Traveling around Italy touring vineyards and tasting wine after wine is all in a day’s work for Jeremy Walker. In his role as area beverage director for the Fine Dining Group, Walker handles wine and other beverages for the group’s Teton Village-based establishments. While he spends a fair amount of time at Bar Enoteca, Il Villaggio Osteria, and Bodega, he sometimes ventures abroad and goes straight to the source to select the best wines.
Last year, he spent six weeks traveling around Italy, visiting one or two wine producers a day, and even helping out with the wine-making process. He traveled to Umbria, Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto, and Sicily, where wine makers would show him their grapes and invite him to sample their entire portfolio of wines.
His job entails putting together wine lists for Bar Enoteca and Il Villaggio Osteria. He cultivates a list of 10 whites and 10 reds by-the-glass for Bar Enoteca, including selections that reflect the Mediterranean tapas served at the bar, with Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and other influences. Il Villaggio Osteria keeps a mainly Italian by-the-glass wine list, and the two establishments share a primarily Italian bottle list. Walker switches up the wine list weekly or biweekly, depending on the season. “I want the wine list to be a fun list and a list based in tradition,” Walker says.
Walker knows his grapes and easily talks about the differences between Piedmont and Tuscan varietals, as well as grapes from many lesser-known regions. When he’s not globetrotting in pursuit of the perfect vino, Walker can be found speaking the language of wine, interpreting often-confusing bottle lists for customers.
“People are scared of wine in a lot of ways,” he says. “It’s something people don’t know about and there’s so much to learn—the varieties, the producers. It’s intimidating.” He finds out what each customer is looking to experience and connects them with a wine which fits their criteria.
Before he came to Jackson, Walker worked at restaurants in Seattle and Vermont, spending his time in kitchens and behind the bar. He has worked with the Fine Dining Group for four years.
In addition to being a wine lover, Walker also enjoys music, especiallyheavy metal. He volunteered as a DJ on local radio station KHOL for eight years, and founded the Fire in the Mountains Heavy Music Festival. He embraces experiences and, according to Walker, wine is a perfect passion for him with its transformative power to connect people with places, cultures, and rich histories.
“It’s how you can experience the culture of a different place and know the history of wine and how it represents the culture,” Walker says. “You know the terroir of the soil, maybe you even know the person who made it. In Jackson, you take a sip of wine and you’retransported to where it comes from.”