magnify Click image to view more.

Larry Stone

Jeffery Lindenmuth - September 2004

Silver Spoon Food Arts presents the September 2004 Silver Spoon Award for sterling performance to Larry Stone for launching American sommeliers on the same soaring trajectory as American wine and for, corkscrew in hand, fearlessly fielding the inventive creations of power-hitting European and American chefs. In helping to create Rubicon in San Francisco with restauranteur Drew Nieporent, Stone garnered his second Grand Award from Wine Spectator and initiated one of the finest wine programs in the world. His other Grand Award had come at Charlie Trotter's (Chicago), and his Midas touch earned Wine Spectator awards for lists he managed at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, The Red Cabbage in Seattle, the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel Seattle (now the Fairmont Olympic Hotel), and Ana Mandara is San Francisco.

Stone grew up in Seattle, attending the highly diverse Garfield High School, where Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee were once students. But it was obvious from an early age that this graduate was to be a master, not of music or martial arts (although he does sit in on the board of the Kronos Quartet), but of wine. "I credit growing up in the Central District with my love of ethnic cuisine; I played with Japanese, Filipino, and black students, and by the age of seven I was learning how to cook from everyone's mother." By high school, Julia Child's soufflés were a mainstay of Stone family dinners, and at age 14 he was using his love of chemistry to make wine in the locker room.

From the locker room to the boardroom, as a director of the Coppola Companies, Stone's combination of approachable attitude and erudition has been lauded. He is the first of only two Americans to receive the title of International Best Sommelier in French Wines and the only American to earn the title French Master Sommelier from the Union de la Sommelerie Française. In addition, he is an English-certified Master Sommelier and has twice won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Stone seizes every opportunity to prove his belief that "there is no cuisine in the world that cannot be matched with wine." He conceived the wine list for Roxanne's, a raw, vegan restaurant in Larkspur, California. "Almost all cuisines, however exotic, are based on cooking and sauces. By cooking proteins and making sauces, there's a common chemistry. This place was so exploratory; there was no comparison to anything else," says Stone, who sometimes began pairing light white wines, only to settle on a Syrah. And should Stone have a vision of veal and chicken broth with foie gras dumplings as part of a vertical tasting of Château Pichon-Lalande at rubicon, he confidently sheds tastevin for toque and offers his own course.

Among those whom sensei Stone has instructed in the way of wine are Bay Area sommeliers Sarah Floyd, M.S., Partners in Wine; land Murray (Masa's); Debbie Zachareas (Bacar); and Fernando Quinonez, who dedicated his list at Limón to his mentor. Stone is actively making wine for Sirita, a winery he started and named for his daughter Siri.