Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas announces new Chair and Vice Chair of the board

Greg Harrington and Laura DePasquale Assume Chair and Vice Chair Positions on the Board of Directors for the Court of Master Sommelier, Americas (Napa Valley, Calif.) January 9, 2012—The Court of Master Sommeliers today announced Greg Harrington as the new Chair and Laura DePasquale as the new Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. Harrington is the owner and winemaker of Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla, Wash. and DePasquale is the Vice President/ General Manager for The Stacole Fine Wine Division of The Country Vintner. The Court is honored to have Harrington as the youngest American ever to pass the Master Sommelier exam, and DePasquale as the first woman to hold the Vice Chair position. Greg Harrington—A graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, in 1996 Harrington became the youngest American ever to pass the Master Sommelier exam at the age of 26. At the time, he was working as wine director for Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in New Orleans and Las Vegas, where he developed a wine program that earned Wine Spectator’s Grand Award—an honor bestowed on fewer than 100 restaurants in the United States. More recently, he ran the beverage division for B.R. Guest’s 14 restaurants, including Blue Fin and Fiamma in New York, before moving to Walla Walla, Wash. and founding Gramercy Cellars where he is now the winemaker. In 2010, Gramercy Cellars proudly accepted the award for Best New Winery of the year from Food and Wine. “I’m honored to take on the role of Chairman of this prestigious institution. The Court’s legacy of great leadership is both humbling and intimidating. I look forward to representing the 118 Masters with honor and integrity. I suspect 2012 will be a landmark year for the Court as we continue to pursue our mission of being the preeminent wine examination organization in the world.” Laura DePasquale—As Vice President/General Manager for The Stacole Fine Wine Division of The Country Vintner, Laura DePasquale is the first woman in the U.S. to head a major distributor in a major market. The Country Vintner is a fast-growing multi-state importer and distributor dedicated to the niche market and culture of fine wine. Since DePasquale began leading Stacole Fine Wines, she has quickly been adding prestige wineries from around the world but specifically bringing wines in from Italy – her greatest passion and area of expertise. In 2004 DePasquale passed the rigorous series of exams that earned her the right to add the initials MS (Master Sommelier) after her name and joined an elite group of Master Sommeliers worldwide, becoming the 13th woman to achieve the title since the examinations were first set in 1969. “It’s an honor to serve the membership of the Court of Master Sommeliers-Americas as the new Vice Chair and in even greater honor to be the first woman elected to this position. We are poised for extraordinary growth. Together with the leadership of the new Chairman, Executive Director and the Board of Directors, I am confident that we will continue to be the leading organization for Wine and Service Excellence and maintain the rigorous standards of the Master Sommelier Diploma.” ABOUT THE COURT OF MASTER SOMMELIERS 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.