Master Sommeliers to be Expelled after Sexual Misconduct Investigation

The Court of Master Sommeliers has been rocked by misconduct allegations.

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sommeliers-misconduct

The Court of Master Sommeliers has been rocked by misconduct allegations.

© Shutterstock

The influential Napa-based Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas (CMS-A) made the announcement as it released the results of an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations regarding individuals in the organisation.

"Based on the investigation’s findings and the committee’s individual review of each case, the CMS-A has moved to terminate the membership of Bob Bath, Fred Dame, Fred Dexheimer, Drew Hendricks, Joseph Linder, and Matt Stamp, pending a hearing within thirty days according to the process required by law," it said in a statement. Geoff Kruth, who resigned in 2020, will be prevented from ever applying for reinstatement, it added.

Fred Dame has been desribed as "godfather of the American sommelier community”. He featured in the series Somm and was co-founder of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Geoff Kruth was one of the court’s top educators, and the founder of the wine education platform GuildSomm. 

"Untouchable" 

The Court of Master Sommeliers said the recurring themes it saw in the investigation's findings included the power of Master Sommeliers, who were perceived to be untouchable, particularly when it came to unethical behavior or abuse of their titles; and the male-dominated culture of the organisation. That perceived power was exploited by members of the organisation. "The findings substantiated behaviours that ranged from inappropriate comments and flirting to nonconsensual touching and exploiting a mentoring relationship for a perceived quid pro quo," it said. 

The scandal was sparked by a New York Times story last year in which 21 women reported that they had been sexually harassed, manipulated or assaulted by male master sommeliers. The court did not specify which acts each individual had been accused of. None of the men who are being expelled have commented to media. 

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