Food has always represented something far bigger than just nourishment in my life and the addition of wine has only added a fulfilling complexity. My passion for hospitality stems from a desire to expound upon the joy I feel when in the engaged service of others. I did not get into this industry simply because I love food or wine. First and foremost, I have a passion for people and I have found that when enjoying a thoughtfully prepared meal, you get to see people in their most genuine state.
For me, the transition from school to the real-world has presented many challenges, but never-losing sight of my vision is what has kept me pressing forward. I have worked hard over the last eight years building my network and have never leveraged them as much as I am now. I like to consider my network as my team; just as they have had my back through my journey, I would likewise support any of them in theirs. This bond has confirmed for me that relationships are the driving force for greatness. No one can tackle the world alone, and surrounding myself with like-minded individuals has given me with the tools necessary to act.
What is more, without having completed the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, I would not be who or where I am today. This full-on immersion program not only gave me a solid foundation that further developed my vision, it also added an immense depth to my character that I wouldn’t trade for anything. To those who suspect that they are meant for the hospitality or culinary industry, I would strongly advise them to consider educating themselves first. For those hesitant or intimidated by an education specifically in wine, I would implore you to just try it out. Wine is a gateway to endless amounts of information in relation to language, culture, and much more. From it, I have found that I am able to engage with far more people than ever before. What better way to have a discussion than over a glass of wine?
During my training, I learned about soil as if I were a pedologist, studied culture as if I were becoming a historian, in many cases all while trying to open a bottle of Pol Roger’s 2002 Sir Winston Churchill. The learning environment was intimate, and it allowed the Master Sommeliers to spend more time with each of us, assuring that we all received what we individually needed to succeed. Looking back, the most impactful moment for me at ICC was receiving my certification from The Court of Master Sommeliers. On that day, being in a room full of like-minded men and women was intoxicating, and the energy was truly pure with excitement. After 15 weeks of intensive study, I felt as if I was only getting started.
My first job came along soon after receiving my Sommelier Certification. I spent two years as the Beverage Director at Sabio on Main. This job allowed me to not only apply what I had studied, but also immerse myself into the region of Livermore Valley. As it turned out, operating as the buyer for such a notable establishment was a sure, fast way to garner relationships and further ground my network. Additionally, spending everyday interacting with the community showed me the growth potential of Livermore Valley.
Today, I am involved with many projects. At Nottingham Cellars I act as a Branding Strategist working alongside winemakers and the marketing team to build and publish digital media campaigns. Nottingham Cellars is positioning themselves as industry leaders in Livermore. They have three of the best winemakers in the valley in Colin Cranor, Craig Sploof, & Alex Wolfe. Their wines are bold, daring, and progressive while offering a unique and focused sense of place in each bottling. We are in a unique place in time where social media has allowed us to speak directly with our target audiences and consumers, so it is exciting to bring this into my work.
As the Livermore Regional Ambassador for Which Winery, the world biggest winery-based travel site, my objective is to engage and work with wineries to create unique consumer experiences. The company’s goal is to connect people with wineries all over the world. As an ambassador, I hope to use this platform to shed light on this beautiful region.
As the Administrative Consultant for Sidewinder, a new social lounge project by John Kinney of Occasio Winery, my tasks include team building, culture development, beverage management, concept design, developing membership program, conceptualizing digital branding strategies, and publishing an event catalog. The winemaker, and now distiller, David Hendrickson, not only makes the best Rosé in the valley, but he also makes incredible spirits now.
In order to stay sharp and connected to my industry, I also work as a Bartender for a new restaurant called Range Life. Chef Bill Niles comes from Michelin rated Tartine and is elevating the standard in which food is viewed here. Behind the bar, I can remain engaged with guests and see firsthand their perspective on the concept of the food and beverages coming together.
Having compassion and maintaining consistency have been the biggest contributors to the opportunities I have had thus far. One of the best pieces of advice I have received is that “you are always on the clock.” To me, this means that we shouldn’t only be hospitable when we are at work. It represents a steadiness that must be maintained whether you are being paid or not. For me this quote is a subtle reminder that work should not be the reason why I act as a thoughtful, respectful, and mindful individual. These traits originate from my upbringing and my belief that we are all in this together and are responsible for the betterment of one another.
All in all, my experience at ICC enabled me to approach career progression with an excitement and confidence that I hadn’t had prior. Right now, I am very much in the process of setting myself up to enjoy what I do for the rest of my life. It is heart-breaking to think that so many of us are almost forced to spend over 3,000 hours a year working in industries that don’t inspire us. Considering the fact that we live in a world where digital media has given the everyday consumer the ability to brand themselves in ways not available before, many of us are enabled to share and, in some cases, monetize our passions. While there are still so many of us struggling to find our way, I believe that over the next decade “loving what we do” will not be such a foreign concept.