Dallas’ own Jason Huerta has indisputable bragging rights for the next year. This tenacious wine steward from Pappas Bros. Steakhouse outperformed twenty other wine professionals in a rigorous three-part wine examination involving service, blind tasting and theory. An elite panel of Master Sommelier judges selected him as Texas’ Best Sommelier 2010 at a ceremony on Monday evening.
Held on August 15 at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas, the competition is a key part of TexSom, an annual wine-education conference. Presented by the not-for-profit organizations the Texas Sommelier Association and the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas, TexSom is the only event of its kind in the United States. Since its inception in 2005, it has attracted more than 1,800 wine professionals from across the United States, and more than 140 Texas sommeliers have competed. The speakers and judges constitute a who’s who list of the nation’s top wine professionals: Master Sommeliers (MS), Certified Wine Educators (CWE), one Master of Wine (MW) and other respected wine educators.
In addition to laying claim to the title of “Texas’ Best Sommelier,” Huerta received a scholarship of $2,500 and round-trip airfare from the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation to be used for a Court of Master Sommeliers certification program. Upon accepting the award, Huerta expressed appreciation for his mentors, the conference organizers and his competitors. “This is unbelievable,” Huerta said. “Thank you for making this event happen and for challenging me.”
Jack Mason from Mark’s American Cuisine in Houston landed second place and a $1,500 scholarship. Steve Murphey of Mid-State Wine received third place and a $1,000 scholarship.
Students traveled from as far away as Oregon and Georgia to attend the classes, according to Master Sommelier Drew Hendricks, one of the conference’s founders. “Every year our conference and competition get more diverse,” Drew says. “Although we created this event to serve our local community, we now serve as a model for sommeliers worldwide, and the potential is amazing. I can’t say enough about all the new faces and the future of our industry.”
At the awards ceremony, conference co-founder James Tidwell announced a newly forged partnership between the Texas Sommelier Association and the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition, as well as the dates for next year’s event: August 14 and 15, 2011. The Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas will host the group again next year.
Highlights of this year’s lineup including courses and tastings with Fred Dame MS, President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation; Guy Stout MS, Education Director for Glazer’s Distributors; and Charles Curtis MW, Head of Wine Sales for Christie’s- North America. The conference also brought in high-profile educators such as Serafin Alvarado MS; Wayne Belding MS; John Blazon MS; Laura DePasquale MS; Jay Fletcher MS; Keith Goldston MS; Greg Harrington MS; Jay James MS; Geoff Kruth MS; Sally Mohr MS; Barbara Werley MS; and Laura Williamson MS. Many of these instructors also participated as judges in the competition.
The Texaco Conference Background
TexSom and the Texas’ Best Sommelier Competition were founded by James Tidwell MS, CWE, Sommelier at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas; and Drew Hendricks MS, CWE, Director of Beverage Education for Pappas Restaurants in Houston.
The event is made possible by the generous support of many sponsors, with scholarships provided by the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. Co-Presenter for the public portions of the program is the Wine and Food Foundaiton of Texas. Sponsors include: (Platinum-level) Four Seasons Resort Dallas and Club at Las Colinas, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Republic National Distributing Company, Stewart Cellars and Slingshot Wines, Structure Born; (Gold-level) Aqua Panna/San Pellegrino, Riedel, and ETS Laboratories; (Silver level), Banfi Vintners, Old Bridge Cellars, Broadbent Selections, the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation, Whole Foods Market, Wines of Chile, Pioneer Wine Company, Treasury Wine Estates, Avante Beverages, The Rathbone Wine Group, and Moet-Hennessy USA. For more information, visit www.texsom.com <http://www.texsom.com/> .
The Texas Sommelier Association Background
The Texas Sommelier Association is a trade association comprised of Texas wine professionals. The Association promotes professional wine service standards, outlines paths for further wine education and certification, and raises public awareness about the professional standards and certifications for sommeliers. The organization sponsors the “Texas’ Best Sommelier” competition, with the winner being awarded scholarships for professional certification courses. This competition is held behind the scenes during the TexSom conference. For more information, visit www.texsom.com <http://www.texsom.com/> .
The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas Background
The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas was established to connect its members and the general public with the value, creativity and craftsmanship inherently present in the culinary and viticulture arts. This mission is fulfilled by funding grants, scholarships and research aimed at elevating the quality, awareness and enjoyment of good food and fine wine as well as hosting education and social events that enhance the quality of life for members and communities. These programs offer unique opportunities to enrich the minds and palates of guests, who in turn can relate their experience with friends sharing common interests. For more information, visit www.winefoodfoundation.org <http://www.winefoodfoundation.org/> .