GARY DANKO Wine Director Christie Dufault approaches her calling with an inborn passion. "I come from a family of wine lovers. My father, a wine collector, inspired me by taking me to Chateau Margaux when I was sixteen. I was exposed to great vintages and educated early on in the pleasures of wine."
Since her mid-teens, Dufault has taken yearly sojourns in France where she has studied, worked and traveled. She has a native's grasp of the language. For the past seven years she has led tours for Butterfield & Robinson through the country's premier wine regions.
Dufault's encyclopedic wine knowledge has grown steadily since her early years. Her first job out of college, in a respected Boston wine shop, led her to seek work as a sommelier. In record time, she was appointed wine director of the Marker restaurant in Philadelphia's Adams-Mark Hotel, where she created an excellent wine program and greatly expanded the cellar.
During her time at the hotel, Dufault hosted nationally attended wine events, and her next opportunity, at Restaurant Vincent Guerithault, came from just such an event. Phoenix-based Guerithault served as guest chef at one of the Marker's wine dinners; impressed by Dufault's work, Guerithault invited her to serve as the wine director of his Arizona restaurant. The elegant atmosphere and haute cuisine at Guerithault was an ideal match for Dufault's classical training. Dufault built an impressive cellar, expanding it from 165 to 900 wines and adding great vintages that partnered well with Guerithault's cooking. Gourmet Magazine's Reader's Poll cited the Phoenix eatery as the Best Restaurant for Wine in Arizona, and the Wine Spectator followed suit with a Best of Award of Excellence. Dufault reluctantly left Guerithault's after four fruitful years, moving west to work in Northern California, America's premier wine region.
At Carmel's annual Masters of Food & Wine event, Dufault met noted sommelier Debbie Zachareas. When Zachareas began plans for San Francisco's Bacar restaurant, she invited Dufault to assist her in creating the wine program. The wine-driven eatery was an instant hit. Following her success in the bustling, casual air of Bacar, it was a quick step to the modern elegance of GARY DANKO. Dufault came highly recommended to Danko, and soon an excellent partnership came to be. "Danko already had a very fine cellar, thick with 'classics'," explains Dufault. "I've expand the range, adding wines that pair well with Gary's light touch. I want to bring in more refined white wines from Alsace and the Loire Valley. These graceful wines echo the finesse of the cooking. I also want to have the very best Champagne list in the city. I'd love to see all our guests begin an evening with their favorite sparkler."
Not long after Dufault's arrival at GARY DANKO, she submitted a new and improved wine list to The Wine Spectator and was awarded the magazine's highest honor, The Grand Award. Today the wine list at GARY DANKO boasts over 1,400 selections with a wide range of varieties, regions and styles, with vintages spanning three centuries. There are over 150 half bottle and an exquisite choice of wines by the glass and by the half glass. As a result, at GARY DANKO there is something on the list for everyone and Christie Dufault is there to graciously guide diners through an extraordinary culinary experience.