Cinder House in downtown St. Louis has expanded its sommelier team and wine offerings
After winning the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the third straight year, Anthony Geary – sommelier for Cinder House at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis – announced that he would not only expand his wine program, but build a team to help him do it.
Geary’s eyes are set on building the best wine program in the Midwest and possibly beyond, though he realizes he cannot do it alone. He has brought two new members to his team, including Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2021 Sommelier of the Year nominee Alisha Blackwell-Calvert, along with David Phil Villacis, whose knowledge also extends to viticulture. “To have three wine professionals at a restaurant is definitely uncommon in St. Louis. However, knowing the team is so robust provides Four Seasons guests high expectations of a quality wine list as well as excellent service and knowledge,” said Geary.
The team of certified sommeliers, all qualified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, handles the restaurant’s wine seasonal selection, according to Teresa Delaney, director of public relations for the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. “Part of their role is to be creative and excite people about coming in and tasting wine,” she said. In the future, they will also be responsible for coordinating several wine-focused events at the hotel. Already there are plans for a Saturday and Sunday brunch featuring rosé tasting flights, and specialty wine tasting dinners.
All members of the team have their specialties: Blackwell-Calvert has a passion for sparkling wine, Villacis ran an Italian wine program for nearly five years, and Geary has an aptitude for Burgundies. Everyone brings something different to the table, and that’s an asset to the team.
Geary hopes his team will also highlight diversity in the wine industry that may often be overlooked. “This team compromises some of the best sommeliers, but also represents diversity,” said Geary. “We do want to shed light on those that haven’t had a voice in the wine community for one reason or another.”
While the current wine list is acclaimed, Geary understands that its focus is predominantly on the classics. “The wines that we have on the list right feature classic producers and regions. Going forward, we will expand the offerings to include a wider representation of lesser known and niche producers and regions, so we can also expand the experience for our guests.”
Geary said his team wants to build on their selections from South Africa and Australia and also bring in options from less-represented countries like England and Hungary. “The varietals and styles for which those regions are best known are fantastic, but they can be hard to get,” said Geary. “You have to know what you’re looking for and also communicate to the guest what makes them special.”
To be the best in the Midwest, Geary and his team will focus on the city from which they all came. “I think it’s really important for the St. Louis community to have a wine program that is a great representation of the city,” said Geary. “And St. Louis has always been this place where these incredible wine and food professionals come out of nowhere and change the industry.”