Congratulations to Kelcie Jones of One MICHELIN Star Burdock & Co., the MICHELIN Guide Vancouver 2023 Sommelier of the year award winner! Starting her sommelier journey through reading Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World and attending weekly wine classes, Jones' relationship with wine has changed in ways she's never imagined. Below, the sommelier and wine director takes us on a deep dive through memory lane. Cheers!
How were you introduced to the world of wine?
I got a serving job while in university in Toronto, for which I was vastly unqualified. I bought Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World to try and catch up with the staff, and started taking weekly wine classes from the restaurant's sommelier, Heather McDougall. I caught the bug pretty quickly after that.
How has your relationship with wine changed?
In many years of study and service, I have really come to understand the ways in which wine interconnects agriculture, politics, climate sciences, and other industries. I still revel in the mystery of fermentation, viticulture, and the ways in which the world of wine is always changing. I'd say the deeper I dig, the more magically confounding it is.
What are you drinking these days?
As the trend goes, I am trying to drink less but drink more meaningfully. If I go out, I really like to let the sommelier or my server choose. At home, it's probably Chardonnay from a cooler climate like Tasmania, Oregon, or Vezelay.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink?
I make kombucha at home! Most of my friends and family are not interested in drinking, but I love it. Ginger beer is also high on the list. Anything slightly bubbly and ferment-y is very much my style.
What’s your ideal meal and pairing?
Lamb broth by Chef Justin Song-El (of Elephant on Powell) with Collestefano Verdicchio di Matellica has been a recent revelatory experience.
What’s the biggest misconception about being a sommelier, or wine in general?
That we are always tasting wine! In reality, there are a lot of spreadsheets, chasing down products, and breaking down wine boxes.
For wine in general, I encounter many guests who think sweet wines are low-brow. I always aim to challenge this, as sweet wines are some of the most thought-provoking wines I've ever had!
What’s your criteria for adding a new wine to your list?
For the last couple of years, I have referred to my approach as post-natural: meaning farming is foremost for me, so I always want to know about practices in the vineyard. Organic without other details is not enough; I want to know that producers are working with their native environments to be sustainable in that place. Whether or not producers use zero-zero winemaking practices in the cellar is less important to me, and I try to bring up questions of labour practices and grower relations if possible. Deliciousness and suitability to Chef Andrea's delicate yet complex food is always top of mind, and these days we tend to be most excited by wines that feel timeless rather than trendy.
Favorite wine-related film, book, magazine, etc?
It's hard to top the sardonic yet spot-on criticism in Noble Rot, though I bet that's a common answer!
On a more academic note, I've been combing through Wine & Conversation by Linguistics Professor Adrienne Lehrer. It examines how we talk about wine and what our word choice says about the experience of tasting. I'm a Stage 2 Master of Wine student, and if I pass to Stage 3, I'd love to write my thesis further exploring what we talk about when we talk about wine, especially as wine becomes a more global beverage and new voices and cultures come to wine.
Hero image: Hakan Burcuoglu/Burdock & Co.