10th Anniversary, Founders' Features, Week 2
October 25, 2022
The vision for Early Mountain's unique hospitality offering was carefully crafted by several key food and wine professionals. Among those esteemed professionals were Michelle Gueydan, sommelier, and Jenn Crovato, Executive Chef. Michelle and Jenn endeavored to create a tasting room experience that was more elevated and vibrant than what was being found elsewhere in Virginia. The concept of expert curation lays at the heart of the Early Mountain experience. Both Michelle and Jenn made sure that our guests enjoyed the most interesting and lauded wines from all corners of the Commonwealth, as well as the freshest local ingredients used to comprise our menu items, both highlighted in our features this week.
Michelle curated a flight of Virginia wines that represent exceptional quality with distinguishable terroir driven characteristics, focusing on bottlings where the people behind them embody what it means to be true stewards of their land. Highlighted wineries inlcude Glen Manor, Linden Vineyards, and Ankida Ridge.
Jenn wanted to take things back to our iconic grilled cheese sandwich, a highlight of her tenure at Early Mountain, a sandwich with a bit of a cult following. Executive Chef Tim Moore created his "Eccentric Grilled Cheese" an open-faced interpretation with local alpine cheese, Kite's country him, stewed apples, arugula, and Cou Cou Rachou pumpernickel rye.
Early Mountain is fortunate to have had these two amazing professionals as part of the original team. Michelle and Jenn helped define our unique brand of winery hospitality and set a course for the business that has led to numerous awards and accolades.
Native to New Orleans, Michelle completed Sommelier certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers, The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and The Sake Professional. Her extensive travel and global wine experiences played an integral role in her decision to embark on a career path focused on wine and hospitality. Most notably Michelle served as a Sommelier at The Inn at Little Washington, Wine Director at the Besh Restaurant Group, and the owner of VinoSolutions, a company that consults on wine programs throughout the United States. Michelle brough her wine knowledge to Early Mountain's "Best of Virginia" program and oversaw all wine sourcing and relationship management during the winery's foundational years. The relationships Michelle helped to establish with other vineyards a decade ago remain strong today, and we enjoy featuring wine selections from throughout the state. Michelle currently works for South to South Wine Importers, bringing artisanal South African wines to the Louisiana market. She also continues to offer private wine tasting/food pairing manifestations, educational seminars, and cellar consulting/inventory management.
Born and raised in the Washington DC area, Jenn Crovato grew up surrounded by strong food traditions at home that eventually led her to one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the country. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Jenn worked in the acclaimed restaurant Galileo before spending a year cooking across Italy. After returning from Europe, she spent several years as an on-site and private chef in the DC area for high-profile clients. Jenn is revered for her focus on simple yet elegant and flavorful cuisine, as well as her prioritization on sourcing the finest local ingredients. The original culinary concept at Early Mountain was driven by Jenn's vision for creating a true destination for foodies in Madison, VA. Jenn started the winery on the trajectory of being known not just for our wine, but also for our food. Jenn shows off her culinary chops in the cookbook that she authored, Olive Oil, Sea Salt & Pepper. Today, Jenn is the owner and head Chef of 1310 Kitchen & Bar located in the historic Georgetown Inn where she thoughtfully combines her love of fresh Italian with comforting, eclectic American cuisine.