While working on his M.A. in psychology, Eddie Osterland became fascinated with the world of wine. So much so that he altered career paths and became the United States' very first Master Sommelier.
His unique story began in the 1960s, when wine in the United States was not what it is today. Truth be told, at the time there were actually more orchards than vineyards in the Napa Valley. To receive the best instruction available he would be forced to move overseas.
France's University of Bordeaux offered the world's premier wine education, however Osterland did not speak the language. Not to be deterred, he moved to France to study the language for nine months just so he could enroll. For each hour spent in the classroom, it took him three more just to translate the lessons. Four grueling years later he had attained the highest wine accreditation in France, the D.U.A.D, roughly translated as a professional tasting degree.
Not satisfied with this remarkable accomplishment, his internal drive to be the best took him to London where he sat for and passed the Master Sommelier exam. By doing so, he became the very first American to be awarded this revered title. Since Osterland earned this honor 35 years ago, only 86 other Americans have been able to wear the pin of a Master Sommelier.
Osterland has manifested this pioneer spirit by fusing his psychology background with his singular understanding of wine to create a package of services for corporations called "Power Entertaining with Food and Wine."
"I'm part speaker, part educator, and part entertainer," said Osterland. His splashy engagements have served some of the greatest corporate names in the United States including American Express, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup.
Power entertaining is all about introducing premium strategies that will allow his executive clients to impress corporate and personal guests on the same high level at which they have excelled at in the business community. Osterland explained, "My services are not about food and wine as much as they are about developing relationships with clients."
His signature tool to commence a corporate retreat or seminar is his "Passport to Wines of the World." During this exercise he pairs specific foods and wines and stations them throughout the room while arming each guest with a passport to each station. Osterland invented this format to create physical movement around the room which provides an improved opportunity for attendees to get to know each other in an enjoyable atmosphere.
When addressing groups as a keynote speaker, Osterland specifically avoids preaching the straight and narrow. "I'll never tell people how food and wine taste," he said. "Each of us has their own palate and should connect their own dots." He will, however, arm his listeners with some useful insight about how to get the most out of tasting wine and combining it with food to assure a lasting impression when entertaining.
Four decades after the courageous decision to become the first American Master Sommelier, Osterland continues to be on the leading edge of the industry. Last year alone he performed at more than 100 engagements, including events as far away as China. "I'm thrilled with what I do," said Osterland.