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Richard Betts

Recognized as one of the leading authorities on wine, spirits and dining, Richard, a Master Sommelier, is credited with creating some of the most influential wine and spirit brands hailing from three continents and five countries. From the wild southwest of Tucson, Arizona Richard managed to escape the old pueblo and complete his undergraduate studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Along the way, a sabbatic in Italy opened the door to the wonders of food, wine, and a pedestrian lifestyle (that’s to say, one uses their feet often.) During this time, the wine bug bit and Richard began to appreciate wine as the Europeans do, which is, as he says: “as a grocery and not a luxury.” Upon return to the States Richard continued along the prescribed path of environmental law which included; a stop at Skadden Arps, a sojourn on Capitol Hill clerking for the honorable Dennis DeConcini (D, AZ) and a graduate thesis at Northern Arizona University. Despite managing to gain admittance to law school, the consumption of a bottle of regular old Chianti, changed Richard’s mind, direction and, ultimately, his parents’ enthusiasms. Thus, the JD was forsaken and he jumped head-long into the world of food and wine. Richard’s first job in wine was as sommelier of Chef Janos Wilder’s restaurant where they won a James Beard Foundation award in 2000. In June of 2000 Richard joined the Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado and continued to build the WineSpectator Grand Award winning wine list. During this time Richard garnered a second M.S. and the “Krug Cup” by passing the Court of Master Sommelier’s Master’s Exam on the very first attempt - becoming only the 9th person to do so and one of only 200 Master Sommeliers recognized in the world today. In the wake of his post-MS myopia Richard founded his first wine company, Betts and Scholl with partner Dennis Scholl. His first vintage of “the OG” Barossa Valley Grenache (2001) gained recognition as the “Star Selection” of the Best New Wineries in the World for 2004 from Food and Wine magazine. Since then his wines have won top praise from national publications including the WineSpectator and the International Wine Cellar, among others. Richard also created and co-founded Scarpetta Wines in 2006 and Sombra Mezcal in 2007. In 2009 Richard sold his interest in Scarpetta Wines and he and Dennis sold Betts and Scholl to Castle Brands, a public company. Today, Richard is guiding Sombra Mezcal and his newest wine projects “Saint Glinglin” from Bordeaux and “my ESSENTIAL” from California and Provence. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Selling “The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert”, a kids book for adults (October 2013.) His next collaborative book is “The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Whiskey” coming Fall, 2015. Today Richard travels extensively and does the laundry in Boulder, Colorado. Connect with Richard online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram