Philippe Faure-Brac is president of the French Sommelier Association (UDSF Union de la Sommellerie Française). He was first elected to the three-year post in 2016 and was recently re-elected through November 2022. Faure-Brac, who earned the title of Best Sommelier of the World back in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, has long been a high-profile representative of the profession. He has published numerous books and hosted or appeared on many television and radio shows, helping extend the French association’s ability to perform public outreach.
Q: The UDSF currently has 1,300 members, which in many ways is a remarkable number! Yet if compared with Japan, that figure seems less impressive, especially where France is regarded as a cradle of the profession. How do you understand this phenomenon?
The population of sommeliers is quite large, with approximately 1,300 of them being members of the Association of Sommeliers.
Japan has in part achieved such fantastic membership numbers because they put a big focus on success and achievements within that association. Individual sommeliers have many chances to gain recognition.
In France, the long history and remarkably high regard for the profession sets the bar much higher for any individual member of the association looking to gain those same levels of recognition.
Q: How do you see the role of the association in the profession and what has changed since you have been president of the UDSF?
The purpose of my job, together with all 21 regional presidents, is to promote improvements to training, greater recognition for the profession and in providing restaurants with sommeliers.
Q: What are your plans for the future (of the association)?
The role of the association can be summed up in three points: to train, to inform and to federate.
Q: What is the biggest challenge sommeliers in France are facing today?
The renewal and the development of the association depends on young people.
Q: What is your plan to attract more sommeliers to join the UDSF?
We are very involved with the Ministry of Education on raising awareness about the profession. Thanks to the hard work of our PR team, we have improved the informational circuits on our site and established various networks, a national newsletter and access to traditional media.
Our aim is to encourage young professionals to become sommeliers and to involve them in association life as soon as possible through support, especially during training.
The scholarship system provides the opportunity for some of them to receive financial support for their studies.
Many partners have joined us in implementing various projects.
Finally, we see a need to be federated, because a status of incorporated with common purpose is the only way for us to advance our activities and to promote the future of our profession.