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Andrew Bell: Connecting Sommeliers

Andrew Bell: Connecting Sommeliers

Carrie Strong | Chef's Blade

Spring is time for growth in the wine industry, not only in the vineyards but also in the city. Wine buyers flock to open convention spaces filled with rows of wide-eyed wine makers, sales people, and distributors pouring tastes of new vintages of wine. This is the season for making new friends and connecting with important people in the wine industry. I had just that opportunity at the Napa Vintners Tasting held New York City three weeks ago.

As I was tasting a new cabernet sauvignon, I heard the familiar voice of Andrew Bell, President of the American Sommelier Association (ASA), loudly mention Vong Restaurant to the Regional Sales Manager, as if he were unaware of my presence. “Oh hello, Carrie!” he exclaimed with a huge smile as he does when he is making one of his many connections. I was fortunate to have first met Andrew several years ago when I was progressing through the 20-week Vinification/Vitification course with the ASA.

Andrew Bell has a great enthusiasm for sustaining great wine and great people. After graduating college in San Francisco with a psychology degree, Andrew thought he would become a University Professor with his own therapy practice. Instead, he travelled to France with the goal of studying wine making at the school of enology in Dijon. His plans changed, however, when he went to work at a Tex Mex restaurant in Paris intent on improving his French.

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Andrew Bell (left) with Virginia Philip MS, Winner Best Sommelier in America 2002 & Robert E Juliano, Chairman of the Board ASA 2002 Best Sommelier

Later that year in September, Andrew was invited to work the crush, side by side with Frederick Lornet, one of the most recognized producers of the Jura wine region in eastern France. Andrew was captivated by the vineyards and the wine. He claims, “Falling in love with wine is easy when you live so close to amazing vineyards.” Following the harvest, Andrew went back to Paris where he ran a boutique wine shop and eventually was invited to join the sommelier team at the famous three-Michelin-star restaurant, Guy Savoy (http://www.guysavoy.com/en/intro.htm), as second sommelier. Ultimately it was these types of invitations, acquired by his own resolution and charisma of course, that fueled Andrew throughout his wine career.