Amy Racine ’11 always knew she would return to the San Francisco Bay area. The vibrant culinary and enological culture of the city is a constant source of inspiration for the culinarian turned sommelier.
Amy’s time spent at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program was the beginning of a career that’s all about professional growth. Now the Beverage and Wine Director at Sons & Daughters, Amy uses her skills to pair wines with the custom menu designed by chef/owners Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara.
Amy is responsible for the beverage program at the casual Sweet Woodruff, the duos second venture. The counter-service restaurant seats 20 people and overlooks the open kitchen. The team’s latest project, The Square, opened on March 1, 2014 in the historic North Beach neighborhood. The new space seats 90 and includes a dining room, communal table, and counter seating at the original copper bar. Amy oversees the restaurant wine list and full bar menu.
“I was pursuing an AOS in culinary arts degree when the Wine Studies class really grabbed my interest,” says Amy. “Professor Michael Weiss let me sit in on extra classes and Professor Stephen Koplan had a lot of faith in me and made me feel I could have a career in wine.”
Amy went on to complete a bachelor’s degree, and after that, she decided to enroll in the Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program at Greystone. Her first job after graduation was at the five-star luxury Áman Resort, Amangiri, in southern Utah. “I really liked my job, but I decided to move because I wanted to grow and learn more about wine,” says Amy. “I sent my résumé to Eric Johnson, head sommelier at Thomas Keller's Bouchon. While I wasn’t hired there, Eric kept my résumé on file. When Teague and Matt were looking for a sommelier Eric recommended me. I staged for two days and got the job!”
Sons & Daughters, has received rave reviews including one-star Michelin Guide review and a three and a half star review from The San Francisco Chronicle. “The menu changes frequently and is based on what comes from our garden, Dark Hill Farms,” Amy explains. A former horse ranch, the 83-acre garden located in Los Gatos has expansive boxes, a greenhouse, and an orchard, managed by two professional gardeners. We grow a variety of flowers, greens, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and snails. Having the garden right there helps you see a whole new way of matching food and flavors with various wines.”
Leading the beverage program for three popular restaurants keeps Amy busy and in perpetual learning mode. “One of the best lessons I learned from the CIA is to always have a sense of urgency. It’s something that’s helped me remain efficient in all aspects of my career and personal life. I think it sets CIA graduates apart from the crowd.”
Always determined to learn and expand her knowledge, Amy recently passed the Advance Sommelier examination, level three, from The Court of Master Sommelier, the first Accelerated Wine and Beverage Professional graduate to achieve that distinction. In October 2014, Amy was named Best New Sommelier by Wine & Spirits magazine.
Being back in San Francisco is a dream come true for Amy. “I’m so lucky to live in such a great food and wine city,” says Amy. “I’m able to travel around the area, increase my knowledge about viticulture, and bring that back to the restaurants.”