Damon Lobato, The Cosmopolitan’s new wine director, is a man of many tastes. While vino is his livelihood, he enjoys several other hobbies, including record collecting and woodworking in his free time. Thanks to his love of wine, he’s traveled the world, including a stint in Europe, but it was love of a different kind that recently led him the San Juans and subsequently his new position with the Cosmo.
“Simply put, I fell in love with a beautiful, charming woman and fate directed me to Cosmo,” he said.
Lobato’s journey began at a very young age, as he worked in several small, chef-owned, and wine-driven, restaurants. He explained that he learned early about surrounding yourself with people who have the same passion and a similar vision is the key to success. After receiving his liberal arts degree from Denver’s Metropolitan State University, Lobato pursued viticulture and his love of everything relating to wine. He obtained his Advanced Sommelier Certification in 2006, which has helped him build an impressive resume. He’s worked at the Palace Arms in Denver and The Penrose Room in Colorado Springs, as well as The Compound in Santa Fe — all of which are the definition of fine dining.
Lobato casually mentions he’s been part of several high-end wine programs and James Beard-awarded restaurants during his career, but he doesn’t pour his heart and soul into the industry for accolades or outside acknowledgement.
“As much as I could say I have been involved with many award-winning restaurants and certifications, it's the people that have climbed up the restaurant ranks under my guidance,” he added. “It's a sublime feeling when some have thanked me as inspiration.”
Similarly, he enjoys interacting with guests, and said he’s been beyond impressed with how everything is handled at the Cosmo.
“Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to meeting the community and creating an experience for our guests that is better than it already is,” he said. “I have been extremely impressed with our food, wine, staff and organization. I would like to add more value to what's already in place.”
As far as the Cosmo’s wine menu moving forward, he said patrons can expect “a few things” as he settles into his new role and puts his personal touches on it.
“Firstly, the wines will all complement (chef and owner) Chad Scothorn's food. It’s the most important factor for me and for our restaurant,” he explained. “In addition, I would like to carefully select wines that offer immediate drinking pleasure, but that also expresses their individual character and provenance. All wines on our list will be acquired by committed producers respectful of tradition, while not afraid of innovation, cultivating their vineyards with a strong concern for environmental sustainability and making their wines with a constant focus on quality and authenticity.”
Lobato’s personal favorite wine is a 2018 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Lieu-dit Vernon, which is a white wine from Northern Rhône, Rhone Valley, France.
“Look for this on our list soon,” he added.
If Lobato sounds like a candidate for “The Most Interesting Man in the World” title it’s because he is.
Other than knowing his way around a wine cellar, he’s also a dedicated doggy dad to his pups Maizy and Ziggy, and he runs his own Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/NoMadDesigns77) for selling his woodworking creations.
“I started making custom epoxy resin live edge furniture during the pandemic,” he explained.
When he wants to relax, he likes to put on a good vinyl record; his most prized being 1959’s “Something Else,” featuring Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and Hank Jones, on the Blue Note record label.
The Cosmo is currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 4-9 p.m. For more information or to book a reservation, visit cosmotelluride.com.