Austin women make Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 list

Jessica Sanders and her husband, Mike, are preparing to open their second bar in Austin in the spring.
Jessica Sanders, of Drink.Well and Backbeat, was named to Wine Enthusiast’s recently announced 40 Under 40 list.

The publication Wine Enthusiast scoured the country to find the top 40 “tastemakers” who are changing how America drinks — and two local women in Austin’s bustling bar scene made the cut.

Wine Enthusiast published the list yesterday, including a mix of winemakers, distillers, importers, distributors, sommeliers and cicerones. Jessica Sanders, co-owner of Drink.Well and Backbeat along with her husband, Michael, was featured, as was June Rodil, a master sommelier who oversees the wine and beverage program for McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group.

Both of them were highlighted for their love of wine. The magazine, which will hit newstands next week but has the 40 Under 40 list in full online, noted about Sanders that her newest bar, Backbeat, has a much wider selection of drinks than the first one.

“Backbeat boasts room for 100 and a dynamic wine list,” Wine Enthusiast writes. “That includes a champagne program with a rotating selection of grower producers and a ‘break-even bubbles’ program that offers select wines at cost. With a reputation for inventive cocktails that use trendy bases like vermouth and rhum agricole, the two bars are at the top of Austin’s tippling game.”

Rodil is in charge of the beverage programs of McGuire Moorman’s seven restaurants — no small task, as Wine Enthusiast notes.

A seventh (restaurant), June’s, opened this summer,” according to the publication. “‘Yes, I’m pretty embarrassed about the name, but I got outvoted, and now it’s growing on me,’ says Rodil. The namesake bar is a kind of place ‘where you can drink champagne while wearing shorts and flip-flops,’ she says.”

For the full list of 40 Under 40 notables, visit winemag.com.

Sommelier Paula Rester returning to Austin’s La Corsha Hospitality Group

Sommelier Paula Rester just can’t stay away from Congress and the rest of La Corsha Hospitality Group’s restaurants — lucky for them.

Photo by Jay M. Sauceda. Sommelier Paula Rester is returning to Austin from New York City to take on the role of wine director for La Corsha restaurants.
Photo by Jay M. Sauceda. Sommelier Paula Rester is returning to Austin from New York City to take on the role of wine director for La Corsha restaurants.

Integral in establishing strong wine programs in Austin dining spots, Rester returns to Austin from New York City, where she moved in September 2014 to serve as sommelier at Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group’s Italian concept Maialino.

In her new role with La Corsha Hospitality Group, she’ll act as wine director for each of the group’s restaurants: Congress, Bar Congress, the Second Bar + Kitchen downtown and at the Domain, Boiler Nine Bar + Grill and the soon-to-be renovated Green Pastures. She’ll begin the new position on Dec. 1.

“I am excited to return home and take on this greater and more challenging role,” Rester said in a press release. “It’s an honor to be trusted with the responsibility of curating the wine lists for some of the best restaurants in the city.”

Rester’s role strengthening wine programs in this city runs deep. In addition to working as sommelier and wine director at Congress off and on from its opening through last year, she’s also spent time at Vino Vino and Uchi. Under her leadership, Vino Vino was declared one of “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, an honor that only a couple of other local spots, including Congress, have gotten.

As wine director for all La Corsha restaurants, Rester will be a boon for them, according to Scott Walker, vice president of operations at the restaurant group.

“We are growing very quickly as a company and to have Paula return to create, educate and maintain the various wine programs is a great benefit to the company, our employees and our guests,” Walker said in the press release.

Austin’s June Rodil becomes 7th Texas master sommelier

McGuire Moorman Hospitality's June Rodil recently became Austin's third master sommelier, a rare accomplishment in the wine world.
McGuire Moorman Hospitality’s June Rodil recently became Austin’s third master sommelier, a rare accomplishment in the wine world.

It’s extremely difficult to become a master sommelier, the highest ranking of wine specialist that exists. In Austin, only two sommeliers had reached that echelon until McGuire Moorman Hospitality’s beverage director, June Rodil, joined their ranks yesterday.

Rodil, who handles the drinks side of the local hospitality group’s spate of restaurants, including Lamberts, Perla’s, Jeffrey’s and more, joins Whole Foods’ Devon Broglie and ELM Restaurant Group’s Craig Collins as Austin’s three master sommeliers, providing their sophisticated wine knowledge and palates to their respective beverage programs. Both men became master sommeliers in 2011.

The trio belongs to a similarly small group of master sommeliers, totaling 7, in the state of Texas as a whole. That’s in part because reaching that level of wine professional is hard to do. The Master

The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in 1977 as a way of improving the standards of beverage service in hotels and restaurants, implementing levels of specialization that people in the industry can reach, and master sommelier is the highest.