Keith: You began your career in the restaurant industry at a very
young age. After everything you were exposed to, what made you decide
to go the sommelier route?
Bradbury: I have been in the restaurant business since the 7th grade.
I have been a dishwasher, bus boy, cook, waiter and manager. I had an
immediate attraction to wine from the start. There is so much to learn,
so many wines to taste - it was the perfect path for me to explore.
I have been able to travel and meet amazing people all over the world
- it is a dream job. Once I got the bug, I could not stop the pursuit
of knowledge in the field and drive to try as many wines as possible.
The more I learn and experience, the more I realize how little I really
The eWine Book, a hand held computer wine list, is really an exciting
tool for the restaurant industry. How did you come up with the idea?
I always have been fascinated by technology. In fact, I always considered
wine my "job" and technology my "hobby". Many years
ago while staring at my electronic organizer, I thought it would be
cool to offer guests an electronic wine list with reviews and information
about the producers to make wine both exciting and educational. I thought
it would also help de-mystify wine and allow guests to explore new wines
and regions with help from reviews, recommendations and information.
I explored ebook technology for a few years but knew the best solution
would be both internet-based and wireless. This year, with all the new
software and hardware out on the market, I am in tech heaven!
This new method of choosing a wine can make any wine novice feel like
a wine pairing expert. How has this changed your role as a sommelier?
I think in many ways it changes our roles very little. We still need
to taste and choose wines for the restaurant and interact with our guests
in the same fashion. I believe, however, that it forever changes the
way we sell wine. I think of the wine list now as an "electronic
wine journal". A sommelier can now offer an interactive, multi-media
approach to the wine list. He or she can decide what wines to focus
on, review (with tasting notes and wine pairing ideas) and promote.
It also adds a marketing angle to the wine program and restaurant -
you can highlight upcoming events and tastings as well as your own "eNews
letter" to promote wine from the sommelier's perspective. I also
find that guests are more open to ask questions and feel more proficient
with the list. It actually has increased dialogue with the sommelier
rather than replace the sommelier.
How long do you think it will take for the eWine Book to storm the
wine scene and revolutionize the restaurant industry?
I think it is feasible right now for many restaurants; especially those
who have large wine programs and are known for their collections. The
prices for the tablet technologies and wireless capabilities are dropping
significantly in the computer industry. This will allow restaurateurs
to explore the many benefits that the system offers. I can say that
after a year of experience with the system, I will never go back to
paper lists again!
It's obvious from your wine list that those formative years in Washington
State have instilled a sense of loyalty to their wines. Give us a sense
of what makes wines from the Evergreen State so special.
Washington has been producing great wine and has so much potential in
the future. It is a very young industry - many of the best vineyard
sites have yet to be planted. Many of the top wineries (Andrew Will,
Delille Cellars, Cadence, Quilceda Creek, Matthews, Dunham) are still
learning about their vineyards and how best to manage them. With a longer
growing season than California (more "hang" time) and cool
evenings to help preserve the acidity levels in the grapes, they have
a unique style to contrast other American wines. I find they offer ripe
fruit and soft, even tannin levels that are very compelling. I also
believe that Syrah will flourish and develop into one of the state's
I see you've traveled extensively throughout Germany and Austria,
two regions that have reputations for producing particularly food-friendly
wines. Do customers seem to be warming up to white wines from these
Yes, without a doubt I have seen increasing interest in the wines from
Austria and Germany from my clientele. We offer them with all of our
tasting menus and our sommeliers recommend them with many of our menu
offerings. The response back has been extremely favorable. And let's
face it - it can be tough selling these wines to Americans who are varietal
or label driven and are confused by the wording on these labels. We
have found the key is the keep it simple - talk about the wine's "style"
and why it works with the dish. Also, with the increasing prices of
domestic and imported wine, German and Austrian offer great value as
well - always an easy sell!
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three wines,
which would you bring?
White - German Riesling. My producer of choice - Muller-Catoir
from the Pfalz region. Some of the most amazing and memorable wine experiences
of my career are from this estate.
- Pinot Noir. My producer of choice - Henri Jayer from Burgundy,
France. In my opinion, the most compelling and complex varietal in the
world fashioned by the hands of a true genius - Jayer.
- Chenin Blanc. My producers of choice - Huet or Renou. Rippin'
acidity, vivid fruit and a long & powerful finish are all the hallmarks
of late-harvest Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. For me,
the best way to finish off a great meal with good friends!