The Silverado Resort in Napa was a recent venue to a plethora of amazing and gifted individuals who were replete with passion for one thing ~ wine. The first family of California wine, ten young competing sommeliers from acclaimed restaurants, and wine-loving dignitaries from all over the country converged for a gathering of what would perhaps be one of the most memorable dinners I’ve ever had. The Mondavi Family was honored this evening as The Société Mondiale du Vin USA, the wine section of the international food and wine organization, Confrérié de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs awarded the “Best Young Sommelier 2012”. Ten Young Sommeliers, none more than 35 years old, competed for the National title at the Sociéte’s annual conference held at the famous resort.
Christopher P. Bates, 31, General Manager and Executive Chef at Hotel Fauchere in Milford, PA, was all smiles as he emerged victorious that evening. The talented sommelier toasted his glass of 1963 Library Charles Krug Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with me and Tim Mondavi and then thanked Tim and his family for “making California“. Myself on the other hand? I just couldn’t get over the library reserve bottle with its brown crispy label which transported me to a time of renaissance in the valley, “so this was how it was to be in Napa that year” I muttered to myself – it was simply phenomenal. Peter Mondavi added, “I am really delighted to see younger folks embrace the art of appreciating fine wine. These gentlemen represent the new generation of wine so well, I am honored to be here getting to know them”.
Bates is originally from upstate New York. A graduate of Arkport (NY) Central School, he received his BS degree from the Cornell School of Hotel Management. He previously was owner/winemaker of Element Winery in Arkport. He holds Advanced Sommelier Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a candidate for Masters designation. A member of the Society of Wine Educators, he has earned CSW, CWE, and CSS titles. A competitor in the Best Sommelier in America Competition for several years, he placed third in 2010. He is also a teacher for the American Sommelier Association.