The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 38 of 116

38  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2016 WINE COUNTRY LIFE O n a busy night at Press Restaurant, it's a pleasure to watch the talented sommelier duo of Kelli White and Scott Brenner grace- fully gliding from table to table to talk with guests and serve special bottles from the world's largest collection of Napa Valley wine, which they curate. It's a relationship that began when the two met in New York City while Kelli worked at Veritas and Scott at Charlie Palmer's Aureole and Gordon Ramsey. But soon after the two fell in love, the economic bubble burst. So while considering a move to the Mosel in Germany, the two received an unexpected call from Leslie Rudd, owner of Press, who asked them to take over the wine program at the restaurant in 2010. It was an offer they couldn't refuse. "Being a sommelier in wine country provides you with a new perspective on what vineyards and finished wines means to farmers and producers on a totally different level," says Brenner. "Our job is to spread the love to the guests that eat at our restaurant." The success of the wine list shows. In addition to providing guests with opportunities to taste a wide range of new releases, the two have built an impressive collection of library wines that date back to the 1950s. So to help keep track of the 10,000 bottles in the collection, Kelli began developing a chronicle of notes on each wine for the staff to use as a reference tool. In 2011, Kelli's academic prowess turned into a much bigger project when Leslie fell in love with the idea of creating an interactive book with the wine notes and the history of winemaking in Napa Valley. After four years of intensive work, Kelli's monu- mental 1,500-page book, Napa Valley Then & Now, was released by Rudd Press in in November 2015. Although the beautiful book weighs 13 pounds, the thoughtful details of Napa Valley history, wine descriptors, profiles of key wineries, cellaring tips and vivid photos make it a great read for somme- liers, retailers, collectors and consumers. "To me, the book is reflective of the way Scott and I talk to the guests. To us, it's extremely important to make sure we present the wines in a non-intimi- dating manner," says Kelli, who loves writing, even though her original focus was on neuroscience and math in college. "Instead of leaning towards intangibles or rarities, we want the wines to be fun, exciting and ultimately complement the fabulous styles of cuisine that Chef Trevor [Kunk] and the staff craft in the kitchen." A True Sense of Place NEW BOOK NAPA VALLEY THEN & NOW SHOWCASES WINE COUNTRY CULTURE story and photo by Christopher Sawyer Scott Brenner and Kelli White, Sommeliers at Press Restaurant, located in Napa Valley.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - March 2016