24 individuals from across the U.S. earn the title of Advanced Sommelier

Jackson Rohrbaugh of the Guild of Sommeliers takes home the Rudd Scholarship

(Anaheim, Calif.) April 27, 2012—Five days of intense examination culminated today with 24 new names being added to the Court of Master Sommeliers, America’s list of Advanced Sommeliers. Today’s news from the Anaheim exam sets a new record for individuals earning the distinguished Advanced Sommelier title.

Held at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, CA from April 23 to April 27, 53 candidates 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 24 passers, one rose to the top as the exam’s highest scorer. J Rohrbaugh of the Guild of Sommeliers earned the Rudd Scholarship, which offers 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, they’ll set their sights on the Court’s Master Sommelier Diploma Exam, which just 186 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 24 individuals and their commitment and enthusiasm is an inspiration to the industry.”

Rudd Scholarship winner Jackson Rohrbaugh of the Guild of Sommeliers exemplifies the commitment common to this newest crop of Advanced Sommeliers. “Iʹm honored and humbled as the recipient of the Rudd Scholarship,” stated Jackson Rohrbaugh. “The caliber of the other Advanced Candidates was truly inspiring and a reminder of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work. I am now even more excited to continue my studies in preparation for the Masters Exam as I know it will be just another exciting and extremely challenging part of this journey.

“I am pleased to welcome these 24 exceptional individuals to the next level in wine education,” said Greg Harrington, Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. “They should all be, as we are, extremely proud of their achievements and continuing dedication to their pursuit.”

The complete list of candidates who earned the title of Advanced Sommelier at the recent Anaheim exam includes: Allegra Angelo, Jeremy Campbell, Alexis Davis, Nichole Dishman, Rebecca Fineman, Jerusha Frost, Christopher Gaither, Thomas Gannon, Lia Gilles, Jacob Gragg, Travis Hinkle,
Kyungmoon Kim, Richard Matusczak, Myres McDougall, Peter Nelson, Brian Nicholas, Robert Noel, Dragomir Novicic, Mario Ortiz Miranda, Aaron Patrick, Jackson Rohrbaugh, Joshua Thomas, Evan Vallee
Michael Villas

The Court of Master Sommeliers was established to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. Education was then, and remains today, the Court's charter. The first successful Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom in 1969. By April 1977, the Court of Master Sommeliers was established as the premier international examining body.

Over the four decades since the Court's first examination was held, 186 candidates have earned the Master Sommelier Diploma. In the service of wine, spirits and other alcoholic beverages, the Master Sommelier Diploma is the ultimate professional credential anyone can attain worldwide.