Davis Estates Awaits… 

Peter Huls

One of the perks of writing and editing this site is I get to talk to and meet a whole bunch of hospitality professionals, chefs, wine makers, hotel people, sommeliers, etc. who are so enthused about what they do.  What I’m trying to say, I can’t imagine doing the NSI quiz with an accountant. 

A bunch of years back I got Joshua Schwartz, exec chef of Del Dotto Vineyards to do the NSI quiz at a great party he was hosting, and he said to me, you don’t ask the usual boring questions. So where am I going with this? Well, when I was thumbing thru an old Wine Spectator I came across an ad for Davis Estate that showed an incredible tasting room.  

Always a big fan of fine architecture and tasting rooms, I got in touch with the winery and said I thought their director of hospitality, Peter Huls, would be a fine guy to do the NSI quiz. I was impressed that a gal got back right away and said she forwarded the email to Peter. (It’s unbelievable how much the hospitality industry drops the ball in getting back to people.)  

And Peter was equally gracious in getting back, but wanted to know what the NSI quiz was. Peter had Googled for the quiz and got a bunch of national security crap. I replied back, no, nothing that serious, just a bunch of fun questions that industry people seem to get a kick out of doing. And so it was with Peter Huls. Cheers and enjoy… 

What was last night’s dinner? Had an invite to a friend’s place who was cooking a whole cochon in a fire pit. (Joked that there probably weren’t too many vegetarians there) made Pete laugh and say, if there were it didn’t matter, everyone brought side dishes so they would have been happy too. 

What’s your favorite drink? It’s got to be wine. Like all kinds, but lately I’ve liked this Italian white called Falanghina, very tasty, vibrant wine.  

Favorite music? I’m not a big music fan. My taste is all over the place, but on a road trip, put some 80’s pop and rock on the stereo and I’m happy. 

Favorite place to dine out in Napa? A tiny Italian restaurant in St Helena called Cook St. Helena. Incredible pastas and the best risotto I’ve ever had.   

Favorite thing about living and working in Napa? In two words, the community. It’s such a great feeling when you’re out or they come to your place and you’re all on the same page, whether you’re in a hotel, winery, restaurant or whatever, we’re all about giving people the best experience when they come to Napa.  

What makes a great wine tasting? (This question really made Pete come alive, feel his passion for giving a visitor a great tasting experience coming thru the phone.) Great question! I really care about that one. Drives me bonkers when somms or tasting people push their taste on people. You’ve got to ask a bunch of questions at the start of their tasting to find out what they like and if they’re open for trying something similar or different. It’s all about your guest, not you. Find out what they like and pour it, then go from there.  

Any wine, restaurant or trip on your bucket list? Another good question. My wife is a sommelier as well and we try to hit Europe at least once every two years, one, if possible. And we’ve always wanted to go the island of Madeira for their wines. Just love them. Can almost taste the history, so if we can do that, that would be fun.  

Any brush with celebrity? Nothing too earth shattering, but was a big kick for me, Martin Brodeur and Conor McDavid. (Two very excellent hockey players, if you didn’t know.. Ha ha.) 

Final thoughts? Just so amazed that I’m the director of hospitality at one of the top wineries In Napa. If you had told me or any of my profs at Cal State that would happen, we would have never believed it. But I sure love it.