Born and raised in San Francisco, Gianpaolo Paterlini developed an appreciation of food and wine at a young age. His father, Giancarlo Paterlini, came to San Francisco from Bologna, Italy, and opened Acquerello Restaurant in 1989. The younger Paterlini started as a busser at Acquerello at the age of 14 and worked at the establishment throughout high school until he left the Bay Area to attend college at Boston University. The first summer home after his freshman year, he landed a food running position at A16 with owner Shelley Lindgren, an alumna of Acquerello. Back at school, he had the opportunity to train with Chef Ming Tsai at Blue Ginger in Wellesley, just outside of Boston, and held positions all over the front and back of the house. “The whole experience got me thinking about how much more there was to learn about the industry, especially wine,” he says.
After the first semester of his junior year and just a month after he had turned 21, Paterlini secured an internship at Michael Mina in San Francisco, where the seriousness of the wine program and the attention to detail made an impact on the budding sommelier. “I realized wine can be as much of a draw as the food is,” he says. “Working there for Rajat Parr and Tony Cha is what really made me decide I would spend my life working with wines.”
After a seven-month stint at Michael Mina, Paterlini worked a harvest with winemaker Sashi Moorman in Santa Barbara. At the end of the season in November 2007, he returned to San Francisco and began as a sommelier at Acquerello, bringing with him the practices and ideals he gleaned during his time at Michael Mina and his knowledge from the harvest. Paterlini was promoted to wine director in 2010.
Because Acquerello specializes in Italian wines, Paterlini aims to ensure diners understand the offerings as well as the distinct and varied indigenous varietals, regions, and styles. He has expanded the wine list to nearly 2,000 selections. 1760 offers a smaller but more diverse list, allowing Gianpaolo to work with wines from all over Europe. He especially enjoys visiting wineries and choosing wines to be bottled exclusively for 1760 and Acquerello. Now 31 years old, Gianpaolo leads a team of young and talented sommeliers at both restaurants. “As a sommelier, I find it most meaningful when I help enhance the interactive experience diners have at 1760 and Acquerello,” he explains. “My job is not to tell people what to drink, but to help them find something to drink that will make them most happy, which is very rewarding.”
Even in his time off, Paterlini’s life revolves around food and wine. He can often be found planning where he’ll eat his next lunch or dinner. He loves to travel internationally and makes it to Italy at least twice a year to source new wines.