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All Posts By

Jen Bingham

Cru 10: Gregory W. Van Hoesen, Owner of City Beautiful Beverage Company

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Natural Wine is on everyone’s tongue, so we reached out to an expert: Gregory W. Van Hoesen. He’s the founder of City Beautiful Beverage Company, Florida’s leading source of Natural Wine.

Gregory has made quite a name for himself in the Natural Wine world. Hear his take on what makes a wine “natural”, and why he’s fallen so deep for them. And where does a visiting foodie go to eat when he comes to Tampa? We’ll review his pick: Rooster & the Till.

Featured Wine: Dm. des Deux Ânes
(Also mentioned: Robert Sinskey POV, Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches, and Dm. Tenard Burgundy 2014)

Featured Restaurant: Rooster & the Till
6500 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604
(813) 374-8940

Cru 9: Dave Madera, Director of Operations at Caledon Concepts

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Never heard of Caledon Concepts? If you live in the Tampa Bay region, then you already know them by their restaurants: Cevíche and Rococo. When Dave joined the team, he was charged with re-vamping the wine programs at all four different restaurants. Cevíche and Rococo would both seem to have rigid rules for what makes the list, but Dave introduced some flexibility while still keeping the needs of each concept in mind.

25 years in the Tampa restaurant scene (including 12 years at Mise en Place) will teach you a few things (like how to handle a spewing porron without getting drenched in wine, and the best way to sell a bottle of 1904 Château Lafite Rothschild.)  Join us for a fun adventure through one of Tampa Bay’s larger signature restaurant groups. Bonus points if you can pick up some of the noise our kitchen makes sprinkled throughout this episode.

(Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg)
Rococo Steak
655 2nd Ave S, St Petersburg, FL 33701

Featured Wine: St Innocent Villages Cuvée Pinot Noir

Featured Restaurant: FarmTable Cucina
179 2nd. Ave. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 523-6297

Cru 8: Ryan Rugg

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Ryan has a thumb in every bottle: he’s made hundreds of wines over the years for customers at a custom crush facility. But he’s also worked on estate wines from Texas to Australia to Sonoma. Not enough for you? How about the time he spent in a Berkeley wine shop? Now Ryan brings all this experience to selling wine wholesale. It’s rare to meet anyone in the wine business with so much experience in production, retail, and wholesale. Join us as we explore wine from a broader view.


Featured Wine: Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso

Featured Restaurant: Brick & Mortar
539 Central Ave., Saint Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 822-6540

Cru 7: Jacqueline Smith, Assistant Wine Director of Cru Cellars

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In 2014, when she was 21 years old, Jackie dove into the wine game in a big way. In just a few years she was already Assistant Wine Director of the (ahem) best wine bar in Tampa Bay, and had established herself as one of the experts of the natural wine scene in the area.

Fresh off her successful mastery of the Level 3 WSET, Jackie sits down with us to talk about the value (or lack thereof) in wine certification courses. With the programs offered by the International Sommelier Guild, Court of Master Sommeliers, Society of Wine Educators, and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, what is an aspiring Somm to choose? And what about the person who just wants to get deep into wine, without turning it into a career? (Answer: Cru U)

Featured wine: Dm. Diochon Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais 2016

Featured Restaurants: Bodega
1120 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, Florida 33705
(727) 623-0942

Intermezzo Coffee and Cocktails

1111 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33705
(727) 342-0156


Cru 6: Brooke Palmer Kuhl, Director of Bern’s Winefest and Kira Jefferson, COO of Bern’s Steak House

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And you thought the Golden Ticket for the Wonka Factory was hard to get. As oenophiles wrestle in the streets for tickets to this year’s Bern’s Wine Fest (just a few short days away), Jen snagged Brooke Palmer Kuhl, Director of Bern’s Wine Fest, and Kira Jefferson, COO of Bern’s Steak House, for a fun chat about hospitality, excellence, and the world-famous tasting overload.

Brooke Palmer Kuhl is Director of Public Relations and Director of Bern’s Winefest. She’s also the Founder and President of r.s.b.p. Events +PR, where she manages public relations and events for celebrities, politicians, and prominent restaurants. All this after earning a degree in Molecular Biology and while finishing a Master’s in Environmental Science.

Kira Jefferson is Chief Operations Officer of Bern’s Steak House (and self-professed Cheese Nerd). Raised in her family’s Mexican restaurant, Kira served her way through college before becoming General Manager of the Big City Tavern in Ybor. From there she became Assistant Manager at Bern’s Steak House before transitioning to SideBern’s, where she became General Manager. Kira was also the Project and General Manager of the team that opened SideBern’s replacement: Haven. Today, as Bern’s COO, she manages the daily operations and policies.

Tune in to hear how the James Beard Award winning team (and guardians of the largest private wine collection in the world) throws a party.

Featured Wine: Ridge Estate “Monte Bello Vineyard”, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Featured Restaurant: Bern’s Steak House
1208 S. Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 251-2421

Cru 5: Noel Cruz, Owner of Ichicoro Ramen, Ichicoro Imoto, and Ichicoro Ane

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Just what is “Tampa Ramen”? And why was it first discovered in NYC (and now available in Alabama)? Noel takes us through the start of his Ichicoro empire, and how he introduced ramen to the Tampa Bay area. Thank goodness he did it right. After opening Ichicoro Ramen in Seminole Heights in 2015, new locations have been popping up like cloud-ear mushrooms. Is there more to come? And what’s his secret to maintaining excellence even as he grows and experiments?

Featured Wine: Allípallá 2016

Featured Restaurant: Acapulco Mexican Grocery and Taqueria
(813) 873-3665
1001 N MacDill Ave., Tampa, FL 33607