St. Helena, CA – The Culinary Institute of America hosted the inaugural CIA Sommelier Summit with more
than 130 sommeliers converging on the college’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, CA in late April.
The Summit featured dozens of presenters speaking about relevant
topics for today’s wine, beverage, and hospitality professional. The roster of presenters included
an impressive 15 Master Sommeliers, along with professional wine educators, wine
and beverage directors, and other experts in the beverage and hospitality
fields, many of whom are CIA alumni.
Areas covered during three days of sessions involved wine
list development, sommelier skill testing, aromatics and wine, regional wine
studies, food and wine pairings, the importance of great hospitality, and
winemaker and sommelier relationships.
CIA graduate Rajat Parr ’96, winner
of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Award as Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or
Beverage Professional, led a Burgundy lecture and tasting. He also participated
in a roundtable discussion with fellow alumni Jason Smith ’98, Carlton McCoy ’06,
and Amy Racine ’10. Both Smith and McCoy are Master Sommeliers.
Another highlight was a “Generations” seminar with four
sommeliers and four vintners, whose careers span several decades, speaking
about the integral relationship between winemaker and sommelier. The Summit
gave young wine professionals the insight that a great sommelier with superior
hospitality skills can create an excellent wine and beverage program for any
establishment, and that these skills take years of practice and dedication.
“We have seen a cult following of vintners, chefs, and winemakers.
Now we shall see the cult following of great sommeliers,” said vintner and
entrepreneur Agustin Huneeus, a 50-year wine industry
veteran whose numerous successful properties stretch from Chile to Sonoma and
While The Culinary Institute of America has long been known
for its unparalleled culinary arts education, the college has also built a
stellar reputation for its wine and beverage curriculum. The Greystone campus
is home to the highly regarded Accelerated Wine
and Beverage Certificate Program and it offers a Certified Wine Professional credential.
In addition, many students from the CIA’s New York campus spend a semester of
their senior year in the Napa Valley, pursuing an academic concentration in Advanced Wine,
Beverage, and Hospitality.
The second annual Sommelier Summit is scheduled for April 24–26,
2016 at the CIA at Greystone.
Photo Captions and Hi-Res Images:
Photo 1 (top photo): Renowned wine educator Kevin Zraly (right) chats with
CIA Professor of Wine and Beverage Studies Robert Bath during the 2015
Sommelier Summit at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. (Photo credits: Alexander Rubin/CIA)
View hi-res image >
Photo 2: The
“Four Generations” panel was one of dozens of lectures, seminars,
presentations, and tastings during the three-day Sommelier Summit at The
Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in April. (Photo credits: Alexander Rubin/CIA)
View hi-res image >
Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier
culinary college. Dedicated to driving leadership development for the
foodservice and hospitality industry, the independent, not-for-profit CIA
offers associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts;
bachelor’s degree majors in management, culinary science, and applied food
studies; and executive education through its Food Business School. Its
conferences and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food
industry in the areas of health & wellness, sustainability, world cuisines
& cultures, and professional excellence & innovation. The college also
offers certificate programs and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its
worldwide network of 48,000 alumni includes leaders in every area of
foodservice and hospitality. The CIA has campuses in New York, California,
Texas, and Singapore.
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