Guild of Sommeliers names 2011 Johnston Medal winner

NAPA, CA – Earlier this week, the Guild of Sommeliers announced the 2011 winner of the organization’s prestigious Johnston Medal, Daniel Cobian of The Breakers Palm Beach. The announcement was made at the conclusion of the Guild’s annual Rudd Roundtable, an intimate gathering of Masters candidates and Master Sommeliers where theory and best practices in wine service and tasting are discussed to help prepare the candidates for the ultimate challenge that lies ahead of them – the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Masters Diploma Examination.

Daniel, who passed his Advanced Exam last August, was awarded the Johnston Medal for having earned the highest score of any Advanced Exam-taker in 2010. His stellar performance on the Court’s second-highest examination bodes well for his chances of succeeding in his attempt at the organization’s final and most difficult exam, for which he is currently preparing.

“Every individual who makes it though the advanced level is an incredibly skilled sommelier who is already at the very top of their field,” noted Master Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “As the Johnston Medal winner, Daniel has proven himself to be a rising star in the industry. I look forward to seeing him make his mark.”
“The Rudd Roundtable was an amazing experience” said Daniel Cobain. “The amount of thought put into the various educational activities was incredible, and spending time with such an accomplished group of Master Sommeliers taught me invaluable skills not only about wine and beverage service, but about what it means to be a Master Sommelier. It was truly an awe-inspiring event.”
A native Floridian, Daniel began his career at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami and currently serves as a sommelier at L’Escalier, the flagship restaurant at The Breakers Palm Beach, where he studies with Master Sommeliers Virginia Philip and Juan Gomez. He is currently preparing for his Masters Exam, integrating his studies into his daily life by reading as many wine texts as possible, observing other professionals in the field, and participating in educational opportunities like this week’s Roundtable.

The daunting three‐day Masters Examination measures a sommelier’s knowledge of wine theory, beverage service, and tasting ability. Approximately ten percent of the individuals who are able to make it to the Masters Exam eventually pass this final stage of the Court of Master Sommeliers’ four-part educational program. In all, only 106 individuals have earned the Master Sommelier title in the almost 25 years that the Americas Chapter has been conducting the examination.

Daniel still has some time to further hone his knowledge and skills given that Advanced Exam passers must wait at least eighteen months to be eligible to sit for the Masters Exam. However, nearly forty other candidates have only a few weeks left to prepare for this final, daunting measure of their talents when they participate in the Masters Diploma Exam being held February 9 through 11 at the Four Seasons in Irving, Texas.

About the Guild of Sommeliers
The Guild of Sommeliers is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the education of wine service professionals and wine enthusiasts across the United States. The Guild aims to broaden its members’ knowledge of the world’s wine regions, enhance their beverage service skills, facilitate networking opportunities with other wine enthusiasts, and provide the most current information on industry news and trends. The Guild provides annual scholarship programs for all levels of the Master Sommelier program as well as many enrichment opportunities. For additional information on the Guild of Sommeliers, please visit

About the Court of Master Sommeliers
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 106 professionals in the Americas Chapter who have earned the title of Master Sommelier. Of those, 90 are men and 16 are women. There are 174 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.