Twenty-eight-year-old Elizabeth Sammuri, the wine and beverage director for Boulder’s Flagstaff House, didn’t plan to go into the wine industry. Instead, the Colorado native’s goal was to become a professional snowboarder. Sammuri was on the right track, too—a member of the International Snowboard Training Center, she traveled the globe competing in pro-level boardercross—when injury forced her from the sport. Fortunately, her experience hopping from one country to the next kindled another interest: food and beverage.
When Sammuri transitioned from snowboarding to the culinary world, she enrolled at Metro State and took a hospitality class. That furthered her love of wine (her father is an avid collector), and she dove into global wine studies with a minor in hospitality. After graduating, Sammuri moved to Italy to study viticulture and enology; she also taught classes on Italian wine in Sienna. Upon returning to the United States, Sammuri worked for an Italian importer and later, for the Four Seasons in Denver.
oWhen the wine and beverage director position at Flagstaff House opened up, Sammuri applied knowing she was under-qualified. Even her mother thought it was a long shot. “She said, ‘Yeah, I don’t think you’re quite ready for it,’” Sammuri recalls. Three days later, Flagstaff offered her the position.
That was two and a half years ago, and since that time, Sammuri has proved her worth managing one of the most highly decorated wine lists in the world. Despite its posh reputation, Sammuri reminds guests that a good portion of the Flagstaff wine list sits in the $50 to $100 range. And she loves pushing diners toward new and unexpected selections. “I’m interested in the Island wines—Corsica, Canary Islands, Sicily,” she says. “They’re up-and-coming, most often affordable, and extremely food friendly. You never get bored trying those wines. They’re funky, obscure, and fun.” In October, Sammuri will sit for the Advanced Sommelier exam. For three more things you likely didn’t know about Sammuri, read on:
On sake… I have an obsession with sake. It’s better than wine in certain instances—it has lower tannins, lower acidity, and such history. I was just in Japan and that made me want to keep studying it. We have a couple sakes on our tasting menu. Guests say ‘You’re not a Japanese restaurant,’ but then they see how well sake works with an oyster. I have an aged sake that I’m thinking about pairing with our wagyu. There’s so much potential and I like to bridge the gap: Sake is not jet fuel served hot. We serve it in a wine glass.
On nicknames… Sammuri (pronounced Simmury) is my married name. Before that, everyone called me Boothy; my maiden name is Booth. Our snowboard coaches had jerseys made and somehow the company forgot the ‘h’ so it read ‘Booty.’ Oops. I still have that jersey. Now a lot of people call me ‘Samurai.’
On popcorn… It’s my favorite junk food. I can’t stop eating popcorn—it’s my perfect buttery-salty combo. (My husband and I) went to an estate sale and we left with a popcorn machine.