Ian Cauble, the lead sommelier and beverage director at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, won the title of TOP| SOMM on Aug. 7. The title is given after a series of extremely intense local, regional and national competitions, featuring nearly 200 competitors.
How did you get your start in wine? I went to Sonoma State, where I played tennis and had a lot of friends in the restaurant business. I was exposed to a lot of great wines and my junior year I decided to travel to Chile for a wine program.
What does winning this mean to you? It’s great. A lot of talented people were up for this and it has been a dream of mine to win this.
Was there a specific moment that you knew you wanted to be in the wine business? I was in Portugal working for $2 an hour at one of the oldest port houses. I remember trying to walk up a steep hillside and my shoes were slipping. It was so hard to walk up it. There was a 70-year-old woman next to me carrying a 45-pound bag full of grapes up this hill. When I looked at her, I realized how much culture and history there was. I realized how special each vineyard is and knew that I wanted to take the bottled-up expression of each wine and share it.