OWNER & WINE DIRECTOR,
Claudio Villani was born and raised in Florence, Italy in the Tuscan Region. He earned a Professional Sommelier Diploma and worked for several years at Villa San Michele, a luxury hotel built in a former monastery designed by Michelangelo, and also at Relais San Felice, a Relais Chateau in Tuscan wine country. While vacationing in Italy in 2001, Mark Pastore, the owner of recently founded San Francisco restaurant Incanto, offered Claudio the founding Manager & Wine Director position.
Photo: Kim Komenich/The Chronicle
Michael Bauer in his first review of Incanto praised Claudio, "If you were to confine your eyes only to the wine list at Incanto, you'd think you were in one of the best restaurants in Italy... Claudio Villani, who moved to the Bay Area from Florence in March, obviously has an inside track to the great wines... When Villani is on the floor you don't need to worry about anything, whether you plan to spend $25 or $350 ". Other praises include a 3 star rating and Top 100 in the Bay Area. Claudio was named the "Best Wine Director” by San Francisco Magazine in 2003 and Food & Wine Magazine stated "The most ambitious Italian wine list in the city compliments a menu of simple Italian dishes that emphasize pristine ingredients".
Claudio studied for the Advanced & Diploma course from the WSET at Copia in Napa Valley with several Master of Wine, Peter Marks and Joel Butler. The next step was working as opening Wine Director for two time James Beard Award Winner Chef Paul Bartolotta at Wynn Las Vegas. Within the first year the Restaurant was James Beard nominated as the Best New Restaurant in America. Gourmet Magazine included Bartolotta in the best 50 (n.21) Restaurants in America The wine list was recognized by Wine Enthusiastic Magazine "Award of Ultimate Distinction" and Wine Spectator "Best of Award of Excellence".
Before opening InoVino in Cole Valley, Claudio was the Sommelier at the highly regarded Michelin Star Restaurant Quince in San Francisco and the Wine Director at Perbacco in the Financial District.