"Education is key," write the founders of newly formed Houston Sommelier Association, "and for many of us sommeliers seeking the highest levels of certifications (Master Sommelier, Master of Wine, Certified Wine Educator) the desire to teach is our motivation to learn."
Officially launched this week, the group -- composed of nine Houston-based wine professionals -- has already been holding tasting and study sessions for any and all who want to join (you can find the schedule on the group's Facebook).
And while all of the members are top wine professionals, the association "is not a closed group."
Any and all are encouraged to participate: "If you are a beverage professional, avid collector or just looking to learn a little more about wine, beer and spirits from people who live and breath all things imbibable, join us."
The brainchild of David Keck (partner and wine director at Camerata) and Ben Roberts (wine director at Masraff's), the group has as its mission to stimulate dialog and interaction among Houston wine professionals and enthusiasts.
"As an industry we know that it's the momentum from our corporate striving for excellence that moves us all forward," they state on their about page. "The more we share, the more we educate, the more we learn, the more we grow."
One of the motivating factors is Roberts's vision of a more tightly knit wine community. Houston wine professionals haven't been as proactive as their food counterparts in creating a network of professional support, he said in an e-mail last week.
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"I am hoping to change a few things I have noticed here in Houston," he wrote. "I'm not sure many of our colleagues in the wine profession appreciate the scope and the potential of the culinary scene we have here in Houston. I am personally affronted when I hear people denigrate Houston or Texas as a flyover state or a city they can't wait to leave as soon as they get their certification. My hope is that through solidarity, encouragement and education, we can reverse this trend and inject some pride and excitement in our colleagues for all things Houston."
I say AMEN to that!
Many of our local sommeliers have been in Dallas for the last few days attending Texsom, the annual Texas sommelier conference.
You'll find a number of images and notes from the tastings and seminars on the association's Facebook.