Somm Season on The Grape Nation

By: Andreana Chou

The Grape Nation is HRN’s weekly wine journey. No snobbery here, just a palatable trip through beautiful vineyards and great wine lists with industry leaders. Conversations from last month’s “Sommelier September” bring listeners inside some of the best restaurants in New York City for stories about their somms and insight on what to drink. 

Episode 191: Eliza Christen, Lilia & Misi: Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Eliza Christen made her way to the United States, attended the University of Illinois, and found her love for hospitality and wine in culinary mecca Champaign Urbana. She traveled the world to work harvests in Italy, Australia, and Oregon and is studying for her wine certifications. Eliza has worked at the Meadowood Resort and Momofuku Ko before meeting Sean Feeney of Grovehouse. Eliza Christen is now the Beverage Director of Chef Missy Robbin’s and Sean Feeney’s Lilia and Misi in Williamsburg. Listen to her talk about the challenges of reopening the restaurant and supporting staff, curating selections for the restaurant, and why she’s not on social media. 

Episode 192: Annie Shi, King, NYC: New York’s own Annie Shi attended Yale University and moved to London to work in Finance at JP Morgan. So, the question is, and surely her parents have asked many times, what the hell are you doing in the restaurant business? Annie is a partner, the GM, and Beverage Director at Soho restaurant King. King is run and staffed by all women, critically acclaimed, and has achieved near cult status. 

Episode 193: James O’Brien, Popina: Jersey boy James O’Brien attended the Institute of Culinary Education after college, and worked his way through Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group at Tabla and Maiolino where he met his eventual partner, Chris McDade. How do two guys with Irish sounding last names open one of the most admired Italian restaurants in New York? James O’Brien is the Co-Founder/Owner and GM of Popina in Brooklyn. Popina, along with great food, serves up a wine list of unique depth and value.

Episode 194: Audrey Frick, Wine Director, One White St. NYC: New York born Audrey Frick headed west to pursue music and become a Buff at the University of Colorado. She got the hospitality and wine bug in Boulder at Bobby Stuckey’s Frasca, working her way to the opening team at Tavernetta in Denver. She has worked harvests around the world, found a love for Italian wines, and has an advanced certification from the CMS. The real question is, how does one go from playing French Horn to slinging wine? Audrey writes extensively about Italian wines and is now the Wine Director and part of the opening team at Dustin Wilson and Austin Johnson’s buzzy One White St. in Tribeca.

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