A New Vintage: Meet Jeri, Sommelier
Jeri, firstly, welcome to Jesmond Dene House and congratulations on your recent promotion to Sommelier! We are very excited to have you on board. Firstly, we’d love to share your story – are you able to give us a brief history of where your love for wine all started?
Of course! It actually started in Beijing – I moved there after studying Chinese at the University of Leeds and worked as a graduate in marketing for a wine importer and distributor. Having ‘caught the bug’ and realising how much I had to learn, I thought a great way to get a solid knowledge base would be to gain some production experience – and so, naturally, my next move was to Australia. I worked in both the Yarra Valley, just outside of Melbourne, and McLaren Vale, near Adelaide. I was then offered a job in London with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, which brought me back to England, where I worked in International Development and then Digital Marketing. I recently moved to the North East to help take care of my grandmother.
And upon arriving to Newcastle, you decided to apply here – why Jesmond Dene House?
I was really drawn to the reputation of the place – the history. I had heard good things about the hotel and restaurant, and I loved that it was located within Jesmond Dene Park. Having lived in the heart of London for several years, the gorgeous leafy location felt private and romantic, while it’s so close to the city centre that I could still get there easily. It feels more like a house – a home – not really a ‘hotel’ in that commercial sense. I also knew that Danny Parker was running the kitchen and he, too, has quite a reputation for amazing food, so that drew me in as well. I am excited to be working together with him, as we both share a serious love for flavour – pairing excellent dishes with gorgeous wines is always exciting!
Upon arriving here, you very quickly became Sommelier. What are your plans moving forward?
I want to ensure that we are covering all of the key regions around the winemaking world, and I want the wine list to be entirely approachable, while remaining quality-oriented. It may seem cliché to say, but I genuinely want people to view our wine list and feel spoilt for choice. Sometimes, wine lists can seem unnecessarily intimidating – my goal is to make it enticing for everyone who comes to visit, whether it be for lunch, dinner, afternoon tea or even just for a simple glass of wine in our beautiful gardens.
As you know, we are working on our refurbishment of both the restaurant and our private dining spaces. Will the new wine list be a part of this? Will there be any plans to host wine nights in the new space?
Absolutey! The wine list is evolving almost daily as seasonal flavours change. I really want to keep things interesting and hope that people see Jesmond Dene House as somewhere they can come and enjoy beautiful wines without any pretention; we’re really relaxed here. I’m very much looking forward to introducing wine evenings and private tastings in our soon-to-be refurbished private dining spaces and of course those gorgeous wine cellars downstairs! I will be working closely with the events and marketing team here at the hotel to put some exciting evenings together.
Lastly, what is your favourite wine and why?
Such a difficult question! Honestly, the answer is entirely dependant on my mood, the weather and why I am drinking. When that cold Geordie wind is blowing, I love to cozy up by the fire with a rich red – we’re well prepared here with plenty to choose from! In summertime, I love sitting out in the garden with an Albariño or Grüner Veltliner. But I always love a glass of 2015 Yering Station ‘Village’ Pinot Noir, because I was fortunate enough to be a part of the team that made it! It’s my baby, so to speak, and it’s definitely close to my heart – I am delighted to be pouring it by the glass here at JDH!