The Lawless family is pleased to welcome sommelier Jon McDaniel as wine director at Henri and The Gage. McDaniel will oversee the wine program at both award-winning restaurants, implementing a customized approach to each list. With more than 10 years of experience creating wine programs across the country, McDaniel brings passion and innovation to Henri and The Gage's award-winning wine lists.
McDaniel attended The George Washington University in Washington, DC, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Bachelor of Science in Political Science. During college, McDaniel fell in love with wine and food. As a bartender for an event company that produced large-scale events at the embassies in Washington, DC, he was exposed to the food, drink, and culture of a variety of countries. This experience planted his appreciation for the unique beverage culture of countries around the globe.
After college, he worked for several wine brands and restaurants around the nation before settling in Los Olivos, CA as wine director and manager at Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, which was made famous in the movie Sideways. As head of the wine program, McDaniel doubled the wine list to over 1,000 wines, earning the list Two Glasses by Wine Spectator in 2012 and the title of "One of the Top 50 Wine Programs in America" by Open Table in 2011 and 2012.
He eventually left California for Chicago to work as sommelier at the Michelin-recommended and nationally acclaimed restaurant, The Purple Pig. From there, he assisted in the opening of OON – a former Asian-fusion restaurant in Chicago – as general manager and beverage director before moving to his current position as wine director at Henri and The Gage, where he takes a customized approach to each wine program.
At The Gage, diners can enjoy a variety of rustic, versatile wines that can be sipped on their own or as a great complement to chef Peter Coenen's European-inspired American fare. McDaniel’s hope for The Gage's list is that the story of each wine will jump off the page, creating excitement for the guest.
At Henri, diners can meditate on the wonders of French wine. The wine program will highlight small, independent producers making wines with traditional thought and technique. His selections are an ideal match for chef Chris Gawronski's French and American-inspired cuisine. McDaniel has walked through, seen and touched first-hand most of the vineyards featured on Henri's wine list, and he is thrilled to bring those experiences tableside.
From being chosen as one of the Top 20 Young Sommeliers in America in 2012 and included as one of the Top 30 Sommeliers in America in 2013, McDaniel has been recognized nationally for his talent in outlets such as Wine Spectator, Tasting Panel, and FSR Magazine.
In addition to managing the wine programs at Henri and The Gage, McDaniel is also the creator and founder of the critically-acclaimed winery, Amos Cellars.
When not working, McDaniel can be found cheering on his beloved Azzuri soccer team, playing tennis and listening to Miles Davis with a 12-year Scotch in hand.