How to transition from server to somm position

How did you go from being a server/bartender to being in the sommelier position and what steps did you take to get to where you are now?

as someone who passed the intro and studying for the certified. What would you recommend for me to do to move into a wine team position?

  • Rich,

    I was asking the same question 8 years ago. Developing a work history at a restaurant that has a sommelier and a respected wine program, and a willingness to allow you to volunteer in the cellar. I was working full time as a server, and on my free time, would help out my sommelier with various tasks ranging from sweeping the floor and stocking wine, to binning deliveries. The compensation I received was being able to watch and learn. 

    I did this for two years before I made the jump, first to being a floor sommelier, who did not have any buying responsibilities, then soon after landing my first position as a buyer. There is an insane amount of on the job learning, and it is helpful to find a mentor willing to share their past experiences with you. Luckily, you work in a market where there are numerous accomplished professionals who are also excellent teachers.

    I would assume this thread may be populated by a few of those people.

    Hope that helps. Feel free to shoot me an email if I can answer any other questions in greater detail.

  • Often its hard to make the jump from server to Somm at the same restaurant. Many times once the owners and staff see you as a server its hard for them to then see you as a Somm. I recommend looking for a very wine focused restaurant in your area, see if they are looking for a JR Somm to help out under a very experienced Somm you could learn from. Passing certifications is great but nothing is better than working the floor night in and night out. 

  • My restaurant never had a somm position but I was a bartender and we have a large wine list, so I took my Intro exam on my own. I think that showed the owners that I had some initiative.

    I then applied for a management position and landed the job, so I asked the owners if I could also refer to myself as a "floor sommelier" and the rest is history.