Kilolo Strobert

Fermented Grapes
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Kilolo Strobert is the only wine expert you need in your pocket. She cut her teeth at prestigious and respected establishments like Le Dû’s Wines, Le Parker Meridien (now Thompson Central Park), and Zagat to name a few. But fate brought her back to Prospect Heights to re-launch Fermented Wine--where she held her first job--with partner/longtime friend and colleague Max Katzenberg of Olmsted, Maison Yaki and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Fermented offers natural, organic and biodynamic wines, with highlighted sections specifically chosen from incredible female, Black and indigenous winemakers. She also focuses on offering a diverse selection of spirits from New York distillers. Read on and drink up below!
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Full name, age, where are you from? 

 Kilolo Strobert, 43, Crown Heights, Brooklyn


Was food a big part of your upbringing?

Yes. My parents were into dining out. We had to travel outside of our neighborhood most of the time to do so but that never stopped us. My father especially loved to dine out. We also cooked a lot at home. BBQ was a big thing and we tried to eat dinner together most nights until I was about 15 or so.


What are your earliest memories of wine?

Neighbors making it with concord grapes that grew in the backyard. Beer and brown liquor were more things that I remember from childhood. My father didn't drink, smoke or curse and my mom drank an occasional beer while watching football so I honestly don't know where I got my wine curiosity from. In high school, I remember drinking real champagne for the first time and learning how to make a proper Martini. That was a big deal.

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If you could give a piece of advice to someone who wanted to pursue your career, what would it be?

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that people all enjoy the same things. Palates are as varied as the color spectrum. If you want to own your own wine store or run wine programs make sure there is a little something for everyone and at least 20 percent geared toward what you love. Hopefully you like a little of everything! ;)


What do you think working in this industry has taught you?

That having thick skin is imperative. The amount of obstacles thrown into your path are vast, varied and extremely tiresome. There were many times I tried to give up and move into a different career path but I was pulled back in by fate or destiny or whatever you want to call it. Each time I was astonished that I went back "into the fire" but now I see why. At least for this moment in time I see why. Who knows what the future holds.


What are your favorite offerings that you currently sell and why?

Right now the selection is growing, expanding and contracting in multiple different ways but I found a demi sec champagne made by Piper Heidsieck called Cuvee sublime. It tasted so delicious we all smiled and nodded our heads. Also, I just started putting sake back on the shelf. I am not into sake but these three pick ups from Joto Sake are very good quality and one is a cup that is in the fridge. Also, on the spirits side I'm so happy to have Sorel liqueur on the shelf and Uncle Nearest bourbon. Two spirit brands made by African Americans.

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What is your favorite place to go out and eat at and what are you ordering?

Too many to name. Also, it's NYC, the world is my oyster. When I lived in other cities I would feel comfortable naming a few but that just isn't fair here. And right now, I am an owner and operator on Vanderbilt Ave. The amount of food on my avenue alone is enough to fill up my week. What I can say is that I have been up to Contento a number of times in Harlem. The food and wine list are sick. I'm dying to go to Clay in Harlem as well. That is the next place on my have to go to list!


You’re on a desert island, what are the 5 kitchen items you need to run your business? 

That doesn't apply to me because I own a wine store but if I were to go back to that side of the business I would need a pot, spoon, a knife, a whisk and a cutting board.

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