Hai Tran, sommelier of the Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina, has received his Advanced Sommelier certificate by the Court of Master Sommeliers, one of only 13 individuals nationwide to pass the notoriously difficult exam this July.
Tran’s background in science with a degree from Duke University no doubt prepared him for the rigors of the three-part test. It assesses proficiency in all topics of the wine world and prowess in fine-dining service, and concludes with a deductive tasting test to properly identify grape variety, origin, and age based on clues of sight, smell, and taste.
“Hai’s Advanced Sommelier certificate is a great individual achievement and it is wonderful to see him meet a personal goal that so appropriately reflects his skills,” says Jim Beley, general manager of The Umstead. “Our food and beverage program benefits immensely from Hai’s stewardship and expertise.”
Since assuming his post in 2011, Tran has greatly influenced the hotel’s award-winning wine program. In 2013 he introduced the Coravin wine extraction technology and expanded The Umstead’s wines-by-the-glass menu to include special label bottles.
The system now gives patrons greater flexibility to pair distinctive wines with each course of their meal, such as a glass of 2005 Araujo from Napa Valley’s Eisele Vineyards for $67, compared $530 for the uncorked bottle. Tran is also the brains behind Umstead Uncorked, a popular monthly wine program. His next class on Thursday, July 31, will focus on new wine varietals for summer entertaining, with small plates from Herons’ culinary team at the ready.