It was a poor Chardonnay experience that catapulted Geoffrey Kariuki into the extraordinary world of wine!
It was not a path typically laid out for a young boy growing up in a small village in Dagoretti on what was once the troubled outskirts of Nairobi, in a class of 66 students competing for the attention of a single teacher. However, Geoffrey’s own story is a striking tale of hope, hard work, talent and the right elements aligning at the right time.
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When Geoffrey began working as a waiter at the trendy Artcaffe in 2009, the wine list presented a minefield of confusion and mispronunciations. Geoffrey did not know what a chardonnay was and was found on one particular day in a situation where he could not help his customer. So, in the style of a man driven to learn, Geoffrey went on a journey of discovery, studying the intricacies of wine.
When the manager of the upcoming Sankara Hotel dined at Artcaffe he was impressed by Geoffrey’s level of service, and offered him a job in the hotel’s new wine cellar. From 2010 to 2013, Geoffrey immersed himself in the world of wine, which soon emerged as a defining, life-altering passion.
He travelled to Stellenbosch, South Africa, to sit his wine master exams with the Wines and Spirit Education Trust and visited over 200 vineyards from the Cape to KwaZulu Natal.
In 2016, Geoffrey was a finalist in the Wines of South Africa International Cup awards, representing both Kenya and the African continent and forming part of an elite group of sommeliers from 8 countries around the world.
Within the space of a few short years, Geoffrey had risen through the ranks of the burgeoning wine industry in Kenya to become the country’s youngest, most renowned sommelier and to win internationally recognised plaudits and approval. He also began training other up-and-coming sommeliers.
A yearlong stint as a sommelier and restaurant manager at a top hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2017, gave Geoffrey additional opportunities to develop his skills for international clients. But Kenya needed him more. He returned to his beloved home country to consult for Nairobi’s prestigious Fairmont Hotel and developed the wine list and a training programme for Five Senses Restaurant , at Yaya Centre.
With a firm belief in expanding his experiences and passing his knowledge and skills onto others, so that they may benefit from his success and go onto charter their own, Geoffrey welcomed the chance to join The Sands at Nomad as our resident sommelier.
We are proud and excited to have Geoffrey as part of our great team. Geoffrey can be found in his element in our stylish wine cellar, training team members, hosting private tastings and helping our diners explore the depth and variety of fine wine.