Somm-One You Should Know: Kathryn Coker
Sommeliers are the highly qualified, expertly trained professionals who curate wine lists, make pairing recommendations and pop up tableside to answer your burning questions about vineyards, varietals and everything in between. In our Somm-One You Should Know series, we’re introducing you to a handful of incredible women who’ve made this business their business.
Kathryn Coker is the owner of Esters Wine Shop & Bar and wine director at the Rustic Canyon restaurant group in Santa Monica, CA. She studied English at Notre Dame and completed the Wine Education and Management program at UCLA.
As she puts it: “I didn’t walk into this job — I grew into it.” Kathryn spent her early days as a Rustic Canyon server, working her way up to eventually manage the wine program for their nine restaurants. In 2015 she opened Esters, a wine shop and eatery serving yummy bites that complement Kathryn’s favorite bottles. “Esters is a place to take a date, a friend, a parent or a colleague from work,” Kathryn says. “You can stay for 30 minutes or three hours. As my dad likes to say, ‘it’s a safe place’ and all are welcome here. You can’t buy happiness, but you can come to Esters.”
“I love introducing my customers to wines made by thoughtful winemakers, not corporations,” says Kathryn. She also shares her wine prowess on The Long Finish, a podcast she hosts with her husband, Tug; in each episode, they pop a bottle and chat about parenting their three kids and working together in the wine industry.
Kathryn has been named as one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers as well as Food & Wine magazine’s Sommeliers of the Year. One of her biggest tips for managing multiple wine programs is to keep your car trunk empty for hauling bottles from one place to another. “I have been known to transport cases of wine in my baby’s stroller.”