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TEXSOM – The Best Food and Wine Event in the Country-Names Best Sommelier in Texas

Texas' best Sommelier, Joelle Cousins, named last night at the TEXSOM Grand Tasting
Texas’ best Sommelier, Joelle Cousins, named last night at the TEXSOM Grand Tasting

An impressive statement and high praise, especially considering the owner of those words. Shortly after the best “Sommelier in Texas” was named at the TEXSOM Grand Tasting last night Master Sommelier, Fred Dame, shared his compliments to the event, saying it is quite simply the best in the country. In the wine world Mr. Dame is an authority, sitting on the board of the Court of Master Sommeliers, traveling throughout the country, and world, to taste and experience. To hear these words for TEXSOM was high praise, but well served.  TEXSOM has grown into one of the largest conferences dedicated to the continuing education and instruction of both industry professionals and novices and helping raise public awareness of the professional standards and certifications for sommeliers.

TEXSOM Co-Founders James Tidwell, MS CWE and Drew Hendricks, MS CWE
TEXSOM Co-Founders James Tidwell, MS CWE and Drew Hendricks, MS CWE

This past weekend over 800 visitors descended on The Four Seasons Resort and Spa, Las Colinas for the 10th annual TEXSOM, the multi-day conference celebrating all things wine, started by James Tidwell, MS CWE and Drew Hendricks, MS CWE to help educate those in the hospitality and beverage industries, as well as those simply interested in wine and spirits through a series of seminars led by some of the most knowledgeable in the field. This year the dominant number of attendees were in the beverage trade, attending seminars led by 39 Master Sommeliers, 10 Certified Wine Educators and 6 Masters of Wine that focused on subjects ranging from perfecting your coffee program in your restaurant to delving into the wines of Chile, South Africa, and Portugal.

I was pleased to see a seminar on the agenda focused on Franciacorta, the quality sparkling wine region in Italy that, by using traditional French methods, rivals some of the best Champagne houses. I had a chance to visit Franciacorta just a few months ago and, as noted in a post here, I fell in love with both the wine and the people. I was glad to see this session on the agenda as hopefully the attendees will fall in love too and put more of these sparklers on local restaurant lists.

A selection of stellar Rhone wines poured at the TEXSOM Grand Tasting
A selection of stellar Rhone wines poured at the TEXSOM Grand Tasting
Joelle Cousins seconds after the Best Sommelier in Texas award was announced
Joelle Cousins seconds after the Best Sommelier in Texas award was announced

In addition to the two days of in-depth sessions, there was a massive test going on behind the scenes to determine the “Best Sommelier in Texas.” This annual competition has been won in recent years by Scott Ota of Arro in Austin, who most recently became an Advanced Sommelier with The Court of Master Sommeliers, and Ryan Tedder of Grailey’s in Dallas. Last night, TEXSOM named Joelle Cousins of Red Room Lounge in Austin the best sommelier in the state. Cousins beat out 25 other contestants to win the prestigious award, which includes a $2,500 scholarship from from the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation that enables her to continue her wine education.
Bravo to Joelle and to all who competed in the competition.

A new 100% Pinot Noir Cava from Codorniu debuted at the Grand Tasting. It is set to arrive in Dallas stores by the end of September.
A new 100% Pinot Noir Cava from Codorniu debuted at the Grand Tasting. It is set to arrive in Dallas stores by the end of September.

When I asked Co-Founder James Tidwell about celebrating 10 years of TEXSOM, he humbly replied that he and Drew realize that none of this would happen without the active participation of everyone involved: their behind the scenes TEXSOM team, the knowledgeable presenters, wineries, spirit companies, sake houses, breweries, tea and coffee producers, and water providers that support the effort.  James’ employer, The Four Seasons Resort and Spa in Las Colinas, has backed TEXSOM from day one.

Tidwell also thanked those who have been with the conference from the start with a special shout out to Jean Arnold of Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma. I first learned of Hanzell at TEXSOM probably 10 years ago and had a chance to visit not long after. One of the most beautiful Sonoma County properties producing simply stellar Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Just one of the many great places I learned about at TEXSOM.

hanzell