The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2016

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Page 109 of 124

december 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  109 You are correct. People are surprised that it is so rural, yet so close to the city and Silicon Valley. This is definitely a destina- tion resort. We also see a large number of leisure guests that come for the beauty and cool seaside weather. Do you have local following? Yes, it's a small group and we do very well with people coming from San Francisco and the East Bay. What do your guests drink more of, white or red? I would think that with the sea being your backyard they would favor white. Navio, your restaurant, is noted for its seafood from your outstanding Chef Jason Pringle. You would be wrong, believe it or not. Big Red is the captain of this ship! California Pinot Noir and Cabernet are our top sellers, but we sell a very good number of the "unicorn" trophy wines. You have to be prepared for the great diversity in our guests. Do you do the wine service yourself or are there other sommeliers assisting? We have a team of three. I work the floor of Navio and do special tastings and events for our guests. They also run our Wine Bar as well as the floor at Navio and special events. We have a very sizeable wine program and a lot of our diners need help navigating the list. What are wine sales in dollars? I know that you can't answer, but I am guessing that it is in excess of four million dollars annually. And by the way, you have a very nice smile! Okay, asked and answered! I would also venture that staffing is an issue due to location. This is a "beast" of a property to work due its size. We are always on the lookout for qualified staff. Replacing som- meliers can be a challenge. I'm lucky to work with this level of talent of sommeliers and service team members. I have known the last four Wine Directors here well, and they said exactly the same thing. So, how many wines are on the list currently? We have over 4,000 bottles with approximately 70 percent red wines. Many of our guests start with a glass or bottle of white and then order a bottle or two of red. So what does Todd prefer to drink? I love to try new things, but I confess that coming from the Midwest I have a huge passion for California wines. I am constantly looking for wines I can get behind and support. If I had to pick a wine that I could go back to every time, it would definitely be Champagne. Speaking of drinking wine, we have in front of us a fabulous bottle of Daou Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2013 vintage. Let's have a glass! Paso Robles continues to impress me. I agree; the wine is classic with that beautiful ripe fruit from the great vintage. Deep ruby, black plums, blackberries, firm tannins and a massive finish. I am also a big fan of Syrah from Paso Robles, but I wish they had fewer AVAs. Have you had a group in that was super knowledge- able? That really kept you on your toes? Oh yes, and more often than not. I have had some fascinat- ing conversations with our guests and quite often learn something new from them. We have spent considerable time in wine education with our own entire service team. It is great to grow and learn with them. What about our glorious world of wine makes Todd crazy? I couldn't do in a big city what I do out here. There you have to have that esoteric list with a whole section of orange wines. You have to be hip to be cool. My first priority is to ensure that the guests are happy, not to make a statement. So is California the preferred wine of your guests? Easily, the vast majority of sales are California wines. Second place would belong to France, where we have a strong showing in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. Todd Brinkman is the Lead Sommelier at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, CA.

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