Ralph lived in various cities across the United States before relocating to Asheville from Greenville, SC in 2003. After working at a few restaurants in Asheville he took a job working as a back waiter at Richmond Hill Inn in 2006. While working at their award winning flagship restaurant Gabrielle’s, Ralph discovered his passion for wine over a bottle of 1996 Aufuave-Boully Chassagne -Montrachet Rouge. He began studying and learning as much as he could about wine not knowing at the time that it would be the driving force of his career for years to come. When a fire destroyed Richmond Hill Inn in 2009, it only seemed natural for Ralph to take his experience and ambitions to Grove Park Inn. He remained at GPI for 10 years and this was actually where he met and developed close relationships with both Tony and Andrew. In 2013 after years of diligent self-study Ralph became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Ralph served many roles while at Grove Park and was an integral part of the wine program during his time there. Ralph describes always being fascinated by wine because it encompasses his favorite subjects, science, art, and history and how it amazes him that so much information can be captured inside a bottle. Ralph’s favorite part of being in restaurant service, as wine sommelier and now a restaurant owner, is being able to create and share memories with others and being able to have an impact on someone’s special occasion, whether it be 90th birthday, 50th anniversary, or someone’s last great meal. He finds honor and reward in these types of interactions with people and takes pride in making them truly memorable.
Now as the co-owner of Avenue M, Ralph has poured his heart and soul into the wine list so that it fits a variety of guests that may visit the restaurant. On his thoughtful wine list you will find everything from value driven classics to cult status Napa Cabernets. It is very obvious that the list was chosen not by a corporation trying to fill space and sell outrageously priced bottles, but by someone who is truly passionate and knowledgeable about wine and wants to share that passion with others. Avenue M is the only Sommelier owned restaurant in Asheville to date. One of the many things that make it truly unique.
When Ralph is not working, he enjoys time with his beautiful wife Stephanie, and his daughter Maddie Grace. They enjoy hiking, camping, playing disc golf, and seeing live music together.