We recently spoke with Joey Gillmore, a young and talented Level 2 Sommelier living and working in Los Angeles. We talked to him about his introduction to the wine industry and what it takes to be a good sommelier.
Tell us a little bit about when your interest in wine began and how you got your start in the industry?
I got started in the restaurant industry while working and living in Maui, Hawaii. Yes it was a very unconventional place to learn about wine, but I was working in a restaurant that had a decent cellar with some really nice left over bottles from previous beverage managers. I started as a busser and worked my way up to a lead server and shortly after signed up for the intro sommelier exam with my older birth who I’d been working with for the previous two years. That jumped started my thirst for knowledge of wine. Nine months later me and my neighbor had taken the Level 2 test and both passed.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received along your journey to become a sommelier?
The fact that there is so much to learn about wine and it can be so overwhelming sometimes, but if you take it step by step you will eventually get through all of it, and it will be very rewarding. That is what a Master Sommelier told me when I was inquiring about going for my advanced.
What is the rarest or most expensive wine you’ve had the privilege of tasting?
I had a guest come in and he had brought a 1999 Domaine De La Romanee Conti ‘La Tache’ — one of the most difficult bottles of wine to get because of the price tag it holds.
In your opinion, what do you think is the biggest misconception about sommeliers? What is something you wish more people knew or understood about your job?
This one was hard for me…But I think something that good Somms do they’re able to take what a guest is saying about what they like in a wine, and then be able to reference that to a place in the world that makes that kind of wine, and even further find something on the wine-list given and within the price point. So much of this happens obviously inside the Somm’s head but I think good ones can do this very well.
In your opinion, what region is producing the best wine right now?
One of my absolute favorites right now has been Chenin Blanc from Saumur for instance I love anything by Arnaud Lambert.