Born in Rome to a family of chefs and vintners, it would only seem fitting that Andrea Vescovi grew up to become an integral part of the restaurant industry.
And he has achieved just that, recently proclaiming the much sought-after award, Sommelier of the Year, bestowed by the International Sommelier Guild of Canada at the 2009 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.
“It has been a tremendous honour to be associated with such former great sommeliers,” says Andrea. “It’s always inspiring when your peers acknowledge you for your work.”
A unique position in the hospitality industry, a wine sommelier uses their unparallel expertise to suggest favourable wine and food pairings for their guests.
Not only do sommeliers express each wine’s tasting notes, as well as the story behind the wine, but they are also masters in the art of serving wine and providing guests with superior service.
Starting out as an assistant sommelier, Andrea says that he was constantly being inspired by the top wine makers of the world.
For the past eight years, Andrea has been the wine connoisseur for the award-winning restaurant, Blue Water Cafe, located in Vancouver’s prestigious Yaletown suburb.
According to Andrea, the dining experience in BC has gradually shifted over recent years as many restaurant guests have become more interested in learning about food and wine pairings.
For Andrea, a typical day would begin with administrative duties including updating the wine list and supplying the front of the house with tasting notes.
“I would then prepare for the nightly dinner service beginning at 5 pm,” says Andrea. “During dinner I will consult tableside with our guests on which wine choices they would like and guide servers on recommending the wines for their tables.”
What he loves most about his job are the relationships that emerge.
“I love the fact that you can meet a guest for the first time and next thing you know they are inviting you into their home offering you a friendship.”
While staff retention has always been a challenge in the hospitality industry, Andrea encourages newcomers to the industry to “have fun and embrace the industry for what it is – pure and simple entertainment where guests coming through your door are looking for an experience to remember.”
As for training, Andrea says while education in a wine or sommelier program is beneficial, typically hands-on training brings the best results. His advice is to “seek out restaurants that have good training programs because they are usually the more successful companies.”
Overall, Andrea is passionate about his career and is constantly creating new dining possibilities for his guests. This, he believes, will enhance their experience and guide them to a different approach that they may not have considered.