DLynn Proctor is a renowned sommelier who was one of the focuses of the internationally acclaimed wine documentary “SOMM.” He currently works at Fantesca Winery and talked to us about the experience of filming his journey as his worked towards becoming a Master Sommelier and shared with us his advice for young sommeliers looking to make a career out of wine.
Do you remember the first moment when you were drinking wine that made you think “I want to do this for a living?
I hadn’t truly enjoyed that incredible sip just yet. It was pedestrian wine, but I knew there was some kind of way that I could truly get into this industry (I thought it was impossible). But I was observing what the ‘wine stewards’ were doing in restaurants, and decided to go and buy a $37.99 bottle. I knew nothing but I knew I had to figure it out fast.
You’ve been in the beverage industry for over 15 years, what continues to keep you motivated and excited to be in this industry?
Yes, as a busser since ’95 (high school), as a professional since ’01 (almost 20 years). People keep me excited; bussers, servers, sommeliers, hosts, retail stockers, 40 year vets in the industry. There is nothing more exciting than creating something for others to enjoy, talk about, share and serve. Because I want share and serve.
Are there any wines that you are especially loving lately?
I am a bit of a pompous person for saying this, but I’m always on the go, so the wines I drink “have to count.” I drink my wines [Fantesca], Chablis, Barolo, Pontet Canet, Brunello, and Philip Togni, and Penfolds Grange. Plus I’m almost 40 and I can’t just drink all the wines like I used to. Literally laughing out loud.
You were featured in the internationally acclaimed wine documentary “SOMM” as you worked towards obtaining the coveted title of Master Sommelier. Can you tell us about the experience of filming for the documentary? Did you enjoy it? What was it like seeing yourself in a popular film?
Wow, we have literally been filming since 2009/10. It has been a memorable experience. I’ve known Dustin and Ian and Brian for so long – even before the films, so we’ve always been family.
Yes, I wouldn’t NOT want to be a part of it.
“To Thine Own Self Be True”, and that was true [the film] to who I am. That’s all I can be, so I am happy and fortunate with what folks see.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned over the course of you career? And what advice would you give to people who are looking to get a start in the wine and beverage industry?
The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that it is ok to say no. There was a point in time where I never did that. I say no a lot now.
My advice would be: Create your own path. There is no model as to what you are “supposed” to do. Create opportunity and answer the opportunities that present themselves. Lastly, just be better than everyone else. The only way to be better is to out-prepare them. Fill your mind with knowledge.