I profiled Bill in this column several years ago. Bill opened Mission Wines in South Pasadena and Leslie joined him there. After Bill sold the business to relocate up north, Leslie became the sommelier at an exclusive, historic private club in Pasadena.
For 15 years Leslie has been studying wine, mostly by tasting and learning from the experts. She credits Ron Washam, sommelier at Pacific Dining Car for teaching her the craft, calling him, "my mentor."
At the club, Leslie is responsible for maintaining the wine cellar, checking inventory, ordering wine and coordinating with the beverage manager and the catering manager. On the dining floor, she pours wine. Every evening the chef presents five special entrees paired with appropriate wines by the glass, chosen by Leslie. The club's wine list runs to nearly 300 wines, which Leslie feels, has depth and breadth, including wines from Europe.
"When you drink wines from France or Italy, you want to eat a nice piece of fish, a good wedge of cheese." she said.
With her teaching background, Leslie takes an educational approach to wine. She conducts wine tastings on Friday evenings and arranges dinners with winemakers. In the spring she is looking forward to teaching wine classes at the club. "I plan to introduce wines like Rhone varietals. I've noticed that pinot noirs have become more popular, perhaps because of the film 'Sideways'," she said. "The wine classes should be educational and fun."
Leslie and Jeff make frequent trips to the wine country for tastings and picnics with their daughter Halley. They recently drove up Highway 1 to Arcata for a holiday. They often entertain friends at home with casual dinners where the food is simple but elegant and the wines are carefully chosen to complement the meal.