Carlton McCoy is one of the youngest people in the world to have earned the master sommelier diploma and is the second African American to do so. Now he’s got another achievement to add to the list: being named wine director at The Little Nell in Aspen.
McCoy became a master sommelier in May, at age 28. He is now head of a decorated wine program, boasting more master sommeliers than any other establishment in the country. Ten masters have worked on property, including Jonathan Pullis and Sabato Sagaria.
“Growing up, there wasn’t wine on the table at my house, like in many households of the black community,” he says. “But wine is for everyone. Every time I approach a table or talk about wine, it isn’t coming from a place of snobbery or elitism. It’s about figuring out what people like, finding new things guests might like, and spending time with friends and family.”
McCoy received a full-tuition scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America. He was raised in Washington, D.C. and helped his grandmother with her church-based catering business. He previously worked in Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit, Tom Colicchio’s Craft Steak in New York, Eric Zeibold’s CityZen at The Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C., and with Doug Anderson at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C