Corkbuzz, St. Vincent & The Boarding House

Wine geeks strike out on their own

This is the year that sommeliers become masters of their own destinies.

Rather than arranging pairings for someone else's menu, three well-respected somms have taken the leap to become restaurant owners, opening places where the food and the wine are equal players.

Here's where cork meets fork:

Corkbuzz: Master Sommelier Laura Maniec opened this charming wine bar and wine-education space in New York City late last year. With more than 35 wines by the glass and a menu of small plates by Hayan Yi, pairing opportunities are endless. Our favorite: a glass of Trimbach Riesling Reserve with a buttery bowl of bucatini with Brussels sprouts and chile oil (click here to see the recipe).

St. Vincent: After working at some of the best restaurants on both coasts (Babbo in New York, Quince and Cotogna in San Francisco), David Lynch is his own boss at the impending St. Vincent in San Francisco's Mission District. Bill Niles, formerly of Bar Tartine, is manning a menu of casual snacks (think pretzels and deviled eggs).

The Boarding House: Chicago master sommelier Alpana Singh's new project opens in late summer. The giant space boasts four floors, which will feature food and decor inspired by Chicago around the turn of the 20th century. Singh will oversee the wine list (natch), with an emphasis on natural wine.