Written by Daisy Martinez
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing IST grad Alan Lane recently about his experience at ICC and his transition from a U.S. Army officer to a Certified Sommelier. His passion is so infectious; I decided to let him enthrall you with the story of his journey in his own words.
Early interest in wine: As an English Literature major at Auburn University in the 1990s choosing wine at the supermarket or even at wine shops was a mystery to me. Red? Yes. White? Not really. Rose? No, thank you. I wanted to know more, but I didn’t really know where to start. Those of us in the industry know that this a common predicament for many consumers. “Windows On The World” was the first book I used to try and educate myself. It wasn’t until I decided to transfer to the Reserve Component from the Active Duty Component as a U.S. Army Officer effective April 1, 2015 that I thought I would pursue a career in the wine industry following release from Active Duty.
The Transition – In November of 2014 my Commander gave me permission to work part time in a local Colorado Springs wine shop, Coaltrain Wine, Spirits, & Craft Beer. I wanted to know more, to be better, and that’s when I read about the 10 week Intensive Sommelier Program at the International Culinary Center. My wife, daughter, and I toured the New York campus. I knew it was meant to be. Under the direction of Scott Carney, MS and other Master Sommeliers our class worked diligently to master our craft. We bonded, we got to know each other, debated, tasted, searched together in the city for new wine lists, retail shops, experimented with pairings, blind tastings, industry tastings, the lot! Our class now stays in contact mostly via social media, and I have visited Napa and Sonoma with friends I met in the class, visit my friends from class in NYC when I’m in town, and this is one of the best parts of the program at the ICC. The camaraderie of the Sommelier Program is the closest thing I have found to parallel the camaraderie and esprit de corps of the military. There is a common bond, a common goal, and a common passion found in the both the wine industry and the armed forces.
Fruition – I’ve worked in retail, distribution, and hospitality in both New York City and Colorado Springs. Currently, I work as the Sommelier at 2South Wine Bar in Colorado Springs, CO. Working as a Sommelier, with the Chef, the owners, my co-workers in front of house and back, helping diners find the right pairing or simply a unique wine to enjoy that they’ve never had, that’s where I find satisfaction. After deploying to Jalalabad, Afghanistan as an Infantry (Pathfinder) Platoon Leader in 2008-2009 I wondered if I would ever find the kind of kinship, the kind of common bond that I found with the Soldiers with whom I served. The hospitality industry, the wine, spirits, and beer industry, they have given me the same opportunity to work closely with like-minded, driven women and men who share a passion for providing value added experiences to our clients, consumers, and diners. Without the Intensive Sommelier Program at the International Culinary Center I don’t know how quickly I would have found my place. My experience there was unforgettable, and I encourage anyone, especially veterans who are interested in a career in the industry to check out the ICC. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made.