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Varietals, Viticulture, Vineyards…Oh My! The Extensive Education of a Disneyland Resort Sommelier

posted on January 24th, 2011 by Jim Ames, Manager, Food and Wine Events, Disneyland Resort

Last time I introduced you to what it means to be a sommelier at the Disneyland Resort. Each of us has made the commitment to provide outstanding guest service. But how does one become a sommelier? It’s takes a great deal of education, rigorous testing and a lifetime quest to always keep learning.

Selected cast members are given the opportunity to participate in a sommelier education program that is unique to the Disneyland Resort. The seven-month program was developed as a way to help prepare for the exams given by the Court of Master Sommeliers. The class is conducted weekly, but that is just the start; groups meet often to study and quiz each other on the countless wine varietals, styles, laws and regions. There is a great camaraderie amongst the students as they encourage and support each other, and delve into this difficult and vast study material. Since its inception, more than 500 cast members have been a part of the program.

Varietals, Viticulture, Vineyards…Oh My! The extensive education of a Disneyland Resort Sommelier

Although anyone can refer to themselves as a sommelier, at the Disneyland Resort only those who have passed an exam given by the Court of Master Sommeliers may do so. The Court of Master Sommeliers is an international organization that was established in 1977 to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. There are four levels of sommeliers: Introductory, Certified, Advanced and Master. Each level requires far more knowledge and is far more difficult than the last requiring great dedication and study to pass the next level of exams. Currently there are only 174 Master Sommeliers IN THE WORLD and 106 here in the United States. The Disneyland Resort currently has five Advanced Sommeliers preparing to take their Master level exams. Once they receive an invitation from the Court, they will participate in a rigorous three-day testing process that includes wine service, verbal exams covering virtually any village or vineyard throughout the world, every wine varietal, international wine laws, service standards, and – ultimately – the ability to blind taste and correctly identify six wines in 24 minutes!

As a Certified Sommelier I have only begun my quest to become an Advanced Sommelier. As I continue to study and learn, I hope you’ll come along for the journey. Join me in my next posts as I introduce a few of my fellow Sommeliers here at the Disneyland Resort.


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Try the Tasty New Menu at the Village Haus

posted on January 13th, 2011 by Jim Ames, Manager, Food and Wine Events, Disneyland Resort

Since 1983, the Village Haus Restaurant at Disneyland park has been a great place to grab a bite surrounded by the fun and whimsy of Fantasyland. Recently, the location reopened with a spiffy new look. Today the update will be complete as the Village Haus debuts a new menu.

Village Haus Restaurant at Disneyland Park

The menu features many fast-casual options that guests have enjoyed over the years including hamburgers or cheeseburgers with french fries or a healthy side, and pepperoni or cheese pizzas. With a playful nod to the uniquely European flavor of the restaurant, many new and reimagined items have been added as well.

Chicken Sausage

Topped with sauerkraut served in a pretzel roll

Angus ⅓ lb. Pastrami Cheeseburger

Angus chuck burger, pastrami, pickles, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, lettuce and a creamy horseradish sauce

BLT Flat Bread Pizza
Thin flat bread crust, cherrywood-smoked bacon, provolone and mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions, marinated tomatoes and arugula-fennel salad

I cannot lie, for me no meal is complete without dessert, and the Village Haus is offering a perfect way to top off your visit with either a Black Forest Cupcake or Warm Apple Strudel.

Kids ages 3-9 have their own menu choosing from a hamburger, pizza or macaroni and cheese, all served with sliced apples and a choice of a small low-fat milk, Minute-Maid juice or small Dasani water. There truly is something for everyone as toddlers under age 3 can choose “Yummy Cheesy Macaroni” served with smooth applesauce and a small low-fat milk.

On your next visit to the Disneyland Resort let your conscience be your guide and Hi-Deedle-Dee-Dee your way to the Village Haus restaurant in Fantasyland to try all the fun and delicious new offerings.

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What It Means to Be a Sommelier at the Disneyland Resort

posted on January 10th, 2011 by Jim Ames, Manager, Food and Wine Events, Disneyland Resort

If you have ever experienced a great glass of wine while dining at the Disneyland Resort, chances are you were assisted by one of our many sommeliers – more than 165 throughout the Resort.

For years the image of a sommelier has been stuffy and intimidating. Sommeliers are typically wine stewards who are trained wine professionals and work in fine restaurants. At the Disneyland Resort, we try to take that stuffy image and put a friendly, welcoming face on it. I’m a Certified Sommelier and, come on, don’t I look friendly?

We are eager to help demystify the world of wine, act as your personal guide as you navigate a wine list and most importantly, assist you in selecting the ideal wine based on your personal preferences or meal selection.

Sommelier at Disneyland Resort

The sommeliers at the Disneyland Resort go through a rigorous training regimen, and for me at times it felt more difficult than college! We are also required to pass a series of exams given by an esteemed panel of Master Sommeliers. Over the next few weeks I’ll chat more about our training as well as introduce you to a few of my fellow sommeliers. I’m excited to have the opportunity to share with you my passion for both great food and wine.

Whether you consider yourself a wine expert – or you’re just beginning to explore the artistry of bottled poetry – the sommeliers at the Disneyland Resort are here to help. Don’t be afraid to ask. As your newest Disney Parks Blog author, and as a certified sommelier, I look forward to introducing you to our program and our expertise.


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