Wine & Restaurant Experience

Alison’s love of good food and wine began in her mid-20s with various restaurant jobs. In 1986, Alison pursued her interest in wine at Columbia Winery (her uncles, Ted and Lewis Leber, were two of the 10 original founders). At Columbia, she held positions of Assistant to the Barrel Master, tasting room/retail staff, archivist and chemistry lab assistant and had the opportunity to learn about all aspects of wine production—from vineyard to bottle.

She became the retail Wine Steward at Larry’s Markets where she designed and taught educational classes on food and wine pairing and was then hired as the Sommelier and Dining Manager at Gerard’s Relais de Lyon, a four-star classical French restaurant in Bothell. During her management there, her wine list received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine.

In 1992, Alison bought a small retail wine and cheese shop, Brie & Bordeaux, in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle. The shop grew from a very small selection of 10 wines and 75 cheeses to over 150 wines and cheeses with a specialty catering business tailored for the wine industry.

In 1996, she expanded and created a 30 seat French-influenced bistro adjacent to the retail shop with a 500 bottle selection of wines and over 200 cheeses with in-house aging and an emphasis on American Farmhouse and Artisanal cheeses. The focus in the bistro encouraged the use of specialty cheeses as an integral ingredient in the menu, incorporating the cheeseboard into the dining experience using the retail wine selection as the wine list. Brie & Bordeaux achieved both local and national recognition for excellence in the Bistro and Cheese & Wine Shop.