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Ksenia's Story

Four-time, Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner, sommelier Ksenia Karpenko’s love of wine is matched only by her dedication to positivity and appetite for adventure.

From the underground wine cellars of exclusive, Maldivian beach resorts, to the chic, 5-star hotels of Moscow, Ksenia takes each day in her stride whilst preserving time to savour the little moments in life that mean the most.

Born in Chelyabinsk—the ‘meteorite city’ of Russia—Ksenia was destined to follow in the traditional footsteps of Russian women before her. However, her exposure to worldwide travel, and diverse cultures, from an early age ignited a spark within that lead her down a new and exciting path seldom trodden.

Ksenia’s hometown–a place still held dear to her—quickly became too small for her grand ambitions. After university—where her time was spent learning, growing and wondering what her true calling would be—Ksenia headed to Moscow.

With no plans, and no idea what she was looking for, Ksenia took a job as a PA for a distinguished auditing firm owner—a woman to whom she is grateful for her professional and ardent approach to life.

But there was something missing, a purpose for life, a passion.

Fate? The morning that Ksenia woke up with the word Sommelier unshakeable from her mind was the day that everything changed. Within just three days, she was taking the first steps towards a career she had never known existed–a decision her parents refused to support, which meant Ksenia spent the next 6 months surviving on buckwheat and rice. She couldn’t have been happier–she’d found her calling, her true passion.

From a young age Ksenia boasted an undeniable ability to communicate with those around her. Her communication skills, insatiable curiosity and unstoppable work ethic lead her into a new world of exhilarant opportunities and culinary rapture. Since the day she discovered what a sommelier was, Ksenia set out to learn absolutely everything there was to know about the craft.

Since that first moment of realisation—that wine was her true calling—Ksenia’s journey has been a fusion of dedication, hard work, education, sensation and love. As a passionate and creative sommelier, she saw wine through the eyes of an artist, as an expression of one’s heart and became intoxicated with the world around her.

Her raw talent, appetite for challenge and infectious personality saw her go above and beyond in each new role Ksenia took on. Just a year after starting out as a junior sommelier at Swissotel in Moscow, Ksenia found herself designing a full wine program and a bespoke, diverse wine list—over 300 wines—at one of the Maldives’ most exclusive resorts.

In 2009 Ksenia embraced the role of Head Sommelier at Barvikha Luxury Village. The wine list she developed for the complex’s hotel won the recognition of top management and became the Carte du Vin of the entire BLV complex; including French restaurant “Avenue”, Asian restaurant “Opium” & the concert hall.

Ksenia’s unwavering ambition and prominent skill saw her swiftly step into the position of Head Sommelier at The Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow in 2010. She found herself enhancing both the depth and strength of a 420-bottle-strong wine list, which included hand chosen wines from 15 countries. Ksenia also used her creativity and impeccable taste to produce a Wine by Glass Program which suggested 30 wines which changed every 4 months. The hotel became the first hotel in Russia to receive a prestigious Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine.

During her time at The Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, Ksenia pioneered the first Magnum Brunch in Russia and won 3rd prize in the Chaine des Rotisseurs Sommelier competition.

In 2013 Ksenia honoured a new opportunity and moved to London. However, on the day she said yes, her good friends told her they were opening a wine bar in Russia and that she absolutely had to join them. Where many would have chosen one or the other, Ksenia said yes to both and flew back to Russia regularly, living in 2 cities for 3 years.

The inconspicuous Wine Bar—Wine Religion—soon became renowned and rated #1 on TripAdvisor. It won ‘Best New Wine Place in Moscow’ by TimeOut Magazine, ‘Best Wine List in 2014’ by Menu.Ru Magazine, ‘Opening of the Year’ by Menu.Ru Magazine as well as two Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards. The team also won the Russian Jerez Competition in 2014 and went on to compete in the international competition in Spain in 2015.

Whilst Ksenia’s love of wine has continued to deepen, her love for life has flourished. Ksenia has recently made the decision to slow down in her work life and focus on life itself. From trips to New York to learning to surf, Ksenia is determined to push herself to new limits.

Ksenia’s work has always been about the experience, that mindful moment seized to savour each sip of a really good wine. That is why Bespoke Wine Collection was created.

“Bespoke Wine Collection was inspired by my eldest nephew’s playground bragging. Days after I told Leo he would inherit his own wine collection on his eighteenth birthday, his excitement ran free – everyone in the playground knew within a week, though no one believed his unlikely announcement. Right there, 11 years ago, I realised the gift-giving anticipation of wine held equal magic to the tasting itself. Leo turns eighteen in two years, 2021 - allowing me ample time to further refine his appreciation and understanding of what makes a fine wine special. Yes, his first ‘real’ taste is going to be something unforgettable – and that day can’t arrive quickly enough, for either of us", says Ksenia.

My aspiration in life is to continue my wine journey & inspire people to be adventurous with wine & gastronomy!