As an unabashed lover of wine and sucker for good ol' fashioned "work hard, dream big" success stories, I was thrilled when presented with the opportunity to "sit down" (over Zoom, of course) with DLynn Proctor, Director at Fantesca Estate & Winery.
Who better to ask all of my wine wonders than the person Wine & Spirits Magazine named ‘Best Sommelier in America’ in 2008? Read on to learn about DLynn's career journey, which wines you should be drinking and much more.
Q: How did you become a sommelier?
Like a lot of hospitality folks, I started as a busboy. I listened to stories of diners, and longed to be in their seat. I would hear them speak of Paris, Florence, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and I knew there had to be a way that I could get to those places. That way was through wine. After ‘graduating’ from busser, to food runner, to host, to expediter, to waiter, I told myself I had to be the best, and started applying for travel scholarships with suppliers. There was no turning back.
Q: What is your favorite (budget-friendly!) wine for casual drinking?
2019 Cornarea Arneis DOCG, Piemonte. ($25)
A gorgeous and pretty white wine with hints of honey, peach, yellow apple and nutmeg. Perfect for spring and summer days and lovely paired with fresh ceviche, sushi, or vegetarian dishes.
Q: Which wine makes special occasions that much more special?
2019 Patrice Rion Chambolle-Musigny VV. ($95)
A wonderful 3-generation family crafting some incredible Burgundys in the Côte de Nuits. Their wines are pure and focused and the Chambolle evokes aromas of cocoa, eucalyptus, redcurrants, and finesse! My favourite dish with this producer is Duck a l’Orange.
Q: What bottle should we reach for to celebrate those milestone moments?
2017 Fantesca Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. ($250)
A Cabernet from a single site, single hillside, that really speaks to the high elevation and terrain of the mountain range in the northwest corner of Napa. I prefer A5 Wagyu with a beautiful high-acid Cabernet like Fantesca Estate. A match for the ages.
Q: Best places to go to discover and indulge in great wine?
Some of my favourite places to dine in the Bay Area are Ungrafted in the Dogpatch neighbourhood, Verve Wine on Fillmore, and A-16 in the Marina. All venues have amazing wines from some of the best small (and larger) producers in the world of wine. Producers that pay attention to sustainability, organic farming, and some—biodynamics.
Q: What advice would you give to those who aspire to work in the wine industry?
My best advice is to seek. Ask questions, pull on coattails of positive and good people. Ask people about their journeys and successes. And yes, sometimes there isn’t access, or some doors might be closed, even though you are asking the right questions and seeking. So, that’s why I (and two inimitable co-founders) created the non-profit Wine Unify. We want to break down barriers and open doors for education, inclusion and soon, travel and job placement.
Individuals need to be welcomed, elevated and amplified so their voices and experiences can one day be celebrated as their journeys have led to many great accomplishments. Look us up at WineUnify.org.