Cultivating Grapes, Growers & Guests
by Luke Osteen
Old Edwards Inn & Spa’s Madison’s Restaurant and Wine Garden has welcomed two new sommeliers to its award-winning operations – Trevor Waldrop and Chelsea Pancoast.
Their arrival coincides with Wine Spectator honoring the Madison’s with its 2019 Restaurant Award of Excellence, which it has attained for the past 15 years.
“We have a fantastic selection of wines that are sustainably or organically-farmed, with most wineries aiming to leave the land better than when they found it,” says Waldrop. “Our selection process is first and foremost about taste versus price. We want a wine whose taste surpasses its price, and has great value. We also like to place an emphasis on stories since wine is more than just the juice in the glass; it is also the blood, sweat, tears, and love that generations of families have poured into the labor of making their wine.”
“At its core, wine is an accompaniment to food,” says Pancoast. “With that in mind, we always try our best to tailor our selections to the menus that Chef Chris and Chef John create. Food comes first, but we all know that when a pairing nears perfection, it becomes hard to tell which is the chicken and which is the egg. We have nearly endless possibilities to create that perfect pairing to elevate one’s dining experience to something truly memorable, no matter the price point. That is our goal.
“We have strived to create a wine list built on every selection having a ‘sense of place,’ which is well suited for Madison’s Farm to table concept. The labels and the stories behind pair well with the ingredients harvested from our very own farm and the small local vendors that contribute to Madison’s vision.”
As you’d expect, both Waldrop and Pancoast come to their positions with a wealth of experience.
“Chelsea and I both come from fine dining backgrounds, with Chelsea having worked around the Greenville area for a number of years before becoming the wine buyer for the Cliffs in South Carolina,” says Waldrop. “She took a year out of the restaurant scene to be a wine manager in retail. Doing so, she gained some very valuable experience prior to succumbing to the pull of the restaurant scene and joining Old Edwards. She achieved the level of certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and plans to take the Advanced Exam in future.”
“I got much of my fine dining experience in Tallahassee, Florida, where she worked at Cypress Restaurant before helping to open Il Lusso in the winter of 2018. Il Lusso is an Italian Steakhouse with an impressive list of Italian and domestic wines, which sparked my deep love of Italian wine and food. I’ve also achieved the level of certified sommelier and am planning on continuing through the certifications, with eventual plans of attaining the Master Sommelier diploma.”
Both are awaiting serious diners who’ll test their skills, and who are prepared to enjoy the remarkably indulgent care that’s part of Pancoast and Waldrop’s professional portfolio.