2021 Miami Rising Star Sommelier J.C. Santana of The Bastion Collection

2021 Miami Rising Star Sommelier J.C. Santana of The Bastion Collection
February 2021

Drawn to Miami’s nightlife, Juan Carlos “J.C.” Santana aspired to be an international DJ. But as he says, cool doesn’t always pay the bills. DJing did bring him to the hospitality world, which developed his interests in whiskey and craft beer. He attended FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality Management with the intention of becoming a brewer, but a study abroad trip to Rioja set him on a path toward wine. In 2014, he applied to one job at a brewery and one as an assistant sommelier at Juvia, and Juvia got back to him first. He stayed on for a year before getting hired at the newly opened Coya Miami in 2015 as a sommelier. He knew he wasn’t ready to run his own wine program but faked it until Wine Spectator lauded Coya’s wine list and he was promoted to bar manager. When Coya closed in 2017, Santana stayed with the company to help open and manage other concepts. But by 2019, he wasn’t sure he wanted to settle in Miami. He traveled for work and tried to decide what to do, but then he received an offer that he wouldn’t turn down for anything: the opening of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami. At the beginning of 2021, he was promoted to beverage director of the entire company. Pairing with the famed dishes of L’Atelier is no easy task, but Santana does it with thoughtfulness and passion.