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Looking Back, Forging Ahead Q&A: Vanessa Stolz, Restaurant Pine

Published:  02 August, 2023

Midway through 2023, Harpers is taking stock of yet another turbulent year for the drinks trade, with plenty of highs and lows, so far. We continue our series with Vanessa Stolz, head sommelier at Restaurant Pine, to find out how the year has gone so far, and what the remainder may bring.

How has business been for you in the first half of 2023 and how do things compare to where you were last year?

There was a slight dip around February, but everything is back on track. We are very grateful to have such wonderful guests and that our bookings are consistently full.

How has the cost-of-living crisis played out across the year and what – if anything – have you been able to do to mitigate that?

It was scary at first. We had to put the prices up, like everyone, I guess. At Pine, since day one, we have worked with local products and with what the garden and our surroundings have to offer. On the beverage team, we work with British spirits/wines, homemade juice/liqueurs/cocktails with foraged ingredients. That is what we love to do, and it’s our ethos, it certainly helps us greatly right now too. In terms of the wine we make sure there is a price range for everyone to make it as accessible as possible

    • Read More: Harpers' Top 25 Sommeliers 2023 announced

What are you most proud of achieving this year? Have you managed to achieve any specific goals?

The whole team of Pine has been recognised with a few awards for which we are immensely thankful (retaining our Green and Red Star, 6th best in the UK – Estrella Damm Award, 5th best Newcomer European Restaurant – OAD, sustainability award GQ, 18th best UK Sommelier – Harpers Wine & Spirits). It is also when we have returning guests that enjoy themself as much as the last time. They are so excited to return, and we managed to meet their expectations; this is one gratifying achievement for our passion in this industry.

And what is the biggest cause for concern?

To not be relevant anymore. That food and wine is becoming so outrageously expensive in a restaurant/bar that it is not affordable anymore. Many restaurant/bar owners put their lives and souls into this business. Watching how many of us crumble with what is happening right now is unsettling. We just have to keep adapting and hope for the best. Stay positive.

What are the biggest drinking trends at the moment and how do you expect that to change going into the autumn?

Personally, I try not to follow trends as much as seasons. Our ethos at Pine is to work alongside the season – the food and drink menu are based on it. Our guests follow what we offer to enjoy the whole experience; therefore, they usually order the soft and drink pairings.

We ensure that we are relevant to their demands and what is fashionable. Lighter, fruity and crispier wines are required. In autumn fuller, comforting wines are most likely sought after. The most significant trend is to drink low-alcohol wine or no alcohol at all. I doubt it will change much.

Is Covid now a distant dream, or are you still seeing lingering effects?

At Pine, Covid is a distant dream. There is still a single box of face masks in the dry stores but that’s hopefully the last of that.

Any predictions for the second half of the year?

Honestly, things move so fast here and change is constant, it’s hard to predict the future.

Quick fire questions…

Old World or New?

Old World.

Cocktail or slow sippin’ spirit?

Slow Sippin’ spirit.

Vermentino or Vermouth?


Low or No?


Three star or bistro?


Best variety/wine style for pairing across multitude of dishes?


Desert island tipple?

Le Rosé, Domaine Ligas, Greece.