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Snapshots from the Court of Masters Intro Level Wine Course

Yesterday I posted about my experience taking the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Level I Course.

Our four Master Sommeliers were not only entertaining and engaging (which kept us perked up during the two day course) but their backgrounds were interesting as well.

4_22_winecellarRon Edwards was not a stranger to studying. He graduated North Carolina State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering before switching paths. Keith Goldston grew up in Napa Valley and the only way his parents would let him buy a motorcycle at 16 was if he paid for it- so he started as a bus boy at a small Italian restaurant and worked his way up. Laura DePasquale was a painter and now she is the Vice Chair of the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Vice President and General Manager of The Vinter Group/Stacole.

And then there were the students. Each one’s path was as different as the terroir of Napa Valley Chardonnay versus Chablis, but all wanted to progress to become a Certified Sommelier.

“Surprisingly I am not an expert on Australian wine,” Australian Carston Woodhouse told me. “I guess I took it for granted growing up there.” He now lives in Augusta, Georgia but he travels across state borders every day to go to work at a restaurant in South Carolina. A far cry from wine, he studied theology in Australia before coming to the states, and hopes to go on to get my Masters in Christian Theology.

Georgia wine was close to Jackie Fortier’s heart. She works at Frog Town Cellars in Dahlonega, Georgia. “I am so lucky that my job is working in the tasting room of a winery every day,” she said. Her advice for those looking to go: come on the weekdays to avoid crowds.

Colt Jones is one of Empire State South’s three up-and-coming beverage specialists. “This course is more of a review for me,” he said. He has the benefit of gaining a vast amount of experience from James Beard nominated sommelier Steven Grubbs. Passing the exam was only the beginning for him, as he hopes to travel around and teach other industry hopefuls in an introductory level course, much like our Master Sommeliers did.

For Bobby Dabestani, he developed a gluten intolerance three years ago and that led him to drinking wine. Now he lives in Charlotte and works at Del Frisco’s. “Every year I create a bucket list of new experiences to check off,” he said. “I want to get my Certified sommelier by the end of this year, along with a solo sky-diving certification.”

I was most surprised by Jeremy’s dedication to the exam. “I basically re-wrote the course book from last year,” he told me. “There are maps of all the wine regions that I have redrawn and pinned up around my apartment.” Jeremy works at Anis in Buckhead, where his experience studying abroad in France has helped him with the extensive French wine list.

-By Alexa Lampasona for the Food & More blog

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