The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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Page 28 of 148

28 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 { colorado hospitality } THERE ARE 179 ROOMS, 25 PRIVATE RESIDENCES, FOUR dining outlets and one catering department at the St. Regis Aspen—and Sommelier Ericka Briscoe supervises the wine and spirits programs for all of them (except for the separately managed Chefs Club by Food & Wine). Given the sheer range of her responsibilities, you would think she'd take a strictly delega - tory approach to her job. You'd think wrong. Since arriving in Colorado in March 2016, the former personal sommelier has been drawing from her experience with one-on-one hospitality to add a touch of intimacy to the luxury resort's four-star service. Her first order of business: to cull the property's extensive master wine list, kept on iPads, down to one-page "Sommelier's Selections" that the staff now presents to guests prior to intro - ducing the tablets. For Briscoe, a Texas-born believer in Southern charm, it simply felt too "cold and impersonal to leave the guests alone with that piece of equipment." What's more, it let the servers off the wine-training hook. By contrast, the short lists allow her to quickly yet thoroughly coach her team "one sip at a time" by doubling as cheat sheets for the bottles best suited to each dining outlet—from the poolside lounge,Splash to elegant Italian restaurant Trecento Quindici Decano. To drill down even further, she promotes a Vino del Giorno at each pre-shift meet - ing, encouraging input: "I'll say, 'Give me at least three keywords you can remember to help you sell this wine.'" Her second major order of business: to provide wine edu- cation direct to guests. (Briscoe is Level II–accredited from the Court of Master Sommeliers and Level 3–certified by WSET.) In July, she launched a series of weekly, hour- long tasting classes that she opens to the public for free; she also began hosting weekly Champagne receptions in Shadow Mountain Lounge, while taking charge of the more elaborate tastings held at the private residences. Even the sabrage ceremony, a St. Regis tradition she hosts daily in the courtyard, provides an opportunity to teach: "When people start asking me questions, well, that really pushes my geek button." With so many moving parts, Briscoe admits it would be easy "to look at the big picture and feel overwhelmed. But time man - agement is everything. For every department, I have a different folder with a different to-do list. I just keep moving, taking one thing at a time and it all comes together." SOMMELIER ERICKA BRISCOE ADDS A PERSONAL TOUCH TO THE BIG PICTURE AT THE ST. REGIS ASPEN RESORT by Ruth Tobias "It All Comes Together" PHOTO: COURTESY OF ST. REGIS ASPEN RESORT Ericka Briscoe oversees the wine program at the St. Regis Aspen Resort

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