W&S Best New Sommeliers of 2011
Josiah Baldivino
Michael Mina, San Francisco, CA
Age: 29

While studying business management in Los Angeles, Josiah Baldivino ended up at Silverlake Wines, where he stocked shelves and occasionally worked the floor. Every day, as he made his way around the inventory, he'd ask Silverlake co-owner George Cossette about two or three wines that seemed interesting. Cossette's answers sparked an interest that took him on another career path entirely. When he headed east to New York, he landed a job at the Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel before moving on to Bar Boulud, where he worked with Michael Madrigale and Daniel Johnnes. They, in turn, put him in touch with Rajat Parr of the Michael Mina Group when he decided to head back to California late in 2010. Parr hired him on at the new Michael Mina restaurant in San Francisco's Financial District. Baldovino has since embraced and been embraced by San Francisco’s rich sommelier culture. "There's a huge number of Master Sommeliers out here," he says. "And they're willing to help you. I've already met with seven or eight Master Sommeliers out here—people like Dustin Wilson at RN74 and Reggie Narito who works for Southern [Wine & Spirits]." Both have helped him settle in.

—Luke Sykora

epiphany wine

A bottle of 1991 Vega Sicilia Unico. My fiancée bought it as a celebration gift when I graduated from college. That's when I realized that wine was a really, really cool thing.

michael madrigale

It was so much fun working for him. We would open a large format bottle every night and pour it by the glass. That gave me a chance to taste a lot of Burgundy, off-vintage Bordeaux, things like imperials of 1975 Léoville-Las Cases and my favorite of all, magnums of 2001 Thierry Allemand Reynard Cornas.

after work

What I’m drinking right now is my homebrew. I have an IPA in the fridge. When you make a batch, you end up with a lot of bottles, so when my friends come over, it's like MTV's "Cribs." I got started with that a year and a half ago. I thought, if I couldn't make wine, why not make beer?