Record number join the ranks of Advanced Sommeliers

Prestigious Rudd Scholarship awarded to Sommelier Michaël Engelmann

BLOOMINGDALE, IL – Last week, after endless hours of preparation, twenty-three sommeliers from the U.S. and Canada successfully passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Exam, administered by the group’s American Chapter. During the three day examination, these individuals demonstrated an advanced understanding of wine theory and the beverage service industry, as well as a highly sophisticated tasting ability. With this achievement, only one challenging step remains before these dedicated wine aficionados can earn the coveted title of Master Sommelier.

Fifty-three candidates in total sat for the recent exam, one of three Advanced Exams to be offered this year. The 43 percent passing rate for this group, coupled with a similarly high passing rate at an April test in Anaheim, California, may be evidence of a trend for the organization.

“The quality of the candidates at this exam was outstanding,” said Tim Gaiser, the Education Director for the Court of Master Sommeliers. “They demonstrated a remarkable dedication to the process, organizing study groups and working together to master the material. We welcome these new Advanced Sommeliers to the organization, and look forward to their continued pursuit of the Master designation.” Gaiser also credited January’s launch of the new Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation website ( as a key resource that enabled the students to access study materials and more easily connect with and learn from each other.

As the highest scoring candidate, Michaël Engelmann of Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco, California is the recipient of the prestigious Rudd Scholarship. Engelmann demonstrated mastery in each of the exams three evaluation areas, earning him a $5,000 scholarship toward his Master’s coursework and an invitation to attend the Rudd Master’s Round Table in Napa Valley, a two-day intensive tutorial about wine theory, tasting and service.

“Receiving my advanced certification was a great honor, and I am humbled to also have received the Rudd Scholarship in recognition of my hard work and preparation,” said Engelmann. “I am extremely grateful for the kindness of the current Masters who assisted me with my studies, and look forward to turning my attention to the Master’s Exam.”

“On behalf of all the members of the Court, I offer congratulations to the candidates who passed their Advanced Exam,” stated Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “We are excited about the quality of these candidates, as demonstrated by the high pass rate at this particular exam, and look forward to their continued involvement in the Court of Master Sommeliers.”

The complete list of candidates who successfully earned the title of Advanced Sommelier include: Kevin Arndt (Denver, CO); Christine Bagetta (New York, NY); Scott Barber (Dallas, TX); Elisha Baron (Jupiter, FL); Antonio Busalacchi (Burtonsville, MD); Matthew Carroll (Baltimore, MD); Peter Cheroske (Aspen, CO); Paul DiMario (Vail, CO); Noel Doty (Walla Walla, WA); Patrick Emerson (Charlston, DC); Michaël Engelmann (San Francisco, CA); Anthony Garcia (Austin, TX); Stephen Gitto (St. Louis, MO); Keith Herrick (Grover, MO); Maximilian Kast (Pittsboro, NC); Corey Ladouceur (Toronto, Ontario); Michael Matonte (Hillside, IL); Joshua Nadel (Brooklyn, NY); Heath Porter (St. Simons, GA); Pascal Salvadori (Myersville, MD); Nico Snyman (Outremont, Montreal); Christopher Tanghe (Seattle, WA); and Justin Vann (Houston, TX).

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 now 103 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 89 are men and 14 are women. There are 176 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.

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