Food has always represented something far more significant 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. I have come to learn that when enjoying a thoughtfully prepared meal, you often get to see people in their most genuine state.
For me, the transition from school to the real-world has presented many challenges. Never losing sight of my vision is what has kept me pressing forward. I have worked hard to establish 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 progress and fulfillment. No one can tackle the world alone, and surrounding myself with like-minded individuals has given me the leverage necessary to thrive.
What is more, without completing the Intensive Sommelier Training program at International Culinary Center in Campbell, I would not be who or where I am today. This 15-week intensive program not only gave me a solid foundation that further developed my vision, but it also added an immense depth to my character that I wouldn't trade for anything. I would implore you to try it out for those hesitant or intimidated by an education specifically in wine. Wine is a gateway to endless amounts of learning concerning language, culture, and much more. From it, I have found that I can engage with far more people than ever before. What better way to share perspective 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 our teachers 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'. On that day, being in a room full of like-minded men and women was intoxicating, and the energy was genuinely 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 apply what I had studied while immersing myself in the Livermore Valley Wine Country. 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 every day 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 itself as the industry leader in Livermore. They have two of the best winemakers in the valley in Colin Cranor, Craig Ploof. Their wines are bold, daring, and progressive while offering a unique and focused sense of place in each bottling. We are in a place 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 former Administrative Consultant for Sidewinder, a new social lounge project by John Kinney of Occasio Winery, my tasks included culture development, beverage management, and membership program development. Winemaker and now distiller David Hendrickson not only produces some of the best wine offerings in the valley, but he also makes incredible spirits now.
To stay sharp and connected to my industry, I also worked 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 remained engaged with guests and saw firsthand how this elevated experience would take here in the valley.
Having compassion and maintaining consistency has been the most significant 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 steadi
ness 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 person.
All in all, my experience at ICC enabled me to approach career progression with 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. And I am grateful for this and am hungry for more.