8 Oct 2021

When William Wouters won the presidency of the Association de la Sommellerie (ASI) in November, 2020 he did so on a promise of change. According to Wouters “I think all of us involved in the first ever ASI BOOTCAMP in Poland wrote a milestone in ASI history. With the new administration we proposed the idea during our campaign, and we made ASI move from a competition driven association to one that supports sommelier education.  It was an idea that didn’t seem possible, but at once became reality because of a lot of goodwill from a lot of people… our national presidents that supported the idea, the attendees, the tutors, our ASI partners, the ASI team that executed the idea and of course, our host the Polish Sommelier Association.”

ASI BOOTCAMP in just three days held more than 20 Master Classes and Partner Master Classes in addition to 5 tutored blind tasting sessions for a select group of 45 top sommeliers from across Europe and Africa. According to event co-organizer (with Maria Laura Ortiz) and ASI Vice-President Europe Piotr Kamecki “what originally seemed easy to organise, turned out to be an endless list of small details to prepare. However, with a good team, we managed this challenge brilliantly. The team consisted of 9 people, of which the first essential phase of preparation was carried out by only 3 dedicated volunteers. The key was good planning, high competence and dedication, which, as we know, is not an easy thing in a catering business operating at full speed after Covid closure. Congratulations to the Polish Sommeliers Association team for pulling this off.”

Master Classes and Partner Master Classes were taught by a who’s who of the wine world including Miguel Torres Jr. and Harry Symington along with a top lineup of ASI instructors including Raimonds Tomsons (Latvia), Hee Sung Park (South Korea), Sören Polonius (Sweden), Heidi Mäkinen MW (Finland), Marc Almert (Germany), Piotr Pietras MS (Poland), Veronique Rivest (Canada), Mattia Antonio Cianca (Italy), and Fabrice Sommier (France).

The value of the event was not lost on ASI partners. According to Chris Yorke, CEO of Austrian Wine “it’s been great to reconnect with Europe’s top sommeliers at this exclusive educational event format in Warsaw. Innovative, insightful, and intense as it should be nowadays. We are glad we were able to showcase our best Austrian wines at dinner and masterclass and to get such a positive reaction for them.”

ASI BOOTCAMP will be held once a year, rotating between ASI’s continental home bases. Next year’s event will be held in Asia, while the 2023 event is scheduled for the Americas.