Meet the Expert - Andrew Limberg
Sommelier. Restaurateur. Amateur Winemaker.
With a strong passion for wine and food and a yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do, Andrew oversees wines at two of the hottest places in Washington D.C.: James Beard Award-winning Rose’s Luxury, and the critically praised Pineapple and Pearls. He has a special talent for recognizing wines made for love, not money.
Favorite Wine Region? Etna probably, although I have been diving back into Burgundy recently.
Favorite Wine Story? It would have to be any quote by or story surrounding the late GREAT Serge Hochar [the charismatic Lebanese winemaker and entrepreneur who died in 2015].
Light-Bulb Moment? ’98 Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin. Consumed at Bistro du Coin in Washington DC in 2002. Mind blown.
Last Meal? Hmmmm, something cooked over or in open fire, accompanied by 1977 Mastroberardino Riserva Taurasi because it’s one of the few wines from my birth year that’s allegedly drinking well...
Desert Island Wine? If it is literally a desert island, it would be a Rosé… probably from Provence.
If you could live anywhere in the world...Cassis, France. And I’d only answer to “Andre.”
Bucket List? That illusive blue belt in Tae Kwon Do…
If you ruled the world, what would you do on Day 1? I would drastically increase how much teachers are paid.
Greatest Achievement? Convincing my girlfriend to marry me.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Head of Public Transportation for my hometown of Washington, D.C., or full-time winemaker.
THEN To an impressionable young Andrew Limberg growing up in Washington D.C., wine was for dukes, oil tycoons, or Russian double agents like the one in his favorite James Bond film, “From Russia With Love,” who — to Bond’s old-fashioned horror, and ultimately the Russian’s own demise — pairs a red Chianti with fish.
But when he got older and was allowed to drink at family gatherings, Andrew started to associate wine with good eating; he realized how anyone can enjoy the nectar of the vine. His English degree from Virginia Tech got him work in IP law firms’ docketing departments which, being “about as exciting as it sounds,” made him miserable — and before long he returned to the restaurant work that had supported him through college. Andrew’s boss at D.C.’s 15ria, where he rose from server to Assistant GM, helped turn his interest in wine into a passion by introducing him to regions such as Alsace and the Rhône Valley.
During the next few years, at restaurants such as The Capital Grille in both D.C. and New York, Andrew built up his wine expertise and became a Certified Sommelier. Yet he couldn’t shake the need to experience firsthand how wine was made. So he did a crazy thing: he just up and headed for California, to intern with Central Coast wine legend Doug Margerum at his acclaimed winery outside Santa Barbara. Starting at the bottom of the totem pole, he immersed himself in every task required to turn grapes into wine.
Reluctant though he was to leave the winery toward the end of 2012, he had an unmissable opportunity waiting for him back in D.C.: The GM position at chef Jamie Leeds’ wildly successful Hank’s Oyster Bar. While Andrew was there, Aaron Silverman, an old colleague from New York and now a James Beard award-winning chef, found himself in need of a General Manager and “wine guy” for his newly opened restaurant, Rose’s Luxury, on Capitol Hill.
NOW Helming the wine program at Rose’s Luxury since January 2014 has been “an incredible ride,” says Andrew who, besides being responsible for the wine program, is the GM at Silverman’s Pineapple and Pearls, named No. 1 on the Washington Post’s spring 2016 list of D.C.’s 10 Best New Restaurants. The movers and shakers who frequent both critically commended hotspots appreciate his approach to wine: He’s as impressed by unusual values from less well-known producers as he is by fancy, expensive vintages.
That people can devote their lives to patiently creating something as marvelous as wine fascinates Andrew to this day. This is why he’s quick to recognize wines made for love, not money — a talent that guides him when making selections for the wine club.
NEXT Andrew wants to continue to share with diners both the cool wines he finds and the human stories behind them. And he has hopes of taking more trips abroad to discover the next great wine regions of the world. He’s got his eyes on places as diverse as the Italian islands, Eastern Europe, parts of Southern Australia, and the UK. He'd also love to retrace his steps to California and work with his mentor Doug Margerum again on a wine-related project of some kind.