EVAN HUFFORD

Evan Hufford is the Head Sommelier for Single Thread in Healdsburg, CA. Evan has a wealth of experience in Michelin and Forbes starred restaurants. He found his inspiration for wine and fine dining in the unique Native American owned and inspired Kai Restaurant in Phoenix. During his 5 year tenure across numerous positions ending in Wine Director, he helped elevate Kai to become widely considered Arizona’s best restaurant, annually receiving the only Forbes 5 Star and Triple A 5 Diamond awards in the state. He later joined the team at the Robuchon Restaurants at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, serving as both manager and sommelier at L’Atelier and the 3 Michelin Star Joël Robuchon. Evan then moved to San Francisco to join the team at Saison as Head Sommelier, where he spearheaded efforts to create a Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine list featuring nearly 4,000 selections.

Most recently, he served as Lead Sommelier at Michael Mina’s flagship restaurant in San Francisco’s Financial District, where he proudly implemented a new staff education curriculum that has helped numerous staff members pass Court of Master Sommeliers exams.

Evan has a dual degree in Psychology and Political Science. He is an Advanced Sommelier currently studying for the Master Sommelier Exam, as well as a French Wine Scholar with Highest Honors. 


GET TO KNOW EVAN

What is your favorite wine region to visit?
Alto Adige in northern Italy.  The landscape is absolutely breathtaking.  It'll be nice and sunny in the valley, with snow capped mountains on either side of you.  Terlano's Vorberg Pinot Bianco vineyard is one of the most amazing vineyards I've ever seen.  It lies halfway up a mountain, accessible only by a narrow single lane bridge, and the slope is greater than 45 degrees in some parts.

What is your favorite class to teach?
Blind tasting classes.  I love breaking down the science behind the flavors and aromas in the glass, and helping people put what they're experiencing into words and deepening their understanding and enjoyment of wine.

What's your most memorable wine experience?
Setting up a wine dinner with Halter Ranch Winery of Paso Robles at my first sommelier job, Kai Restaurant in Chandler, AZ, and then being able to attend the dinner as a guest after I had accepted a position in Las Vegas.  The food was so incredible, and the peppery reds matched the Native American inspired cuisine so well.  Venison topped with foie gras with their Syrah was revelatory. 

Why did you decide to become an instructor?
I have always taken a tremendous amount of joy in teaching the staff at my restaurants.  I remember how incredibly intimidated I was by the world of wine when I started as a back server in fine dining, so now I truly enjoy attempting to make it as approachable as possible for newcomers. 

What's your most memorable food and wine pairing?
2004 Hirtzberger Grüner Veltiner with abalone in miso broth.  Absolutely spectacular.  Hirtzberger's wines tend to show spicy ginger, saffron and honey notes from bortrytis, which melded so beautifully with the miso and mustard greens on the dish.

What's the biggest challenge in your job?
Creating a training curriculum and keeping the staff learning and growing at all times.  Generally you're teaching staff at various levels of wine knowledge so keeping everyone's attention while not immediately excluding the novices is a large challenge.

What other passions beside wine do you have?
In the larger world of beverage I am a fanatic for both sake and mezcal.  I enjoy finding the classic cocktails where mezcal does and does not work (it almost always works in my opinion).  I also love hip-hop, and have been a funk-style dancer for about 10 years.

Name some recent wine discoveries that you find exciting.
Old Cru Beaujolais.  I recently tasted some Morgon from 2000 and 2005 and they were both amazing.  I don’t think Cru Beaujolais gets the recognition it deserves for aging gracefully, at least in terms of representation on wine lists.  Also, lately I’ve been trying to introduce the magic of Clare Valley Riesling to as many people as possible since it still flies under the radar in the U.S.  Jeffrey Grosset’s wines are incredible.

What do you think is the most unappreciated wine or region in the world?
I’ll go right back to Alto Adige.  Often thought of as a sea of uninteresting Pinot Grigio, on the contrary I find the whites in particular to be amongst the most interesting wines to pair with food.  They make some of the best Pinot Blanc in the world.

 

ABOUT

San Francisco Wine School strives to open up the world of wine to serious students and enthusiasts everywhere while helping people of all levels break into the wine industry, advance their career, or simply pursue their passions. Founded by Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator David Glancy, San Francisco Wine School is the largest wine school in the U.S., offering the most thoughtful approach to wine study. Classes are taught in our state of the art wine education center and our cutting edge virtual classroom by industry-leading instructors from all major educational disciplines.

San Francisco Wine School’s curriculum features the best content in the business: expert course materials, carefully conceived wine flights, and in-depth blind tasting exercises designed to engage students, illuminate course content and enhance learning. Our brand new sunlight-filled Wine Education Center is conveniently located just 5 minutes from San Francisco International Airport. It boasts 16-ft high coved ceilings, eight 12-ft tall arched windows, and gorgeous 180 degree views of the San Bruno Mountains, South San Francisco City Hall and the San Francisco Bay, making it the perfect place to enjoy classes, industry seminars and tastings and host a wide variety of private events.

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