Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Yohann Jousselin, The Vineyard at Stockcross

Published:  11 August, 2011

The sommelier's view


Things are really going well for sommeliers. Over the past three to four years the arena has really opened up. Previously everything was London based, but there are now increasingly more tastings and events outside of London, which benefit those like myself, as I am based in Berkshire.


It opens it up to new and more talented people. There are younger contestants with a lot of knowledge coming to the fore to enter wine-tasting competitions, which can only be good for the industry and spur it on; it gives it a sharper edge. There is also a lot more training going on at different levels, leading up to the WSET trophy and the Academy of Food & Wine awards.


A lot of people in the past have viewed sommeliers as being arrogant. It's very important we help them to overcome that way of thinking and take away the stuffy image the sommelier has. The image is definitely improving, but there are still quite a lot of sommeliers who are not approachable. We have to remember the guest or customer is the most important person in the room. It can be difficult if you have an awkward customer, you have to adjust yourself to fit, as you don't want to give them any reason not to come back to the restaurant.


There's a lot of opportunity there, if the sommelier takes it seriously, and the ability to achieve. Of course, it includes a considerable amount of hard work, as you have to gain as much knowledge as possible. But if you like the job, you don't mind the long hours.


I think the reason why I won the UK Sommelier of the Year, this year, on my third attempt, was because I trained much harder and began my studies earlier. It took five months of study, but it helped because this time around I felt much more relaxed. So I have concluded it's all about preparation: if you train properly and put enough thought into it you'll get there.


As far as the industry goes there are more and more interesting wines coming from smaller countries, and the market is really starting to open up. Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Romania have really improved the quality and intensity of their wines.
Here at the Vineyard we are very open to new things. With 2,800 wines on the list, we're always happy to explore something new from a classic region or upcoming country.