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Meet the Expert - Brian McClintic

Master Sommelier. Winemaker. Author. Educator.

Star of the 2013 cult wine film “SOMM,” Brian makes wine, sells wine, writes about wine and teaches about wine. He is a published author with the Guild of Sommeliers and a teacher for the Court of Master Sommeliers.


Favorite wine region? Chablis; Is there a purer Chardonnay in all the land?

Favorite wine story? The one we're living.

Light-bulb moment? Realizing wine people were closet cheap Mexican beer lovers too.

Last meal? Uni and Muscadet. Ok, I'm ready to die now.

Desert island wine? Champagne, because there's always a reason to celebrate.

If you could live anywhere in the world… On a desert island. Not really. But sort of. By the ocean.

Bucket list? More things than I can check off.

If you ruled the world, what would you do on Day 1? Change my status as ruler of the world. Too much pressure.

Greatest achievement? Launching viticolewine.com in 2016.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Besides being a shepherd, acting…


THEN There was little in his early years to indicate Brian’s true passion or talent. Growing up in San Francisco, his finest wine experiences involved Gallo, or maybe Bartles & James. As a young man trying to make a go at pro baseball and then screenwriting, he stuck mainly to discount beer and cheap hootch.

But to supplement his income during those 14 years, Brian worked in restaurants, and became more familiar with wines. While working at an upscale resort in Aspen, he found himself next to a northern Rhône aficionado who offered to share a bottle of 1990 Chave Cuvée Cathelin. Each sip Brian took was mind blowing. That Syrah changed the course of his life by crystallizing his decision to pursue a career in wine.

For two-and-a-half whirlwind years, captured on film in a 2012 documentary called “SOMM,” Brian lived and breathed wine. In the end he succeeded and became only the 107th Master Sommelier in the United States—surprising both himself and his former baseball teammates. He followed up this achievement by opening the Les Marchands wine bar and retail store in Santa Barbara, putting together a crack team to advise a discerning clientele on how to build and manage world-class wine collections.

NOW Brian combines social media with his love of travel and deep connection with wine in his innovative business, viticolewine.com. Followers can keep up with him as he uncovers wine gems both domestically and abroad. He is also a charismatic educator, and his presentations on how to taste and serve wine are a revelation for novices and professionals alike.

To Brian, wine isn’t an intellectual pursuit; it’s all about bringing people together, for celebrating moments in people’s lives. He's proud to say that despite the expertise he’s gained, he remains the guy who doesn’t want to spit wine in the bucket. He’d rather drink the whole glass. And he still loves to throw back some cold Mexican beers on a hot afternoon.

NEXT His dream? To live in a vineyard, ideally near the ocean, make some wine and rediscover the tranquility that comes from working in a vineyard. Corsica might be the place, although he loves the beauty of the California coast too.