The Connoisseur: Zoe Hankins
Sommelier and Beverage Manager, Acacia House at Las Alcobas
“Women don’t have to be overbearing in their position or bossy in that regard, but rather they have a sense of ownership in what they’re doing and can be very proud of that.”
BC: Tell us a bit about how you got your start in the food and wine industry...
ZH: I grew up in Napa with a few family members involved in local wineries. It’s always been a thing to gather around a table and enjoy wine with food. For me, I was a bit younger and worked my way through the ranks, worked with talented people and great chefs. It’s exciting to be apart of something new. To take that knowledge I’ve gathered throughout the years of
BC: How do you think Acacia House delivers a different experience to guests, and how are you apart of that vision?
ZH: We try to own a very unique experience to our guests; they see this beautiful house, and we want it to be a very comfortable feel for them, a cozy feel that comes across as very genuine and humble at the end of the day. We want to embrace local community because it’s in our backyard. It’s hard to ignore the rich history around us and the fantastic people involved.
BC: What is the first moment in your career when you felt truly proud?
ZH: I personally have had a crazy amount of proud moments, not only here, but in the past and moving throughout my career. I felt truly proud somewhat recently when I come into contact with guests that have just come in and come out of their shell and tell us that they appreciate how approachable and unique the wine list is. I never take that feedback for granted.
BC: What do you think it is about food that inherently brings people together?
ZH: I think you can look at it at a very simple approach. When you have a community like we do and everyone on the same page with their passion for food and wine, you don’t overthink it. You find that people can come together and become so happy about sharing a bottle of wine together. I think that is supremely important.
BC: In celebration of Bob Cut’s Women in Food feature, what insight can you offer to your industry; or what is something you’d like to see more of in the years to come?
ZH: A little bit of insight that I’ve been able to recognize is that it’s super important to always broaden your skill set. It’s easy to master your role, your title, and your daily responsibilities and become complacent. If you’ve reached that point, you can always build on it and become more effective. In any position or career that you’re in, at the end of the day, don’t sell yourself short.
BC: Three wines you could never go without?
ZH: There are so many special bottles that come through this store that I would likely never see if I wasn’t in this position. There’s an inspiring moment when people want to share these wines with you, not only to educate you, but also because they’re just so excited to share it. For me, that’s something I’ve now understood I can’t go without because I feel so much love from sharing that experience. To know that something so special and unique and rare is being shared with you, I feel very spoiled.