Clint Sloan began his career at McCrady’s as a mere bread boy and has worked his way up the ranks to sommelier, with an advanced certification in the Master Sommelier program. Not a bad trajectory. Now, he’s leaving the Neighborhood Dining Group, which owns McCrady’s and Husk, for a gig in New York with Michael Skurnik Wines representing the Terry Theise portfolio. He’ll be on the other side of the equation, selling wines to sommeliers and distributors throughout the country.

“It’s my favorite portfolio and importer in the U.S.,” says Sloan. “Sommeliers from all over the country love it right now. This is what major markets are buying and this is what’s happening in the wine world.”

Which is good, because Sloan will be transitioning from making wine sales on the floor of a restaurant, where customers come in the door already planning to buy a bottle of wine, to a more competitive sales climate. “I’m going to have to deal with more ‘no’s.’ Me as a buyer, I say no a lot. So, that’s just the way it is. There’s a lot of juice out there, and you can’t say yes to everything.”

Sloan leaves the wine programs at the two restaurants in the capable hands of his hand-picked successors Cappie Peete at McCrady’s and Adam Brunelle at Husk.

Sloan hired Peete as a cocktail server and promoted her to wine assistant. She’s been working closely with him for the last eight months, helping manage the wine program. “It’s only a matter of time before she passes the advanced sommelier certification,” says Sloan. “She has the talent and the brain for it.”

David Howard of the Neighborhood Dining Group says it was important to promote from within. “This is the same opportunity that was presented to Clint. Somebody took a gamble, took that risk to keep him within the organization, and we continue to do the same thing.”

Howard says Peete and Brunelle will work together and won’t be making significant changes to the wine program that Sloan established. And he expects Peete to work towards her advanced sommelier certification. “It’s important to us to have that. It sends a message that we are extremely focused on having a superior wine program. We don’t need someone to just open wine. We need a level of expertise and continued education of our staff. The educational component is a big issue. We need expertise to make wine pairings on a day-to-day basis with Sean [Brock’s] food, with special events, and with visiting chefs.”

Sloan’s last night at McCrady’s, fittingly, will be New Year’s Eve. Expect sabers, champagne, and rousing toasts to send him off to his new venture.

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