Six master sommeliers lose their titles after months-long sexual misconduct investigation.
Following a nine-month sexual misconduct investigation conducted by the Napa-based Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, it was announced last week that “the godfather of the American sommelier community,” San Francisco’s Fred Dame, is one of six master sommeliers who will lose their prestigious wine titles. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the prestigious organization for sommeliers will also terminate memberships for Robert Bath, a professor at St. Helena’s Culinary Institute of America; Matt Stamp, co-owner of Napa restaurant Compline; Fred Dexheimer, a wine consultant in Brooklyn; Drew Hendricks, the previous director of business development at Pioneer Wine Co. in Texas; and Joseph Linder, a Seattle sommelier. A total of 22 master sommeliers were under investigation for inappropriate behavior. Some of the allegations against the men, which encompassed a range of inappropriate behavior—including nonconsensual touching and initiating exploitative sexual relationships—were first made public in an October 2020 New York Times investigation. For women long excluded from the court’s ranks, “the decision didn’t go far enough.” Liz Huettinger, a partner in a wine wholesale company who lives in San Diego, told The San Francisco Chronicle that it’s “a great, huge step in the right direction,” but she remains wary of how the court will “prevent things like this from happening in the future.” —Tina Vasquez