Rising Star Sommelier James Tidwell of Café on the Green - Biography

Irving, TX

November 2011

As the son of a fundamentalist preacher, 2007 Rising Star Sommelier James Tidwell spent his early years in a small town in Louisiana. But neither circumstance nor location would prevent Tidwell from getting serious about wine. At Louisiana State University, Tidwell started cooking and developing an interest in all things culinary, but graduated with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in International Trade and Finance. After a nine-month stint in Germany, Tidwell returned to the states and began his wine career, enjoying the learning process at Grapevine Wines & Spirits in Little Rock, Arkansas, whose no-pretense atmosphere began to shape Tidwell’s approach to wine.

Still interested in the composition of dishes and culinary techniques, Tidwell enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, earning a degree with honors as well as a strong culinary sensibility when pairing food and wine. His hunger for education led him to several wine certifications, including Certified Wine Educator administered by the Society of Wine Educators, the Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and the Advanced Course of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He was awarded the Society of Wine Educators Banfi Award for the highest score of those passing the exam in the first attempt for 2003. In August 2005, Tidwell was elected to the Society of Wine Educators Board of Directors. The same year, Tidwell and his friend Drew Hendricks, sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Dallas, founded the Texas Sommelier Conference.

Before joining The Four Seasons, Tidwell worked at Restaurant Serenäde in Chatham, New Jersey, and Erna’s Elderberry House in Oakhurst, California. He is sommelier at Four Seasons Resort and Club on the outskirts of Dallas in Irving, Texas, where he oversees the wine program for all outlets of the resort. In 2009, Tidwell became one of only a handful of Texas sommeliers to pass the Master Sommelier exam.