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The Roast of Master Sommelier Fred Dame

Fred Dame with Meridith May of SOMM Journal

More than 100 sommeliers and other wine professionals turned out at a private event during Pebble Beach Food & Wine to celebrate Fred Dame’s 30th anniversary of induction to The Court of Master Sommeliers. Dubbed the Roast of Fred Dame, the event drew noted Master Sommeliers and restaurateurs who shared amusing (and heart-felt) stories about how Dame has touched their lives.

Jordan Winery was honored to co-host this celebration with American Wines (a division of Southern Wine & Spirits) and Roederer Champagne. Meridith May, the publisher of the new SOMM Journal (formerly Sommelier Journal), attended the event and will publish highlights in the magazine’s inaugural issue, which debuts June 1. A sneak peek of the article can be found here.

There are too many great stories to recount–a dozen roasters grilled Dame over the course of two hours–but a few memorable moments include:

– Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson’s singing telegram about Dame’s life as a wine educator (Robinson delivered singing telegrams in New York before joining the team at Windows on the World in the 1990s).

– Master Sommelier Shayn Bjornholm’s vivid story of how he ended up drinking a 1990 Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie out of paper cups on a fishing boat with Dame and how it remains the best wine he’s ever tasted.

– Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth’s poetry slam, which the FTC would have bleeped multiple times.

– Restaurateur Ted Balestreri’s tribute told through a string of stories about young Dame getting his start in wine at Balestreri’s Monterey restaurant, Sardine Factory.

Dame was the first American to pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam in a single year. He also scored the top in his class, earning him the Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the master sommelier program throughout America since then.

Everyone can agree that Dame has had a huge impact on the wine industry over the course three decades. It was a fitting celebration for a man who is largely responsible for the success of the sommelier profession in America today. Bravo, Mr. Dame.

The new SOMM Journal website launches June 1. Make sure to like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter for announcements and subscription details.

Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson gives a singing telegram

Pass me Somm Chardonnay -Segment 2 | SHEdrinksHEeats

[…] end of August and invited me to be a participant. This invitation was a very big deal for me, since Fred is the preeminent Master Sommelier in the United States, founded the American Branch of the CMS and […]

Somm | Couch Critic

[…] people” by an MS) we also get to meet current Master Sommeliers including the master himself, Fred Dame, as well as the wine frat’s loved ones. Dustin’s wife is interviewed as she sits […]


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Lisa Mattson

Videographer, photographer, writer and publicist. Find me on weekends trying to capture footage of the elusive Jordan Estate jack rabbits and turkeys.

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