Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers Resigns, Entire Board Will Be Put Up for Election
As accusations of sexual misconduct mount, the organization says major reforms are in the works.
The reckoning at the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, is far from over. Initially, last week, seven male members of the exclusive wine certification organization were suspended pending a “hearing process” after a New York Times investigation published in late October uncovered disturbing patterns of sexual misconduct in the group’s education program. Three more Master Sommeliers were suspended last Friday, with an eleventh member—Geoff Kruth—choosing to forfeit his title after facing his own accusations. Amidst the upheaval, and with the Court’s entire board facing pressure to resign, the Times approached the group’s chairman—Devon Broglie—with fresh allegations of his own misconduct. He has since resigned as well, and the court has announced plans to put all of its 15-member board up for election.
“The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas recognizes that it has failed its membership, our industry, and most importantly, the women who bravely shared their stories,” the organization posted to its website on Friday. In a letter to members, board vice chair Virginia Philip added, "We agree that a reformed CMS-A is the only path forward to ensuring the organization's existence and integrity, and to better protect the people who look to be educated and earn the credentials for which we have all worked so hard," according to an excerpt published by Wine Spectator.
The next election for members of the board was originally scheduled for this week—November 11—but that vote has now been postponed. Instead, the Court is reportedly planning a town hall with members to discuss organizational reforms including a rescheduled election where all seats on the board will be up for grabs.
In the short-term, however, Broglie is already out—with the chairman position completely scrubbed from the Court’s site. According to the Times, in his resignation letter, he wrote, “I deeply apologize to all the women whose lives and careers have been negatively impacted by the predatory actions of any Master Sommelier. I put my best effort forward in changing the course of the organization, I recognize that my effort fell short.”