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Ritz-Carlton San Francisco Names New Director of Wine

Dana Nigro
Posted: October 8, 1999

Stephane Lacroix, formerly of San Francisco's Aqua restaurant -- which holds a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its wine list -- has been named director of wine and sommelier for The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco.

Lacroix is already very familiar with the Mediterranean-style cuisine of The Dining Room's chef, Sylvain Portay, with whom he previously worked at Alain Ducasse's restaurant, Louis XV, in Monte Carlo. The sommelier has also done stints with Roger Verge at Moulin de Mougins, in France, and with Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Lacroix, who will oversee the selection of all wines and spirits in the hotel, plans some changes to The Dining Room's already extensive list of more than 650 wines. He wants to expand the list to 800 different labels, with a strong program in California wines, including more boutique wineries and more depth in older vintages of classics such as Silver Oak and Dominus Estate. He also intends to build up his Spanish wines, with a vertical of Bodegas Vega Sicilia, as well as his Italian "super Tuscans."

"On the French side, every great restaurant wine list has verticals of the famous wines; I want to also work with some wines that people sometimes forget about, such as whites from Nuits-St.-Georges, Aloxe-Corton and Musigny," said Lacroix. "The customers we have here at The Ritz-Carlton go to all the great restaurants around the world. They want Lafite and Petrus, but you can still surprise them with the smaller appellations."

Also, Lacroix is helping to oversee the conversion of the hotel's former cigar lounge into an $800,000 showpiece wine cellar with windows opening onto The Dining Room.

The Ritz-Carlton's former wine director, Emmanuel Kemiji, left recently to concentrate on his new California wine label, Miura Vineyards.

To learn about Emmanuel Kemiji's new venture:

  • July 31, 1999
    Two California Master Sommeliers Take Up Winemaking

    For more details on The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco:

  • March 31, 1997
    A Ritz Renewal

    For our past report on Aqua:

  • Oct. 15, 1996
    San Francisco's Top-Rated Restaurants

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