Born and raised in Brooklyn, Kilolo Strobert’s informal wine education began with a peppery bottle of Fat Bastard Syrah. She drank the whole damn bottle and has since spent more than 16 years in wine buying, retail sales, and marketing. Kilolo has worked at notable companies, including Company and Fresh Direct. She also serves as the Communications Coordinator for the nonprofit Wine on Wheels and runs wine programming at StarChefs International Chefs Congress.
Kilolo holds degrees in Culinary Arts and Marketing from Johnson & Wales University. She also happens to know several wines that pair beautifully with a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich, and can name-drop varietals like Kid Capri has tapes. With her recently launched venture, Get Comfy with Wine, Kilolo wants to empower wine drinkers to shop, order, and drink what they like.
1. How did you get into the wine business?
I realized, while getting my culinary degree, I was very good at wine and food pairings and wine suggestions when friends asked. I decided to commit fulltime to wine in 2004.
2. What are the most frustrating and rewarding parts of your job?
Rewards and frustration happen every single day in the wine business. Most of us are on the hospitality side. We are public-facing and the attitudes we come across range from extremely happy to see you and praiseworthy of your skills to a person calling you the “N” word or sneezing in your face with hardly an apology while you are helping them.
It’s a seesaw of a day but I love exercising my palate and my brain to help satisfy the senses of the masses. It’s hard work but it brings me joy!
3. What is your most memorable wine experience?
When I turned 40, two of my best friends took me to Napa and Sonoma. I set up many appointments but the stand out afternoon/ evening was going to Monte Rosso Vineyard, in Sonoma. This was in 2018 and I met Brenae Royal. Meeting a vineyard manager (a farmer) and for her to be so young, gifted, and black was fantastic. She was the first (of her kind) I’d ever met and I felt like I was meeting another unicorn.
4. What is an upcoming trend you see in wine?
Sauvignon Blanc is the new Pinot Grigio; and Cans, Cans, Cans! It is hard to sell half bottles of wine but when they come in the form of a can everyone changes their mind!
5. What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
My Granny always said, “Plan your work and work your plan!”
6. What is one tip you have for someone just getting into wine?
Explore all of your options. Talk to as many people about their experience in this industry as you can, and whatever your goals are, fight to get to where you want to be and pivot when necessary.
Sommelier and Wine Influencer & Owner of Get Comfy with Wine
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