The World's Most Distinguished Wine Experts Add To Their Ranks

Six new individuals earn the title of Master Sommelier

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NV – After an intense four‐day examination, the Court of
Master Sommeliers has welcomed six new members to its ranks. Devon
Broglie, Craig Collins, Michaël Engelmann, Douglas Marello, Patrick Okubo, and Brandon Tebbe now join 112 individuals in the Court’s Americas Chapter, and 180 worldwide, who have the rare distinction of being called a Master Sommelier. Each of the newly‐minted Masters dedicated years to their preparation for this moment, and each proved their skills last week in a final test of their wine theory, beverage service and tasting abilities. For only the second time in history, two candidates at the same examination passed the entire exam on their first attempt. For earning the higher of those two scores, new Master Michaël Engelmann was named the Krug Cup winner. Master Engelmann currently serves as the Head Sommelier at Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney, Australia. In addition to Australia, the six newest Master Sommeliers hail from Colorado, Illinois,Hawaii, and Texas.

“This exam can stop even the most talented wine experts dead in their tracks,” stated Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. “That we continue to see such incredible performance under pressure is a testament to the candidates’ dedication to this extraordinarily challenging test. We look forward to these new Masters bringing that same enthusiasm and commitment as members of our organization.”

Held at the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, the exam was attempted by over sixty individuals who had already spent years working to pass the three increasingly‐difficult exams that serve as precursors to the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam: the Introductory, Certified, and Advanced Sommelier Exams. As the final stage, the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam consists of three sections, including a theory examination, blind tasting and practical service component, and candidates must receive passing scores in each category in order to earn the title of Master Sommelier.

Master Douglas Marello, who works for TENZING – A Wine & Spirits Company in Chicago, noted that by comparison, putting in the literally countless hours of work to come to the exam prepared is the easy part, “The biggest challenge is managing the nervousness and anxiety of being on that stage during the actual exam.” Fellow Master Patrick Okubo, who sat for the exam for the second time last week, noted, “Both times I sat for the exam, I just kept saying to myself, ‘It’s such an honor to be here.’” Master Okubo passed the Masters Exam on his 29th birthday, which he refers to as “the greatest gift ever.” He is an active member of the Hawaii Army
National Guard and also operates The Wine GI in Kailua, Hawaii, a private sommelier and education service.

For Master Devon Broglie of Whole Foods Market in Austin, Texas, the road to the Masters Exam began when he took his Introductory Exam back in 2002. Since that time, he’s exhibited pure devotion to the subject of wine and spirits. “I’ve spent thousands of hours reading, volunteered hundreds of hours at local restaurants to perfect my service skills, and created more note cards and maps than I can count.” For Master Brandon Tebbe, his wife Angela proved to be his secret weapon. “She has been there the entire time – opening bottles, grading me, running me through service scenarios, quizzing me. Without her help and understanding, I never would have made it.” Like Master Engelmann, Master Tebbe passed the entire exam on his first try.

While the exam preparations and experience may be daunting, those who attempt it have much to gain. “It is a lot of work that returns huge rewards,” noted Master Craig Collins of Glazer’s in Austin, Texas. “One of the things I most look forward to is helping educate others, and representing the Court with professionalism and passion.” Krug Cup winner Master Engelmann concurred, “Masters before us have done so much for the industry. I feel compelled to live up to their legacy.”

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 118 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. Of those, 101 are men and 17 are women. There are 186 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. For more information about the Court of Master Sommeliers, please visit