Know Your Sommeliers: Dr. of Wine Ryan Hess

Ryan Hess, business owner, former UCLA professor, and a doctor of wine loves all things viticulture.

Hi Ryan, tell us something about yourself

I’ve been in wine for almost 20 years now. I’ve got my Ph.D. in Viticulture and Oenology, owned and operated many wine bars, and currently teach and work with a good friend Helen Johannesen of Helen’s wines. 

How long have you been in the drinks industry?

20 years

How according to you has the role of the sommelier evolved, especially now during covid times?

It’s constantly changing, and in the wake of Covid, I feel like my role has definitely taken on a much more of a home consultant to people that want to buy wine and drink while at home. 

What are some of the most important skills for a sommelier?

The most important skill for sommeliers to develop is one of truly getting to know the vocabulary of the people you’re trying to sell to. Sam can know his palate back and forth but you know your clientele‘s palate and to be able to sort the Rubiks cube of their flavors that they love is a true talent. To do this accurately, a good Somm must be on top of his game with knowing as much about the winds he’s peddling as possible. 

What do you look for when you plan to buy wine for your business?

Essentially all I’m ever looking for is balance. Like a chair with one leg too short or too long, all the components in a wind must come together so that not one leg is longer or shorter than the others. If a wine has all these components that midway together I’m also looking for its connected desk to the land.

Where and what you drink when not working?

As of late during the times of Covid I often find myself drinking at home and with a few friends that I feel comfortable hanging out with. Always trying to taste new things with different people ;)


What are some of your favorite places for happy hours?

My favorite place for happy hours is definitely the Umbrella company, Domaine LA, and Eataly.


What are some new wines or varietals to drink right now?

I think the biggest push I see right now is the reinvigoration of natural wine. As a champion of the land as much as the vines we need to look forward into the future to make sure that we are taking care of everything that goes into our bodies.


Where do you currently work? Or worked at last? 

Helen’s Wines. You can find Ryan at Helen wines, which they like to call the dopest wine shop in the town.

In Picture: Helen's Wines

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