Key Concepts

Sources of Water



Elena Berg

Jury member Dr. Elena Berg is a Certified Water Sommelier and a full Professor of Environmental Science and Director of the Joy and Edward Frieman Environmental Science Research Center at The American University of Paris (AUP), France. Elena spent the first twenty years of her career conducting fieldwork on primates and birds all over the world. Ten years ago, she transitioned to studying beetle behavior in the laboratory. When she is not in the lab, she’s busy teaching courses in animal behavior, evolutionary biology, biological anthropology, and environmental science. She also works with students to promote sustainability initiatives on campus.

Elena is devoted to water, in all its guises. As an environmental scientist, she is particularly interested in the sustainable management of water resources, in the reduction of plastic waste, and in the role that water enthusiasts can play in championing and protecting access to clean water for future generations.

Ruriko Suzuki

Ruriko Suzuki, a former television and radio anchor turned water sommelier, has seamlessly transitioned her career from media to the world of bottled water. Her journey began with managing an e-commerce platform specializing in bottled water, eventually leading her to pursue certification as a water sommelier in Japan. With a keen sense of taste and a background in communication, Suzuki now educates and lectures on the art of water tasting and pairing, bridging the gap between water appreciation and culinary culture, particularly in Japan, where the pairing of water with food is an emerging concept.

Inspired by Michael Mascha's philosophy and the Fine Water Academy, Suzuki has become a key figure in promoting water appreciation globally. She collaborates with other water sommeliers and experts through the FineLiquids community to showcase exceptional waters worldwide, emphasizing to consumers that water is not just a basic necessity but a nuanced element worthy of exploration and enjoyment.

Silvia Stefanuca-Serban

Silvia has been studying, working, and creating in the hospitality industry for the last 12 years. Her passion translated into a family business – a hotel & restaurant in a XIXth century manor house with a strong focus on sustainability and customization.

She is a water sommelier with a deep knowledge of food & water pairing, creating holistic experiences – wine pairing, decorations and customization of dinners and events. She is creating amazing gourmet experiences, spreading knowledge about natural mineral water, and the way water intertwines with all aspects of a gastronomic approach. 

Pat Eckert

In 2018, Pat Eckert assumed ownership of "Fine Liquids," a company established in 1987, specializing in international water shipping. Expansion into the UK occurred in 2020 with the addition of Milin Patel, a renowned water technologist and sommelier from London. The subsequent year saw the establishment of the "Fine Liquids Water Boutique" and "Fine Liquids Art Gallery" in London's Fulham Broadway, alongside the initiation of the "Fine Liquids Community," featuring monthly live shows by international water sommeliers.

By 2022, Pat Eckert had become a panelist at the "BLED Water Festival" and completed certification as a water sommelier through the "Fine Water Academy." This period also marked a series of water tastings across Germany, Europe, and the UK, including notable events at the "SUEZ" headquarters in Belgium and the "World Water Congress" in Copenhagen. Alongside global shipping operations, Eckert provides consultancy services to water companies, restaurateurs, and the hospitality sector. Finally, in 2023, after extensive preparation, his own premium water brand, "Aqa Finelli," was successfully launched.

Michael Mascha

Michael Mascha created FineWaters in 2002 and is one of the original founders of the Fine Water Society in 2008. He helped create the premium category and tells the story that "water is not just water," that it has terroir like wine, can be matched with food, and curated by water sommeliers. In 2018 Michael co-founded the Fine Water Academy to train water sommeliers worldwide.

Michael's global audience consists of food & beverage professionals, consumers, distributors, media, and premium brands. Michael is also
the author of the acclaimed book Fine Waters called "an encyclopedia of water, a bible of water" by the London Times.

Nico Pieterse

The Fine Water Company was founded in 2021 by Nico Pieterse, an experienced entrepreneur and WaterSommelier from Franschhoek. Nico is one of only a few Certified Water Sommeliers worldwide. This has distinct advantages in so far as the market is completely untapped, primed for launch, and coincides with the wellness revolution the world is experiencing. Water is a “hot” topic, and appreciation of water is definitely on the increase.

The Fine Water Company Tasting Room and Nico Pieterse, a water sommelier, are in the perfect position to revolutionize the Fine Water industry in South Africa. The topic of Fine Water is thought-provoking and almost immediately perceived as taboo; the press loves it, critics discuss it, everybody needs it, and almost immediately, the need to prove that water has taste arises. It's intriguing and fresh, a Water Sommelier, and his tasting room is in the middle of the culinary capital of South Africa.