Mark Guillaudeu began his career in hospitality on the tail end of graduate school studying Tibetan Buddhism and quickly made his way from Washington, DC to San Francisco and the two Michelin-starred Commis.


He earned his WSET Diploma in 2016 and in 2019 was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s ‘Best New Sommeliers’ as he entered the MW program, enjoying competitive successes along the way that culminated in winning the title “Best Sommelier USA” in June of 2022. In February of 2023 he represented the USA at the Concours Mondiale (World Championship) in Paris, becoming the first American in history to breach the semi-finals of the grueling competition.  He joined the team at the Wrigley Mansion shortly after and earned his Master Sommelier Diploma that September.


What made you want to become an MS?

When I started, I decided that if I was going to do something I wanted to be the absolute best at it that I could. I did some research and discovered the Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, and Master Cicerone paths. I learned also that while there have been a handful of Master Sommeliers who also earned their Master of Wine, no one from the Court had yet achieved the Master Cicerone. I resolved to be the first to earn all three (one down so far) – and along the way discovered the ASI Meilleur Sommelier du Monde competition that literally names a “”Best Sommelier of the World.”” In life you’re either pushing or coasting, and this journey has kept me pushing.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

If you want to train to be exceptional at your craft, you need to surround yourself with others of like mind. The best part of this journey has been the people I have been privileged to meet along the way. Many people expect there to be some kind of silver bullet study or tasting strategy that will make the clouds part and everything click for them – there isn’t. This path requires a great deal of hard and time-consuming study. At one point in my life I was working 60-70 hours per week and studying 30-40.

None of the things I know now that I wish I knew when I started pertain to wine, but instead revolve around the habits that culture excellence. Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep (different than spending 8 hours in bed). Skip the nightcap (metabolizing acetaldehyde and its byproducts interfere with the nightly transfer of information from short-term to long-term memory). Many mindfulness protocols from basic vipassana to yoga nidra not only help you navigate daily life but have measurable memory benefits as well. A sommelier on the floor is a mental athlete – despite the sometimes north of 30,000 steps in a busy service – so train like one and treat yourself and your body with the same respect a professional athlete would and you will go far.


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

Some people have a sweet tooth – I have an umami tooth. Wines with savory qualities like Rioja, Grüner Veltliner, or Etna Rosso are my favorite, and sake will always have a place in my heart. If I could have but one unlimited tap in life, it would be 5-releases back La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza. The second would be Bernard Ott’s Rosenberg Grüner with about 15 years of age (pending vintage), and the third would be the Aramasa junmai yamahai kimoto muroka nama genshu koshu – it’s not brewed anymore, but what kind of desert island would be complete without it?