At Monday’s launch of this year’s Great Britain and Ireland Michelin Guide, SOLA’s Tara Ozols was named winner of the Sommelier Award.
All we do is win pic.twitter.com/30ZXWqE9Nz
— SO|LA (@SOLAsoho) March 27, 2023
Ozols, from Manchester, Connecticut, joined the Californian-themed Soho joint in February 2022 after stints at Marcus Wareing’s restaurant at The Berkeley, small independent wine importer Cava Spiliadas and as wine buyer at Whole Foods Piccadilly. In 2021, SOLA gained a Michelin Star, which it retained in this year’s guide.
Ozols told WLC of her approach to SOLA’s wine list: “My focus and intention has always been to curate the best list to accompany SOLA’S California style of cuisine, highlighting American wines, and giving our guests an unforgettably unique experience. I have been fortunate to source wines rarely seen in the UK from smaller family estates, unique collaborations, and iconic wineries. I wanted to create a unique list that reflects varietal diversity in winemaking and promote the classics in modern expressive styles. America is known mostly for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, but little is known about grapes, such as Mission, Ribolla Gialla, or Counoise, so it excites me to introduce these wines and tell their stories to our guests. Also beyond California, I have some amazing wines from Washington, Oregon, Virginia and New York (Hamptons and The Finger Lakes).”
As for her reaction to receiving the award at the ceremony at Silverstone Circuit earlier this week, she expressed “shock”: “Our chef patron Victor Garvey was notified and decided to keep it a surprise for me. It did not even cross my mind that I would be considered, never mind win. After the initial shock, what I am most honoured about is that Michelin considered the level of my impact, and how I positively effected the experiences of our guests in our ten table restaurant over other great Sommeliers and larger establishments across the UK & Ireland. I am so proud and elated that Michelin thought so highly of my service and list. I am really just over the moon about it.”
Ozols also expressed hope that this recognition of her work might help to disrupt the male domination of the wine world: “Over the last year, I have had the pleasure of working with and connecting with so many incredibly talented women domestically and internationally. Thankfully, more and more often we are seeing accomplished women taking prestigious wine roles from winemaker to sommelier. There is clearly still room for more diversity in the positions. It has been said that women have more ‘sensitive’ palates and more taste buds than men, so there’s even reason to support us.”