Congratulations to Vincent Morrow, wine director of One MICHELIN Star Press and the 2022 MICHELIN Guide California Sommelier Award winner! With a bucolic location off Highway 29 in Napa, Press features cozy dark wood, a fireplace, and lofty ceilings, and the well-to-do crowd marvels at the decorative ceramic clock sourced from a bygone NY train station. This modern American dining room exudes all the Wine Country vibes, and just so happens to boast the largest collection of Napa wines in the world. Here's Morrow on pairings, decanting, and his favorite wine flicks. Presented in partnership with Wine Access.
What are you drinking these days? Etna wines and carajillos
And your non-alcoholic drink of choice? I pretty routinely have a single espresso in the late morning, then another single or double before service late afternoon.
Favorite wine-related film, book, magazine, etc?
I have to go with films. Call me a sucker, but the first choice is SOMM (2012). I had set my sights on the examination prior to it coming out, but when the movie debuted at the Napa Valley Film Festival while I was working downtown, the feeling inside me intensified. All the sommeliers in that film inspired me immensely and helped to illustrate some of the challenges I would later face, both personally and professionally. DLynn Proctor, who is now a good friend, was a centerpiece of this inspiration for me, and also contributes to my second choice, Uncorked (2020). We need to see more people of color interacting with wine, and to know that these opportunities in food and wine are available and achievable.
What's your ideal meal and pairing?
My ideal pairing in a restaurant is one in which the beverage yields slightly to the dish and elevates the guest experience, be it through harmonizing with and/or enhancing the flavors of the dish. Selecting a beverage that even slightly overrides a dish diminishes the work the chefs and purveyors put into it.
If I had one ideal pairing for the rest of my life, it would be agnolotti del plin with nebbiolo or nerello mascalese. I've also been very fortunate to have a few "revelatory" wine pairings over the years that I have to add here: Lopez de Heredia rioja blanco and white truffle risotto and Sauternes with fresh oysters. You have to try them at least once!
© John Troxell
What's the biggest misconception about being a sommelier, or wine in general, that you'd like to dispel? For wine: Decanting. It's not always better, even for young wine. For sommeliers: Being a sommelier does not mean you're focused solely on the service of wine. There is a world of knowledge acquisition and administrative duties required behind the scenes to stay sharp and keep a program running. During service, sommeliers should be assuming any role in the dining room that the guest experience necessitates. I love staying active and running food, clearing tables, seating guests, and everything in between.
What’s your criteria for adding a new wine to your list?
At Press, we're focused on Napa Valley wines and winemakers, and we primarily sell library wine, so the vintage and/or propensity for age is a major consideration. Everything that makes up the story—the vineyard source, winemaker, and proprietor—is considered. I truly appreciate when a winemaker has worked their way up at other wineries and then finally begins their own label. I look for winemakers who are humble, hardworking, and respect the craft, the same type of people I prefer to work alongside, including Chef Tessier.
Presented in partnership with Wine Access
Hero image: Press beverage director Vincent Morrow
© Bonjwing Photography