Krystal Kinney, Sommelier

As a young girl growing up in West Virginia, Krystal learned southern hospitality and an appreciation of spirits from a wine-loving Aunt. It was no surprise when she pursued degrees in culinary arts and hospitality in Southern Florida. As a young, vivacious woman she managed entertainment venues including Club Cinema in Pompano Beach, FL. It was at Club Cinema that she discovered her passion for wine. The owner of Club Cinema sampled expensive French Bordeaux and Krystal swirled glasses with a host of celebrities including Debbie Harry (aka Blondie), Johnny Depp, Cirque du Soleil, the Rolling Stones and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Out of curiosity, Krystal did a blind tasting and discovered she had a refined palette; Even without training, Krystal could pick up on the subtleties of the wines, their earthiness, and Old World flavors. She decided to go back to school at Le Cordon Bleu, USSA (United States Sommelier Association). From there, she set out to further her palate, traveling all over France (Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Provence, Bordeaux and the Loire Valley), Napa Valley, Greece and other famous wine regions. While in France, she fell in love with french culture—the food, wine, hospitality, and, most of all, Champagne. It is no surprise French wine and champagne are two of Krystal’s specialties.

Upon returning to the states, Krystal progressed her training, becoming an advanced, level three sommelier. She became the sommelier at The Blind Monk, where she served over 100 types of wines by the glass, each hand picked by her and rotated weekly.

In 2010 she became the sommelier at the Greenbriar in West Virginia. During her time there she periodically traveled to Italy, Spain and Australia. After three and a half years at the Greenbriar, Krystal returned to South Florida, accepting a position at the then new Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Palm Beach. There she recreated the way the resort presented its wine and cocktail menus, while creating a buzz with weekly and monthly events showcasing the libations.

She believes in using fresh, local ingredients, boutique spirits and small production wines, and is passionate about creating an adventurous experience for her guests. She loves to hear her guests say “wow” as they sample a new wine they would not have otherwise tried. She uses her expert knowledge to guide her guests to the most harmonious pairings.

In her travels through France, Krystal had stayed at a number of Relais & Chateaux properties. She loved the high standards in hospitality and cuisine. So when Krystal met Mr. Walson, who was in the process of building the Royal Blues Hotel, she saw an opportunity. While at the time she was busy helping Eau Palm Beach refine their wine menu, she kept in contact with Mr. Walson over three years. When she was ready for her next professional chapter, Relais & Chateaux seemed like the perfect choice. Mr. Walson and Krystal share a similar philosophy on wine.

“We like small vineyard, boutique wines that are hard to find. In addition we try to focus on wines that pair perfectly with our cuisine with the chef in mind,” said Krystal. “There’s nothing better than the harmony of a well-paired meal, the perfect marriage of wine and cuisine. There’s no great meal without great wine.”

In her short time at the Royal Blues Hotel & Chanson Restaurant, Krystal has already brought in an impressive collection of wines and planed a series of wine events and tasting menus with boutique wineries such as Beggio Hamina and Arrieta. With her years in the service industry, extensive wine knowledge and go-getter, vibrant personality, Krystal—like her wine pairings—is a perfect fit.