Wine

Wine’s most prestigious group moves to expel six master sommeliers after sexual misconduct investigation – San Francisco Chronicle

Summary

Six master sommeliers will lose their prestigious wine titles following investigations into sexual misconduct allegations, pending appeals — notably San Francisco’s Fred Dame, who has been called “the godfather of the American sommelier community,” and two other local figures: Robert Bath, a professor at St. Helena’s Culinary Institute of America, and Matt Stamp, co-owner of Napa restaurant Compline.

The Napa-based Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, the influential organiza…….

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Six master sommeliers will lose their prestigious wine titles following investigations into sexual misconduct allegations, pending appeals — notably San Francisco’s Fred Dame, who has been called “the godfather of the American sommelier community,” and two other local figures: Robert Bath, a professor at St. Helena’s Culinary Institute of America, and Matt Stamp, co-owner of Napa restaurant Compline.

The Napa-based Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, the influential organization that can make a sommelier’s career, announced on Wednesday that it will also move to terminate the membership of Fred Dexheimer, a wine consultant in Brooklyn; Drew Hendricks, who had been director of business development at Pioneer Wine Co. in Texas until November 2020; and Joseph Linder, a sommelier in Seattle.

They are accused of a range of inappropriate behaviors, including nonconsensual touching, flirting and initiating exploitative sexual relationships. The court did not specify which acts each individual has been accused of. Some of the accusations were aired in an October 2020 New York Times article, which prompted the court to commission an outside investigation into the claims. That investigation informed the current terminations.

Arguably the most famous master sommelier in the U.S., Dame was a focal point of the “Somm” documentary series, which feted him as a legendary figure who had kicked off a wine revolution in the 1980s. Dame started his career as a sommelier at the Sardine Factory in Monterey. Until October 2020, he worked as the global brand ambassador for Daou Vineyards in Paso Robles (San Luis Obispo County). He is a co-founder of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas.

More than a dozen women told the New York Times that Dame had engaged in unwanted touching with them, including two instances of slapping women’s rear ends at professional events.

The other two local men named in the investigation, Bath and Stamp, are well known in their Napa Valley community. Bath, who passed the master sommelier exam in 1993, was one of the first to gain the title in the U.S. In addition to teaching wine courses at the Culinary Institute of America, he operates a wine importing company in St. Helena and has consulted for Alpha Omega Winery.

A onetime sommelier at the French Laundry, Stamp operates a popular restaurant in downtown Napa, Compline. He’s also known for his work as a writer, having worked for years as a staff writer for GuildSomm, a Bay Area education platform for sommeliers. According to the New York Times report, Stamp proctored the master sommelier exams of two women he had had sex with and failed to disclose that information to the court.

The six men have 30 days to appeal the decision, according to California’s laws governing nonprofits. After that period, if the board of directors upholds its decision to terminate their membership, they will be barred from any future court-related activities. They will also be prohibited from using the title “master sommelier,” a …….

Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/wine/article/Wine-s-most-prestigious-group-expels-six-master-16629248.php