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

Jim Ames

by , Event Manager, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

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.



  • WOW! That is incredible. I am very much interested in learning more about wines and I would definitely love being a sommelier. Bravo to Disney for continuing to reach for the highest achievements.

  • Very interesting information, Brian. Do you if there are any advanced and/or master sommeliers at WDW?

  • WOW This class sounds magical? Is it a possiblity for the average person to take one of these classes/courses? Could it be set up as a “class” for people to attend?

  • Best Hidden Mickey ever. Fantastic.

  • I noticed the Hidden Mickey in this photo as soon as a looked at it! Very cool and creative!

  • Great Hidden Mickey in this photo. Bravo.

  • I always get the wine pairing at Napa Rose.

  • You guys have serious talent and dedication that’s for sure. There is a very friendly waiter at the Napa Rose Restaurant named Poe. I believe he is a Sommelier at the Disneyland Resort, but I am not sure as to which level he is at. Regardless…he is one of the reasons my family and I continue to visit the Napa Rose Restaurant annually.

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