Sommelier Society of America
The First Wine Teaching Institute

The Sommelier Society of America Homepage

The Sommelier Society of America is the first professional wine and education organization in the U.S.


The Sommelier Society of America

The First Professional Wine Organization in the US



About SSA

The Sommelier Society of America (SSA) is the first professional wine organization in the US. In 1954, a group of New York City restaurant workers convened at the legendary 21 Club with the goal of educating each other about the influx of fine wines flooding the city from all over the world. Comprised of veteran wine waiters from the city’s top restaurants, they were the first American sommeliers with the expertise and fluency to guide diners through the increasingly complex wine lists.

Continuing the tradition, the SSA today is a locus for top-notch wine education courses in New York City. Unlike other certification programs, the SSA course is designed for serious wine professionals who want to study the trade in one of the most thrilling and eclectic wine markets in the world.



Robert Ross Moody

Robert Ross Moody has been in the wine and spirits industry as a consultant, journalist, importer/owner, supplier, wholesaler and retailer, in California and New York City.

Mr. Moody, originally from San Francisco, is a resident of Greenwich Village, NYC. He became Chairman of the Sommelier Society of America in 1999. Prior to his appointment, he was invited to develop the first Italy Wines Class for the Sommelier Certificate Course (previously known as the "Captain's Course") and instructed it for eleven years.

As a journalist and renowned expert in Italian wines, single malt scotches and cognac, Mr. Moody has been invited to numerous international events; In 1993 The Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac selected him to tour the Chateaux of Cognac; in 1998 he was invited by Produttori d’Asti Associati  to participate in “Weekend in the Vineyards of Asti” in Canelli, Italy, a seminar for worldwide wine journalists; that same year, V & S Corporation of Sweden selected him to write about a symposium of Aquavit producers.

In addition to his journalist activities, he has also lectured and consulted extensively; over one hundred single malt scotch lectures in the USA, also cognac, Tequila, rum and vodka.

Since 1992, Mr. Moody has given over one hundred lectures to over 1000 New York sommeliers on Italian wines. He was a consultant Duggan’s Distillers for over 12 years, and Campari USA for five years. An avid collector, he has a vast and unique collection of rare single malt scotches, cognacs and rums.



Director of Education

Rüdiger Eilers

Rüdiger Eilers was born in Freiburg, Germany (the home of the Gutedel grape), and grew up in Bad Godesberg, Germany (Rhine Riesling land).

He moved to New York in 1991, and has been in the wine business since 2001, representing a number of fine wine importers who focus on Austrian, German, and Italian wines, currently John Given Wines.

Rüdi earned his Sommelier Society Certificate with Distinction, and has been an instructor since 2011. He conducts tastings throughout the boroughs, organizes food & wine pairing dinners, frequents wine fairs throughout Austria, Germany, and Italy, and has a share in a vineyard in Piedmont, Italy, where they primarily grow the Barbera grape. Rüdi instructs several classes for the Sommelier Certificate Course including Germany, Austria & Central Europe, our three Italy classes, Southern Italy, Tuscany & Central Italy, and Piedmont & Northern Italy.



Class coordinator

Betty Pallis

Betty Pallis is the Class Coordinator, and resident photographer for The Sommelier Certificate Course.

You will meet Betty the first day of class, and be greeted by her each morning with class handouts, tasting sheets, and a multitude of course related information.

A Distinguished Alumna of the Sommelier Certificate Course, class of 2011, her goal in life is to retire on the Cinque Terre where she can wake up to Prosecco in the morning, Gavi di Gavi at lunch, and a robusto Barolo at dinner.