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November 13, 2009updated Feb 11, 2013

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge’s Stephen Clark Earns Elite Wine Honor

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

After endless hours of preparation and five days of intense lectures and examinations, Stephen Clark was officially named Advanced Sommelier. Clark is one of eleven sommeliers who successfully passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Exam, administered October 26 to 30 at the Bellagio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Through the test, the candidates demonstrated an advanced understanding of wine theory, the beverage service industry, and a highly sophisticated tasting ability that few in the world possess. With the Advanced Exam success under his belt, Clark is now permitted to make a run at the highest sommelier designation in the world, that of Master Sommelier.

Clark has been with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company since 2001 and works as the resident wine expert, Sommelier and Director of Banquets at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia. He attended Baltimore Culinary College, is a graduate of Disney’s Culinary Apprentice Program and has had professional wine training through the International Sommelier Guild.

49 candidates in total sat for the recent exam, one of three Advanced Exams to be offered by the Court this year. The Advanced Examination is exponentially more challenging than the prerequisite Introductory Sommelier and Certified Sommelier examinations, demonstrated by the 22 percent passing rate for this elite group. Achieving the level of Advanced Sommelier leaves only one challenging step before these dedicated wine aficionados can earn the coveted title of Master Sommelier, which has been achieved by only 168 professionals worldwide.

“I continue to be amazed by the dedication and talents of the sommeliers who commit to the Court’s educational program,” stated Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “I commend the successful Advanced Exam candidates and look forward to watching them strive for even greater knowledge in the years to come.”

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