Thursday, February 4, 2010
Court of Master Sommeliers Hosts First National Conference
The Court of Master Sommeliers, American Chapter held its first National Conference at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, California, bringing together the largest group of Master Sommeliers in the history of the organization. The conference served as an occasion for Court members to gather, share ideas, and establish goals for the organization’s future. It also allowed each attendee the opportunity to bring and share a favorite bottle of wine – creating an extraordinary collection that was well‐enjoyed by the group during the three day event.
“I am so proud to have had the opportunity to join my fellow Master Sommeliers for the Court’s first National Conference,” stated Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “The conference solidified the Court as a cohesive group of wine professionals and gave us a platform to discuss and demonstrate ways in which we can work to
support one another and our vocation.”
During the event, 72 Court members participated in wine tastings, food pairings, membership meetings, and various informational seminars. A special presentation, dinner, and tasting by Wine Australia allowed conference attendees the rare opportunity to taste Seppeltsfield Tawnies from 1908, 1953, and 1977, as well as a 1935 Seppeltsfield brandy. The 1953 and 1977 vintages were specifically drawn from their casks for the event to commemorate the years the Guild of Sommeliers and the Court of Master Sommeliers were each founded. They will not be available to the public until 2053 and 2077, respectively.
“We are very lucky to have such a diverse membership,” said Fred Dame, the Chairman Emeritus of American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers and current President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. “Each Master follows a distinctive path to become an MS and therefore brings a fresh and valuable voice to the organization. We were able to celebrate and enjoy that diversity together this past week.”
The decision by the Court’s American Chapter to assemble its members for the first time was driven in part by the significant growth experienced by the organization in recent years. Though the path to become a Master Sommelier is as difficult and time consuming as it was in 1977, the Court’s growing numbers in all parts of the country have helped usher in new candidates from
wildly different backgrounds and experiences. The Court’s objectives for the coming year include continuing on this path and bringing its educational programs to still more new audiences.
The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977 to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. The first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to be held in the United States was in 1987. The title Master Sommelier marks the highest recognition of wine and spirits knowledge, beverage service abilities, and professionalism in the hospitality trade. Education was then, and remains
today, the Court’s charter. There are four stages involved in attaining the top qualifications of Master Sommelier: 1) Introductory Sommelier Course; 2) Certified Sommelier Exam; 3) Advanced Sommelier Course; and 4) Master Sommelier Diploma.
There are 103 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 89 are men and 14 are women. There are 168 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.