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Local Master Sommelier Stripped of Title Following Sexual Misconduct Allegation

City & State, Featured

Sommelier pouring a glass of wine. | Image from Boris_Kuznets

According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle, a Dallas wine expert is losing his title. This sanction comes after a New York Times article reported allegations of sexual misconduct brought against him and other master sommeliers.

Per The Dallas Morning News, the Court of Master Sommeliers announced on Wednesday that all six master sommeliers accused of sexual misconduct would no longer be members of the prestigious wine group after an external investigation of the allegations.

Drew Hendricks, the co-founder of TEXSOM, a Dallas-based wine conference and awards competition, is one of the master sommeliers stripped of their titles.

While the “court” did not provide details of the allegations against each of the sommeliers, it did mention in its announcement that the six stand accused of sexual misconduct ranging from “inappropriate comments and flirting to nonconsensual touching and exploiting a mentoring relationship for a perceived quid pro quo.”

Hendricks and the five other master sommeliers who will lose their titles — Fred Dame, Fred Dexheimer, Joseph Lindler, Matt Stamp, and Robert Bath — have thirty days to appeal the decision.

After the thirty-day window, they will lose their membership and not be allowed to participate in any related activities. They will also no longer be allowed to use the title “master sommelier.”

Master sommeliers are rare and the title is difficult to earn, having to blindly identify wines by type, region, and even the vineyard where it was made. Only 274 people in the world have earned the Master Sommelier diploma.

According to a report from The Dallas Morning News, James Tidwell, with whom Hendricks co-founded TEXSOM in 2005, said that Hendricks hadn’t had any ownership in the organization since the publication of the New York Times article in 2020 News. Tidwell also denied that Hendricks had any other involvement with the organization since that time.

“Once the article came out and things were brought to light, he was no longer involved,” Tidwell said, according to The Dallas Morning News.

It is unclear if any criminal charges have been brought against any of the sommeliers or if law enforcement will have a formal investigation into the accusations.