Meet Your Sommelier: Zachary Lewison of Swiss Chalet |

Meet Your Sommelier: Zachary Lewison of Swiss Chalet

Learn some insights from a wine expert before Taste of Vail

Zachary Lewison is the beverage manager and sommelier at Swiss Chalet at The Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail Village.
Zachary Lewison/Courtesy photo

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily is showcasing chefs and sommeliers participating in this year’s Taste of Vail which returns to the slopes and streets of Vail Apr. 5 – 8. Zachary Lewison is the sommelier and beverage manager at Swiss Chalet at the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail and is also a board member of the Taste of Vail.

Q: What is your name, where is your home restaurant and what is your official title?

A: My name is Zachary Lewison and I am the sommelier and beverage manager at Swiss Chalet.

Q: How long have you been at the Swiss Chalet?

A: I began working at the Swiss Chalet restaurant in 2015 and moved up the restaurant ladder from waiter to supervisor to assistant manager to sommelier and beverage manager.

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Q: How long have you been participating in Taste of Vail?

A: This will be my second year as a board member for Taste of Vail, I attended as a guest in 2019.

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a sommelier?

A: Working at the Swiss Chalet as a server ignited a curiosity within me about wine. That curiosity turned to passion and a thirst to learn more. I was grateful to have the Sonnenalp’s support and extensive wine program to learn from.

Q: Who has inspired you throughout your enological journey?

A: Master sommelier Damon Ornowski has always guided me and helped me fine-tune my tasting skills. He has always made the wine industry feel more approachable and encouraged me to grow.

Q: Why is it fun to participate in food and wine events like Taste of Vail?

A: The Taste of Vail allows restaurants and wineries to truly showcase their best offerings. Being able to come together in person and celebrate our products and passions creates an energy that is vivacious.

Q: What Taste of Vail seminars are not to be missed by wine lovers?

A: My favorites are the Sturia Caviar and Wine seminar (Fri., Apr. 7, 4-5 p.m.) and A Taste of Colorado Wine seminar (Sat., Apr. 8, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.).

Zachary Lewison has been on the board of Taste of Vail for two years and has been attending the Taste of Vail since 2019.
Taste of Vail/Courtesy photo

Q: What advice do you have for more of the novice wine drinkers who are thinking of coming to the Taste of Vail?

A: Be open to trying the many different styles of wine. I think there is a time and place for all wines and who knows, you might find you like a wine that you least expected to enjoy. 

Q: Why is it important to have winemakers at events like Taste of Vail?

A: Having the winemakers present separates the Taste of Vail from other wine events as it gives the winemaker a chance to educate their tasters. It also puts a face to the bottle. Storytelling is so important to connect with your audience. Today, customers want to know more than what the wine will taste like. They are looking for a true connection.

Q: The Debut of Rosé event is on Wednesday (3 – 6 p.m.). What are your favorite dishes with rosé?

A: I would try and pair the rosé wines with a dish that is light and playful, something like an arugula and radicchio salad with grapes, hazelnuts, melons and a light vinaigrette or an overnight-brined chicken served with a creamy herb risotto.

Q: The Niman Ranch Iberian Duroc Pork Challenge and Après Tasting is on Thursday (3 – 6 p.m.). What wines pair well with pork?  

A: Pork can be a great blank pallet that the chefs will use to put their creative touches on. For a spicy pork dish, I would try to find a wine such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer that has a little sugar to help balance the food. For a more earthy pork dish, I would try to find a nice pinot noir to accompany the dish. And, you can always find that sparkling wines will go with just about everything!

The Niman Ranch Iberian Duroc Pork Challenge and Après Tasting is on Thursday from 3 – 6 p.m.
Taste of Vail/Courtesy photo

Q: What’s your favorite varietal?

A: My favorite varietal would have to be pinot noir. I love all the different expressions of the grape from Russian River to Burgundy, New Zealand and anywhere else. 

Q: What’s your go-to wine and food pairing when you go out to eat or at home?

A: My wife is the chef at home, so it is my responsibility to provide the wine for dinner. My favorite pairing would have to be her roasted cauliflower and chickpea dish with a Russian River pinot noir that has aged about 5 to 7 years in bottle.

The Niman Ranch Mountaintop Tasting is at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola (No. 19) on Fri., Apr. 7 from noon until 2:30 p.m.
Daily file photo

Q: What is your favorite wine region to visit and taste wines from?

A: I spent a year in Sonoma and loved the diversity of the region! Sonoma has such a wide range of climates that allow for so many different grapes and styles to be produced. Also, I would highly recommend visiting Palisade, Colorado for a quick and easy trip to a region that is really getting serious about winemaking. It’s exciting to see the evolution of wines from Colorado as they start to further understand what grapes are doing best for our region.

Q: Is there anything else about you we should share?

A: Be sure to have fun and drink responsibly! We are still at around 8,000 feet above sea level, so stay hydrated, eat some great food and you will have a great time at the events!

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