Larry Stone

Sommelier

Napa

Larry Stone is a Master Sommelier and the only American to earn the title of French Master Sommelier from the Union de la Sommellerie Française. More than 20 years ago, Stone won Best International Sommelier in French Wines at the prestigious Grand Prix de Sopexa in Paris. After winning this title, he continued on as a restaurateur and sommelier, opening Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and then developing a renowned wine program at Charlie Trotter's (1989 to 1993). Wishing to be closer to vineyards, Stone moved to San Francisco to open Rubicon with restaurateur Drew Nieporent and chef Traci Des Jardins. Stone received the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Wine Service Award in 2000, and in 2005 he was named the general manager of Francis Ford Coppola's Rubicon Estate. In 2012, Stone joined Huneeus Vintners as the estates director of Napa Valley’s Quintessa and Chile’s Neyen. He's also the dean of wine studies at The International Culinary Center.

  • On October 22, 2012
    Todd English answered the question: Todd English

    What are Todd English's favorite hotels?

    The Aman Group does an amazing job with their hotels, I was just at the one in Turks & Caicos and it was pretty spectacular. The service is amazing, but when you go in and you experience something, you feel the zen, you feel the calmness, you feel all the things they’re representing. The Grand Hyatt and the Park Hyatt in Tokyo — both amazing hotels, and so is Four Seasons Milan.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Todd English answered the question: Todd English

    What are Todd English's favorite hotels?

    The Aman Group does an amazing job with their hotels, I was just at the one in Turks & Caicos and it was pretty spectacular. The service is amazing, but when you go in and you experience something, you feel the zen, you feel the calmness, you feel all the things they’re representing. The Grand Hyatt and the Park Hyatt in Tokyo — both amazing hotels, and so is Four Seasons Milan.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are Larry Stone's favorite hotels?

    I know people like to go to elegant hotels and have these luxury experiences, but for me it’s a useful place to drop my stuff off and go explore. But one of my favorite hotels is the L’Hôtel De Beaune in the town of Beaune in Burgundy. It’s a great little hotel — it’s beautifully appointed and small and quiet. And it’s right on the town square, so I’m in the heart of things once I get there.

    I love Turtle Inn, one of Francis Ford Coppola’s resorts in Belize. It’s right on the water, and you can walk out the door and get someone to take you on a boat to go scuba diving or you can lounge on the beach. It’s very quiet — there are no modern phones or televisions. Turtle Inn has that rustic, peaceful calm about it.

    If I’m going to stay in a big hotel in New York or Tokyo, I’ll stay at the Four Seasons, the JW Marriott, or a Ritz-Carlton. I used to work for Four Seasons, so I have a special affinity for them. Otherwise I look for individual little hotels. I stayed in The James recently in New York and it’s a wonderful little place downtown not far from Canal Street. It’s got a great staff and is very peaceful — it gave me the small hotel feel in a sophisticated way. And it’s right near SoHo, so you can get to Balthazar, or Corton or David Bouley’s restaurant.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are the best Chinese restaurants in San Francisco?

    The two best Chinese restaurants for dim sum in San Francisco are Ton Kiang on Geary between 22nd and 23rd Streets, Yank Sing, the perennial favorite in Rincon Center. For ordering off of a menu lunch or dinner, R & G Lounge is also good, especially for the salt and pepper crab but also for other treats. Near the airport is Hong Kong Flower Lounge, which specializes in fresh seafood and shellfish — choose something from the tanks. I love the Szechuan food of Z & Y Restaurant on Jackson Street in Chinatown — but approach with caution.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are Larry Stone's favorite Chinese restaurants in San Francisco?

    The two best Chinese restaurants for dim sum in San Francisco are Ton Kiang on Geary between 22nd and 23rd Streets, Yank Sing, the perennial favorite in Rincon Center. For ordering off of a menu lunch or dinner, R & G Lounge is also good, especially for the salt and pepper crab but also for other treats. Near the airport is Hong Kong Flower Lounge, which specializes in fresh seafood and shellfish — choose something from the tanks. I love the Szechuan food of Z & Y Restaurant on Jackson Street in Chinatown — but approach with caution.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What is Larry Stone's favorite Chicago restaurant?

    My favorite restaurant in Chicago [was] Charlie Trotter’s. I felt I was a very important part of the development of that restaurant, as first the general manager and then as the fulltime sommelier. It’s a phenomenal place. And Charlie has trained, inspired and helped so many famous chefs. He really gave me a great understanding of the community spirit of the restaurant and wine business. That’s one of the greatest restaurants ever in America.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What does Larry Stone think are the best things to do in Napa?

    The first thing, of course, is to visit wineries. The dining here is also a must. Try to eat at Redd, Morimoto, The French Laundry, Bottega, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Oenotri and The Restaurant at Meadowood. And then there’s the bike riding — there are wine country bike tours and rental places where you can pick up a bike for a few hours. There are some great resorts to stay and relax at like Auberge du Soleil, Meadowood and Calistoga Ranch.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are the best things to see and do in Napa and Sonoma?

    The first thing, of course, is to visit wineries. The dining here is also a must. Try to eat at Redd, Morimoto, The French Laundry, Bottega, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Oenotri and The Restaurant at Meadowood. And then there’s the bike riding — there are wine country bike tours and rental places where you can pick up a bike for a few hours. There are some great resorts to stay and relax at like Auberge du Soleil, Meadowood and Calistoga Ranch.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What’s the best time to visit Napa and Sonoma?

    If you're interested in seeing winemaking happen, come in September and October. You'll see people picking grapes, you'll see grapes on the vine in September and you'll smell the must fermenting in the vineyards. People are generally just excited around this time. And spring, when the leaves are coming out, is very beautiful. There's rain in April and May but it's usually just a couple hours and then it's gone.
  • On October 22, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    When does Larry Stone think is the best time of year to visit Napa?

    If you’re interested in seeing winemaking happen, come in September and October. You’ll see people picking grapes, you’ll see grapes on the vine in September and you’ll smell the must fermenting in the vineyards. People are generally just excited around this time. And spring, when the leaves are coming out, is very beautiful. There’s rain in April and May but it’s usually just a couple hours and then it’s gone.
  • On October 18, 2012
    Todd English answered the question: Todd English

    What are Todd English's favorite hotels?

    The Aman Group does an amazing job with their hotels, I was just at the one in Turks & Caicos and it was pretty spectacular. The service is amazing, but when you go in and you experience something, you feel the zen, you feel the calmness, you feel all the things they’re representing. The Grand Hyatt and the Park Hyatt in Tokyo — both amazing hotels, and so is Four Seasons Milan.
  • On October 18, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are Todd English's favorite hotels?

    I know people like to go to elegant hotels and have these luxury experiences, but for me it’s a useful place to drop my stuff off and go explore. But one of my favorite hotels is the L’Hôtel De Beaune in the town of Beaune in Burgundy. It’s a great little hotel — it’s beautifully appointed and small and quiet. And it’s right on the town square, so I’m in the heart of things once I get there.

    I love Turtle Inn, one of Francis Ford Coppola’s resorts in Belize. It’s right on the water, and you can walk out the door and get someone to take you on a boat to go scuba diving or you can lounge on the beach. It’s very quiet — there are no modern phones or televisions. Turtle Inn has that rustic, peaceful calm about it.

    If I’m going to stay in a big hotel in New York or Tokyo, I’ll stay at the Four Seasons, the JW Marriott, or a Ritz-Carlton. I used to work for Four Seasons, so I have a special affinity for them. Otherwise I look for individual little hotels. I stayed in The James recently in New York and it’s a wonderful little place downtown not far from Canal Street. It’s got a great staff and is very peaceful — it gave me the small hotel feel in a sophisticated way. And it’s right near SoHo, so you can get to Balthazar, or Corton or David Bouley’s restaurant.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are Larry Stone’s favorite restaurants?

    In New York, I love Daniel and Bar Boulud — both are a lot of fun to visit, as well as Corton and Babbo. In L.A., I love Patina in the Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown. I like all of the Nobu restaurants, and the Morimoto restaurants. Morimoto in Napa is just a fantastic restaurant. In Sonoma, I like Cyrus. And of course in my backyard [Napa], there’s French Laundry by Thomas Keller.

    In San Francisco there’s so many! There’s RN74, one of Michael Mina’s projects with Rajat Parr. RN74 is a great marriage of food and wine in a more casual environment. Then there’s Shelley Lindgren’s SPQR, a Roman-style trattoria that is a little more casual and sedate than the restaurant she has in the Marina District on Chestnut Street, which is A16. But I like A16 very well too. Finally, I like the nuanced Vietnamese cuisine of The Slanted Door by Charles Phan.

    I could give you a list of hundreds, maybe thousands of restaurants because so many people are out there doing great things. It’s hard for me to choose where to go. I just ate at Quince, Michael Tusk’s place. And it was phenomenal. It was perfectly run, with great service and great food. They also have David Lynch, one of the best sommeliers in the country for Italian wine.

    And if you are in Seattle, you should go to Salumi, which is owned by Mario Batali’s father. It’s a sausage place that makes sandwiches in the Pioneer Square district. It’s incredible. People stand in line to get them. The sausages and sandwiches are so well made. I also love Canlis in Seattle.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are Larry Stone’s favorite cities?

    I’ll start with Vienna, because of the music, the food and the art. I also have family and wonderful memories there. It has a great market and it’s also physically beautiful. I studied there in college — I lived there about a year and a half and studied German.

    Paris, for all the obvious reasons: food, beauty, art, the people.

    Hong Kong for food, the business, antiques, the culture. I wish I had more of a chance to get into Mainland China. I’d love to go to Shanghai. I grew up in a very integrated community, and I have a great appreciation for the cultures of China and Japan. Hong Kong overall is very fascinating and bustling.

    I love Tokyo too, and Japan in general. People should go to Kyoto and visit the various temples there. Mount Hiei is also worth a visit; it’s near Kyoto. It has a very beautiful monastery that was a founding one for Japanese Buddhism.

    And I also love Vancouver, British Columbia — just to walk around, it’s very beautiful.

    I don’t even look at New York as a leisure place for travel, I go there frequently for business. But it’s just so awesome in every respect. New York is unbeatable.

    Finally, I go to Hawaii almost once a year to relax. I stay at the Kapalua Resort on Maui.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are your favorite restaurants?

    In New York, I love Daniel and Bar Boulud — both are a lot of fun to visit, as well as Corton and Babbo. In L.A., I love Patina in the Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown. I like all of the Nobu restaurants, and the Morimoto restaurants. Morimoto in Napa is just a fantastic restaurant. In Sonoma, I like Cyrus. And of course in my backyard [Napa], there’s French Laundry by Thomas Keller.

    In San Francisco there’s so many! There’s RN74, one of Michael Mina’s projects with Rajat Parr. RN74 is a great marriage of food and wine in a more casual environment. Then there’s Shelley Lindgren’s SPQR, a Roman-style trattoria that is a little more casual and sedate than the restaurant she has in the Marina District on Chestnut Street, which is A16. But I like A16 very well too. Finally, I like the nuanced Vietnamese cuisine of The Slanted Door by Charles Phan.

    I could give you a list of hundreds, maybe thousands of restaurants because so many people are out there doing great things. It’s hard for me to choose where to go. I just ate at Quince, Michael Tusk’s place. And it was phenomenal. It was perfectly run, with great service and great food. They also have David Lynch, one of the best sommeliers in the country for Italian wine.

    And if you are in Seattle, you should go to Salumi, which is owned by Mario Batali’s father. It’s a sausage place that makes sandwiches in the Pioneer Square district. It’s incredible. People stand in line to get them. The sausages and sandwiches are so well made. I also love Canlis in Seattle.