The Olympics in Rio aren’t the only serious competitions going on this week. Monday night, Rachel DelRocco of Camerata at Paulie’s claimed the title of the 2016 TexSom Best Sommelier. She earned the honor in a grueling competition at the 12th annual Texas Sommeliers Conference (TexSom) at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas.
DelRocco bested 24 wine pros from all over Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma in a demanding wine test that included heats in proper fine dining service, a written exam, and a blind tasting. This year nine competitors from Houston tested their mettle in the annual rite of passage for intrepid sommeliers. It is seen not only as an excellent way to stand out at TexSom, the most prominent and influential wine education conference in the U.S. attended by more than 1,200 people, but also as a valuable means to getting ahead in their careers.
“The competition was a great way for me to see what I’m capable of and to gauge the work I’ve put in,” says DelRocco. “I hope this will help me connect with more people and open opportunities to keep learning in the wine industry. I’m thankful for this chance and I’m honored to win.”
Third place winner, Lindsay Drew, sommelier at Lonesome Dove in Austin, also sees the competition as a practical path to self-improvement, saying, “The competition is a great way to push myself to be a better somm. By preparing to compete here, I’m exponentially better at my job than I was a year ago.”
DelRocco receives a scholarship of $2,500 from the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation to be used for a Court of Master Sommeliers certification program. Runner up David Donalson of Classified Wines in Euless landed a $1,500 scholarship, and Drew took home a $1,000 scholarship.