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The West Shore Cafe is proud to showcase the talent and portfolios of our two in-house sommeliers: Rob Dubben and Lisa Small. Collectively, these two wine stewards provide our restaurant with in-depth knowledge and understanding; this in-turn provides our guests with an elevated level of dining service.
To offer the best wine selection possible, our sommeliers work closely with the Executive Chef to assure they effectively relate the two menus. Thanks to this symbiotic relationship, both our seasonal menus and wine lists have continued to grow side-by-side in terms of price, pairings, and underlying theme. For example, they have both recently been revamped to include descriptions of which product selections reflect certified organic, biodynamic or use green practices.
Next time you visit, be sure to seek a wine suggestion from one a sommeliers. Whether you’d like a recommendation of which wine will best pair with your entree, or simply a suggestion of wine bottle to gift your loved one, our team would be enthusiastic to assist you.
The level of craftsmanship in our ever-changing and expansive wine list hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. Our sommelier’s efforts have earned us Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” for the last three years running. This award is given to restaurants who offer at least 90 wines to choose from, as well as a thematic match to the menu in terms of price and style.
Nearing his 5-year mark with the West Shore Cafe family, Robert has provided both us and our guests with invaluable experiences as a wine steward. Robert has remained an integral part in progressing (and expanding) our wine offering each year, while also upholding our standard of guests services on the restaurant’s front-end by engaging in and creating strong relationships.
“When guests ask for your opinion this can open up dialogue about which direction they want to go. Generally, I follow up in asking if they are feeling adventurous or if they are interested in trying something that they cannot get everywhere. Reading the guest isn’t always easy, but another way I sometimes go about it is to just bring up a wine that I love and tell the story about the wine, winemakers and the location of the winery. It paints a picture for the guest about what they are about to enjoy and it is my favorite way to talk about wine.”
Robert is no stranger to fine dining- he started working in a restaurant at age 14 and eventually attended the International Culinary Center in Campbell. During his time here, he spent three months studying under five master sommeliers.
He will soon be taking the advanced Sommelier exam. You can learn more about Robert’s background and current ventures via his Somm’s List Profile.
Since 2014, Lisa has pioneered our wine list strategy and creation; this list is curated to feature a well-rounded, world-encompassing offering with an emphasis on boutique and small case production wines that are biodynamic, organic, SIP Certified, and embody green practices.
“Our guests can expect staple varietals, but if they’re open to trying new, unique products, our intention is to make them available whenever possible. We believe a high-quality wine program includes popular, as well as new to market or small batch offerings,”
If you’ve met Lisa, you’d understand why she is such a valuable member of our team. Her passion for her work shines by her experiences with our guests.
“One of my favorite things about wine is how it brings people together. I can go up to a table of complete strangers with the bottle of wine they ordered and begin talking about either the producer of the bottle or the varietal they selected and leave the table feeling as though I just made new friends. I love sharing my knowledge and passion for wine and I firmly believe that being able to share wine with the people you love is part of what makes wine and the wine industry what it is.”
Lisa has been a Sommelier since 2012, and became a Level 2 Sommelier in 2014. Before joining our family she was the Premier Wine Knowledge and Lead Server at Jakes on the Lake, in Tahoe City, CA.
We’re honored to showcase our Sommelier’s recognized efforts by the following sources. If you’d like to read about certain achievements, please view our Food + Awards page.
Tahoe Ski World
Lake Tahoe News