California Sommelier Earns Advanced Certification

At the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, situated 23 miles from the San Francisco International Hotel, sommelier Petra Polakovicova passed the Court of Master Sommeliers' Advanced Sommelier Exam. She is now one of only 325 Advanced Sommeliers in the United States.

"We are extremely proud of Petra and her dedication to her craft," says James Cole, hotel manager/director of food and beverage for The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. "Petra's passion for the industry and clear enjoyment of helping others learn more about wine make her the perfect ambassador, and we are truly honored that she will continue to share her knowledge and enthusiasm with our guests here at the resort."

The Advanced Certification Exam is a three-day exam that was taken by 47 candidates from 23 states and three countries. Polakovicova was one of seven candidates to pass and one of four that passed taking the exam for the first time.

"Taking this exam was one of the most difficult things I have ever done," Polakovicova says. "When the Master Sommelier called me in and told me that I had passed, I was so excited. It was such an incredible feeling."

The Advanced Examination is exponentially more challenging than the Certified Sommelier Examination, and a required step in the progression toward the Master Sommelier Diploma. Sommeliers are expected to have a high level of preparation in terms of theory knowledge, blind tasting skills, and practical restaurant service before sitting the class and examination. 

The Court of Master Sommeliers was established to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. 

Polakovicova's vision crafts the wine and beverage program for the entire luxury Half Moon Bay resort including the signature restaurant Navio, the wine tasting room ENO, The Conservatory, and The Ocean Terrace. 

A native of the Slovak Republic, her passion for food and wine was cultivated by her parents who she says taught her appropriate dining etiquette, how to properly set a table, and how to be the best host to your guests—all important components in the sommelier exam. Polakovicova earned her Sommelier Certification from the Professional Culinary Institute and also holds certifications including Wine & Spirits Education Trust Intermediate Certificate and French Wine Scholar.

Polakovicova started her restaurant career at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco as an assistant restaurant manager, and her love for working in the food and wine industry has taken her to such acclaimed establishments as The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco and the W San Francisco. 

Most recently, Polakovicova was instrumental in the opening of Epic Roasthouse, where she was responsible for creating and maintaining the 450-bottle wine list and rotating a selection of 26 wines by the glass, earning the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.

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