American Sommelier offers its curriculum of wine education, which includes the “Foundation” and “Viti Vini” wine programs. They also host seminars and classes, tastings, and networking opportunities for its membership to enhance knowledge and skills and to promote a vibrant wine community.
Founded in 1998, American Sommelier Association (ASA) was one of the first sommelier accreditation bodies in the United States. They developed courses designed for wine enthusiasts, fans, and industry professionals with the unique goal of sharing knowledge and enthusiasm for wine. It was a national, non-profit organization dedicated to wine education and supporting the role of the American sommelier. The ASA was internationally affiliated with the prestigious Association de la Sommelerie Internationale.
Co-founded by Marnie Old and Andrew Bell, two widely respected sommeliers, the program was highly successful. It had thousands of alumni in New York City and across the United States. It also was a place with a reputation as female-friendly at a time when the sommelier trade was still male-dominant. The graduate list includes sommeliers Ivy Stark, Zwann Grays, and Jessica Certo.
The ASA also hosted the biennial “Best Sommelier in America” competition that recognized excellence in the wine service industry. The award was cited by many publications, including the New York Times, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler. Marnie moved on to other projects in the past decade, and the “Best Sommelier in America” award was retired. The ASA changed its name to “American Sommelier” and stopped offering sommelier accreditations. As of this writing, the last review of the school was in 2013 on Yelp. They are no longer listed as a non-profit agency by the IRS (they are still listed as a non-profit by New York).
Andrew Bell became president of American Sommelier in 2010. Since entering the industry in 1987, he has built a career as a respected wine educator and businessman. Before ASA, he launched Wine Symphony, a wine consulting and import company, in 1996. He represents many wineries, including Modus Operandi (Napa) and Domaine Frédéric Lornet (Loire). Andrew Bell graduated from San Francisco State University, where he studied cognitive psychology. He has three children and lives in New York City. In his downtime, he enjoys photography and playing golf.
The sommelier certification corresponds to the Court of Master Sommeliers and the National Wine School. In 2009, the wine writer Joe Czerwinski wrote “The Alphabet Soup of Wine Education,” which included the ASA. These days, the field has grown much smaller. The ASA is one of the programs to have fallen off the stage. Their programs are still honored but are no longer offered.
With all the bad press the court of master sommeliers is getting, I wanted a somm program that fit more in with my own values. This is definitely on my radar.