From Marketing to Wine: How She Became A Certified Sommelier
The road to becoming a Sommelier can be different for everyone, but what most paths share is an interest in wine and a desire to pursue your passion. The same can be said for our 2019 Outstanding Sommelier Award Winner, Vanessa Da Silva. What began as a curiousity while studying abroad in Florence grew into an undeniable passion for wine, and ultimately a career change into the hospitality industry!
See what Vanessa’s path was to becoming a Certified Sommelier and her growth in the wine industry below.
Vanessa Da Silva grew up in rural Maine. Upon graduating from high school, she attended the University of Maine, but yearned for more. So before her senior year, she seized the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy at the Lorenzo de’ Medici School. During her time in Europe, she enrolled in a recreational wine class which sparked her interest to learn more.
When she returned home from Florence, she continued to pursue her degree in Marketing, but that didn’t stop her from exploring her new found love of wine. While in her last year of college, she began working at a local business called State Street Wine Cellar where she began to develop her knowledge of wine.
Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing & International Business from the University of Maine in 2009, Vanessa pursued the career in marketing she set out for. But, she quickly realized her budding interest in wine was more than a hobby. In 2012, she got a job as a waitress and bartender at Zack’s Oak Bar & Restaurant while she patiently waited to enter the newest chapter of her life.
In late 2012, Vanessa decided to pursue her passion for wine and enrolled in our Intensive Sommelier Training program! By January of 2013, she had completed the course, passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier examinations and was ready to head into the industry with the credentials to begin her career.
Vanessa’s first job after ICC was as the Assistant Sommelier at Estiatorio Milos. Here, she helped to manage the wine list and cellar, learning the ins and outs of the industry. In this capacity, she helped to recommend wines and serve at least 500 guests a night.
After Estiatorio Milos, she rose through the ranks and became a Sommelier at Megu. But, she didn’t just help to manage the wine list—she also looked after the sake list and other beverage selections. Through assisting on the floor with all aspects of the beverage program at Megu, she grew her understanding of what it meant to be a Sommelier.
After some time at Megu, Vanessa was ready for a change. In March of 2014, she happily returned home to her alma mater to become ICC’s Wine Studies Coordinator. Under the guidance of our Dean of Wine Studies, Scott Carney, MS, Vanessa helped to coordinate the curriculum for the Intensive Sommelier Training program which she had completed just one year prior!
Towards the end of 2017, Vanessa decided it was time to return to the restaurant industry. She began a stage at Beasts & Bottles in Brooklyn—co-owned by Intensive Sommelier Training program instructor, Alex LaPratt, MS—to get back into the swing of the fast paced world of restaurants.
After a few months staging at Beasts & Bottles, she took a job that was perfect for her— Sommelier at Ninety Acres in Far Hills, NJ. Since 2017, she has continued to thrive in this role through assisting on the floor and interacting with customers, while also educating the staff on wine selections for the Chef’s Tasting Menus. Most recently, Vanessa was selected as one of 18-sommeliers in the world (and one of only 4-American sommeliers) to attend the New Zealand Wine Sommit 2019.