Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Wine Industry Leaders Converge on The Culinary Institute of America for First Sommelier Summit

The “Four Generations” panel.

Media Contact:

Jeff Levine
Communications Manager

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 Napa.

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)
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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)
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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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