Christopher Bates, MS, is an American born entrepreneur, public speaker and hospitality professional. He is known as a chef, sommelier and wine grower/maker, and has spent over 20 years in all aspects of the hospitality industry, lending him a well-rounded perspective of all facets.

Prior to completing his Master Sommelier Exam in May 2013, Christopher had racked up accolades such as Best Young Sommelier in the World and won TopSomm 2013.

Christopher and his wife Isabel have settled in the Finger Lakes region of New York and have been a catalyst for growth in the Finger Lakes. They own and operate F.L.X. Hospitality (, a quickly growing hospitality group that includes: F.L.X. Wienery, F.L.X. Table, F.L.X. Provisions and The Quincy Exchange as well as overseeing the vines at Equilibrium Wine Farm, Colloquial Winery, Element Winery and IOE…and, he produces beers under the F.L.X. Culture House label.

Christopher is an active member of the sommelier community and continues to educate independently and with the Court of Master Sommeliers.


Where are you working currently and how has being a MS supported you in your current role?

My path through the MS program taught me an incredible amount about wine of course, but, more important are the lessons and perspectives I gained on the perception of success and failure. I would not be where i am today as an entrepreneur had I not had the challenges, and eventually, the pleasure, or sitting my MS exam four times.


Where were you working when you passed?

When I passed my MS exam, I was overseeing a small Relais & Chateaux as the GM and Chef, but, had already begun the transition into the next phase of my career as a restauranteur.


What made you want to become an MS?

Honestly, in hindsight, I have no idea what made we want to become an MS…other than just an overall interest in learning more about wine. After meeting Guy Stout, MS, and being invited to his tasting group, I was so inspired by the brilliant folks around me that he was mentoring, I just kept wanting more and more knowledge. Eventually, that led to me taking my certified and advanced exams…and quickly, that got me into the competition circuit. Through that, I met so many inspiring folks. But, at the end of the day, I have not idea why passing this exam became such an important goal for me…but, it did.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

Embrace the challenges, and know that the struggles are what make you better. Not succeeding at an exam or a competition isn’t failure, its just an opportunity to grow more. You only ever fail if you allow a set back to stop you from achieving your goal. Not passing my MS 3 years in a row is likely the best thing that ever happened to me, and has made me a better professional, a better MS and hopefully a better mentor to others.

What is your desert island wine, or what wines/beverages are you currently excited about?

A single wine…impossible. It depends on my mood…and the weather…and the company…I might want some Kabinett…or maybe an old Mondavi Reserve…or, maybe a daiquiri with a few deeply flavored rums…or, maybe a Guinness. Or, if I can have anything I want, a proper Pilsner Urquel, from a freshly filled tank, off a Lukr side pull. And, thats not even getting into scotch options…