Growing up in Roanoke, VA,  Robert began working in restaurants in the Summer of 1980 and stayed in the business after college, working in Charlotte NC, Martha’s Vineyard, MA and then Atlanta GA where Michael McNeill MS plucked him from the crowd and offered a job as his assistant at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. At Michael’s insistence Robert began the CMS journey in August 1995 by passing Intro, followed by passing Advanced in 1997 and he received the MS Diploma in 2001. Since June 2001 he has worked for the importing and distributing company owned by Fran Kysela MS, selling to wholesale distributors across the country.


Robert was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors for CMS Americas that started Jan 1, 2024. In his spare time he helps run his wife’s prepared food business by managing the wine bar and retail program.


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

I’m in my 23rd year working for the wine importing/distributing company Kysela Pere et Fils, LTD – the MS diploma is a conversation starter and validator of skills, and it gets me an extra 30 seconds of presentation time before their eyes glaze over!


Where were you working when you passed?

When I passed the MS exam in 2001 I was employed at the Commonwealth Club in Richmond, VA.


What made you want to become an MS?

Michael McNeill impressed upon me the benefit of the CMS program and the MS diploma when he hired me; he had been selected the best sommelier in USA and represented us at the Concourse Mondial competition and I wanted to be half as successful as he had been.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

Advice to those pursuing certification is to not waste time, study & work hard, and sacrifice your free time for a very worthwhile credential that will expand your professional world.


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

My desert island wine is, logically, Madeira – it needs no refrigeration, doesn’t mind the heat, is already oxidized, is available from dryish to sweeter styles that will pair well with seafood and coconuts!”