Michael Flynn earned an undergraduate degree (B.A.) in French from Middlebury College in 1977, graduating cum laude, with High Departmental Honors. He continued his education in French and linguistics at Georgetown University, Washington, DC During this period he became involved with the Washington Sommelier Society, where he attended lectures and tastings, and enrolled in the annual Wine Captain’s Seminar, a rigorous twelve-week course on wine tasting, service, and theory. He finished by scoring first in his class. Always an avid gourmet cook, his love for fine wine was then guaranteed.
His first professional opportunity to work with wine came in 1988, when he was offered the chance to run a small but eclectic wine program for an upscale Washington restaurant called New Heights, an establishment which flourishes to this day. After nearly two years, he was offered the opportunity to work with one of America’s finest chefs, Yanick Cam at the famous Le Pavillon (now late and lamented), where as sommelier he presided over a Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning cellar of over 65,000 bottles. It was there that he developed a lifelong love of fine Burgundy, and under the expertise of Chef Cam he quickly became known as one of Washington’s most ardent wine professionals. Later, he took over the position of Sommelier/Floor Manager of the The Occidental, a Washington landmark, where he earned Awards of Excellence and consistent critical praise for three years in a row.
Mr. Flynn then signed on as Wine Director and Sommelier at Kinkead’s, also in Washington. Kinkead’s opened to considerable anticipation on October 1, 1993, and has gone on to earn just about every accolade and award accorded a fine restaurant, including the Mobil 4 stars, 4 DiRoNas, Washingtonian’s Blue Ribbon award five years in a row, five Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence, New Restaurant of the Year Award from the RAMW, and Restaurateur of the Year from RAMW. Chef Kinkead won the James Beard Award as Best American Chef, Mid-Atlantic Region, in 1995. In the spring of 2000, Kinkead’s also garnered the coveted Ivy Award.
Mr. Flynn has been described as Washington’s "best known, best loved sommelier" (Washingtonian, August 1998), and "one of America’s finest sommeliers" (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, December, 1997.) In the fall of 1998, a Food and Wine poll of a group of experts voted Kinkead’s Best American Wine List in the nation’s capitol. Gourmet followed suit, and voted Kinkead’s Best For Wine in its 1999 Reader’s Poll.
Mr. Flynn has written numerous articles for, and conducted interviews with publications such as The Washington Post, Wine Spectator, Santé, Food and Wine, The American Institute of Food and Wine, The Wall Street Journal, and Washingtonian.
In 1996, after passing a rigorous series of advanced examinations with the British Court of Master Sommeliers, he became an active candidate for the Master Sommelier Diploma, which has been awarded to only 40 Americans and fewer than 90 people worldwide in the 30-year history of the organization. To date, Mr. Flynn has passed two out the final three exams towards that goal.
In the spring of 2000, Mr. Flynn was nominated by the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Wine Service.