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 September 27, 2012
    Tony Abou-Gamin answered the question: Tony Abou-Gamin

    What are your favorite restaurants?

    I would say that if I were going to the box tomorrow, I’ve got a list of five favorite restaurants. I would have the steak pomme frites at Bouchon in Napa Valley or here in Las Vegas. I haven’t been to the one in Los Angeles, but the one in Napa would probably be my first choice, only because I could ride up there on my motorcycle. The Bouchon here in Las Vegas at the Venetian is equally as wonderful. I had my 50th birthday party there. They put a little table card up that featured my favorite drink. You know, it’s just special little things that make you want to go back. I have a place in San Francisco that I’ve gone to ever since I moved there in 1985. It’s called Le Central. It’s a French bistro that’s been there forever. The front room is kind of where all the ‘who’s who’ of San Francisco would lunch. Willy Brown would be in there, the late Herb Caen. There’s a plaque over his table now. I always had the same thing. I have a Negroni and an escargot.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Todd English answered the question: Todd English

    What are your favorite restaurants?

    There’s was a restaurant right outside of Lyon called Chez Tante Paulette, where people like Patricia Wells and Alice Waters were inspired to do the chicken with a hundred cloves of garlic. You had to make a reservation, and there were four tables and you sat and a simple salad came out with toasted garlic all over it, and then the next course was chicken with a pork roast and garlic, and it was the breast of chicken, and then it was also roasted potatoes with garlic and duck fat. The ultimate garlic meal.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Todd English answered the question: Todd English

    What are your favorite cities?

    Paris, Istanbul, Rome, New York. Istanbul is one of my new favorites — I love the culture, the Turkish food. In a city with 18 million people there’s just so much going on. Paris — It may be the hopeless romantic in me. The French just do it big. <br/><br/>And Rome is up there too, they just get it right. There’s history, there’s culture. <br/><br/>And that’s what’s cool, getting to know the local restaurants, the local market. There’s just an aesthetic there, a lifestyle, and it’s a great walking city. I love New York — what I’ve found is that, when I first started cooking in the city, it was kind of the Upper East Side and everything else and Midtown, and now it’s more about downtown in so many ways. You’ve got SoHo, which has become too much in a few ways, and Meatpacking is getting to be that way but it’s still cool. I love the Lower East Side and the Alphabet City. I’m finding that New York just grows on you — every time you think you’ve seen it all, something happens and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool.’
  • On September 27, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are your 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 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
    Tony Abou-Gamin answered the question: Tony Abou-Gamin

    What are your favorite cities?

    I would have to say that number one is San Francisco. My formative years were spent there. I’m a motorcycle guy, and the motorcycle riding in and around San Francisco is fabulous. I think it’s a city that offers a little bit of everything. People are great. The restaurant community is fabulous. Chicago — if we could have spring and summer year-round, I’d be sold. I love Chicago. Again, a great restaurant community, a great bar community. There is, I think, a true love for our profession and the overall hospitality industry in Chicago. There are no prejudices, no arrogance. It’s just really fun, and the people are really real. I love Las Vegas, I really do. I love the desert. I mean, it could be 115 and I can be happy. I’m also a big bicycle rider, so I just actually came back from a 30-mile ride under the Red Rock Canyon, which is absolutely stunningly beautiful this time of year. And I would say New York City. What’s not to love about New York City? Today, I’m a partner at a restaurant called Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, so I’m in New York a fair amount. What’s happened in the bar industry in New York City is now spread through the entire United States. There’s probably not a major city in the United States that you cannot find a good cocktail bar in. I feel very excited and proud to be a small part of that. I think we’re all drinking better because of it. The next stop for me is Maui. I’m a warm weather guy. My retirement plan is to look for a nice little cocktail bar in Maui who is looking for a part-time bartender a couple nights a week who can make a pretty good Negroni, weave some tales, tell some stories, do what I love to do.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are your 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 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 18, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What’s the best wine Larry Stone has ever had?

    One of the greatest experiences I’ve had was with Madeira. I’ve had two Madeiras that really blew me away. They were both Terrantez Madeira — one was made in 1795 and the other was given to me blind and I nailed it as a 1745. I also had a tocai, it wasn’t that old — it was from the early 80’s — that was just amazing. I got it in a little vile — 187 milliliters (half of a half bottle). It was sealed up in Hungary and sent to me and it was just absolutely phenomenal. But then, of course, I have had things like a 1921 Cheval Blanc and a 1947 Cheval Blanc and those were amazing wines too.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What’s the best wine Larry Stone has ever had?

    One of the greatest experiences I’ve had was with Madeira. I’ve had two Madeiras that really blew me away. They were both Terrantez Madeira — one was made in 1795 and the other was given to me blind and I nailed it as a 1745. I also had a tocai, it wasn’t that old — it was from the early 80’s — that was just amazing. I got it in a little vile — 187 milliliters (half of a half bottle). It was sealed up in Hungary and sent to me and it was just absolutely phenomenal. But then, of course, I have had things like a 1921 Cheval Blanc and a 1947 Cheval Blanc and those were amazing wines too.
  • On August 23, 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 August 23, 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 August 23, 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 August 23, 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 August 23, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What are Larry Stone's favorite wines?

    There are two regions that I love a lot. I love Gaja Barbaresco and Vietti Barolo, the Piemonte wines. When my wife and I celebrated our first anniversary we went there as a second honeymoon because our first one was such a disaster. We were poor and I took her on a camping trip and it did not end well. So I took her to Piemonte the next year because I love those wines, the Barbarescos, the Barolos. And I had already met owner Angelo Gaja at the time and I’ve continued a long relationship with him — the family is fantastic at making wine. And Vietti is just remarkable too.

    The first wines I bought professionally were from Austria, as I spent a lot of time tasting wines when I studied there as a college student. I think grüner veltliner and rieslings from Prager are phenomenal — I love those two varieties from the Wachau region of Austria. I also love the Kracher dessert wines from Neusiedlersee in Burgenland, Austria. And of course everything from Oregon, Burgundy and California. There’s just so much great wine these days it’s hard to pin down what’s not good.