WineInk: Aspen Wine Grad goes global

Buckle up!

For the next six Sundays, viewers will be able to travel with Carlton McCoy, Jr. as the former Aspen sommelier traverses cultural destinations as diverse and wild as the heart of Ghana’s Mississippi Delta, on the west coast of Africa and Seoul, South Korea. his CNN series “Nomad with Carlton McCoy”.

The one-hour program will premiere on Sunday, May 1.

“All of these destinations often have a marketing identity that is far removed from the reality of how locals experience them,” he said of the locations that will be featured in the programs. “We wanted to challenge people to discover a place outside of the usual travel guide.”

“Nomad” is produced by New York-based Zero Point Zero, which knows its way around the world. They were the production team that collaborated with chef/writer/traveler Anthony Bourdain as he traveled 40 different countries for over 100 different episodes of the acclaimed “Parts Unknown”, which set a new standard for documentary filmmaking. travel. They are also the production company responsible for the James Beard Award-winning chef profile series “The Mind of a Chef”.

“We started this conversation five years ago, so yeah, it’s been an interesting journey,” McCoy said of the process and time it took to create “Nomad.” “People always inspire me. The people I’ve been able to interact with, whether as guests on the show or as production crews, have further reinforced my belief that people are amazing. We must ignore the noise that only shows us the horrible things in the world.

“Open your mind,” reads the tattoo etched on McCoy’s right forearm. It’s an apt adage for a black Jewish man who brings an incredibly diverse set of good faith to his new role as a television host.

While in Aspen, McCoy opened his mind to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam (age 28 in 2013), become a distance runner, and complete a New York City marathon under four o’clock (2017) and, along with his wine team, founding the hyper-hip wine cellar at Little Nell. It was exhilarating for a man who grew up in the impoverished southeastern part of Washington DC, where he was first exposed to the cooking and food at his grandmother’s church.

“It was such a nice experience, I loved cooking and I’ve never had a job outside of the hospitality industry,” McCoy said in a previous interview with The Nell. Cooking earned him a scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America, where he studied and learned…he didn’t want to be a chef. “It was different, it was regulated and not as fun as what I did as a kid.”

He then became a “front of house” guy, working on the floor, first as a busser and then as a waiter, at such stellar places as Craft Steak and Per Se in New York, before returning to Washington and occupying a top job at the famous CityZen. It was there that he discovered wine. “I had a mentor there, Andrew Meyers. He was into death metal and wine, he kind of helped me get into wine.

In 2011 he joined the wine team of what was then known as Montagna at Little Nell.

Three years ago, in December 2018, McCoy concluded his enviable seven-year run as a member of the wine team at the Little Nell Hotel in Aspen to take the reins as President and CEO. from Heitz Cellars in Napa Valley. During this short period, he became managing partner of Lawrence Wine Estates, which saw a wave of acquisitions including the purchase of Stony Hill Winery, Burgess Cellars and the famous Haynie Vineyard, to name a few. -ones. McCoy has become one of Napa Valley’s best-known wine executives.

Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, last week Formula 1 Grand Prix motor racing Miami announced that McCoy will act as master sommelier for the event when he enters in action from May 6 to 8. It will organize oenological experiences in all reception areas. It really is life in the fast lane.

Although the initial conversations for “Nomad” began while McCoy was in Aspen, they, like McCoy, matured in his new surroundings. “I would say that NOMAD is more part of the chapter that I started when I arrived in Napa. Coming to Napa allowed me to start exploring new approaches in my thinking and helped shape my worldview.

This vision of the world will be exposed in each of the episodes. The first, airing this Sunday, will see McCoy explore the “banlieues” or suburbs of Paris, where he examines the culturally diverse art, food and music scenes influenced by the rich melting pot of its people. Next comes what might be the most wine-centric episode as he travels with old friend and fellow master sommelier Kyungmoon Kim, and New York-based, Michelin-starred Korean chef Hooni Kim to Seoul, in South Korea, for a look. to how the country’s food scene has gone global.

McCoy in Ghana on an upcoming episode of “Nomad.” (CNN Creative Marketing)

Future programs will see McCoy interact with family and friends as he returns to his Washington D.C. roots, takes a stint in the emerging nation of Ghana, gets some Canadian ice time in Toronto and explores the Mississippi Delta. and the future of the distinct and diverse region.

“In each of these destinations, you will find people who are proud of their city or their country, and who want to share their love of what makes their homeland special,” he noted, visibly moved by the experience. . “Kindness and generosity of spirit was another common thread we found in all of these destinations.”

The highly anticipated “Nomad with Carlton McCoy” was originally scheduled to air on CNN the evening of March 13 after the season opener of Stanley Tucci’s food/travel show “Searching for Italy.” But the world changed drastically this spring, and the “Nomad” series, along with other CNN original shows, were delayed due to 24/7 coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by CNN. Now it begins. Good things come to those who wait.

While he won’t be leaving his day job in the wine business, McCoy looks forward to continuing the adventures that brought “Nomad” to life.

“I feel blessed to work in the wine industry every day,” he said contemplatively. “That said, my interests in life are not limited to wine. NOMAD was an opportunity to show the world through the prism of other cultural pillars like art and music.

“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

About Michael Brafford

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