Tips To Grow Your Beverage Program

This month, our Business Bites Resources—brought to you by ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship (CE) program—provides tips for food businesses looking to bolster their drink menu.

the panelists from the eventAt the beginning of November, members from the culinary community gathered for a panel to discuss the importance of having a beverage program in your restaurant that gets customers back to the bar.  The four panelists were experienced members of the culinary and beverage industry, including Jason Hedges, Bar Director of Gotham Bar & Grill and Partner of BarIQ; Noah Rothbaum, Editor of Half Full from The Daily Beast; Nora Favelukes, President of QW Wine Experts; and Vanessa Da Silva, Sommelier at Ninety Acres.

In the discussion, they shared their tips for creating and managing a successful beverage program, as well as how to turn your drinks into dollars. We’ve gathered some of their tips for success below!

Specialty Cocktails Drive Sales

Our panelists all agreed that specialty cocktails can drive sales and bring in new customers, while increasing margins for the business. Not only are cocktails experiencing a renaissance among bar scenes, but they can also be a fun and visual “Instagram-able” feature on your menu, increasing brand awareness. One tip that we learned from our experts—using fresh juice not only makes a cocktail more delicious, but is surprisingly a way to save money as it can be cheaper than buying expensive pre-made mixes.

Invest in Ice

For most guests, their first experience in a restaurant is ordering a cocktail, so why not take your cocktail to the next level? Ice is a daily requirement in all restaurants, and a universal ingredient in bar drinks. Despite its importance, ice can often be overlooked. Many bar programs are turning to ice blocks, specialty cubes and more to provide a better appearance and experience for their customers. In the end, the cocktails look better, but can also taste better as ice that is higher in quality won’t dilute a cocktail with water as fast.

Bar Software

Bar software can make or break a restaurant in today’s world. According to San Pellegrino, 100% of US restaurants on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list are using a software called BinWise. In addition to these restaurants, Jason Hedges and Vanessa Da Silva, both panelists that work in the restaurant industry, also use BinWise to manage their restaurants inventory and more. There are many other options on the market, so the key is to find a software that works for your business. In the end, bar software programs can increase time saved during inventories, help to gain insights into what products are being poured the most, create a database to have information readily available, and help to recapture lost money.

ABOUT BUSINESS BITES

The BUSINESS BITES, brought to you by the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at ICC, is a series of workshops, discussion panels, networking events and resources designed to support entrepreneurs in the food industry.

Friuli wine

Friuli Venezia Giulia— What to Know About This Lesser Known Wine Region

wineFriuli Venezia Giulia, the north-eastern most region in Italy—with coastal lands, mountains, and characteristic rocky soil—is perfect for wine-making. Though the fifth smallest region in Italy, it produced 18.2 million cases of wine in 2017 alone. Friuli Venezia Giulia is most well-known for their white wines, which happen to be some of the best that Italy produces. Amazingly, 77% of the 18.2 million cases were white wines in 2017.

Friuli Venezia Giulia is also a highly complex region. For thousands of years many different empires battled to control the region, which has resulted in a diverse culture that contributes to the environment where the wine is grown. Between the Romans, Venetians, French, Austrians, Italians, and many more, each have left their mark and changed the development of wine produced in this region.

Cristina from VIASToday, the wines continue to evolve and change throughout the region. Even though many consider it the best white wine region in Italy, there are many other characteristics that contribute to its great wine-making success. So, what makes this small region in Italy so unique? Read below to find out what Vias Imports taught us about the region.

Soil

The soil of Friuli Venezia Giulia, particularly in the Collio region, is known as Ponca in the Friulano dialect, or Flysch in specific geological terms. This soil is found throughout the region and is comprised of marls (chalky clay) and sandstone, two substances which make soil very rocky. Rich in calcium carbonate and alkalinity, the soil helps to give the strong mineral notes and aromatic complexity in many of the wines from this region.

Even though Ponca contributes to the region’s most desired wines, it does have its downfalls. In rainier years it becomes prone to landslides and can destroy entire sections of vineyards in an instant.

Despite it’s notorious difficulty, winemakers have a particular fondness for it due to its ability to produce wines so unique to the region: rich in texture, high in acidity, but still balanced through the acidity.

Climate

The region is characterized by a unique geographic location; on the edge of the Mediterranean climate, marked by the meeting of the Julian Alps mountains and the Adriatic sea. The climate can change in any area of the region at any moment, which can make for unique vintage’s and an ever-changing growing process.

Each of the growing areas in the region tend to have a wide variety of climates, which makes for varying wines. In the Collio DOC near the Slovenian border, the hilly land protects the vines from the cold winds and the close proximity to the Adriatic Sea helps to contribute to a mild and temperate climate. These temperature fluctuations heat and cool the soil which helps to ripen the vines to perfection, making for one of the most unique growing areas in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Native Grape Varieties

students at the wine tastingMany of the growing areas have grapes that are native to the region. Although many wine growing regions also have native grape varieties, the history of Friuli Venezia Giulia is what makes the native grapes so interesting.

Ribolla Gialla, a tart wine with a hint of salinity, is one of the ancient native varietals from the region, first mentioned in a medieval deed of sale dated to 1299. Long considered one of Italy’s greatest wines, it was appreciated by the nobility of Germany and Venice in the 13th century.

The most beloved wine of the Friulan people, aptly named Friulano or Tocai Friulano, has been a part of the wine-making tradition in this region for centuries. Evidence of this indigenous grape in Friuli dates back to the 12th century. Originally, many thought it was from Hungary, while others argue that it originated in Italy. Interestingly, experts recently found a wedding document that confirmed the grape came from Italy. In 1632, countess Aurora Formentini went to Hungary to marry Prince Adam Batthyany, and brought him “300 grapes of Tocai” as a wedding gift. The native Friulano grape has grassy aromas, similar to Sauvignon Blanc, although they are not related. It has fresh, ripe fruity flavors, that are balanced by herbaceous notes.

Prosecco

Prosecco is More Complex Than You Think

Champagne and Prosecco are undoubtedly the two most popular, iconic, and widely recognized sparkling wines in the world. Prosecco can often be seen as an imitation to Champagne, but they are actually very different wines with different public images. While Champagne is seen as a luxury and expensive, Prosecco is perceived as casual and inexpensive. While 307 million bottles of Champagne were sold in 2017, Prosecco had a staggering 510 million bottles sold, proving the rising popularity of Prosecco among consumers.

This month, Alan Tardi, award-winning wine author, joined us for an enlightening discussion comparing Champagne and Prosecco. He taught us about the obvious differences, while focusing on the many fundamental aspects the two wines have in common. Prosecco is commonly perceived as Champagne’s imitation, but they are actually very different wines. Fundamentally, they have different grape varieties, growing areas, and even production methods. Through the tasting, we understood what makes Champagne and Prosecco unique wine categories, while also showcasing the commonalities that they share. Read below to find out more about the similarities and differences of two of the most famous sparkling wines!

Prosecco being poured

Alan Tardi

In The Beginning...

Attendee looking at wineWhile Champagne and Prosecco achieved their fame and notoriety as sparkling wines, both originated as still wines when they were invented hundreds of years ago. There are many wines in the world that are direct imitations of Champagne, like Cava, Cremant and Franciacorta, but it is important to know that Prosecco developed along its own separate parallel path to become its own distinct wine.

Growing Area

The growing areas of both regions are highly diversified and complex, with major distinctions between each part. But, that is where the similarities seem to end! There is only one Champagne appellation, but there are three for Prosecco. These appellations include Colli Asolani DOCG, Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, and Prosecco DOC.

Prosecco map

Transition from Sweet to Brut

Prosecco being pouredBoth Champagne and Prosecco began as sweet wines, and they both made their major US debut inside of a cocktail. Champagne Cocktail and Champagne Punch was introduced during the first half of the 19th century, while Prosecco via the Bellini was introduced in the 1970s. Even though Prosecco was introduced and is known as a brunch-y drink, there are many different styles of Prosecco. These styles include sweet, bone-dry, sparkling, still, and unfiltered, and can all be used and enjoyed in different ways.

Business Bites raise the bar with your beverage program

Business Bites: Raise the Bar with Your Beverage Program

The BUSINESS BITES SERIES, brought to you by the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at ICC, is a series of workshops, discussion panels and networking events designed to support entrepreneurs in the food industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.

BUSINESS BITES: RAISE THE BAR WITH YOUR BEVERAGE PROGRAM

DEVELOP AND MANAGE YOUR WINE, BEER & SPIRITS

Thursday, November 1st | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

Turning your beverage program into a profitable venture for your business takes a lot of hard work, but with the right knowledge and dedication, it can be the key to your restaurant, bar or food business’ success and longevity. From preventing over pouring to curating the best cocktail, beer and wine lists for your audience, learn how to navigate some of the common mistakes that many restaurants make, and understand the impact that your beverage program can have on your profitability.

So what do you need to know to turn your drinks to dollars?

Join us for an informative discussion with experts in the beverage industry—including wine directors, beverage consultants, bar owners, and distributors—to help make your beverage program more liquid. Our panel of experts will share tips and tools for getting started, how to grow and manage your beverage menu, finding the right solutions for your restaurant or bar, and more. You’ll also have ample time for networking and the opportunity to learn how ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program can take you from concept to business plan & pitch in just 6-weeks!

MODERATOR

Alek Marfisi, Upwind Strategies
Alek Marfisi – Owner, Upwind Strategies & ICC Entrepreneurship Instructor

Alek Marfisi is a native New Yorker with a passion for building things and helping people. After working advising small businesses for five years, Alek launched Upwind Strategies in 2015 with the mission of providing deeper and more relatable services to small businesses: the anti-business-school services firm. He previously worked with the NYS Small Business Development Center where he dove into the exciting intricacies of making entrepreneurial projects a reality. Since then, Alek has logged more than 11,000 hours working with small businesses and has been recognized as one of the top drivers of economic development in the country.

PANELISTS

jason hedges
Jason Hedges, Bar Director of Gotham Bar & Grill and Partner of BarIQ

Jason Hedges is a New York based wine and spirits professional and the Bar Director at Gotham Bar and Grill. His consultancy, Bar IQ, helps new and existing bar and restaurant concepts achieve ultimate quality and profitability. Jason is a judge of both wine and spirits for The Ultimate Beverage Challenge and also sits on the tasting panel for Wine and Spirits Magazine. Jason has developed award winning beverage programs for multiple Michelin rated restaurants in NYC. He is passionate about creating quality.

Jason is a Court of Master Sommelier’s Certified Sommelier, and has also successfully completed the Beverage Alcohol Resource’s intensive course and is certified with distinction.

noah
Noah Rothbaum, Editor of Half Full from The Daily Beast

Noah Rothbaum is the editor of The Daily Beast’s Half Full section. He also hosts the podcast Life Behind Bars with legendary cocktail historian David Wondrich.

In addition, Rothbaum is the author of the book The Art of American Whiskey: A Visual History of the Nation’s Most Storied Spirit, through 100 Iconic Labels and the associate editor of the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails. Rothbaum’s first book, The Business of Spirits: How Savvy Marketers, Innovative Distillers, and Entrepreneurs Changed How We Drink, was published in 2007.

According to Chicago magazine’s chief dining critic, Jeff Ruby, “Rothbaum knows drinking like Newton knew gravity, but he’s not all high and mighty about it, creating laws and whatnot.” And The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog called him “one of the smartest tipplers (and writers on spirits) we know.”

He is the former editor-in-chief of Liquor.com, and has contributed to the Wall Street JournalNew York TimesO MagazineDetailsMen’s JournalMen’s FitnessFood & WineGastronomica, and more.

Nora Favelukes
Nora Z. Favelukes, President of QW Wine Experts

Leading Expert on Imported Wines to the United States, Influencer, Spokesperson, Presenter and Moderator.

Wine expert with years of international experience; equipped with rare understanding of the inner workings and complexities of the U.S., South American and European wine industries. A skilled spokesperson, moderator, negotiator and a natural diplomat.

Ms. Favelukes entered the wine trade in her native Argentina in 1984. Her early professional credits include the post of Export Director at Bodegas Navarro Correas, Argentina. In 1988, she moved to the United States to work as East Coast Sales Manager for Vinos Argentinos. In 2000, she became National Sales Manager for Billington Imports – where she was responsible for the introduction of Bodegas Catena. And, from 1995 through 2001 she was Director of Fine Wines for Palm Bay Imports.

Today, Ms. Favelukes is President of QW Wine Experts, a consulting firm she launched in 1995, which is dedicated to the nationwide public relations, marketing and sales of imported fine wines to the United States market.

Professional credits:
•Past-President of the Wine Council of Argentina in the United States
•Guest lecturer on South American Wines
•The Foreign Service Institute in Washington DC
•The Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University
•New York City College of Technology on South American and Iberian Peninsula

urce’s intensive course and is certified with distinction.

IMG_20180825_151954_551
Vanessa Da Silva, Sommelier at Ninety Acres

Vanessa Da Silva grew up in rural Maine. While studying abroad in Florence, Italy, she took a recreational wine class and became enamored with wine.  After graduating from the University of Maine with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing & International Business, Vanessa pursued a career in marketing but soon realized her budding interest in wine was more than a hobby. Vanessa completed the Intensive Sommelier Training Course at the International Culinary Center in January of 2013 and simultaneously passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory and Certified exams.

After several years working as a Sommelier in Manhattan restaurants, Vanessa returned to the ICC where she took on the role of the Wine Coordinator, working on the educational side of wine. In 2017, Vanessa decided to return to the restaurant industry and took on a role at Ninety Acres – a farm-to-table restaurant in Pepack, New Jersey. Vanessa is currently honing her Sommelier skills as she prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Examination.

Barrel of Sherry

Certified Sherry Wine Specialist Seminar

Lustau, maker of top quality Sherries, presents a brand new wine certification available to all wine students and aficionados: the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist. Offered by Lucas Payà, Certified Sherry Educator and Lustau’s Brand Educator, this brief course offers Intermediate Level study material that has been reviewed and approved by the Regulatory Council of Jerez.

After many successful SOLD OUT workshops, ICC has partnered with Lustau again to host certification classes in both NY and CA. Buy your tickets below!

Saturday, October 6th
10:00am-12:30pm
International Culinary Center
700 West Hamilton Ave | Campbell, CA 95008

Cost: $40 per person

Thursday, November 15th
3:30pm-6:00pm
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St, 5th Floor | New York, NY 10013

Cost: $35 per person

EVENT DETAILS

The program consists of a 2.5-hour class that includes:

    • Instruction on the history, geography, climate, viticulture, wine-making, and wine styles.  When studying the styles of sherry, students will learn about their differences, pairings, and best ways to serve.
    • A tasting of 6 wines, including all the basic styles (Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, and Dulce).
    • A 28-question test, graded after the course to award the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist recognition to those with a passing score of 20 or higher.

The Certificate of Achievement will be signed by both Lustau’s CEO and César Saldaña, Director of the Regulatory Council of Jerez. They will be numbered and a list of those that passed the course will be shared with the Regulatory Council.  A Certificate of Recognition will be issued to those that do not achieve the passing grade but only signed by Lustau.

Attendees must be at least 21 years of age.

James La Mar

Alumni Profile: James La Mar, Sommelier ’11

James La Mar is a 2011 graduate of the Intensive Sommelier Program at ICC’s Campbell, California campus. Like most students who enroll at ICC, James was looking for a career change and for something that he was passionate about. Before coming to ICC, he remarks that he was “all over the place,” mostly doing odd jobs to keep him occupied. He started with no experience, very little knowledge, and no contacts in the industry, but he knew that choosing ICC would give him the proper foundation to start and advance in the competitive world of wine.

After graduating, he spent 6 years working part time at the now closed Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits in Menlo Park, mostly helping out during the busy winter season. The store was over 100 years old and was one of the most important family owned wine shops in the history of California. He shares that he’s very glad to have been a small part of a wonderful legacy.

Fast forward to today, he now owns Grape Obsession, an apparel and accessory brand geared towards Sommeliers and wine fanatics.T Shirts from Grape Obsession James manages everything within the business, including creating designs, managing social media content, website maintenance, book keeping, sales, and everything else you can possibly imagine. With Grape Obsession, James aims to help his fellow Sommeliers show their passion through fun apparel and accessories, while helping new Sommeliers establish themselves in the industry—donating a portion of the profits to scholarships that benefit Sommeliers on their quest for knowledge and self-improvement. 

When asked about a piece of advice he would give to someone wanting to pursue an education in wine, he says “the only people who don’t succeed in life are the ones who never try.  Even if failure is a high possibility, do it anyway.  The struggle alone will make you a better person.  If you know in your heart that you want to do it, stop over thinking it and just do it.”

Before starting Grape Obsession, James tried on many different hats in the wine industry, including sales, wine retail, and even working as a sommelier and wine steward to find his best fit. He also believes that working in different parts of the industry is an important learning experience for any Sommelier, and helps to develop a sense of the bigger picture and where you fit in. Below is his take on the pros and cons of each profession in the industry.

Retail/Tasting Room

Wine retail is an especially great place in the industry if you are new to the business and still trying to figure out where you want to go.

Pros:

  • The wine buyer makes sure that you taste almost every wine that sales reps bring, which allows you to develop your palate.
  • Physically inspecting the bottles and the boxes as they come in helps put a lot of your wine theory into practice and gives a lot of needed context.
  • The hours you work would mostly be normal business hours, allowing for a decent work life balance, though you should expect to work some holidays.
  • You will be meeting a lot of wine sales reps; working in retail gives you some great contacts if you want to move into sales later on down the line.

Cons:

  • Working in the day means that you may have less opportunities to go to industry tastings and trade events that normally happen during the day on weekdays, unless you work your way into a management or wine buyer position where attending trade events is a part of your job.
  • Due to the nature of working in retail, you will be expected to work many weekends and holidays.
  • Entry pay is also lower in retail, though as you move up through management, compensation can range from average to above average.
  • Lastly, work can be humbling as you will be expected to work a cash register, lift heavy wine boxes, stock shelves, break down boxes, and clean floors, windows, and displays.

Sales & Distribution

If you have a competitive spirit, sales can be an exciting area of the industry to work in.  As a salesman, you will be responsible for motivating yourself to meet with wine buyers, taste products, make sales calls and write emails, and schedule your daily tasks weeks, sometimes months, in advance.  Being in sales is brutal especially if you are new to the game, but if you stick with it and persevere, there is a great sense of pride and accomplishment when you develop your territory and build strong lasting relationships with your buyers.

Pros:

  • This is great if you enjoy being a self-starter and working unsupervised.
  • You will have more work life balance, even though you will be extremely busy, and you will have more opportunities to see friends and family at night and on holidays.
  • There can be opportunities to travel for work to represent your brand or attend staff training trips.
  • You will be meeting frequently with clients and wine buyers, so you will be able to build a strong network within the industry.
  • You will also be responsible for supporting your accounts by leading tastings and classes on your products for their staff, which is fun as it allows you to pass on your passion for the brands you represent.
  • Earning potential is higher in sales. Because you are paid mostly by commission, you have the opportunity to make as much money as you are willing to work for.

Cons:

  • If you don’t have a strong competitive nature, sales can be difficult.
  • In sales, you will be faced with constant rejection; you will have to be able to take criticism of yourself, and the brands you represent, in stride.
  • As a sales rep, you will also be expected to be the problem solver for each of your accounts. The delivery truck missed a case of wine that your account needs for the weekend?  Stop by the warehouse and take the case directly to the account yourself.
  • You will need to check up regularly on your products at retail stores or check in with restaurants to see how they are doing on inventory. If the product is moving slowly, it is your responsibility to help the account make the product a success by offering to teach classes to the staff, making store marketing materials, etc.
  • It will also take some time before the money starts to come in, usually a few months to a year of building your territory up, so make sure you have a financial cushion when you start out.

Sommelier/Wine Steward

Are you a night person?  If you are, being a Sommelier may be the career path for you.

Pros:

  • Working nights frees up hours during the day to pursue many productive facets of your life, including having ample time for exercise, running errands, going to wine industry tastings and study groups, and most importantly having time to study.
  • Guest interaction is one of the greatest benefits, as there is great joy to be found in putting the needs of others in front of your own
  • You will also have certain management responsibilities, including staff training and assisting on the floor of the restaurant, which builds up leadership experience.
  • The amount of wine you try as a Sommelier is far greater than any other job in the industry— you will constantly taste exotic wines from your vendors, during restaurant service to make sure they aren’t corked, and at many different industry trade tastings that you will be invited to.
  • As you move up into a wine buyer role as a Sommelier you can also be invited to luncheons and occasionally have opportunities to be sponsored to travel to wine country by your vendors, your employer, or industry publications.
  • You have the job of building a wine program, which allows you to be creative and develop skills in purchasing.
  • Earning potential can range from average to above average as you normally will be making tips, though as you come up in the industry and move into a wine director position, earning potential can be even greater.

Cons:

  • Working nights and holidays is a challenge for anyone in the restaurant industry. You should prepare your friends and family that you’ll be working on a completely opposite schedule than most of them.
  • Like any job in the public sector, you will be dealing with people and will need to develop finesse to serve all guests.
  • Being a Sommelier is a very social line of work— you need to be comfortable with talking to complete strangers and charming them.
  • You will need to know how to manage a team and treat everyone with respect.
  • There are non-glamorous parts of the job, like carrying 40 pound cases of wine, counting inventory, publishing a wine list, and understanding the restaurant and the needs of your guests so that you make appropriate purchasing decision

Unlike other industries where moving around from different types of work can be a detriment to your resume, the wine industry appreciates job applicants with well rounded work experience, as the skills you build in different lines of work are often transferable and show that you have a passion for everything about wine, including the parts that are sometimes difficult or uncomfortable.  It is important for any Sommelier to be well rounded and to have a variety of experience in the industry in order to succeed in the long run.

Check out Grape Obsession’s awesome apparel and accessories here: www.grapeobsession.com and be sure to follow them on social by clicking on each icon below!

Jeremy

An Unapologetic Passion for Wine

 Written by Jeremy Troupe-Masi, 2016 Intensive Sommelier Graduate

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.

JeremyAll 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.

5 Diverse Argentinian Wine & Food Pairings for Summer

Written by: Vanessa DaSilva
ICC Wine Studies Coordinator
Certified Sommelier

Chef & Sommelier Pablo Ranea is as warm & welcoming a presence as the diverse wine from Mendoza that he represents. Chef Pablo has the unique experience of being both a Chef & Sommelier in the heart of Mendoza; and being so, Chef Pablo knows better than most the great diversity that Argentinian wine has to offer.

1. Spicy empanadas with 2015 Filus Torrontés, Salta IG

Torrontés is a white grape variety that is most often found in the Salta region of Northern Argentina. Its tropical aromas of ripe peach, lychee and honeysuckle balance spicy flavors & its refreshing acidity contrast well with the crispy texture of the fried dough.

2. Grilled octopus with 2013 Corazon del Sol ‘Luminoso’, Uco Valley IG

This red wine from the high altitude vineyards of the Uco Valley (over 1,00 meters) is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre & Syrah, grapes commonly found in Rhone Valley blends.  The high altitude vineyards give an almost light body & beautifully balanced characteristics to this wine with flavors of cured meat, ripe plums, and just a touch of cigar smoke, those gamey smoky qualities will make a lovely pair with grilled octopus and the round acidity from the Syrah grape will cut through the fattiness of the Octopus.

3. Chocolate Tart with 2013 Gauchezco ‘Oro’ Malbec, Mendoza IG

This is not your typical Malbec! This single vineyard wine is reserved & complex with notes of ripe blackberries, toasty nutmeg, savory tarragon, and potpourri. You read that right, we’re suggesting dessert with this red wine! Try a bitter chocolate tart with berry coulis, a rich chocolate flourless cake, or red wine poached pears with lots of spice. The fruitiness of this wine will help it to compliment the sweet aspects of the dessert, and the soft tannins will make the bitter chocolate taste even sweeter, keep the dessert on the savory side & it should be a beautiful pair.

4. Lamb & grilled endive with 2014 Gascón Malbec Reserva, Mendoza IG

This malbec has 3% Petit Verdot giving a ripe wine with aromas of plum & jammy blackberry firm structure and lovely aromas of violets & freshly turned earth.  The gamey nature of lamb & smokiness from the grilled endive will contrast the ripe nature of the wine while also complimenting the more earthy tones. A great pair for grilling on a warm night.

5. Goat Al Asador with 2014 Rutini Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec,  Mendoza IG

This wine from the Tupungato region of Mendoza is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon & 50% Malbec. It is warm, full & complex with tones of purple flowers, smoky tobacco, cloves & cured meat. Chef Pablo told us about the traditional method of cooking goat ‘Al Asador’ where the animal is stretched out & roasted slowly over an open flame. This slow roasted gamey meat will pair beautifully against the soft tannins & complex nature of the wine.


James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Andrew Zimmerman

After graduating first in his class from the French Culinary Institute, Zimmerman went on to work in various kitchens before landing a position at 2Senza in Red Bank, New Jersey. Working for three years under his mentor, Chef Renato Sommelia, the rising star chef packed his bags for the Midwest upon accepting a position along Chef Sandro Gamba at Park Hyatt Chicago. In 2004, Zimmerman met restaurateur Terry Alexander, who hired him as Executive Chef at MOD, and after his stint at MOD, the duo opened the widely-acclaimed del Toro. Zimmerman later returned to the Park Hyatt as the chef de cuisine at NoMI, under Chef Christophe David. In 2008, he was introduced to Emmanuel Nony, and the next year, Nony offered Zimmerman the executive chef position at Sepia. At this West Loop restaurant, this rock star chef integrates modern American and traditional European influences into dishes that blend complex textures and flavors with and clean, elegant presentations—sort of like a tight riff on a classic melody.

Nomination: Outstanding Wine Program (Sepia)

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here.  

It Takes A Village – The Support System of ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training Program

Written by Jared Gniewek
Intensive Sommelier Training Program Student

I am blessed to have support from many different avenues as I stumble through the ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training Program. I couldn’t imagine going it alone with the sheer amount of information we need to absorb and engage with. Wine is the quintessential rabbit-hole that gets deeper and deeper the further in you explore.

My family, employer, friends, students and faculty at the school create a support system from which I’ve benefited in some vital ways. Frankly, I don’t know if I could succeed on my own. The proverb is “it takes a village to raise a child” and I would extend that sentiment to myself becoming a pinned and certified Sommelier.

My family, who pushed me to begin the program, has truly been there for me. My wife has been the dutiful wine-widow as our schedules clash throughout the program. She hasn’t pressured me to drop hours at my day job or slack on my studies to spend more time with her and the cats and the endless streaming entertainment which haunts all our homes nowadays.

My Aunt, whom I saw at Christmas, received a Coravin as a gift. It was bonus wine tasting time while I showed her how to operate it (prime that needle folks!) and got to dig into a pretty elegant Burgundy 1er Cru followed by a brassy Napa sledgehammer.

My employer at the wine shop has adjusted my schedule to accommodate the class as well as allowing me to have anything in the store at cost so I can expand my palate without breaking the bank (and make me a better hand seller to boot). He has even allowed me to run tastings in the space with some of my fellow class members participating.  Five of us got together on a Sunday, just a few weeks ago and I pulled (at cost) 6 typical wines from France and set up a blind tasting right in the store. It was a great exercise for all of us who felt overwhelmed. Plus we had some laughs, which always help lock in content!

Speaking of my ICC classmates, we have been setting up events and been in constant communication through a messaging app one of my compatriots set up for us all. Keeping abreast of each other’s feelings on the pressures of the program and being able to reach out to each other has made the experience far less daunting.

The ICC faculty has made their availability clear but also that we need to be doing these types of things outside class in order to succeed. Wine must become a lifestyle for the months of the program. (Oh no! I’ve gotta devote myself to something I love! The DREAD!)  I try to keep it on my mind always, and part of my habits daily. This village is pretty rockin’!

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