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Maximilian Kast joined The Fearrington House team in 2007 as Sommelier. Within a year, Maximilian was promoted to the position of Wine Director, which entails overseeing the beverage program for the entire property. From selecting wines for our wine shop The Goat, to hosting weekly wine classes and monthly dinners at The Fearrington Granary, to managing the over 1,500 wine selections at The Fearrington House Restaurant. Maximilian is an Advanced Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers and placed second in the nation in TopSomm2014.
Having grown up in a very food oriented German-American family in Michigan, Maximilian was destined to love food and wine. He studied history at the University of Montana, and it was there that he started working in restaurants and became serious about wine. From there, Maximilian became Wine Director at Triple Creek Ranch, also a Relais & Chateaux property, in Montana from 2005 to 2007. During this time Max increased the scope of the wine list to span over fourteen countries, and over 250 selections. Since joining Fearrington’s team, Maximilian has participated in and served as a judge for wine competitions all over the country, been quoted in several national wine publications and maintained the Wine Spectator Best of Award for Excellence at The Fearrington House since 2004.
A little more insight into Fearrington’s Wine Director Maximilian Kast:
What region do you find most interesting when studying wine?
This is a hard question because each wine region has its complexities, history and unique nature. After all, that is what makes wine fun in the first place!
If I had to narrow it down, I would say the regions of France, Germany and Italy continue to draw my attention. There is so much to learn and taste from each country that you could spend a lifetime dedicated to mastery of just one of them. From the subtle differences that great Barolos have from vineyard to vineyard and town to town, to the way Riesling can express itself so differently in the Mosel than in the Rheingau, Pfalz, and Nahe, or the history of French Appellation Law and how that lead the way for wine laws in so many other countries.
Then there are the regions that I became interested in unexpectedly, like Stellenbosch and the Swartland in South Africa, the Maule in Chile, and Central Otago in New Zealand. Really, there are so many amazing wine regions in the world that it is almost impossible for me to say I prefer to learn about one over the other.
What’s your favorite summer evening on the porch wine?
A nice Chenin Blanc from South Africa like the Badenhorst Secateurs from the Swartland, or Sauvignon Blanc from Chile like the Leyda from San Antonio in Chile.
What wine (or grape varietal) challenges you the most?
As far as blind tasting is concerned, the grape I have the most difficulty identifying would have to be Melon de Bourgogne from the Muscadet region in France or Barbera from the Piemonte in Italy.
When you’re not working, do you still think about wine?
Of course, I think about wine all of the time! However, I tend to spend more time thinking about food when I am not at work. My perfect day off is spending hours in the kitchen cooking a big dinner for friends and family. I usually choose the wine first and make a dinner that will pair well.
Do you have a favorite wine quote?
“Attention to nuance guides the best work of the gifted winemaker no less than the virtuoso musician.” – Clark Smith, Postmodern Winemaking
Can you name a wine professional that has impacted your career?
Not just one, maybe thirty for forty! There a long list of people I deeply respect. I have really been lucky to have had guidance from so many different wine professionals from around the country. They all inspire me every day. Be they winemakers, Sommeliers, importers or guests, the wine world is full of so many talented and amazing people that it is hard not to be inspired and humbled.