The Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) was established in 1977 to promote excellence in restaurant and hotel beverage service. Its members around the world come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and they share a proven mastery of the art, science and history that informs a wine steward’s work. CMS has joined with NRN to provide monthly wine recommendations that can be served well with a chosen menu item.
Meet the first masters to offer their selections here, and find their recommendations at www.nrn.com/MS-wine.
MASTER BRANDON TEBBE
Affiliation: Independent wine consultant
Location: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Brandon Tebbe has spent the past several years focused on the study of wine and service, starting in 2006 when he passed the introductory level exam of the Court of Master Sommeliers. Four months later he passed the Certified Sommelier exam. He then began to focus on service and become the group sommelier for Richard Sandoval’s Modern Mexican Restaurant Group, which is based in New York, but has several restaurants in Colorado, where Tebbe is based.
He went on to work in restaurants throughout Colorado, including Restaurant Kevin Taylor in Denver and Charles Court at the Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs. In July 2011 Tebbe passed the Master Sommelier exam. Shortly thereafter, he moved to the Willamette Valley in Oregon to design and open a new restaurant, which was declared one of the 25 “Best New Places to Drink Wine” in Food & Wine Magazine. An opportunity to work the harvest for Brick House Vineyards in Newberg, Ore., came in the fall of 2012. He then returned to Colorado where he is currently working his way through the Cicerone program, studying up for the Master of Wine diploma, and spending time with his wife and children.
MASTER GILLIAN BALLANCE
Affiliation: Beverage director, Cavallo Point
Location: Sausalito, Calif.
Gillian Ballance has spent 15 years in the fine dining and hospitality industry in the San Francisco Bay area; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and New York.
Before joining Cavallo Point, she was a wine consultant for the Pacific-Union Club in San Francisco and Bottega Restaurant in Napa Valley. She also was the PlumpJack Group's wine director between 2004 and 2009.
She also was the opening wine and beverage director at Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara.
Before that she worked in New York at Picholine, Cello, and Windows on the World. She also has acted as a guest judge for several wine competitions and conducted wine seminars and lectures. In 2012, she passed the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. She also received her higher certificate of distinction, as well as her diploma in wines and spirits from the British Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She earned a bachelor of fine art degree from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in New York. She grew up in Tulsa, Okla.
MASTER LAURA WILLIAMSON
Affiliation: Consultant, Dove Mountain Grill
Location: Marana, Ariz.
Laura Williamson grew up in a dry county in Arkansas and only began to discover the virtues of wine once she moved to Paris, France, at the age of 19 for her initial college years. After exploring wine through service positions at David Paul’s in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii; Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego; John’s Restaurant and Flagstaff House in Boulder, Colo.; and Sweet Basil and Wildflower in Vail, Colo.; she was convinced that her talents with wine could lead to a more exciting and fulfilling career than her degrees in Economics and Financial Planning.
She was encouraged to pursue the Master Sommelier accreditation by her mentors Wayne Belding and Sally Mohr of the Boulder Wine Merchant and achieved that distinction in 2005. She is currently an active member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, and also has been a certified wine educator since 2002
Following her accreditation, Williamson began consulting for Small Vineyards Imports. She helped select its portfolio and expand its offerings to Portugal. She also assisted in educating the staff of suppliers and distributors on the virtues of small, hand-harvested, earth-friendly wine production.
From November 2006 to June 2009, she was co-owner and sommelier of VinTabla Restaurant and Wine Shop in Tucson, Ariz.
From April 2010 through 2012, she was vice president of sales for German wine importer Rudi Wiest Selections.
She also currently co-owns Dove Mountain Grill in Marana, Ariz., as well as a private consultant.
She continues to lecture nationally to businesses, restaurants and private clients about the wine regions of the world, techniques involved with pairing food and wine and the art and skill surrounding wine collecting. She also speaks annually at national wine conferences and festivals and is a staunch advocate for artisan wine producers, especially for under-appreciated countries such as Germany, Greece, Portugal/Madeira and Slovenia. She passionately travels the globe in search of unknown, exotic wines from eclectic indigenous grapes just to share these rarities with others.
In her spare time, practicing yoga and leading yoga and wine workshops takes priority in her life, along with supporting local children’s charities.
MASTER THOMAS PRICE
Affiliation: Head sommelier, Metropoliltan Grill
Thomas Price has been in the hospitality industry for his entire adult life, entering the business at age 14 as a dishwasher in Juneau, Alaska. By 18 he was the day lead cook at Harry’s, an upscale burger house in Anchorage.
Upon turning 21, he moved to the front of the house, working as a server and bartender, and immediately developed a passion for wine, which was fueled by a stint as a server at Zeppo’s, an Anchorage wine bar, and at their parent restaurant, The Marx Brothers Cafe.
He moved to Seattle in 1988 and worked at a variety of notable restaurants in the city, including Dahlia Lounge, El Camino, Etta’s Seafood and The Santa Fe Café
In 1997, Price and his wife Jessica opened their own restaurant, Luau Polynesian Lounge, in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, which they sold in 2004.
Price then became a waiter at Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill and obtained his Basic Sommelier certification in September of 2004.
The following year, he was promoted to a sommelier/captain position and in 2006 he obtained his Certified Sommelier certification.
He then spent a year as wine director for the Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., locations of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse before returning to Metropolitan Grill as a sommelier.
He earned his Advanced Sommelier certification in September 2007, became Metropolitan Grill’s head sommelier in 2008 and obtained his Master Sommelier certification in May 2012.
MASTER CRAIG COLLINS
Affiliaton: South Central regional manager, Dalla Terra
Location: Austin, Texas
Craig Collins began working at a winery the day he turned 21. After graduating from Texas A&M University he began working for Glazers Fine Wine Division and began refining the professional skills and industry knowledge that would shape his career. He moved to Austin, Texas, in 2005 to manage Prestige Wine Cellars, where he was responsible for the sales and marketing of more than 300 boutique wineries. In 2011, the same year he passed his Master Sommelier exam, he began working for Dalla Terra as their South Central Regional Manager.
He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife April, and is a board member of the Texas Sommelier Association.
MASTER DEVON BROGLIE
Affiliation: Specialty product coordinator, Whole Foods Market, Southwest Region
Location: Austin, Texas
Upon graduating from Duke University in Durham, N.C., Devon Broglie began a five-year stint in the restaurant industry, working his way up from busboy to management. His true passion for wine developed in the late 1990s as the manager of Brightleaf 905 restaurant in Durham. In 2000 he followed his love to Spain, where he worked the harvest season for the pioneering winery Bodegas Costers del Siurana in the Priorat region of Catalonia. Upon returning to the United States in 2001 he began his career with Whole Foods Market.
He won Texas’ Best Sommelier Competition in August of 2006, and is an active member of the Texas Sommelier Association and a board member of the TEXSOM wine conference. He became a Master Sommelier in 2011.
MASTER BRETT ZIMMERMAN
Affiliation: Master sommelier, owner, Boulder Wine Merchant
Location: Boulder, Colo.
Born and raised in Colorado, Brett Zimmerman has spent 16 years working in some of the finest restaurants in the country, as well as time in the wine distribution business.
He received a college degree in Business Administration from the University of Colorado Boulder, and then moved to Chicago where he accepted a position as a sommelier at the world acclaimed restaurant, Charlie Trotter's. Following his time there, he moved to San Francisco where he was the sommelier at the renowned restaurant Aqua. He then returned to Boulder and, with a business partner from Aqua, opened Mateo restaurant in fall 2000.
Three years later he took a position with Southern Wine and Spirits, where he spent four years as their general manager of the American Fine Wine Division in Colorado. In the spring of 2007 he became a Master Sommelier, and in the fall of that year he took a position with Domaine Select as regional manager for the mountains and desert.
He also is the owner of Boulder Wine Merchant.
MASTER JONATHAN PULLIS
Affiliation: Master Sommelier, The Little Nell
Location: Aspen, Colo.
Jonathan Pullis was born in Rochester, N.Y. He received a degree in economics from the University of Vermont in 1993 and moved to St John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He spent two years sailing and diving while working nights in a restaurant, and quickly realized that he loved having his days free and had no desire to get his MBA. He joined The Little Nell in November 1998 as a server in the restaurant, and his passion for wine quickly led him to the wine department. In 2004 he became a full-time sommelier, and in 2008 became wine director for the Grand Award list. In 2009 he earned the prestigious title Master Sommelier, joining about 100 others in North America.
MASTER NUNZIO ALIOTO
Affiliation: Part owner, Alioto’s Restaurant
Location: San Francisco
Nunzio Alioto, 62, has had a distinguished career in the culinary arts, the world of wine and in public service. He comes from the Alioto family, whose name is almost synonymous with San Francisco. The family restaurant has been a fixture on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf since 1925. In fact, his family has contributed to San Francisco history, when his cousin Joe Alioto was mayor of the city during the 1970s.
There was never any doubt in Alioto’s mind that he would work in the family restaurant business. As a child he enjoyed cooking in his mother’s kitchen and helping out at the restaurant. Growing up in the business, he has worked in every part of the operation. At eight years old, he began selling crabs in front of the restaurant, and has subsequently worked as a dishwasher, serviceperson, line cook, pastry chef, sous chef and chef.
Alioto received his formal training at the Hotel Restaurant School of City College, where he earned an Associate Art Degree, and attended the Hotel School in Lausanne Switzerland. During the summers, he apprenticed with Alioto’s chefs Johnny Pasatino and Renato Tessera, and at outside restaurants including Ernie’s, Paolis, with Roger Bertola of Doro’s and at the Lausanne Palace, and at Pic Restaurant in Valance, France.
Developing an early interest in wine, Alioto has toured the wine regions of the world extensively, gaining an in-depth knowledge of wine and all other beverage productions. This knowledge was tested in 1987 when he was invited to sit the examination to become a Master Sommelier. After five grueling days of tests, he earned the title of Master Sommelier.
Recognized for his knowledge and ability to discuss wines and develop wine lists, he is frequently invited to speak on the subject, and has presented seminars on wine and food to the California Restaurant Association, the California Culinary Academy, City College’s Hotel and Restaurant School and many other venues.
His career is further distinguished by public service. He served as a board member on the Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is past director of the California Restaurant Association, and the past president of the Fisherman’s Wharf Merchant Association. He also founded and is a director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Port Tenant’s Association, currently serves on the Board of the Community Benefit District on Fisherman’s Wharf, and is the former chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He served as president of the International Court of Sommeliers, as well. He was the principle organizer of Festa Italiana, a major annual fundraising event that has attracted over 60,000 thousand people and raised hundreds of thousand of dollars for San Francisco charities.
Active in the daily operations of the family restaurants, Alioto works closely with his culinary staff to create new recipes for the restaurant, and with bar managers in selecting wines and beverages. His wine list has received reviews from the industry, including an Award of Excellence from The Wine Spectator’s Guide to Great Restaurant Wine Lists for several years in a row, as well as the Wine Enthusiast’s Award in 1996. Alioto was the 118th person to receive the Antonin Careme Award given by the Chef’s Association of the Pacific Coast in 2002.
Alioto lives in San Rafael, Calif., with his wife Joanne, and has four children and six grandchildren.
MASTER SHAYN BJORNHOLM
Affiliation: Examination director, Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas
Location: Bainbridge Island, Wash.
In 2005, Shayn Bjornholm earned the Krug Cup for passing the Master Sommelier examination on his first attempt. After enjoying both the service (as wine director at Canlis Restaurant in Seattle from 2000–2006) and marketing (as education director with the Washington State Wine Commission from 2006–2011) facets of the beverage industry, Bjornholm recently turned his eye to accreditation as the examination director for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. He is responsible for the content and delivery of all levels of examination for the organization. Bjornholm speaks at numerous wine events around the country and is a published writer on the subject, but his most enjoyable efforts with the wine world remain mentoring one-on-one beverage professionals toward achieving their goals. In regards to learning twice as much as teaching when investing in his protégées, Bjornholm quotes Dr. Seuss in exclaiming, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”
MASTER ANTHONY ANSELMI
Affiliation: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
Location: Venice, Calif.
Anthony Anselmi has been in the wine business for more than 15 years. He developed a passion for wine after while working in restaurants in San Francisco. After working sommelier Peter Palmer of Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco and then with Chris Meeske at Patina Restaurant in Los Angeles, he took the wine program at La Cachette in Century City, Calif. He has been with Kermit Lynch for more than six years managing sales in Southern California. He also is the owner and winemaker of Jadis Wines.
MASTER JASON SMITH
Affiliation: Director of wine at Bellagio
Location: Las Vegas
As director of wine for Bellagio, Jason Smith oversees all wine operations for the resort including wine sales and service in 32 venues, ranging from restaurants and bars to banquet space and in-room dining. Smith also manages the inventory and cost control of more than 90,000 bottles comprised of about 4,000 selections. He leads the wine education of Bellagio’s 3,500 food and beverage employees and is responsible for hiring and training the property’s 16 sommeliers.
Previously, Smith was head sommelier for Michael Mina Bellagio. During his two years there, he added 350 new selections, nearly doubling the previous wine list.
Smith attended The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., with hopes of becoming a chef, but a required course in wine education sparked a passion for wine.
After graduating with honors form the culinary school, and before turning 21 himself, he became cellar master of the ‘21’ Club in New York City. He went on to become that property’s sommelier.
Over the next 17 years he worked at such venues as The Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., and Charlie Trotters in Chicago.
Smith became a Master Sommelier in 2005. That same hear he was named best young sommelier in America by L’Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs, an organization dedicated to promoting wine education and enjoyment. He also was named among the best sommeliers in America during a nationwide competition in 2000 by the American Sommelier Association.
MASTER IRA M. HARMON
Affiliation: District manager, J & P Division of Southern Wine & Spirits
Location: Las Vegas
Ira M. Harmon developed a passion for wine at an early age and educated himself by tasting wines as he grew up in upstate New York.
By the time he was 18, he had explored the world of German wines, tasted rosés from Portugal, Italy and France, including Dom Perignon Champagne.
He left college and moved to Colorado, where he worked in real estate but continued exploring wines, eventually landing a job as sommelier of L’Apogée in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
He became a Master Sommelier in March 1993, and three years later became director of fine wines for Western Wines, rising to the rank of vice president at that company.
He moved to Las Vegas in 2000 to take a position with Southern Wine & Spirits, where he still works to this day.
MASTER VIRGINIA PHILIP
Affiliation: Master sommelier of The Breakers Palm Beach
Location: Palm Beach, Fla.
Virginia Philip’s career includes a list of recognition spanning more than a decade. In 2002 she became the 11th woman in the world to become a Master Sommelier. She also has won the national title of “Best Sommelier of the United States” from the American Sommelier Association and sat on the Board of Directors for the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Her résumé includes stints at such prestigious properties as The Little Nell in Aspen, Colo. As well as her current position as Master Sommelier of The Breakers Palm Beach, where she leads the beverage department for nine restaurants and bars and 14 wine lists, including its prized 1,600-selection list, which has won Wine Spectator's Grand Award every year since its inception in 1981.
Philip also developed the wine program for Stephane’s, a concept created by a French restaurateur who built Europe’s largest collection of brasseries. Philip’s wine program offers some 100 different labels, with three dozen or so by the glass.
In November 2011 Philip fulfilled a lifetime dream when she opened the Virginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy in West Palm Beach, Fla., with approximately 450 personally-selected offerings from all over the globe. There she offers weekly wine education programs with guest appearances from winemakers from all over the world.
MASTER STEVEN POE
Affiliation: Beverage director, Big Canyon Country Club
Location: Newport Beach, Calif.
Steven Poe has worked in the food and beverage industry for nearly 20 years — from washing dishes at a mom-and-pop Italian restaurant in his hometown of Diamond Bar, Calif., to managing a bar and grill in Golden, Colo.
His love of food and wine was born at Napa Rose, a fine-dining restaurant at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.
He earned his Master Sommelier diploma in February 2008.
He currently works as the Beverage Director at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif. Since his arrival, the wine program at Big Canyon has been recognized among country clubs as one of the finest in the nation.
MASTER FREDERICK DAME
Affiliation: Vice president of sales of the Heirloom Wine Group, Treasury Wine Estates
Location: San Francisco
Frederick Dame is the first American to have served as president of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide, and he assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs in his role as director of prestige accounts for Beam Wine Estates. He is currently also the president of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation.
Dame was the first American to pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam in a single year. He also scored the top in his class, earning him the Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the master sommelier program throughout America since then
He is also active in the culinary arts, serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Carême Medal, which honors chefs who have made extraordinary contributions to the culinary profession, to education, to the advancement of gastronomy and the culinary arts, by the Chefs Association of the Pacific Coast. He also was made a supreme knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000. He was elected to the National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates in 2004.
A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., with a degree in journalism and communications.
MASTER JENNIFER HUETHER
Affiliation: Head sommelier, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd.
Location: Toronto, Canada
Jennifer Huether has worked for such restaurants as Oliver and Bonacini and Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Toronto, and has been the Head Sommelier for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment for the past six years, overseeing a large, award-winning wine program spanning several different restaurants and leading a team of 10 sommeliers.
She graduated at the top of her class at the International Sommelier Guild in 2000 and went on to receive a diploma of wine and spirits from Wine and Spirit Education Trust in 2003. Huether was then accepted into the advanced sommelier program from the Court of Master Sommeliers and gained accreditation in the first round of testing in 2004 in London, England. She competed in the Ontario Sommelier Competition in 2006 and won the Best Sommelier in Ontario awarded by Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. She became the first female master sommelier in Canada in February 2011.
Huether is a Board Member of CAPS Ontario and is an active teacher at the sommelier level for both CAPS and the Court of Master Sommeliers.
MASTER JOSEPH LINDER
Affiliation: Sommelier, The Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Joseph Linder’s 30-year love affair with wine has taken him to the Ritz in London, chef Joël Robuchon’s “Les Célébrités” in Paris, and Le Bernardin and Restaurant Daniel in New York. He became a Master Sommelier in 2008.
“Wine tends to be a little intimidating to people, but it doesn’t have to be. I want people to feel comfortable asking questions and even trying something they haven’t tried before. And some of the best wines are not necessarily the most expensive. I feel very privileged to have had this chance to experience the years of testing, the studying, dedication, passion, the mad intensity and commitment that was needed to succeed in earning the diploma, to become a Master Sommelier.”
Linder was named Master Sommelier in early 2008.
MASTER DAVID GLANCY
Affiliation: Founder and chief executive, San Francisco Wine School
Location: San Francisco
David Glancy is one of only 12 people in the world to be both a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers and a certified wine educator. He also has passed the exams designating him as a certified specialist of spirits and a French wine scholar. He launched San Francisco Wine School in June 2011 and also runs SFsommelier Consulting. He is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Sommelier Journal.
Previously, he created, managed and taught the certified sommelier program at the Professional Culinary Institute, now the French Culinary Institute California. He also taught wine and business management at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He has worked in the industry for more than 15 years, working throughout the United States and Asia, and has traveled to many of the wine regions of the world. His first love was a glass of Vouvray, soon followed by another glass. Today he could happily live on champagne alone.
MASTER JOHN SZABO
Affiliation: Partner, WineAlign.com
Location: Toronto, Canada
The first Canadian to become a Master Sommelier in 2004, John Szabo’s work includes writing, restaurant and private client consulting, teaching, speaking, and traveling the wine regions of the world.
He is a principal reviewer for and partner in WineAlign.com, and he also contributes to Winefox.ca, Wine Access, CityBites and Niagara & County Grapevine magazines, among others. He also speaks regularly on Classical 96.3 FM radio.
Szabo also designs wine cellars and manages private wine collections, leads luxury wine tours to the world’s top regions, buys wine for the Sommelier Service Wine Club, co-owns CellarPoint Ltd., a proprietary software system for restaurant beverage program management, and is currently beverage director for the Trump Toronto and the Terroni Group. In his spare time, he enjoys visiting his small vineyard in Eger, Hungary, and as a second-degree karate black belt, his grapes are well protected, too.
MASTER GREG TRESNER
Affiliation: Sommelier, The Phoenician
Location: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Greg Tresner joined The Phoenician in 1998 after 20 years in the restaurant industry. In 2000, he became Arizona’s first Master Sommelier.
Tresner helped design and purchase the wine list featured at the award-winning Mary Elaine’s, The Phoenician’s former Modern French restaurant, and he continues to foster wine service at the property’s contemporary Italian restaurant, Il Terrazzo, and throughout the resort.
He encourages education and has guided numerous resort associates toward sommelier certification, in addition to serving as a national course instructor. Tresner is a frequent contributor to numerous local and national publications, blogs, television and radio programs, and culinary and wine events.
He developed his wine and culinary experience in major cities of Arizona, Colorado, Washington, as well as through international travel.
MASTER GUY STOUT
Affiliation: Corporate Director for Beverage Education, Glazer’s Family of Companies
Apart from being a master sommelier and a member of the Court of Master Sommelier’s board of directors, Guy Stout is also a certified wine educator and certified spirits specialist, as well as vice president of the Society of Wine Educators.
He is a graduate of the Wine and Spirits Management Institute at the University of Houston Hilton School for Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Stout is a winemaker and the owner, with his wife Kimberly, of Stout Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country American Viticultural Area, or AVA, producing Syrah grapes.
He is an active wine judge for a variety of national competitions, including the L.A. County Fair, Dallas Morning News, Jefferson Cup, Texas Open and the Houston Rodeo Wine Competition.
Stout is a member of the Houston Food and Beverage Managers Association and an active spokesman for the adult beverage industry.
He has been the guest wine expert on the PBS cooking series “Cucina Amore” with Damian Mandola and Johnny Carrabba, founders of Carrabba’s Restaurants. He has also appeared on a number of radio and television talk shows covering wine and food. He was a featured speaker at the Smithsonian Institute Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C., lecturing on the Texas wine industry.
MASTER JASON HELLER
Affiliation: Trade Ambassador, Bond Estates
Location: Oakville, Calif.
Jason Heller became involved in wine professionally in late 2005 while living in Hawaii. After moving to California’s Napa Valley in 2008, he ran the beverage program for Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Yountville before moving down the street to become wine director at Redd.
He was awarded first place at the National Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier National Finals competition in 2009, and Wine & Spirits magazine named him a “Best New Sommelier” in 2009.
In 2010 he placed second overall in the inaugural national TOP|SOMM competition, and also won the title of “Best New Sommelier.”
He became a master sommelier in 2011, one of 112 in the U.S.
MASTER BRIAN McCLINTIC
Affiliation: Regional Manager, Heirloom Wine Group
Location: San Francisco
Brian McClintic began his career in wine at Morton’s Steakhouse in Costa Mesa, Calif., and spent 16 years working at restaurants such as Marche Moderne, also in Costa Mesa, and at The Little Nell, Il Mulino and Matsuhisa, all in Aspen, Colo., before becoming a master sommelier and taking his current position in February 2011.
MASTER LAURA DEPASQUALE
Affiliation: Palm Bay International
As vice president of fine wine development at Palm Bay International, Laura DePasquale heads a fast-growing team of specialized fine wine sales personnel for one of the United States’ top five wine importers.
Her first serious introduction to wine dates back to the late 1980s in New York City, when she worked as bartender at Arizona 206, followed by a stint as beverage director at the Royalton Hotel.
In the early 1990s, she moved to Miami and spent several years at Norman’s in Coral Gables, Fla.
She joined Palm Bay in 2001 for the newly created position of fine wine specialist for Florida.
She was soon promoted to national sales director for fine wine and then became the head of the whole division when I was formed in 2004, soon after DePasquale became a master sommelier.
Apart from her regular job, DePasquale also conducts seminars and wine tastings at numerous high-profile events, such as the Boston Wine Expo, South Beach Food and Wine Festival, New York Food & Wine, Aspen Food & Wine Classic, and Santé Restaurant Symposium. She also is an adjunct professor at Florida International University School of Hospitality in Wine Technology, her expertise extends to all aspects of the wine industry and is a regular lecturer and examiner for the Court of Master Sommeliers at all levels.
MASTER CAMERON DOUGLAS
Lecturer and consultant
LOCATION: Auckland, New Zealand
Cameron Douglas is a Senior Lecturer Above the Bar in charge of the wine and beverage program at AUT University in Auckland. He also consults for the hospitality industry and the interested public.
He is New Zealand’s first and only member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, and the only MS in the Australasia region.
He is an experienced writer, commentator, and reviewer on all things beverage-related: He is the resident wine writer for Hospitality Magazine; a senior wine judge for Cuisine Magazine; and a senior judge for Wine Award Shows. Recently, he was Head Judge at China Sommelier of the Year in Shanghai, and this year is Head Judge for the Inaugural Australia Junior Sommelier of the Year.
He writes independently for other national and international publications and is in demand as a speaker on many wine, beverage and hospitality related issues. He enjoys lecturing and presenting on select cruise ships, and travels regularly to present New Zealand wines and food throughout the world. In addition, he has a regular guest lecturer spot at the West Coast arm of the International Culinary Center.
He has been instrumental in establishing the Master Sommelier qualification formerly in Australia and New Zealand, and also is the South Pacific director of the Global Guild of Sommeliers.
MASTER STEVEN GEDDES
Affiliation: Chef and Master Sommelier, Local 127
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Steven Geddes is the only working chef in the United States to hold the title of Master Sommelier.
At age 17, the Colorado native first found himself cooking in Las Vegas at André’s, side by side with his mentor, chef André Rochat. With experience on the line, assisting with Rochat’s cooking classes, and a newfound respect for wine, he began redefining his outlook on the food and beverage world.
He became a master sommelier in 1995. Since then his projects have included heading up the famed wine tower at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, teaching at the hospitality school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and working with culinary luminaries including Mark Miller, George Morrone, Charlie Trotter, Brian Ogden and Rick Moonen.
He then worked at Wolfgang Puck’s Trattoria del Lupo in Las Vegas, and followed that with another stint with Rochat, this time at Alizé.
He has since left Las Vegas and is now chef and sommelier at Local 127, a farm-to-table restaurant in Cincinnati.
MASTER ANDREW MCNAMARA
Affiliation: Wine and Spirits Specialists Manager, Premier Beverage Company
Location: Miramar, Fla.
Andrew McNamara grew up outside of Philadelphia and spent much of his childhood traveling with his father to New York City and Washington, D.C., in search of wines to add to the family collection.
His father, a doctor, always gave McNamara the opportunity to taste their purchases and would talk him through the tasting process and describe all that contributed to the intricacies of the wine.
After studying mathematics at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., he pursued a career as a stockbroker for seven years before returning to the wine world. He found work as a consultant at Arthur’s Wine Shop in nearby Charlotte.
While studying for his M.S., he joined the sommelier team at the renowned Breakers Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. He remained at The Breakers’ L’Escalier restaurant for almost four years. He also designed and ran the beverage program for the Breakers’ Phillips Point Club, and helped purchase wine for the other Breakers restaurants. In 2007 he became the 10th person in the world to be awarded the Krug Cup, which is bestowed on people who pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier test at the same examination and score the highest of all of those tested. Shortly thereafter, he was named one of the “Best New Sommeliers” of 2008 by Wine & Spirits magazine.
That same year, McNamara left The Breakers and briefly worked with the Professional Culinary Institute in Orlando as its Wine Department Chairman before finding his home at the Premier Beverage Company, where he currently works as the head sommelier and continues to work with customers and staff throughout of Florida. In 2010 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Guild of Sommeliers.
MASTER JAMES TIDWELL
Affiliation: Master Sommelier and Beverage Manager, Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas
Location: Dallas, Texas
James Tidwell is Master Sommelier of Café on the Green at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. He also is head of the Texas Sommelier Association, which he co-founded in 2005 with Four Seasons support, and oversees an annual conference to challenge local wine stewards to enhance their talents through certification.
Raised by an evangelical minister in small-town Louisiana, Tidwell earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. After dividing his time between wine shops and the kitchen, he decided wine held the most appeal. He became a master sommelier in early 2009.
Tidwell recently, Tidwell returned from a weeklong tasting tour of Chile, where he participated in a colloquium for 100 local wineries. His topic? “Educating Sommeliers.”
MASTER CATHERINE FALLIS
Affiliation: Founder and President, Planet Grape LLC
Location: San Francisco
Catherine Fallis, aka the grape goddess®, is a popular speaker and event host for corporate and private events. She is founder and president of Planet Grape LLC (www.planetgrape.com), a wine consulting firm providing education, content and sommelier services, and is the first person to have earned both the Master Sommelier diploma from the International Court of Master Sommeliers and the Advanced Certified Wine Professional title from the Culinary Institute of America.
MASTER KEITH GOLDSTON
Location: Los Angeles
Born and raised in Napa Valley, Goldston has more than 20 years of experience in foodservice, ranging from bussing and waiting tables to writing award-winning wine lists, and consulting, training and lecturing for restaurants, hotels, cruise lines, and wineries, including Domaine Chandon, Masa's, Spago, Picasso, Aureole, and Crystal Cruises.
His “Have Corkscrew, Will Travel” attitude has found him making sake in Japan, judging wine competitions and teaching wine classes in South Korea, opening wine bars in India, chasing kangaroos in Australia, crossing the Andes in search of great wine and working for the Culinary Institute of America, as well as teaching and examining for the Court of Master Sommeliers. Wine Spectator called Goldston “a wizard at matching food with interesting wines.” He is also a recipient of the Krug Cup, which is bestowed on people who pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier test at the same examination and score the highest of all of those tested.
MASTER SEAN RAZEE
Affiliation: Account Specialist, American Fine Wine
Location: Edwards, Colo.
Sean Razee sells wine to elite buyers in Colorado’s mountain resorts. He has completed his diploma with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust as well as being a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
From 2002 to 2010 helped open properties and developed beverage programs for Ritz-Carlton hotels and the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group.
When not reading, traveling or learning about wine Sean enjoys speaking and writing. He has written monthly newspaper columns and participated in several food and wine festivals as presenter and wine expert.
MASTER DOUG FROST
Location: Kansas City, Mo.
Doug Frost, M.S., is a Kansas City, Mo., author who writes and lectures about wine, beer and spirits. In 1991 he passed the Master Sommelier examination and two years later became America’s eighth Master of Wine. He was the second person in history to complete both exams, and 18 years later he is still one of only three people in the world who is both a Master Sommelier and a Master of Wine.
Frost’s love of wine began in the late 1970s as a waiter and wine steward, although he dates his first interest to a glass of Louis Martini 1968 Special Select Pinot Noir when he was 15 years old. Frost was a fine wine wholesaler in the Kansas City area for 14 years and, in that capacity, represented most of the best wineries and estates from America and the world.
His first book, Uncorking Wine, was released in the summer of 1996, and is still a staple for many restaurant and retail companies and their staff and management. He also wrote On Wine, which was published in 2001.
His most recent book, Far From Ordinary: The Spanish Wine Guide, was released in October 2005 and a second edition was released in early 2008.
Recipient of the 2009 Cheers Beverage Industry Innovator of the Year Award, Frost is also a contributor to the Oxford Companion of Wine, The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and The Wine Report which is published annually by Tom Stevenson. He writes about wine and spirits for many publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Underground Wine Journal, Drinks International, Practical Winery & Vineyard, Wines & Vines, Wines & Spirits, Cheers Magazine, Santé Magazine, and Epicurious.com. He also is the beverage the Kansas City Star, Hemispheres Magazine, Missouri Life and Fine Cooking.
Frost is the host of Check Please!, a weekly public television show filmed in Kansas City.
He is the wine and spirits consultant for United Airlines worldwide. He is the founder and director of the Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition, a 12-year-old national competition, and is Head Judge and founder of the Mid-American Wine Competition, which is in its sixth year.
He is a founding partner of a new spirits and cocktail educational organization, Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), which was launched in June of 2006. Frost was selected as Beverage Innovator of the Year 2009 by Cheers Magazine.
He consults with many retailers, restaurateurs, wineries and distillers in the realms of marketing, merchandising, sales, education and sensory perception. He lives with his wife and two children in Kansas City, where he spends his spare time listening to his massive punk rock and “weird music” collection.
MASTER JOSEPH SPELLMAN
Location: Paso Robles, Calif.
Affiliation: Justin Vineyards and Winery
Joseph Spellman, MS, is winery sommelier for Justin Vineyards and Winery of Paso Robles, Calif. He has been sommelier in several Chicago restaurants, including Tango, Maxim’s, Pump Room, Park Hyatt Hotel, and Charlie Trotter’s.
He earned the Master Sommelier diploma in 1996 and was elected chairman of the American chapter of the court in 2005. He also won the 1997 title “Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines and Spirits” in Paris.
He wrote the critically praised wine notes featured in three Charlie Trotter books. He also wrote grape descriptions for the Wine Grapes posters produced by Ten Speed Press, and he has written for many magazines.
He is frequently a featured speaker and panel moderator at wine events, with a particular interest in wine’s historical and cultural contexts. As a former English major at the University of Chicago, Joe enjoys writing and critiquing writing about wine and food.
He also loves opera, film, food history, baseball and beer.
MASTER CLAUDIA TYAGI
Location: Roseville, Mich.
Detroit native Claudia Tyagi, MS, began her foodservice career waiting tables to help pay for college at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.
Her employers noticed that she always had the highest wine sales and encouraged her interest.
Her first sommelier job was at La Fontaine at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, working under the United States’ first woman master sommelier, Madeline Triffon.
She later moved across the street to the Omni Hotel and created an award-winning 50 wines by the glass program. She was wine director of the Whitney Restaurant in Detroit and later directed the wine cellar of the London Chop House, also in Detroit.
After obtaining her Master Sommelier certification in 1997, Tyagi moved to the Rio Suites in Las Vegas to manage the multi-million dollar wine inventory there.
She is now back in Michigan, where she has been working as a consultant since 2006 and also is involved in multiple wine-centered charities such as “A Night for Sight,” “Vin Voyage,” and “Crush.” Among her local clients are Forest Grill, The Whitney and Sidebar.
MASTER FRED DEXHEIMER
Affiliation: Owner, Juiceman Consulting
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Fred Dexheimer started his career in the service and hospitality industry at his mother’s video game arcade and pizza shop in central Pennsylvania. After a brief attempt at college, Fred took to the road to find himself. Seasonal stints between Nantucket, Mass., and Jackson Hole, Wyo., helped him realize that he was destined for a full-time career in food and wine was for him.
Living and working in New York City since 2000, he has worked at many of the city’s top restaurant, including Daniel, Gramercy Tavern and Jean Georges. Most recently he was the National Wine and Beverage Director for the BLT Restaurant Group.
He has offered his worked as a taster, commentator, contributor and panelist for many publications, including The New York Times, Food and Wine, Wine and Spirits, Wine Spectator, Beverage Media, Food Arts, Sommelier Journal and Wine Enthusiast. He has also been featured in many of the world’s leading lifestyle publications, including Time, Men’s Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Newsweek, and People and also has been featured live on Martha Stewart Radio and MSNBC.
Dexheimer also is an accomplished mixologist, and his cocktails have been published in The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appétit, People, Cosmopolitan and Bill Hamilton’s Shaken and Stirred.
He has been awarded many accolades for his service in the field and was selected to represent the United States for the Best Sommelier of the World Competition in 2007.
Since founding Juiceman Consulting, Dexheimer has served as United States Spokesman for Wines of Chile and Wines of Southwest France and also has worked with a wide array of restaurants companies, including Max Brenner Chocolate, Grand Hyatt NYC, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, Motorino Pizza Napoletana, Vina DeMartino and others.
MASTER LAURA MANIEC
Affiliation: Owner, Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Location: New York, N.Y.
Laura Maniec teaches and lectures on wine around the world and also is developing a wine bar in New York called Corkbuzz Wine Studio, which she hopes to open this spring.
She regularly sits on the New York Times tasting panel and contributes to industry publications, including Food and Wine Magazine and Sommelier Journal. Wine and Spirits Magazine named her “Best New Sommelier” the first year they presented that award.
She got her first sommelier job at age 21, at Blue Fin, a 400-seat restaurant in New York City owned by B.R. the Guest Restaurant Group. She opened hotels for the group across the country and was made a partner and wine and spirits director for the whole group, in charge of 20 restaurants, at age 25. She also was responsible for educating the front-of-the-house staff on wine. She left B.R. Guest to develop her wine bar.
She earned her Master Sommelier designation in 2009.
MASTER LARRY O’BRIEN
Affiliation: Sales director, Micro Cru
Location: Las Vegas
Larry O’Brien has more than 18 years experience in the restaurant wine business, including holding positions at two Wine Spectator Grand Award winning establishments, The Wine Merchant Restaurant in Akron, Ohio, and Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Fla.
He also was sommelier for Emeril Lagasse’s Orlando, Fla., restaurant.
He moved to Las Vegas in 2005 to work for Stations Casinos, where he created the wine programs for Red Rock Resort and guided a makeover of the company’s wine program.
O’Brien represented the United States in the international sommelier competition Meilleur Sommelier du Monde Concours Mondial in 2000 after winning the title of Best Sommelier in America earlier that year. He passed his Master Diploma Examination in 2001 and became the first MS in Florida. Early in 2008, he was elected to the board of directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has served as a judge for the Confrèrie de la Chaîne des Rotisseurs’ Jeune Sommelier competition at national and regional levels. He has also been a judge the Starwine International Wine Competition held in Philadelphia in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
When not immersed in the world of wine, you will likely find O’Brien in a bowling center working toward a 200 average and his first 300 game.
MASTER RANDALL BERTAO
Location: Los Altos, CA
Affiliation: Los Altos Golf and Country Club
California native Randall Bertao is general manager of the Los Altos Golf and Country Club. He grew up on a dairy farm in the Central Valley and began working in restaurants in 1974, at Mt. Charley’s restaurant in Los Gatos, Calif.
He spent 10 years working in London and then returned to California, starting at the Los Gatos Brewing Company in 1994, AP Stumps in 2001 and Parcel 104 in 2004. He began his current position in 2005
Bertao is an active member the Club Managers of America Association’s wine society and leads tours of prominent California wineries. He also selects the local wineries for the annual Harvest Wine Festival in Los Altos.
Bertao’s grandparents emigrated from Portugal and made their own wine at home in California. He still has bottles of his grandmother’s final vintage from 1983.
MASTER DARIUS ALLYN
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Darius Allyn, a partner in Wineworks Consulting Services, began working in hospitality at the age of 15, at The Salish Lodge Inn at Snoqualmie Falls, Washington. He was in the kitchen for a year before moving to the front-of-the house as a server and was promoted to captain by age 19.
He spent five years working on the Red Prussian luxury German train, serving American clientele who were traveling in Europe, gaining some knowledge of wine there as well as on backpacking trips and by harvesting grapes in Italy and Greece.
He went home to Seattle and worked as the buyer and staff educator for Theoz restaurant there and for several Tom Douglas restaurants, including the Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen and Etta’s Seafood.
He landed his first sommelier position at age 25, back at the Salish Lodge Inn where he got his start.
He then moved to Las Vagas to work at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Resort.
In 2005, Allyn became the 60th American to pass the Master Sommelier Exam and he began his wine consulting business the following year.
He consulted on the opening of the Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney, Australia, and upon his return became a sommelier at Bellagio.
When not at work, Darius enjoys playing music – mostly acoustic guitar, piano, and drums. He also continues to spend much of his time traveling and researching the beverage industry.
MASTER JUAN GOMEZ
Location: Palm Beach, Fla.
Affiliation: L’Escalier at The Breakers
Juan Gomez is sommelier at the legendary Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., overseeing the wine operations at its flagship restaurant, L’Escalier.
He began working at the property in 1999 and began his wine career in 2001, after taking a class offered at The Breakers.
He joined the sommelier staff shortly thereafter and began working his way up the ranks. In March of 2007 he became the first Mexican native to become a master sommelier.
MASTER RON EDWARDS
Location: Charlevoix, Mich.
After many years in the restaurant industry, Ron Edwards is now an active consultant to all levels of the wine and hospitality trade, from wine importers to hotels.
In the past three years, Ron has been engaged by the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Mich.; Tapawingo in Ellsworth, Mich.; Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit; Practical Winery and Vineyard magazine; the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan; the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Mich.; 20 Brix Wine Bar in Milford, Ohio; The Weather Channel, and BuyersVine.com, among others.
He has also taught seminars to thousands of everyday wine drinkers.
He lives with his wife and four daughters in the lakeside town of Charlevoix, Mich.
MASTER RANDA WARREN
Location: Tulsa, Okla.
Randa Warren holds approximately ten private wine classes each month in the Tulsa, Okla., area. She also conducts custom wine programs at local businesses, clubs and private homes. Warren’s courses include discussions on food and wine pairings, wine and cheese pairings, and a general overview of the process of tasting and appreciating wine of all quality levels.
Warren is Certified Wine Educator and also has a diploma in wine and spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in England. She was previously in the Master of Wine program, and is a Chevalier du Tastevin of the Chapitre in Burgundy and also a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. She has bachelors degree in journalism and advertising with a miner in French from the University of Oklahoma.
Master Warren has one 16-year old daughter who does not enjoy still wine, however a glass of Champagne is tolerable to her.
MASTER ERIC ENTRIKIN
Location: Cupertino, Calif.
Affiliation: Alexander’s Steakhouse
Eric Entrikin began his career in the restaurant and wine industry while in high school. Like many working students, he was really only after a job, but a position at an upscale continental restaurant changed his mind after the owner asked him to learn something about wine since there was nobody working there to discuss wine with the guests.
After various positions in the Los Angeles area, he landed a job at the Regency Club in Westwood, Calif., with Chef Joachim Splichal. He followed Splichal to Patina restaurant, where he was the assistant to the maître ’D and sommelier.
A decision to venture into a more wine-focused role led him to move to the San Francisco Bay Area. There he embarked on a retail position on the wine floor of Beltramo’s in Menlo Park. The retail experience ultimately led to 14 years in outside sales working for small brokers and importers throughout the area and the opportunity to travel extensively to many of the wine regions of France.
In 2005, he accepted the position of Sommelier at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, Calif., and created the wine list from the ground up. In 2008, that wine list was awarded the Wine Spectator’s Best Award of Excellence.
He became a master sommelier in 2010
MASTER ERIC HEMER
Location: Miami, FL
Affiliation: Southern Wine and Spirits
Eric Hemer is the Educational Director for Southern Wine and Spirits of Florida.
In addition to working with SWS sales personnel around the state, he also teaches classes on wine for restaurant and retail trade personnel, as well as evening classes on wine at Florida International University and at Chef Jean-Pierre's Culinary Center for Hospitality Management. His professional credentials include being a member of the Society of Wine Educators and a Certified Wine Educator, the highest level of certification offered by the SWE. He passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Diploma Exam in March of 2003 and is also an MW candidate in the Masters of Wine program, having passed the practical portion of the exam in June 2005.
He resides in Lake Worth, Fla., with his wife Marianne and their daughter, Julia.
MASTER GEOFF KRUTH
Location: Sonoma County, CA
Affiliation: Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant
Geoff Kruth is Wine Director of The Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in the Russian River Valley. He has helped lead the Farmhouse to critical acclaim with a Michelin star and a 27 score in Zagat. It also was named one of the world’s top 36 food destinations by Gourmet magazine.
Kruth became a master sommelier in 2008.
In addition to his role at the Farmhouse, he serves as director of operations for the Guild of Sommeliers, a nationwide non-profit membership organization and educational foundation.
The former Sonoma resident graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science before moving to Silicon Valley to pursue a career in the high-tech industry. A blossoming wine hobby became an obsession that led to his enrollment in the French Culinary Institute's Classic Culinary Arts program in New York. While a student, Kruth started working part time at Balthazar as a cellar master and was promoted to assistant wine director upon his graduation in 2003.
At Balthazar he helped oversee more than $10 million in yearly wine sales and was responsible for wine list development, floor service and staff training.
In addition to his FCI diploma, Kruth holds a certificate in restaurant management from the Cornell School of Hotel Management in Ithaca, N.Y.
Over the years, Kruth has been a frequent guest lecturer and a consultant to restaurants and private events. For the past six years he has been the wine consultant for the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival in Hawaii, one the country's largest and most prestigious wine festivals.
In 2006, Mr. Kruth was awarded “Rising Star of the Year” by the committee of the Star Wine International Wine Competition in New York and in 2009 he received a “Rising Star” award from Star Chefs.
MASTER SCOTT CARNEY
Location: New York
Affiliation: Junoon restaurant
Scott Carney, a veteran of the fine dining scene in New York City, is beverage director of Junoon restaurant, an Indian restaurant that opened in early December and features cuisine and cooking techniques from all parts of India. Carney passed his Master Sommelier diploma exam in 1991.
MASTER WAYNE BELDING
Affiliation: Vintage Advantage
Location: Boulder, CO
Wayne Belding grew up in the mid-Hudson Valley of upstate New York, now a burgeoning wine-producing area. After earning a degree in geology from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1972, he moved to Colorado and ultimately found his way into the oil fields of the United States as a geologist. Along the way, he became fascinated with wine, and when the energy boom went bust in 1982, used that opportunity to transform his avocation into his vocation.
He began at The Boulder Wine Merchant, a wine specialty shop in Boulder, Colorado. He then became sommelier at the Heritage Hotel in Denver which, at the time, had a Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine cellar. During his tenure at the Heritage, he competed in The Second Annual French Wine and Spirits Sommelier Competition in America, sponsored by Food and Wines from France. In 1985, he won the Denver Regional Competition and placed seventh in the final competition in New York. The examination experience was stimulating and, when the Court of Master Sommeliers first came to the United States in 1987, he seized the opportunity and began his pursuit of the Master Sommelier diploma. After passing the basic certificate and Advanced Sommelier courses, he became the 13th American to pass the challenging Master Sommelier examination in 1990 in Monterey, California. In addition to passing the rigorous examination, he also earned the Krug Cup – an award bestowed by Krug Champagne to the person who passes all three parts of the Master Sommelier test at the same examination and attains the highest score of those tested. He has served as Education Chairman and Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas.
Throughout his years in the wine business, Master Belding has been an educator as well. He has taught wine appreciation classes for over twenty years, instructing well over 1,000 students in that time. He has been a wine competition judge at the National Restaurant Association Wine Classic in Chicago, The Jefferson Cup, the Colorado State Fair, and the California Wine Celebration in Denver. He has also been a featured speaker at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, the Telluride Wine Festival, the Taste of Vail, and the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival in Winter Park, Colorado. He has taught professional wine service classes throughout the country. In 1986, he purchased The Boulder Wine Merchant with fellow Master Sommelier Sally Mohr, which they owned until earlier this year when it was sold to Master Brett Zimmerman. Master Belding currently provides wine consulting services though his business, Vintage Advantage, and is working on a new book, Diving into Wine.
MASTER DREW HENDRICKS
Affiliation: Pappas Restaurants, Inc.
Location: Houston, TX
A highly accomplished sommelier, Master Hendricks finds daily inspiration from fine wines, good food and the camaraderie of company.
Growing up in a food-centric family, Drew Hendricks remembers going out to dinner more often than not. His father was in the oil business and the young Texan learned to appreciate haute cuisine at a very early age. However, he was not immediately drawn to the food and beverage industry. Instead, his military education inspired him to enlist in the United States Army at age eighteen. Drew thrived in the military environment, finding purpose in its structure and appreciating the contribution he was making to his country – and, more personally, to his family’s long history of military service.
While in the Army, Drew was stationed in Germany, where he rediscovered his love of food. During his off hours, he explored the country – its cuisine, wine, beers, and cigars – and began to realize how much he appreciated all things food and wine. When he returned to Houston following his military service, he enrolled in the city’s Art Institute, but found himself more intrigued by his job working as a line cook at a local restaurant. After a long day working at the restaurant, he and his colleagues would relax with a few bottles of burgundy, and so began his love affair with wine. Drew dedicated an increasing amount of his time to the study of wine, reading everything he could get his hands on and tasting as many different wines as possible.
Realizing that wine was where his heart was, Drew accepted a distribution job at Glaser’s, stocking shelves in grocery stores. Given his clear affinity for the industry, it was not long until he became a salesman for Glaser’s, ultimately working in their fine wine division. It was at Glaser’s where he met Master Guy Stout, who encouraged him to pursue the Court of Master Sommeliers’ educational programs. Under Master Stout’s mentorship, Drew flew through the Court’s programs, passing his Master’s Exam in 2008.
Following his time at Glaser’s, Master Hendricks worked for a small local distributor, and then moved to Pappas Restaurants, Inc., where he ran the wine program at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse for three years. From there, he went to work for Charlie Palmer, opening the Dallas branch of his award winning restaurant. After its successful launch, Master Hendricks returned to Pappas Restaurants as their corporate wine director, where he remains today.
Since deciding to pursue a professional career in the wine industry, Master Hendricks has amassed an impressive list of accolades in a very short time, including second place at the National Chaine des Rotisseurs Young Sommelier Finals competition and first place at the 2007 International Chaine des Rotisseurs Young Sommelier Competition. Wine and Spirits magazine named Hendricks a “Best New Sommelier” in 2005. Recognizing the challenges facing young people interested in wine, he is also the co-founder and a board member of the Texas Sommelier Association, which hosts the annual Texas Sommelier Conference to promote wine education throughout the South.
Master Hendricks lives in Houston, where he is also an accomplished home chef.
MASTER KATHRYN MORGAN
Affiliation: Michel Richard Citronelle
Location: Washington, DC
A DC native, Kathryn Morgan has been focused on wine in the hospitality industry since 1999. She has served as sommelier and wine director at top restaurants in Washington including the historic Occidental Restaurant, Ristorante Tosca, and 2941 Restaurant. In March of 2009, she proudly joined Michel Richard and his team at Citronelle Restaurant in Georgetown.
Kathryn has garnered numerous awards and accolades, as well as significant media recognition. Under her direction, 2941, Tosca and Citronelle all earned nominations for “Best Wine and Beverage Program” from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. In 2007, Washingtonian Magazine selected 2941’s wine list as one of the top five in the D.C. metropolitan area. In 2010, the Washington City Paper named Morgan the best sommelier in Washington. In addition, she is featured regularly on tasting panels for Sommelier Journal, has appeared on WUSA TV and BBC World News, and is frequently mentioned in publications such as Washingtonian Magazine, The Washington Post, The Hill Newspaper and The D.C. Examiner.
In 2010, Kathryn became the 16th woman to earn the prestigious Master Sommelier Diploma. She is currently one of only 106 Master Sommeliers in North America.
MASTER TIM GAISER
Affiliation: Education Chair, Court of Master Sommeliers Americas
Location: San Francisco, CA
Tim Gaiser is currently the Education Chair for the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a contributing editor for Fine Cooking Magazine and an adjunct professor for the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley.
Tim has experience in all phases of the wine industry – online, wholesale, retail, winery, and restaurant – including stints at Heitz Wine Cellars in the Napa Valley and Bix restaurant in San Francisco. He has developed wine education programs for several restaurants, winery schools and wine distributors, and taught classes at every level of wine education. He is a former member of the Napa Valley Vintners Association and a former staff lecturer for the Sterling Vineyards School of Service and Hospitality.
Tim spent five years as one of the senior wine merchants at Virtual Vineyards and the original wine.com, and was instrumental in building this multi-million dollar company. Tim has also served as a wine panelist for Bon Appetit magazine and received the Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence for his wine lists at the Cypress Club in 1991, 1992, and 1993. Prior to developing his wine expertise, Tim received an M.A. in Classical Music. He played classical trumpet as a freelance professional and as an extra with the San Francisco Opera until 1988.
MASTER LARRY O'BRIEN
Affiliation: General Manager, Micro Cru
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Larry has over 18 years of experience in the restaurant and wine businesses, including positions at two Wine Spectator Grand Award winning establishments, The Wine Merchant Restaurant in Akron, Ohio and Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida. Additionally, he served as sommelier for celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s Orlando restaurant. His career led him to Stations Casinos in Las Vegas in 2005 where he created the wine programs for Red Rock Resort and guided the makeover and modernization of the company's corporate wine program. Currently, Larry is the General Manager of Micro Cru, the Majestic Fine Wines Division of Wirtz Beverage Nevada.
Larry represented the United States in the prestigious international sommelier competition Meilleur Sommelier du Monde Concours Mondial in 2000 after winning the title of Best Sommelier in America earlier that same year. In 2001, Larry became passed his Master Diploma Examination and became the first Master Sommelier in Florida. Early in 2008, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has served as a judge for the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs’ Jeuene Sommelier Competition at the national and regional levels. He has participated as a wine judge, with other internationally recognized experts, at the Starwine International Wine Competition held in Philadelphia in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
When not immersed in the world of wine, you will likely find Larry in a bowling center working towards a 200 average and his first 300 game.
MASTER FRED DAME
Affiliation: Vice President of Luxury Sales, Foster’s Group
Location: San Francisco, CA
Frederick L. Dame, Master Sommelier brings an impressive blend of experience, expertise and enthusiasm to the world of wine and cuisine. He is the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide and assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs in his role as Director of Prestige Accounts for Beam Wine Estates. He is currently the President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation.
Dame was the first American to successfully pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time.
As Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years, Dame created a wine list which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award. With the many wine events held in the brick and wine lined Wine Cellar, Dame turned The Sardine Factory into a wine destination restaurant of world renown. He is also active in the culinary arts serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Careme Medal and was made a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000. He was elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates in 2004.
A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in journalism and communications. A European trip after high school piqued his curiosity about wine and food. Since then, he has applied his considerable persuasive skills to the service and appreciation of fine wine.
MASTER SALLY MOHR
Affiliation: Boulder Wine Merchant
Location: Boulder, CO
Sally Mohr earned the title of Master Sommelier in 1995 and was the second woman in the United States to achieve that distinction. She began her wine career as an employee at The Boulder Wine Merchant in 1983 and became a co-owner of this prestigious specialty retail wine shop in 1986.
Sally also assists several Boulder and Denver area restaurants with staff training and wine list development. Under her tutelage, Restaurant Kevin Taylor received the Wine Spectator “Best of Excellence Award” in 1999. She is also the beverage columnist for the e-magazine Front Range Living and a regular contributor to the publications Boulder Women’s Magazine and The Boulder Wine Merchant monthly newsletter. Sally enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for wine and food with the public through tastings, seminars, and wine festivals. She is a featured speaker at the Telluride Wine Festival, Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and Denver’s Wines for Life. She has put her palate to the test by judging in several regional and international wine competitions.
Besides wine, Sally enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 teenage children in the wonderful outdoors of Colorado. Her travels have taken her to many wine regions around the world and her long term goal is to feel the dirt between her toes in all of them.
MASTER MELISSA MONOSOFF
Affiliation: Savona Restaurant
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Master Monosoff is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has honed her skills at the top restaurants in Philadelphia as a cook, sommelier, bartender, and beverage director. These restaurants include some the finest establishments in Pennsylvania, such as the Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel and The Striped Bass. Currently she is the Sommelier and Beverage Manager for Savona Restaurant in Gulph Mills, PA and is the consulting Sommelier to the Pennsylvania LCB.
Monosoff earned her Master Sommelier Diploma in February 2010. She is the first in Pennsylvania, and the 17th woman in the world to hold this title. Her passion for all things wine and beer related has earned her several accolades. In 2009, both Philadelphia Magazine and Main Line Magazine named her “Best Sommelier,” and Wine & Spirits Magazine recognized her as one of America’s “Best Young Sommeliers” in 2004. In addition, she was awarded the Bronze Medal in the national Jeune Sommeliers competition sponsored by the Chaine des Rotisseurs.
In addition to her wine knowledge, Monosoff is becoming a recognized name in the Philadelphia beer community. She was instrumental in the opening of Maia in Villanova with a well-received 200-bottle beer list and her work at Savona earned her the “Best Beer Education” award from Philadelphia Magazine in their May, 2010 issue.
LEARN MORE: Check out the new wine section of NRN.com.