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PR: 12 Individuals From Across The United States Earn The Title Of Advanced Sommelier

David Keck of Uchi Restaurant in Houston, Texas Takes Home the Rudd Scholarship
October 22, 2012

Five days of intense examination culminated today with 12 new names being added to the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas list of distinguished Advanced Sommeliers.

Held at the ARIA from October 15 to October 19, 47 candidates 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 12 passers, one rose to the top as the exam’s highest scorer. David Keck of Uchi Restaurant in Houston, Texas earned the Rudd Scholarship, offered by the Guild of Sommeliers, which provides 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.

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, they’ll set their sights on the Court’s Master Sommelier Diploma Exam, which just 197 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 12 individuals, and their commitment and enthusiasm is an inspiration to the industry.”

“I am pleased to welcome these exceptional individuals to the next level in wine education,” said Greg Harrington, Chairman 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 earned the title of Advanced Sommelier atthe recentLas Vegas, NV exam includes: Brad Ball (Social Wine Bar, Charleston, SC), Christopher Bernie-Visscher (Café Boulud Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, FL), Christopher Chan (The Rainier Club, Seattle, WA), Lewis Edwards (The Country Vintner, Charlotte, NC), Robert Gamble (Michael Mina's American Fish at ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV), David Keck (Uchi Restaurant, Houston, TX), Cortney Lease (Wild Ginger/The Triple Door, Seattle, WA), Csaba Oveges (Element 47 at The Little Nell, Aspen, CO), Laura Parke (Treasury Wine Estates, San Francisco, CA), Rory Pugh (Flavor Del Mar, San Diego, CA), Dawn Smith (Seattle, WA), Mike Zima (SommPicks, NY, New York).

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 129 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. Of those, 111 are men and 18 are women. There are 197 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. For more information, please visit

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