The SOMM Journal

April / May 2015

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Page 85 of 112

{ }  85 { real somm stories } WINE DIRECTOR AND SOMMELIER, THE INN AT DOS BRISAS, WASHINGTON, TEXAS story and photo by Anthony Head Thomas Perez thinks small at the Inn at Dos Brisas in Texas. "THIS IS A SOMMELIER'S DREAM," says Thomas Perez, Wine Director and Sommelier of the Inn at Dos Brisas. But the dream he's referring to is not the elegant Spanish architecture distinguishing the sprawling Texas resort, or the second-largest privately owned indoor horse-riding arena in the state, or the incredible vistas of the countryside seen from all over the property. Despite being surrounded by more than 300 acres, the restaurant at Dos Brisas is Thomas Perez's dream because he likes to think small. "If we have 20 people dining here in a night, we are super-busy," says Perez of this Relais & Châteaux property, located an hour outside of Houston. Dos Brisas features only nine accom- modations, and even though the restaurant is open to the public, the secluded location means diners have to make a point of getting there. "We always know who's coming and what they like and don't like. So this is really hands-on. You do things in a place like this that you can't really do in a big company. You cater to the customer with much more personalized service." Achieving customer satisfaction with his beverage program is Perez's main goal, although he originally came to the hospitality industry for the food. Perez moved to California from El Salvador in the mid-1980s with dreams of finishing school and becoming a chef. After cooking professionally for several years he moved into the front of the house, where he was so taken by wine and wine culture that he eventually moved to northern Spain to study viticulture and enology. Returning to California, he became Wine Director for Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel, and helped expand the concept into Yountville and Sonoma. He also made Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir under his Kristi-Lynn label. Having been at Dos Brisas for less than two years, he finds the number of daily clients fits ideally with his own personal style of customer service, such as when he conducts wine and mixology classes one-one-one or in small groups. His role also calls for flexibility, which is good because the menu changes often: Dos Brisas has 32 acres dedicated to farming for the res- taurant. "The chef and I spend a lot of time together, tasting and talking about the meals and pairings," says Perez. His role, however, is about to expand, as plans are underway for planting a vine- yard at Dos Brisas, which, Perez admits, is no small matter. "I just got the sample soils. The numbers look pretty good," he says. "In time, I know our vineyard will become quite a big part of the intimate Dos Brisas experience." Thomas Perez

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