The NYT article published yesterday has generated quite a tidal wave in the wine industry. The article exposed the rampant problem of sexual harassment, predation and abuse by several Master Sommeliers directed at aspiring sommeliers going through the CMS program. So many people (both men and women) immediately expressed their support and acknowledged these allegations which proves the gravity and prior awareness of this problem. However, the one organization whose response is the most important seems to have failed us yet again. I’d like to address a few things from the CMS statement that was released yesterday:

  1. They “appreciate and applaud the courage it took to come forward.” I resent this cheap sentiment as these men have no idea what that really means. The victims risked everything to go on record. We wouldn’t have had to put ourselves in this situation to speak out if the Court had taken the appropriate actions in the first place to stop these men. Instead their only concern was protecting their reputation and pristine image. The only previous consequence the CMS levied against these Masters in light of accusations was for them not to be allowed to specifically examine these respective women. To be clear, the Masters could still participate in examinations and perform the duties and job of a master sommelier. This demonstrates that the CMS was WELL AWARE of these allegations and the extent of the problem, but chose never to address them in the appropriate manner. This neglect left us victims no choice BUT to come forward in this very public manner. …

Liz Dowty Mitchell

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