Mike Madriaga 8:30 a.m., Aug. 21
Add' adds new wine director
The Grand Del Mar's Addison replaces stand-out sommelier
There’s no use crying over spilled milk, but I’ll shed tears over vino. I nearly did last March, when I found out Jesse Rodriguez, the French Laundry and Per Se vet and walking wine encyclopedia regarded by most everyone in the know as the best sommelier in the county, had left his post at The Grand Del Mar’s fine dining temple, Addison, to take a new job outside San Diego.
For years, I’d relied on Rodriguez as a masterful resource and, when dining at Addison, thoroughly enjoyed his selections, especially when paired against the fine cuisine of acclaimed executive chef William Bradley. It’s impossible not to lament such a loss, nor wonder who will be brought in to take up such a high profile post.
This morning, The Grand Del Mar put an end to my (and every other food writer in San Diego’s) speculation, announcing the five-star, five-diamond, Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning restaurant’s wine program will be headed up by sommelier Elizabeth Huettinger.
Huettinger comes to Addison from Spago in Beverly Hills, where she worked as the assistant wine director. While there, she gained valuable experience, seeing the two-star Michelin resto through a complete shutdown, renovation and reopening.
But she’s not without her ties to San Diego. Prior to her time in the 90210, she worked as a somm for 4S Ranch's defunct Cavaillon, where she personally dazzled me with her personality, ability to communicate her broad body of oenophile knowledge and daringness to bend the rules with her pairings.
Filling such a highly coveted position is surely a huge step for Huettinger, but stepping into Rodriguez’s grape juice-stained footwear carries with it a great deal of pressure to go along with the immense responsibility of maintaining a 37,000-bottle wine collection at a restaurant thought of by many in and out of San Diego as our region’s finest. It won’t be easy, but if her passion is anywhere near the level it was when I saw her last, it should do a lot to help carry the day.