By on August 13, 2013 Texas Wine News

2013 Texas’ Best Sommelier Presented by Texas Monthly

Irving, Texas (August 13, 2013) –– TEXSOM Co-founders and Master Sommeliers Drew Hendricks and James Tidwell today announced that Scott Ota of Arro Restaurant in Austin is Texas’ Best Sommelier. The Texas’ Best Sommelier Competitions, presented by Texas Monthly, is run behind the scenes at TEXSOM, the nation’s pre-eminent wine education conference, held annually at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.

TEXSOM2013win1Ota outperformed twenty-four other competitors in a rigorous three-part wine examination involving service, blind tasting and theory. An elite panel of Master Sommelier judges named him Texas’ Best Sommelier 2013 at a ceremony on Monday evening.  The competition is a key part of TEXSOM. To participate, candidates must be a current resident of Texas and must not have passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Exam.

Held August 8-12 at the Four Seasons and co-presented by the not-for-profit organizations the Guild of Sommeliers and The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas, TEXSOM is the only event of its kind in the United States.  The speakers and judges constitute a who’s who list of the nation’s top wine professionals: 30 Master Sommeliers (MS), six Certified Wine Educators (CWE), four Masters of Wine (MW) and other respected industry professionals were integral parts of the conference.

Scott Ota TEXSOM2013

photo by Melba Allen, The Wine Profilers

In addition to laying claim to the title of “Texas’ Best Sommelier,” Ota received a scholarship of $2,500 from the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation to be used for a Court of Master Sommeliers certification program.

Luis LaTorre of Spec’s in Dallas was the second runner up and will receive a $1,500 scholarship from the Guild, and the 3rd place winner James Watkins of Cordúa Restaurants in Houston will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

The 2013 TEXSOM conference featured a stellar line-up of seminars, including

  • A panel on the benchmark styles of regional classic red wines with panelists including Michael Franz, Thomas Burke MS, Alfonso Cevola CSW, Sherry Sauter Morano MW, moderated by Jordan Mackay
  • A seminar and tasting highlighting building a well-rounded beer program with Master Sommeliers Melissa Monosoff and Andy McNamara
  • A tasting highlighting high altitude wines with Laura DePasquale MS and Charles Curtis MW
  • A panel on the state of the industry/sommelier roundtable with panelists including Rajat Parr, John Ragan MS, Charles Banks, Melissa Monosoff MS, Christy Canterbury MW, Bernie Sun, moderated by Jordan Mackay
  • A tasting flight demonstrating elements of perception and style with Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser
  • A tasting focusing on the ancient wines of the world from Southern Italy, Greece, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey with Keith Goldston MS and Christy Canterbury MW
  • A tasting on the science behind the method (Terpenes and Pyrazines) with Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth
  • A viewing of the SOMM film documentary with a post-screening Q&A with Director Jason Wise

Master Sommelier and TEXSOM Co-founder James Tidwell stated “we created this event to serve our local community and in doing so, we inadvertently attracted top talent from across the world because TEXSOM is unique.  No other conference integrates all levels of the business and welcomes the public like this one does.”

2013 Sponsors: The event is made possible by the generous support of many sponsors, with scholarships provided by the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation.

Sponsors include:

(Co-presenting) Guild of Sommeliers and The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas

(Platinum-level) Republic National Distributing Company, Washington State Wine, C. Milan Communications, Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas, Texas, La Colinas Beverages, Glazer’s, Fortessa, Classic Wine Storage and Services, Favorite Brands, Constellation Brands, Becky Wasserman Selection, Classified Wine Imports

(Gold-level) Arista Winery, Broadbent, Irving Conventions & Visitors Bureau, In Pursuit of Balance, C. Donatiello Winery, Chianti Classico, Paul Hobbs Wines, Benovia Winery, Siduri, Joseph Swan Vineyards, Texas Monthly, Chappellet, Go Vino, Rathbone Wine Group

(Silver-level) Whole Foods Market, Renaissance Wine Marketing, The Dallas Morning News Wine Competition, Jorge Ordonez, Empson USA, Esprit Du Vin, Treasury Wine Estates,     Diageo Chateau & Estates, Coquerel Wines, Terlato Wines, Huneeus Vintners, Wilson Daniels, Banville & Jones Wine Merchants, Stemmler Wines, Texas Sideshow, Taste Texas Wines,

The Cultured Cup

(Bronze-level) Adobe Road Winery, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Ambiente, Austrian Wine, Aveniu Brands, Baxter, Bending Branch Winery, Bespoke Collection, Cape Classics,               Cliff Lede Vineyards, Copain Wines, Delectatio, Duchman Family Winery, Ehlers Estate, Emeritus, Ernest Vineyards, Fisher Vineyards, Franciacorta, Fredrick Wildman & Sons, Frias Family Vineyard, Hahn Family Wines, Hanzell, Hiatus Cellars, Hope Family Wines, Iron Horse Vineyards, La Cigale, Lange Twins Winery and Vineyards, Long Meadow Ranch, Louis Latour, Miner Family Vineyards, Moet Hennessy USA, Old Bridge Cellars, Opus One, Patz & Hall, Penfolds, Premium Port Wines, RdV Vineyards, Revana Family Vineyard, Reynolds Family Winery, Serendipity Wines, Spire Collection, St. Michelle Wine Estates, Staglin Family Vineyard, Stark Advantage, Terroir Selections, The Hess Collection, Trefethen Family Vineyards, Vine Street Imports, Vineyard Brands, Winebow, ZD Wines


TEXSOM and the Texas’ Best Sommelier Competition were founded in 2005 by James Tidwell, MS, CWE, Beverage Manager at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas and Drew Hendricks, MS, CWE, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Rudd Winery. Presented by the not-for-profit organizations The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas and the Guild of Sommeliers, TEXSOM is the only event of its kind in the world.


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


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


The Guild of Sommeliers is a non-profit, member-run organization, committed to excellence measures, development, inspiration and exchange of information for wine service professionals and wine enthusiasts across the U.S. Through our online community and in-person events, we aim to help our members broaden their knowledge of the world’s wine regions, enhance their beverage service skills, network with other wine enthusiasts and stay up to date on industry news and trends. For more information, visit

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