Fred has been hailed as “America’s sommelier” and is undoubtedly one of the most renowned in the world. Fred was the first American to successfully pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier Examination in a single year. He founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program since that time. Fred’s ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine makes him a natural teacher and a legendary ambassador. He recently became the Global Wine Ambassador at DAOU Vineyards and Winery, where he will help usher the winery and the Paso Robles region to more prominence on the world wine stage.

We recently caught up with Fred to learn more about his background and vision, as well as his impressions of the inaugural Wine Speak:

What excites you most about the business right now?

The world of wine is changing quickly on many fronts. In California we are seeing the rise of AVAs that a decade ago would have been an afterthought. The way that wineries go to market is also a significant factor, with the rise of direct to consumer and the power of social media in building brand awareness.  The quality of winemaking at all levels is at an all-time high and will continue to impress.

You helped create the film series “Somm.” What was that like? How has it helped the craft?

Bing a part of Somm has been a great amount of fun. Jason Wise created the genre and it seems to be taking on a life of its own. The films have been a great boon to the sommelier community. They give consumers a look at a side of the wine industry that wasn’t well known, if at all. I believe the entire industry has benefitted from the films by adding a very personal and challenging view.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Learn from classic wines and regions but make sure that your eyes are always open to new locations and innovation. Wine education is a key factor in your growth and make sure to “pay it forward” to those coming after you.

Some people don’t know that you are a cowboy, what’s your favorite horses name?

That’s a tough one.  Frosty was my main man but he moved to higher pastures two years ago. I don’t currently have a favorite.

Fred on the right with his best horse Frosty.

Fred on the right with his best horse Frosty.

What do you think the world needs more of?

People who drink wine more for the pure pleasure of it rather than the price or rating.

You attended Wine Speak last year, what were your impressions?

For a first-time event it was exceptionally well organized. The attendance was impressive and the quality of the seminars and events was exemplary. Also, it wasn’t the usual suspects behind the panel chairs. It was a great insight into the Paso Robles wine region on a very personal and thoughtful way.