We asked, and top sommeliers around the country answered with the names of the most talented newcomers to the restaurant scene. They singled out six sommeliers who are making a strong impression after fewer than four years as lead wine buyers.
What does it take to get a vote from the toughest of critics? Enthusiasm, tenacity, grace and professionalism, to start. Couple that with juggling other projects, long hours on the floor, the inevitable grunt work and furthering their own knowledge and educating others. Let us introduce you to our Best New Sommeliers of 2017.
Rory Pugh is a hospitalitarian at his core, having honed his craft at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego.
Rather than pinpoint a moment, job or bottle that turned him on to wine, Pugh’s says his transition from earning a German Studies degree at San Diego State to diving into hospitality came through understanding the importance of the dining experience.
“We only have 168 hours in the week, and that’s not a lot of time,” says Pugh. “Restaurants are one of those places where you should be able to come in, lean back and feel absolutely taken care of, at any level.” Dining out, for Pugh, is a release from the workweek, a time to spend with his wife and friends. “When I understood the power of that is when I wanted to focus one hundred percent on hospitality.”
This sommelier was featured in W&S October 2017.
photo by Mike Rush