Rania Zayyat is the founder of Lift Collective, a non-profit organization founded in 2018. She is also the Managing Partner and Wine Director at Bufalina, a Neopolitan pizza and natural wine destination in East Austin. Rania has spent 10 years in the wine industry and nearly two decades in hospitality, where she is now a leader in equity and inclusion initiatives–including Lift Collective’s activities–wine education classes, minimal intervention wines, and wine list profitability, development, and marketing.
Rania founded and hosted the inaugural Lift Collective Conference in March 2019, with an industry A-List of speakers including keynote Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, Victoria James, Cathy Corison, Martha Stoumen, and Marissa Ross.
Before founding Lift Collective, Rania served as Beverage Manager for June’s All Day, Sommelier at the Four Seasons Austin, Lead Sommelier at the now-defunct laV Restaurant & Wine Bar, and Sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse.
Rania has been recognized for her work in Zagat 30 Under 30 2015, Forbes, VinePair, The Somm Journal, Wine Enthusiast, The Vintner Project, Wine & Spirits, Sprudge, Eater, Texas Wine Lover, The Doctors, By The Glass Podcast, and The Alexi Cashen Podcast. She was named one of “The Most Inspiring People in Wine” by Wine Industry Network in 2021, listed in Imbibe’s “75 People to Watch in 2021”, named as a Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40, and featured in Austin Monthly’s “12 Women Shaping the Future of Austin” in 2021. Rania is also a co-founder of Be The Change, the wine industry’s first virtual job fair with a focus on diversity and inclusion, and she is a founding member of The Hue Society’s Council of Resources.
Beyond wine, Rania is an avid non-fiction reader, a gender equality advocate, enjoys international travel, and loves seafood towers. Rania resides with her husband Chris, their dog Mango, and kittens Dashi and Mochi, in Austin, Texas.