-like week ahead

NYPD officer shot, 2nd cop grazed in Brooklyn; gunman in custody: police

Cuomo defiant as top New York lawmakers call on him to quit

Senate Democrats and Republicans still split day after COVID-19 Relief Deal vote

Temperatures in the mid-60s this week as spring-like weather returns