• Meet LeeAnn Kaufman Sommelier and Wine Director for St. Regis Aspen Resort

     
    FROM THE Spring 2013 ISSUE
     

    Books to Grapes-  As sommelier and wine director for St. Regis Aspen Resort, LeeAnn Kaufman knows how to handle a sword and snow. As sommelier and wine director for St. Regis Aspen Resort, LeeAnn Kaufman knows how to handle asword and snow.  

LeeAnn Kaufman doesn’t take herself too seriously. This swashbuckling, leather-coat-clad bachelorette brings a touch of authenticity and enthusiasm to one of Colorado’s premier properties, St. Regis Aspen Resort.

As part of the resort’s tradition, Kaufman yields a sword nightly. The custom is known as sabering, with roots to Napoleon’s dynasty. The cork and bottle top are confidently lopped off in her expert hands to say farewell to the day and hello to the evening with a champagne toast.

The leather coat, that’s just Kaufman’s choice of dress. "I always wanted to be a rock star, maybe a rock ’n’ roll sommelier?" And bachelorette life, well, it’s not the whole truth. There are three others in her life right now: Truly, Dru and Finle, her beloved golden retrievers.

Kaufman was born in California and is the granddaughter of a winemaker originally from Italy. She didn’t set out to embrace her heritage; rather, she became an educator. However, it seems never once in her storied sommelier career has her role as a teacher, mentor and charismatic colleague ever waivered.

Two decades later, with an impressive resume and desire for a lifestyle change, Kaufman is at home working for St. Regis Aspen Resort. Using connections in Napa and Sonoma, she is bringing a repertoire of mighty elusive grapes to the resort. The wine list runs 380 deep, and during the peak season of menu pairing selection, Kaufman might sample up to 20 wines a week.

However, don’t expect her to be snotty or pretentious about the choices. "I enjoy talking to guests using language they will understand, so they actually understand what they are drinking," Kaufman says.

And, it’s about having fun. "Sure, I miss the beach, however, the smog-free air is Disneyland for the dogs and I. We go on four-mile, refreshing walks each day."

You may not have seen her name among Chicago’s James Beard award nominees or caught in the buzz of another trendy eatery opening, but the ripples of Rita Dever’s culinary creations have made an impact far and wide. After cooking around the world, the Pacific Northwest native put down roots as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ (LEYE) associate partner and corporate chef where she collaborates in the company’s test kitchen to innovate new dishes for all LEYE restaurants.

 

For Chicago-based event planner and stylist Rachel De Marte, her bright, dynamic personality isn’t just one of her many amiable characteristics. It’s her calling card.

“I’m a big personality and a maximalist through and through. There’s definitely an energy and excitement level I bring to each event that you’ll start to grasp as we sit down together to brainstorm,” says De Marte. “‘Where does she get all of this energy?’ and ‘force of nature’ are things I hear all the time,” she laughs.

 

Passionate entrepreneurs and ESP Presents co-founders Matt Woodburn and Sarah Neukom collaborate to craft experiential events. 

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