Best Sommeliers In Sacramento

October 31, 2012 11:00 AM

One of the biggest missed opportunities with fine dining is finding the right wine pairings. Restaurants employ some of the most talented people in the wine industry, but diners are afraid to trust them, assuming a sommelier will just recommend the most expensive bottle of wine. This is hardly the case! Be honest about your budget and what you like. A good sommelier will find a wine that suits your taste and matches with your food. Picking the wrong wine or forgoing wine altogether with a nice tasting menu could ruin the experience. Food and wine pairing is an art and trained sommeliers are masters of their craft.

The food and wine culture is still growing in Sacramento so the number of certified sommeliers tends to be on the low side when compared to other regions. But what Sacramento lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. If you are looking for a restaurant in Sacramento that has one of the best sommeliers in town, check out these five spots.

joseph vaccaro Best Sommeliers In Sacramento


Joseph Vaccaro
Ella Dining Room and Bar
1131 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 443-3772

Joseph Vaccaro is one of the most recognized names in wine in the Sacramento region, and with good reason. He helped open Ella Dining Room and Bar having come from the Michelin-starred Fifth Floor Restaurant in San Francisco where he was assistant sommelier. As the website boasts, “during his tenure at Fifth Floor, the restaurant was nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service and was awarded the Wine Spectator Grand Award of Excellence.” Vaccaro is a certified sommelier, a very distinguished title issued by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and he has built a wine program at Ella that definitely earns him a spot as one of the best sommeliers in Sacramento. His cellar includes everything from budget-friendly California wines to hard-to-find rare vintages.

mario ortiz Best Sommeliers In Sacramento


Mario Ortiz
The Firehouse Restaurant
1112 2nd St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 442-4772

If you’ve ever been to The Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sac, you’ve likely crossed paths with Mario Ortiz. He’s worked for the restaurant for over 40 years — dating back to 1971 when he first applied for a busboy position. Today he is the general manager and director of wine. His passion for wine developed at an early age and he built up one of the most impressive cellars in the region. In 2007, he passed the introductory course of the Court of Master Sommeliers and now has first- and second-level certificates. His knowledge of wine has helped earn Firehouse a number of business and restaurant awards in recent years. And today, Mario boasts an impressive 25,000 bottles in the Firehouse cellar.

Related: Best Tasting Menus in Sacramento

matthew lewis Best Sommeliers In Sacramento


Matthew Lewis
Enotria Restaurant Wine Bar
1431 Del Paso Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 922-6792

Matthew Lewis came to Enotria from Firehouse Restaurant where he was one of the sommeliers. Before he came to Sacramento, he was the wine buyer and consultant for The Game Creek Club in Vail, Colorado. As the wine director for Enotria, he helps guests select quality wines from all over the globe and helps them understand how the selection pairs with their meal. Lewis has over 20 years of experience working with fine wines in the culinary industry. He is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and has worked with a variety of cuisines including Italian, French and even Austrian. He states, “I hope to offer our guests the opportunity to taste the best wines I can find from all over the globe. I want us to enjoy them together and in the process really explore the amazing variety of experiences that make up the world of wine.”

Related: Best Wine Bars in the Sacramento Area

jeff back Best Sommeliers In Sacramento


Jeff Back
Back Wine Bar & Bistro
25075 Blue Ravine Road
Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 986-9100

Offering 35 wines by the glass and a very wine-friendly food menu, Back Wine Bar & Bistro is a great spot in Folsom. Previously working at 58 Degrees, Jeff Back is a certified sommelier who brings years of fine-dining knowledge to his own venture. Back attended the International Sommelier Guild diploma program and then went on to obtain his second certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

paul marsh Best Sommeliers In Sacramento


Paul Marsh
The Firehouse Restaurant
1112 2nd St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 442-4772

The Firehouse Restaurant is lucky enough to lay claim to three of the best sommeliers in Sacramento. Paul Marsh is a certified sommelier from the Court of Master Sommelier Guild and has eight years of experience in the wine industry. He has a background in wine sales and winery operations and came to The Firehouse in 2008. Since his arrival, The Firehouse has “expanded its wine education program, now offering ‘Wine Tasting Tuesdays,’ where guests can try hard-to-find wines” and listen to sommeliers as they discuss the wine’s history and tasting notes in a comfortable environment. The Firehouse now also offers reoccurring winemaker dinners, which feature seven courses with boutique vineyard wine pairings.

Erin De Santiago is a freelance travel and food/wine writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. She is a regional membership coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and writes for a number of publications in addition to publishing her own blogs. She has traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in search of the best food and wine around the globe. Her work can be found at