As Sommelier of Robard’s Steakhouse, Jared Escalante brings a wealth of wine knowledge and the world itself to the cellar of the signature dining experience of The Woodlands® Resort. With more than eight years of experience, he is focused on building and maintaining a sophisticated wine collection for the luxury boutique steakhouse that pays homage to the sense of adventure of Howard Robard Hughes – the better to please the palates and broaden the tastes of resort guests and locals from the Texas Piney Woods alike.
Escalante’s passion for spirits is what ultimately drove his career path. It all began during a stay in Japan after high school, when a friend who worked for a local Japanese whiskey distillery opened his eyes to the unique craft behind the spirit. Escalante was fascinated and built his expertise from there on out.
In 2013, Escalante joined the Drunken Crab in Los Angeles as assistant manager, focusing his efforts on learning the ins and outs of hospitality in the food and beverage space. In 2015 he relocated to Las Vegas and joined Strip House, a fine dining steakhouse, where he held various management roles over four years while shifting his general beverage focus to wine.
Quite a shift it turned out to be. Intrigued by the intricacy, history, variety, and widespread popularity of wine, Escalante pursued certification as a sommelier, hitting the books as well as the wine stores, and joining fellow students in regular group tastings hosted by a Level 3 sommelier. He achieved his own Level 1 certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2017.
Since joining the Robard’s Steakhouse team in summer 2019, Escalante has been hard at work growing the wine cellar and elevating the wine service. He has brought in dozens of French and Italian labels to supplement what had been a primarily California-focused list, as well as choice finds from Chile, Australia, and even Lebanon to pair with the restaurant’s incredible selections of protein and seafood.
The resulting wine list is based on the idea of travel, with Escalante’s concept: Let Howard Hughes take you elsewhere – an homage to the pioneering spirit that inspired the restaurant. As the lone sommelier, he offers practiced service to guide people to bottles that match their taste profiles, and he enthusiastically points them to wine regions beyond the familiar.
Wine is moving very well as a result, and the collection continues to grow. Escalante recently relocated the whites to a new storage area to make more room for reds in the cellar, and he is looking forward to designing chef-collaborated wine dinners and events when Robard’s Steakhouse rolls out a new menu in fall 2019.
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