Matthew Williams grew up on the south coast of the UK and got his start in hospitality at age 13 washing dishes in a local pub. The village he called home was small and out in the sticks—in addition to the local church, there was a butcher, a post office, a little shop, and The Roebuck Inn. To entertain himself he’d leave the house on long walks exploring the countryside, and when the weather was foul – which was often – he’d sit and lose himself in the books he’d inherited or borrowed from the public library.
When he inevitably went to university to study Literature, he got a job working in a nightclub in the city center. He wasn’t really aware that there was more to drinking culture than pints of Carlsberg and Jagerbombs poured hurriedly, and if there was, then it was reserved for those who could afford it, who lounged in the Riviera on their lengthy vacations. It wasn’t until he took a date to a little bar tucked away in a basement underneath a Chinese restaurant that he was inducted into some of the finer things in life, discovering that all he needed was the courage to try new things and the willingness to listen.
“I wanted to impress her. She was older, better read, better traveled, and drank whiskey neat. The place had a great reputation, so I walked in feeling out of my depth like Pip in Great Expectations and found that I’d been worrying about nothing. The bartender couldn’t have been kinder or more knowledgeable and he introduced me to some nice things without bruising my twenty-year-old ego. I realized then: this is what I want to do.”
A few weeks later he started working at that same little bar before moving to the states and working in Oxford Mississippi, Washington DC, and Charleston, finally moving up to the Finger Lakes where he started to learn seriously about wine, eventually taking his Introductory Sommelier exam and working in wine distribution.