A Day in the Life of Wine Director Tonya Pitts

Tonya Potts
Tonya Pitts

Tonya Pitts is One Market restaurant’s fantastic sommelier and wine director. Although she’s been in the beverage industry for over 20 years and works at one of San Francisco’s establishment restaurants, she’s incredibly down-to-earth, friendly, and approachable. Whether you want to know exactly how One Market’s special Iron Horse cuvee sparkling wine is made or simply are looking for the best Pinot Blanc, she kindly treats everyone’s needs, both high and low brow, equally. We’re such fans of Pitts and the long-standing exceptional service overall at One Market that we wondered what a day in her life would be like. However, not just any day—the evening of an important event. Last Thursday, One Market hosted the Dress for Success wine dinner in partnership with Rosotti Ranch, Inman Family Wines and Purity Vodka. The dinner honored women winemakers Laura Diaz Muñoz (Galerie Wines), Samantha Poehlman (Stonestreet Estate Vineyards), and Carolyn Wente (Wente Vineyards). Pitts was in charge of selecting which of their respective winery’s varietals would be paired with chef Mark Dommen’s four-course meal. Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, the dinner raised over $12,500 for Dress for Success. Here, in her own words, Pitts shares what went down during her day of the event.

6:00 a.m. I naturally wake up at about 6:00 in the morning. I start my day by reading affirmational daily quotes from several different motivational speakers.

7:00 a.m. I check and answer email. Also, I check my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds for news, culture, fashion, and wine.    

8:00 a.m. I try to walk around Stow Lake a couple of times a week.  It clears my head and helps me to reset and start my day.

9:00 a.m. I check email again, especially now as I am gearing up to host a high profile charity event, the Dress For Success wine dinner. This particular dinner is a celebration of women in food and wine. I usually don’t eat breakfast. But today, I will opt for black tea and a hard-boiled egg. My latest crush is Heath-ade Kombucha, a bubbling probiotic in the original flavor.

10:00 a.m. I focus on the event but, also other projects that are in the works, like the new Tonya’s Flight of the Month. Plus, items which are sold out on the list, the new promotional projects for the restaurant, Wine and Wall, and banquets. I wrap up the half-priced wine list for the new Downtown Social promotion on Friday and Saturday nights at One Market, all the while deciding what to wear to work. My closet is the usual sea of black with some pops of color.

The open kitchen at One Market
The open kitchen at One Market

11:00 a.m. I listen to music as I get dressed. What I listen to will almost always determine my mood for the better part of the day. I do not use public transportation, I drive into work. The play list today is classical music of Ludovico Einaudi.    

12:00 p.m. I am either at work or I am in route. When I arrive, I check in to see if I need to help in the dining room for lunch. There may be someone waiting from a winery to taste wine with me. This afternoon, there are regular guests who bring wine in from their personal cellars.

1:00 p.m. I check the inventory to make sure the rest of the event wine has arrived. I complete the tasting notes for Tonya’s Flight of the Month for May. I answer more emails about tonight’s event, an upcoming staff field trip to Hanzell Winery, more future tastings, and a trip to Piedmonte and Moscato d’asti.

2:00 p.m. I sneak in a quick appointment with longtime friends with Thomas Fogerty Wines, Susan La Rossa and Patrick Pickford. They have an Amaro that they produce. I taste that too!

3:00 p.m. Time for a tasting appointment with longtime friend and colleague, Gregory Condes. We are planning the Tonya’s Flight for June and more half off weekend selections. Plus, a new promotion for our wine shop and Art Gallery Wine and Wall. I have partnered with friends to conduct pop up tastings in the afternoon starting in June.

A scallop dish prepared by chef Mark Dommen
A scallop dish prepared by chef Mark Dommen

4:00 p.m. I take care of last minute details for the event and check in with everyone for dinner service on the floor. I make sure the front cellar is stocked and ready for service.

5:00 p.m. I process the wines for the reception and dinner tonight. I change from my t-shirt and comfy shoes to a glam girl super host and sommelier emcee outfit.

6:00 p.m. Show time! Winemakers and special guests arrive. I make one more spin around the main dining room. The guests arrive and I say hello and offer libations behind the bar and work the crowd.

7:00 p.m. Into the private dining room we go for formal introductions to the guests. I start pouring the first course wine. I pour and talk about the food and wine pairings and explain my pairing process with Chef Dommen’s food menu for tonight’s dinner.     

8:00 p.m. Second and third course wines are poured. I am still working the crowd and pouring wine. Sometimes it feels like I am not moving fast enough. I have a few people helping with the last savory course. The live auction happens and I chime in about the awesomeness of our chef’s table. What would pair with that meal? The world is your oyster for beverages and I love them all. We double down and sell two packages!

9:00 p.m. I pour more wine and some people want to continue with the original red wine. Now, I am off and running to find more glassware for extra tastes of wine. Because of course, dessert is happening soon and then it’s coffee and more wine.

One Market restaurant
One Market restaurant

10:00 p.m. I wrap up the night, saying goodbye to guests and giving out business cards. I wash glassware, but before we are completely done I grab a couple of bottles of champagne to toast the evening with the hosts from Dress For Success. Then I tell most folks goodnight and continue to wash glassware and put the left over wine away.

11:00 p.m. My winemaker friends are still here, so we drink more champagne and relax for a moment. I check in with my staff and tell them what a great job everyone did on the event. I check in with the bartenders about wines sold in the dining room. We restock the front cellar. I check the reservations for tomorrow.

12:00 a.m. I  make one last swoop around the event space and then the back cellar. I take one last look at my emails to see who has emailed me during the party. I answer the emails. I check out the events for the next day and make sure I haven’t sold out of the wines. I check in with my mother to let her know I am leaving work soon. She always likes to know I am okay because I work late hours. I arrive home and have a little popcorn because it’s late and I am not sleepy yet. I like to unwind with a little British television. There’s a mystery show on, so I am up for another two hours watching the show. I am excited and tired, but I had a great night. I saw some old friends and made some new friends. And it starts all over again tomorrow morning. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my job and what I do. I am truly blessed and fortunate!