Rajat ("Raj") Parr is an Indian-American sommelier turned winemaker, who oversaw the wine program of the Michael Mina restaurant group before starting his own wineries in Oregon and the Central Coast of California. Sandhi is his label of purchased grapes while Lompoc, Domaine de la Cote, and Evening Land all are productions from his and Sashi Moorman's (his business partner) vineyards. He produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay exclusively, biodynamically and organically. His winemaking philosophy is based on little to no manipulation of the final product by never inoculating nor over-ripening.
Early life and education
Parr was born and raised in Calcutta, India. He grew up close to his cousin, who ran two restaurants in New Delhi. Although he had read about wine, he had never tasted it (wine production and consumption in India is relatively limited) until age 20, in 1993, with an uncle living in London.
Parr graduated from the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration in Manipal, Karnataka, India. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, intending to become a chef and externed at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
Parr moved to San Francisco to become a food runner at Rubicon Restaurant, on encouragement from his wine instructor, after reading a magazine article about the restaurant's celebrity-sommelier Larry Stone. Parr, who visited vineyards on his days off to learn more about wine, impressed Stone with his persistence and determination. Within six months he became assistant to Stone, who became his mentor. After three years, Parr became sommelier of the Fifth Floor in San Francisco in 1999. In 2003 Parr was appointed wine director all of the Michael Mina restaurants throughout the United States.
In 2007 he, along with Michael Mina, were hired to develop and run a food and wine program by the developers of San Francisco's Millennium tower, who called him "one of the most celebrated sommeliers in the world". The restaurant, RN74, had a $4.5 million budget and opened in May 2009 with an 84-page wine list.
Parr is also a partner with Sandhi Wines. Sandhi is a small production California winery focusing on select vineyards from the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County and was founded in 2010 by Rajat Parr, the wine director for Michael Mina Restaurants, Charles Banks, the former owner of Jonata and Screaming Eagle, and esteemed winemaker, Sashi Moorman.
- Molesworth, James, Wine Spectator (March 5, 2007). Sommelier Talk: Rajat Parr
- Jung, Carolyn, San Jose Mercury News, (September 25, 2002). Meet The Sommeliers Who Are Changing The Profession Archived 2007-08-20 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Rajat Parr". Rajat Parr. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
- Mackay, Jordan (March 16, 2006). "Rolling Stone: After 12 years at Rubicon, wine director Larry Stone has moved on". 7x7 Magazine.
- "Somellier Profiles:Rajat Parr". Winescore.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-21. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- Finz, Stacy, San Francisco Chronicle (December 19, 2007). As upscale home complexes add great chefs, more buyers are biting
- Bonné, Jon, San Francisco Chronicle (April 16, 2009). Mina's latest, RN74, a wine bar with fine food
- Lucchesi, Paolo, San Francisco Chronicle: Inside Scoop (September 28, 2010). Rajat Parr would very much like to educate sommeliers and drinkers alike in his new book
- Adler, Sarah, San Francisco Chronicle (October 1, 2010). Wine masters spill secrets of sommeliers Archived 2010-10-07 at the Wayback Machine.