J. Michael Shields, originally a Massachusetts native, studied Ethnic Conflict Resolution at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. During his time at the University he spent a year in Northern Ireland studying religious conflicts and began his first liquor industry position at Spirit Haus, a specialty liquor, beer and wine shop, in Amherst. He started working in the beer department and after some time moved to wine in 2004.
Two years later, Shields moved to Florida and was a store manager for Cork & Olive in Lakeland. After proving his talent in the industry, Shields was then was promoted to Director of Training and opened seven new Cork & Olive locations in the state. In addition to his position as Director of Training, Michael also worked part time in the service bar at Bern's Steak House. After working for six months he was transferred to the cellar attempting to learn more about the craft of the sommelier.
Then in the fall of 2010, Shields left the Steak House and moved back to Boston to manage retail shops. Before long, Shields was asked to return to the Bern's family as a sommelier in addition to his fellow expert staff of sommeliers. Shields is now a certified bartender, and a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers.