Twenty-Six Individuals From across the United States Pass the Advanced Sommelier Exam from the Court of Master Sommeliers

Jim Rollston of Santa Cruz, Calif. Takes Home the Rudd Scholarship, and Jane Lopes of Maialino in Manhattan is the Rudd Scholarship Runner-Up

(Palm Beach, FL) August 16, 2013—Five days of intense examination culminated today with 26 new names being added to the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas list of individuals who have passed the Advanced Sommelier Exam.

Nine women and 17 men passed the exam, which was held at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL from August 12-16. Fifty-three candidates from 13 states and two 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 26 passers, one rose to the top as the exam’s highest scorer: Jim Rollston of Santa Cruz, California 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. Jane Lopes of Maialino in Manhattan is the Rudd Scholarship Runner-Up, winning $2,500, as well as an invitation to attend the Rudd Masters Roundtable.

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 211 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 25 individuals, and their commitment and enthusiasm is an inspiration to the industry.”

“I am pleased to welcome these 26 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 Palm Beach follows:

  • Tyler Alden (Seattle, WA)
  • Elizabeth (Elli) Benchimol (Herndon, VA)
  • Brian Brill (Dallas, TX)
  • James Bube (Chicago, IL)
  • Jessica Certo (New York, NY)
  • Tali Dalbaha (New York, NY)
  • Paula De Pano (Pittsboro, NC)
  • Julie DeFriend (Louisville, KY)
  • Caleb Ganzer (New York, NY)
  • Stacey Gibson (Brooklyn, NY)
  • D. James Hallett (St. Louis, MO)
  • Austin Heidt (Boulder, CO)
  • Gordana Josovic (San Francisco, CA)
  • David Kurka (Alexandria, VA)
  • Minwoo Kwon (San Francisco, CA)
  • Parag Lalit (Canada)
  • Christopher Lindemann (Miami Beach, FL)
  • Jane Lopes (New York, NY)
  • Andrea Morris (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Jordan Nova (Napa, CA)
  • Jim Rollston (Santa Cruz, CA)
  • Robert Stelmachuk (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Brett Taylor (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Ryan Tedder (Fort Worth, TX)
  • Daniel Toral (Miami, FL)
  • Timothy Willard (Charleston, SC)

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 134 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. Of those, 115 are men and 19 are women. There are 211 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. For more information, please visit