13 individuals from across the US pass the Advanced Sommelier Exam

FOR: Court of Master Sommeliers
P.O. Box 6170
Napa, CA
C. Milan Communications
Charlotte Milan

Scott Ota of Arro in Austin, TX Takes Home the Rudd Scholarship

(Irving, TX) July 3, 2014—Three days of intense examination culminated today with 13 new names being added to the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas list of individuals who have passed the Advanced Sommelier Exam.

Three women and 10 men passed the exam, which was held at the Four Seasons Resort in Irving, TX from July 1-3. Fifty-three candidates from 18 states and four countries sat for the exam, which is the third in a series of four increasingly challenging tests of knowledge and skill offered by the Court. At this level, candidates with a superior understanding of wine theory and beverage service, as well as a highly sophisticated tasting ability, are distinguished from the thousands of wine service professionals who attempt the Court’s exams on a yearly basis.

Of the 13 passers, one rose to the top as the exam’s highest scorer: Scott Ota of Austin, TX earned the Rudd Scholarship, which is offered by the Guild of Sommeliers, providing $5,000 in funds toward the coursework needed to prepare for the Masters Exam and an invitation to attend the prestigious Rudd Masters Roundtable in Napa Valley, California.

By the time candidates reach the Advanced Examination, most have already invested years of study, in addition to significant time working in and around the beverage industry. From here, many will set their sights on the Court’s Master Sommelier Diploma Exam, which just 219 individuals worldwide have ever managed to pass.

“The dedication and talent needed to pass this portion of the exam and succeed in this field is tremendous,” said Shayn Bjornholm, the Examination Director for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. “It is a pleasure to see such impressive qualities in these 13 individuals, and their commitment and enthusiasm is an inspiration to the industry.”

“I am pleased to welcome these 13 exceptional individuals to the next level in wine education,” said Laura DePasquale, Vice-Chair of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. “They should all be, as we are, extremely proud of their achievements.”

The complete list of candidates who passed the Advanced Exam in Irving follows:

  • Cara Bertone, Negociants USA (Austin, TX)
  • Wanda Cole, Salpicon (Chicago, IL)
  • Eric Faber, Cutting Edge Selections (Chicago, IL)
  • Patrick L. Houghton, Twelve (Denver, CO)
  • Hristian Iliev, Sage at Aria (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Alexandra Masanotti, Corkbuzz (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Christopher McFall, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (Houston, TX)
  • David Morris, Twin Farms (Barnard, VT)
  • Scott Ota, Arro (Austin, TX)
  • Brian Phillips, Eddie V’s (Austin, TX)
  • Kristopher Soto, The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando Grande Lakes (Orlando, FL)
  • Hai Tran, Umstead Hotel & Spa (Cary, NC)
  • James Watkins, Cordua Restaurants (Houston, TX)

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 140 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. Of those, 119 are men and 21 are women. There are 219 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. For more information, please visit www.mastersommeliers.org.