What at first seemed to be a candid snap [above] has become a ‘lightning in a bottle’ moment: this is Kelcie Jones, captured at the moment between achieving a major accomplishment, and embarking on another massive success.
We now know that, after a day of rugged competition and a couple of hours spent of deliberation by the judges, Jones was named the 2023 Best Sommelier in B.C.
The whip-smart and locally-beloved sommelier helmed the wine program at Chambar for many years, before launching East Vancouver’s acclaimed Elephant restaurant in December 2021. She recently stepped away from that gig, to answer the call of other duties…
Roles she has stepped into over the last several weeks include co-proprietor and WSET instructor of This Is Wine School, and the sommelier position at chef Andrea Carlson’s Michelin-starred Burdock & Co. She’s also been hitting the books (and the ISO tasting glasses) for a couple of years now, and is currently at the Stage 2 position towards becoming a Master of Wine.
It was a couple months back, around the holidays, when Jones started entertaining the idea of competing for the title of Best Sommelier in B.C., at a remarkably gruelling competition on February 27th [yesterday] at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. The event, produced and overseen by the B.C. Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, sees competitors spend an hour or so on stage, executing tasks from sparkling wine service and menu pairing, to identifying errors on a wine list and, of course, blind tasting. Nerve-rattling, stressful, and humbling – all done in front of a couple hundred people, including your closest colleagues and community, and media. This comes a mere hour or so after completing a difficult technical written exam, earlier in the morning. The top three scorers then go on to compete live – immediately.
All 16 candidates (including Jones) stood in a row in front of the crowd. Those with the best marks were announced and stepped forward. First up was Andrew Forsyth of L’Abattoir; second was Ian Casterton of Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim; and the third was Jones, announced to a rousing ovation. Numbers to decide the order of competitors were drawn, and Forsyth and Casterton were immediately sequestered into separate rooms. Meanwhile, Jones was getting mic’d up to begin her portion of the competition [the exact moment captured above], which began within minutes. There was zero time for any more preparation, study, or thoughts…
I can attest from the spirit of the afterparty and the myriad of texts, posts, hugs, and tears, that our entire community is ecstatic for her. This title is well-deserved, and I believe that we can expect that she will see many more moments like this down the road.
For footage of the event, watch Kolt’s Instagram Live in four parts here. Check out the official announcement of the winners by CAPS BC (Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, BC Chapter)
About Kurtis Kolt | Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant who writes about wine, presents seminars, hosts events, judges wine competitions, and works with restaurants on their wine programs. His various industry certifications and credits come from entities including the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, the Court of Master Sommeliers & the Winemaking Program at UC Davis. A former Vancouver International Wine Festival Sommelier of the Year, his writing outlets have included Eater, Decanter, Maclean’s, and Vancouver magazine. Appearances have included running wine service at James Beard House in New York – a city where he has occasionally participated in tasting panels at Wine & Spirits magazine – and being the subject of profiles in Wine Enthusiast magazine.
VERY Special Thanks to
Shane Taylor and Michael Doyle of Canucks Sports and Entertainment and The Top Table Group.
who generously provided the venue and all the related services for our event!