When I met Jill Weber, she was an archaeologist with a taste for wines from impossible places. Her palate followed her work: into the ancient vineyards of Syria and Turkey, through the ancient mariner routes toward Lebanon and Greece.
Wine School of Philadelphia
I met her when she was taking classes at the Wine School of Philadelphia. She talked of opening a wine bar, someplace where she could pour these strange and quixotic bottles. I thought she might go bankrupt pursuing such a dream. I smiled politely and urged her to consider wines from Italy, France, and California. Soon after, she graduated from the wine certification program and went on her way.
The Archaeologist Restaurateur
She returned to the Wine School in 2013 as a bona fide restaurateur. Philly has embraced Jill’s vision of wine and cocktails at Jet Wine Bar in the interim years. That success allowed her to open Rex 1516; her take on posh southern cuisine. Not long ago, Rex 1516 was named Philly’s 51st top restaurant and a huge hit with Philly’s tastemakers (Philly Mag’s Jason Sheehan used to write it up an average of twice a month).
vs Bloomsday Cafe
She came to the Wine School to compete in the Sommelier Smackdown, battling the defending champion Zach Morris (the owner of Bloomsday Cafe, not the fictional tv character). Armed with a collection of obscure and delightful bottles, she beat poor ol’ Zachary.Bloomsday Cafe
“She beat me pretty bad” he said with a rueful grin the next morning.
Better luck next time, old boy. Probably should have told you that Jill has a knack for beating the odds.