Wine Director Dan Pilkey of Hilton Chicago - Biography

Chicago, IL

February 2011

While studying for an associate degree in communications, Dan L. Pilkey discovered his passion for food and wine. During his studies, he assisted in transforming an avocado farm into a small labor-of-love wine project called Milagro. Over several years, Pilkey helped plant Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, Primitivo, Malbec, Merlot, and Sangiovese grapes at the farm. While attending seminars on the art of wine making, he helped build a production compound and tasting room. Using his skills and knowledge of production from Wente Vineyards, where he worked for seven years, Pilkey helped produce two vintages with Milagro.

After the devastating fires took the farm in 2006, Pilkey became a Wine and Sales Consultant for the Lafayette Wine Company, where he cultivated relationships with cellar masters, restaurateurs, and beverage directors. His next role was restaurant manager and wine director at 910 in the Grand Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, California. Soon after, he received a Business of Wine Certificate at San Diego State University and joined The Addison at The Grand Del Mar Resort in San Diego, California. Pilkey completed the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced level and is currently studying for the Master Sommelier exam. He joined the Elysian Hotel team in June 2009 as sommelier and RIA manager. Among his bevy of awards, Pilkey was winner of 2010 Washington State Wine Competition and the 2008 Far West Regional Best Young Sommelier competition.