For the last few weeks, I have been bouncing off the walls with irrepressible joy. And told just about anyone who would listen that I was heading to Houston to claim my Rodeo belt buckle. Of course, winning a belt buckle is good fun, as I’m always down for a competition. In fact, as soon as I got wind of the belt buckle lore, I threw down the gauntlet. I wanted one for myself. Massive and shiny, hand crafted with crazy attention to detail, “Rodeo Belt Buckle” became the obsession of my mental vision board. And I finally won one – for my 2015 Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir – which was awarded Reserve Class Champion and Double Gold at this year's Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition.
The Houston market is especially meaningful to me. Houston was my very first market outside of California. I can still remember my very first Houston placement, at a well-regarded steakhouse, back in 2013. I’m as proud today as I was back then; the staff embraced my wines and my story, and they continue to carry my wines on their list. Here in Houston, I have met so many dynamic, terrific floor somms, beverage directors, restaurant GM’s, FOH staffers, and servers, each with a deep passion for their professional work. With wine, it’s always about the people. Chose a market where you want to be, and work travel will be fun. The Houston market is gracious, generous, and always delicious. In three days of bacchanalian consumption, I devoured grilled octopus, Korean-style goat with dumplings, shredded rabbit, and sweetbreads, all with hedonistic abandon.
But most fulfilling for me personally is following the growth of the amazing women who buy and support Bruliam Wines in Houston. Over these nearly 6 years, I’ve witnessed many, many talented female floor somms break out to become sommelier superstars. In the years ahead, I look forward to seeing a whole new crop of keen, energetic young women working at the apex of their profession.
As I told my Houston colleagues last week, you can’t staple your scores to your back - but you can sure wear your Rodeo belt buckle! For me, my winning Rodeo belt buckle is utter perfection.
Thank you Houston.