Erik JohnsonHead Sommelier
As the head sommelier, Erik now leads The French Laundry wine program, including the wine education of the staff. Erik’s passion for his craft drives him to work relentlessly toward elevating the standards of service and more importantly, utilizing the wine program to support the chef’s menus each day.
Erik first started at The French Laundry in 2009 as three-month “vintern.” Quickly learning the most iconic wines of the world in a hands-on manner, he was asked to stay as the cellar sommelier. Erik then moved on to become a sommelier at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, attaining the position of head sommelier at Bouchon at age 24. In this role, Erik was awarded Zagat’s coveted 30 under 30 distinction just a year later. At Bouchon, Erik oversaw the “Vin en Carafe” program, which showcases local vintners and winery owners producing single barrel, exclusive wines of distinctive varietals uncommon to Napa Valley. In 2012, Erik was one of three sommeliers who were awarded the Enrichment Scholarship from the Guild of Sommeliers to visit and study the wine region of Provence. Erik returned to The French Laundry as an assistant sommelier in 2013 to once again work under his mentor Dennis Kelly, M.S.
Prior to joining The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Erik was a back-server at Kai Restaurant, a five-star and five-diamond restaurant in Chandler, Ariz. It was here that Erik received his first introduction to wine— he was asked to blind taste a glass during a pre-service meeting on his very first day. Since he was twenty at the time and had never tasted wine before, he was at a loss for words. Erik left work that day and vowed to learn everything he could about wine.