Ones to Watch 2019 // Juliette Dottle of Elmwood

Title: Sommelier and assistant general manager at Elmwood
Age: 27
Why Watch Her: She's aiming for the Michelin stars. 

For the misogynous and moronic, it would be easy to underestimate Juliette Dottle.

In 2016, she followed her new-ish boyfriend from Baltimore to St. Louis. That boyfriend took the St. Louis wine scene by storm, quickly becoming general manager and wine director at Blood & Sand and making our 2017 Ones to Watch list at just 22.

Dottle worked at Blood & Sand too, but no one had really heard of her until she took over her boyfriend’s job when he decided to move on to Reeds American Table. He stuck around Blood & Sand for a little while, though, to help out as she studied for her level 2 certified sommelier exam – a test he passed two years prior.

Yet to ever call her “Zac Adcox’s girlfriend” instead of Juliette Dottle would be a grave mistake.

“She has an inherent confidence,” said Chris Kelling, owner and operator of Elmwood, slated to open this month. “And her confidence is backed up by a great depth of knowledge balanced with a deep understanding of what we do.”

By “what we do,” Kelling means hospitality. Dottle’s grasp of it is what he thinks sets her apart from other sommeliers.

“She wants to first make the guest happy, which is super refreshing,” Kelling said. “Wine and fancy pins are irrelevant without the guest.”

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Dottle concurs. “It’s not about selling a bottle, it’s finding a bottle,” she said.

One thing she prides herself on is hearing what people mean even when they aren’t saying it.

“When a guest says he wants a dry white wine, well 99 percent of our whites are dry, so that doesn’t really help. I have to decipher what he really wants. Do you mean floral? Do you like it oaky?”

She figures out exactly what guests want, even if it’s something they’ve never tried before. Rather than telling guests what she wants to sell, she brings them what they want to drink. In essence, every guest helps her become better at her job.

Even though she first earned a degree in biochemistry, Dottle sees the wine industry as her future.

“She is here to stay. This is not her fallback career,” Kelling said.

After Elmwood, she’d like to work in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Opening her own restaurant is also a goal. As for today, “I just want to keep learning,” she said. After all, she has the advanced sommelier exam to pass this year. And according to everyone else in the local wine community, she is bound for the master exam sooner rather than later.

As for Juliette Dottle’s boyfriend?

She laughed lovingly and then raised her eyebrows. “I’ve already eclipsed him.”

Julie Cohen is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine.