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 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.
  • On August 23, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What does Larry Stone think distinguishes a $10 bottle from one that costs $100?

    I don’t know if you can put a price on wine in that way. What can make a bottle of wine that is unpretentious brilliant is the company you drink it with. I think the setting you enjoy wine in is part of the whole thing; whether it’s a picnic and you’re having a bottle of Bourgueil or some elaborate dinner. Frankly, you can have some of the most expensive wines in the world, and in the wrong company its just a horrible experience. The beautiful thing about food and wine is the beautiful thing about human society. Food and wine can bring people together and wine can be a focal point for a conversation. It can also be deathly boring if it is done the wrong way.

    What makes a great wine great is the people you are drinking it with. A great wine has to be something like a great person. It has to be something that draws you in and keeps you engaged, that stimulates you and makes you think things you never thought. A great wine makes you experience things you never experienced before, and it reveals something about itself, as well as about you, when you taste it. A really great wine can do that. A wine that can be delicious and perfectly wonderful with a meal might not have the same impact on its own. But, a great wine will definitely make you remember it. It will make you wonder about it and try to unravel all the mysteries that it presents to you. You’ll just keep going back to it and that’s the beauty of wine: it has so many facets.
  • On August 23, 2012
    Larry Stone answered the question: Larry Stone

    What does Larry Stone think distinguishes a $10 bottle from one that costs $100?

    I don’t know if you can put a price on wine in that way. What can make a bottle of wine that is unpretentious brilliant is the company you drink it with. I think the setting you enjoy wine in is part of the whole thing; whether it’s a picnic and you’re having a bottle of Bourgueil or some elaborate dinner. Frankly, you can have some of the most expensive wines in the world, and in the wrong company its just a horrible experience. The beautiful thing about food and wine is the beautiful thing about human society. Food and wine can bring people together and wine can be a focal point for a conversation. It can also be deathly boring if it is done the wrong way.

    What makes a great wine great is the people you are drinking it with. A great wine has to be something like a great person. It has to be something that draws you in and keeps you engaged, that stimulates you and makes you think things you never thought. A great wine makes you experience things you never experienced before, and it reveals something about itself, as well as about you, when you taste it. A really great wine can do that. A wine that can be delicious and perfectly wonderful with a meal might not have the same impact on its own. But, a great wine will definitely make you remember it. It will make you wonder about it and try to unravel all the mysteries that it presents to you. You’ll just keep going back to it and that’s the beauty of wine: it has so many facets.