The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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{ }  1 1 1 in its tenth year as the leading wine education conference in the country, the internationally-recognized event is more commonly referred to as TEXSOM. Founded in 2004 by Texans James Tidwell, Beverage Director of Four Seasons Resort and Club, Las Colinas and Drew Hendricks, Vice President General Manager of Standard Beverage, both Master Sommeliers, TEXSOM was originally created to bring wine professionals together to talk shop and help strengthen the presence of wine professionals in the state. "We wanted to do something important and valuable for our profession," said Tidwell. "Something that would educate wine professionals, elevate the standards in our business in terms of service and knowledge and inform those in the industry of the current issues and trends." In 2004, when the idea behind TEXSOM originated, there were about 720 candidates taking the Introductory- through Masters-level exams through the Court of Master Sommeliers. In 2013, that number had grown to more than 4,600. Accordingly, TEXSOM has gained significant clout among the international wine community with participants from New York to California, France, Austria, London, Spain and Australia and an A-list of speakers and judges, including 39 Master Sommeliers, ten Certified Wine Educators and six Masters of Wine. "I don't think any of us who were involved in the first few years of TEXSOM would have imagined it would grow to the point it has," said Kruth. "James and Drew have done an amazing job not only growing the conference but also consistently improving the quality." As Kruth suggests, the magnitude of TEXSOM's growth could not have transpired without the vision first dreamed up by Tidwell and Hendricks. Fred Dame, the esteemed Master Sommelier noted for bringing the Court of Master Sommeliers to the U.S. and a longtime sup - porter of TEXSOM, raised a toast to the co-founders at a private dinner during the conference. "These two guys created something remarkable," said Dame. "They wanted to promote wine education, scholarship and a deeper appreciation of wine within the state of Texas. But they did something much more than that. They asked if I could I could help support it ten years ago, and on the Guild's behalf, I couldn't be more honored to have been a part of it from the very beginning." WHat/s on tHe cutting eDge TEXSOM is more than just about the caliber of wine professionals participating. It's also about quality bev- erage education. This year, seminar topics included regional focuses on Rioja, South Africa and Austria's Niederösterreich, as well as discussions on Syrah, cof- fee and wine sales. Special presentations included a vertical tasting of wines from iconic California producer Geoff Kruth, MS, COO of the Guild of Sommeliers, and Matthew Citriglia, MS, Director of Education for Vintage Wine Distributor, walk- ing attendees through the deductive tasting grid to describe Pathways to Blind Tasting. Joelle Cousins of the Red Room Lounge in Austin delivering her acceptance speech as the 2014 Texas' Best Sommelier. Guy Stout, MS and CWE, Glazer's Family of Companies, and Fred Dame, MS, American Wine & Spirits of CA, catching up as Geoff Kruth, MS, COO of the Guild of Sommeliers, looks on during the Grand Tasting Award Ceremony.

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