About Christopher Bates, Master Sommelier

Christopher Bates, MS, has spent over 15 years in all aspects of the hospitality industry, lending him a well-rounded perspective of all facets. Christopher and his wife own F.L.X. Wienery and Element Winery, and are currently opening F.L.X. Table (a small restaurant focused on a communal tasting menu format) and F.L.X. Culture House (a nano-brewery focusing on sours and barrel aged beers) in the Finger Lakes.

From a very young age cooking has been a large part of Christopher’s life. After falling in love with sushi as a three year old, it was no surprise to find him making every week by the time he turned 8, nor where the baguettes, croissants and pretzels he had become obsessed with. Growing up in a rural farming community, cooking became more than just a way surviving, it was a passion.

At the age for fourteen Christopher started working in restaurants, first as a dishwasher, then as a busboy, server and eventually as a cook. After choosing to attend the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, it became obvious that this passion was also to become his career path. As a freshman, Christopher spent the majority of his time as a cook at the Statler Hotel, where he had the opportunity to learn from a number of influences. It was also at this time that he started to get interested in wine. Already a fan and student of single malt scotch, he was encouraged to learn more about wine when his father Robert (co-owner of Element Winery) gave him a Wine Spectator to read. With the influences from professors and peers at the Hotel School, Christopher became obsessed with not only wine, but beverages as a whole, adding to his obsession for food and cooking.

Years of experience in the industry have taken Christopher around the world and given him experience in many facets of hospitality, including front of house, back of house, hotel and restaurant management, wine production, ect, and it is no surprise that his passions and interests encompass all things hospitality.

Previously as General Manager & Executive Chef of Hotel Fauchère, Relais & Chateaux he over saw the 16 room hotel and four restaurants. Prior to his time at the Hotel Fauchère he spent four years at the Inn at Dos Brisas, Relais & Chateaux, where under his direction as General Manager and Sommelier they won numerous honors such as Mobil/Forbes 5 Stars, Relais & Chateaux, Relais Grands Chefs and were named one of the 100 most exciting wine programs in the US from Wine Enthusiast, an award that he won again at the Hotel Fauchère in 2013.

In 2012 Christopher was named Best Young Sommelier in the World after winning Best Young Sommelier in America previously in the year. He went on to win TopSomm 2013, Americas most important sommelier competition, before passing his Master Sommelier Exam in May 2013, making him the 199th person in the world to do so, and the first to ever pass as a working Executive Chef.

Christopher and his wife Isabel have settled in the Finger Lakes region of New York with the intention to be a part of the growing hospitality industry, and be a part of moving the region into being a top wine country destination.