Sommeliers' Life - In Jared Seitzer's Words

28/09/2018 Jared Seitzer, Director of Wine at Wine to Water Puts his Professional Life and Experiences into the Light.

After graduating with a Bachelors in Hospitality Management, Jared's wine pursuits took him to Napa, were he stained his hands red through five vintages in wine production. He moved to San Diego to pull corks as the sommelier at the Hotel Del Coronado. A few years later he opened the Ivy Hotel in San Diego as the Wine Director in the downtown Gaslamp District. With the economic downturn, he moved to Marlborough, New Zealand for a vintage and then to Australia as a sommelier in Melbourne’s Southbank restaurant row.

Since returning to Napa, he had been at Bounty Hunter Rare Wines and Spirits, initially as a Senior Wine Scout. At the beginning of 2016, he transitioned to the On-Premises Wine Director for their restaurant operations. His focus for their beverage program was simply sourcing great wines and spirits for our cuisine, and offering the best international and domestic labels around. Their list currently offers 450ish bottles with 40 wines by the glass." Jared has recently joined Wine to Water as a Director of Wine.

Wine to Water

Jared also appeared as a wine judge in a judging panel of 2018 USA Wine Ratings. In a recent interview with UWR, he shared his professional experiences giving light to a sommelier's professional life.

What’s a wine trend that you’re currently excited about?

Jared: One of the exciting trends that continue to grow is ‘lesser-known varietals’ that are finding their way into more and more mainstream places. I recently offered an Albarino by the glass from Uruguay. It’s zippy and fresh and incredibly well made. I really like the direction of Greek wines and their indigenous varieties, as well as wines from the Middle East such as Israel and Lebanon. Trying these lesser-known wines is a treat and can also be more affordable.

Where and what do you like to drink when you’re not working?

Jared: I tend to go to ‘local’ restaurants or wine bars, not classical ‘bars’. Just had a fabulous meal at a little Italian bistro called Redd Wood in Yountville, CA while sitting at the bar. I like to try a cocktail, something different from a bar’s speciality list. Had a beautiful and reasonably priced bottle of 04 Barolo with the mains. I rarely order dessert but I’ve never been a sweet tooth.

What are some challenges you face as a wine buyer or a sommelier?

Jared: One of the biggest challenges is how to support all of the wines that I hope to work with. There is only ever so much storage space, and time in the day for tasting, staff training, working on the list, etc. I cannot support everyone to the extent that I’d like, so you have to mix up the list and bring in new wines as often as you can (sometimes seasonally) so you can support as many as possible. It’s all about balance.

What you look for when you plan to buy wine for your business?

Jared: A wine has to be unique and/or profitable to make sense for my business. In my opinion, ‘unique’ means having a story and purpose, and is maybe the most important qualifier. It is part of knowing your clientele and offering what you believe they are looking for. If the selection is the same as everyone else’s, guests will lose interest in your wine program. Of course, costing is important. It’s the main framework I use to make selections. I’ve often found a wine I want to use for a specific purpose but the costs won’t allow it. If there’s no profitability, it is damaging to the business, unless there is some incredible marketing reason to do so.

What’s your typical day…like what do you do in the mornings, afternoons and evening and after the guests are gone?

Jared: A typical day involves calling wine reps, following up on orders, adding to the order, making sure the menus are updated correctly and pulling samples to taste the staff. Paperwork is inevitable and so is maintaining the restaurant POS list with the proper wines and spirits. I don’t work the floor like a traditional sommelier anymore, although I did for many years. The restaurant floor managers maintain that piece, so my evenings are not like they used to be.

How has the role of the sommelier evolved in the last 20years?

Jared: A Sommelier’s role has evolved a lot with more and more regions and varietals now in the market. Just the amount of wines now available is staggering. Customers are now much savvier and can look anything up on their phone, so they have to be sharp. Again, the business piece is probably more important today than ever before with rising costs, wages, etc it’s very competitive. Restaurant success is often built on the beverage program so it has to make sense.

Which varietals or countries are in demand these days for your business?

Jared: Being in Napa, California is still king. Second, to that, I’d say White Burgundy does very well, Riesling from Germany and Austria is rising and big Spanish and Italian reds. Pretty basic, but more appreciation for these wines grows every day.

What is the hardest thing about your job?

Jared: Time management is always challenging. There is never enough time in the day to get everything done… and properly training the staff. Restaurants are tough places and keeping up with the ever-changing list is tough on the staff, but vitally important.

The competition will take place on October 24, 2020, and winners will be announced on November 16, 2020. Check out winning impact.