Rising Star Sommelier Lauren Friel of Rebel Rebel - Biography

Somerville, MA

July 2020

Lauren Friel established her industry bona fides making chili dogs and scooping ice cream at a local stand. With a journalism career in mind, Friel left her Amherst, New Hampshire hometown to study at Boston University, then Harvard. But it was as a cocktail server at mainstay Eastern Standard, that Friel decided to go all in on hospitality. In 2005, she left college and by 2006 was a cheesemonger at Savenor’s Market in Cambridge. Next, Friel landed a job at Ana Sortun’s Oleana, where she developed a nerdy fascination with fermented grape juice, becoming wine director and manager by 2011, the same year she received her advanced certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. In 2013, she was named executive beverage director of the whole group. 

After years on the floor, Friel stepped back to reconnect with her love of writing. She worked as a freelance wine journalist, writing columns for ChefsFeed, Eater, Boston.com, and Thrillist. Meanwhile, She founded VinDrop, a wine consulting and education program. In 2018, Friel’s friend, chocolati√®re Alexandra Whisnant, encouraged Lauren to open a shop in Somerville’s Bow Market, where she was also planning a business. And so, feminist natural wine bar Rebel Rebel was born. Guests are told to leave “misogyny, homophobia, racism, classism, ableism, patriarchy, gender bias, and all your other bullshit at the door.” 

In 2019, Friel was named “Boston’s Best Sommelier” by Boston Magazine and was nominated for Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Star Award for “Best Sommelier.” She also put Oleana and Chef Amanda Cohen's Dirt Candy on Wine Enthusiast’s “100 Best Wine Programs” list, and built an all-female team at Dirt Candy. She plans to open an intimate, modern wine pub with Sara Markey and Chef Andrew Brady of Field & Vine, called Dear Annie. Friel is an advocate for intersectional feminist disruption of the hospitality industry, and an avid community activist.