The National Wine Centre of Australi

Jarrett Michael Buffington

Sommelier at Café Sydney

Originally from Texas, US, Jarrett Michael Buffington’s journey into wine started with his first hospitality role. “I don’t come from a family that drinks wine. For many African Americans, that just wasn’t part of our culture or budget,” says Buffington. “I probably didn’t have my first glass of wine until I was around 23 years old, when I started working at my first fine dining restaurant in Houston and I was told by the head waiter I would need to learn about wine.”

After years of travelling, tasting and even undertaking the esteemed Court of Master Sommelier’s exam, Buffington is now in Sydney as sommelier at the famed Café Sydney. “The local community in Sydney is easily the part of the industry that I love the most,” he says. “Hospitality can make a person feel so connected to a wide spectrum of individuals of all backgrounds.”

Buffington’s advice for anyone wanting to join the wine industry? Remain curious. “Curiosity stops you from becoming stagnant, helps you to reinvent yourself, opens up new employment opportunities, expands your social circles and keeps you in a constant state of humbleness,” he says. “The right people notice those with an insatiable appetite for knowledge.”

At the moment, Buffington is enjoying wines from WA’s Great Southern. “AJ Hoadley is making immaculate wines under the La Violetta label, producing everything from nuanced reds with presence, to textured, ambrosial whites. I tried his 2010 La Ciornia Shiraz … an incredible display of fragrance, restrained fruit and briary undertones.”

But beer is also a go-to drink heading into the warmer weather. “One of my favourite things to do is head to The Oak Barrel and pick up anything I haven’t tried,” says Buffington. “A few of my favourites would be anything from Wildflower in Marrickville made by fellow Texan Topher Boehm; the Sailors Grave Lemon Meringue Cream Sour; the Boatrocker House Red Solera Beer; the organic French beers from Brasserie des Voirons, and T-Bone Brewing Co. in Hobart makes the most remarkable chocolate milk stout that I’ve ever had.”