23 individuals from across the United States pass the Advanced Sommelier Exam from the Court of Master Sommeliers

Mia Van de Water of North End Grill of New York, New York Takes Home the Rudd Scholarship

(Portland, OR) April 23, 2014—Three days of intense examination culminated today with 23 new names being added to the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas list of individuals who have passed the Advanced Sommelier Exam.

Five women and 18 men passed the exam, which was held at The Hotel Monaco in Portland, OR from April 21-23. Fifty candidates from 15 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 23 passers, one rose to the top as the exam’s highest scorer: Mia van De Water of Brooklyn, NY 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 214 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 23 individuals, and their commitment and enthusiasm is an inspiration to the industry.”

“I am pleased to welcome these 23 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 Portland follows:

  • Jose Maria Aguirre (San Francisco, CA)
  • Daniel Bjugstad (Boulder, CO)
  • Michele Fano (Denver, CO)
  • Beth Hickey (Seattle, WA)
  • Elizabeth Huettinger (San Diego, CA)
  • Evan Hufford (San Francisco, CA)
  • Serge Janjic (Mississauga, AL)
  • Robert LaBuda (Cleveland Heights, OH)
  • Blake Leja (Chicago, IL)
  • Joey Lopaka (Seattle, WA)
  • Cosmin Marinescu (San Francisco, CA)
  • Augustus Miller (Walnut, CA)
  • Matthew Montrose (San Jose, CA)
  • Vincent Morrow (Napa, CA)
  • Gary Olasz (Auckland, New Zealand)
  • Amy Racine (San Francisco, CA)
  • Andrew Rastello (New York, NY)
  • Jeremy Reed (Roseville, AL)
  • Winn Roberton (Washington, D.C.)
  • Mia Van de Water (Brooklyn, NY)
  • John Wilkinson (Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi)
  • Aaron Wilson (Louisville, KY)
  • Matthew Zacharias (Newport Beach, CA)

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 135 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. Of those, 116 are men and 19 are women. There are 214 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.