Paul Ainsworth at No6’s Elly Owen talks to Chris Losh about dragons, surfing and the peril of gobstoppers
I started in hospo quite young – about 13 years old – working in tea shops then local pubs. It means I’ve been doing this for something like 25 years, which is ridiculous.
It’d be great to have a dragon [like Daenerys Targaryen]. It’d certainly make it easier to get to tastings in London. Parking might be a problem, but at least I’d never get done for drink driving.
I did grape picking at Château Meyney in the Medoc when I was 24. I didn’t really know anything about wine then. If I went back there now, I’d have a completely different experience.
At uni, I had a skinhead. Luckily it was before smartphones, so there isn’t much photographic evidence.
In my time off, I go down to the beach with my family and surf or paddleboard. In the summer, I can go before work in the evenings. I could tell you the best beach for surfing, but if I did I’d have to kill you.
I once worked at a restaurant in the Pyrenees. The only way to get there and back was on a snowboard. It was fine if you could do it, but I was rubbish, so it took me ages.
I get nervous buying really high-end wines, particularly down here. But we got a Coravin last year and that’s been amazing. People are a lot more open to trying stuff they don’t know.
I really like Haruki Murakami. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is lovely. He’s very mystical and evocative.
Wine was becoming a hobby for me in my 20s, but I didn’t realise you could do wine as a career until I came to Fifteen.
Winter in Cornwall is when you take a breath, but I like the summer when it’s busy. It’s when you get to see whether all the work you’ve put into the list over winter has actually paid off.
I did art at college. The only paintings I’ve ever sold were some really shit ones at a car boot sale. I got £1.50 for five of them. That’s when I realised it was game over.
I know about all the producers on our list. I know who made the wines, how old they are, their parents – and I love that I get to talk to people about that.
When I was a kid two of my sisters had an argument. One of them threw a giant gobstopper at the other. It broke her nose and knocked her unconscious.
Elly Owen's CV
1993 Worked in tea room for £1.50/hr
1995 Began in local pub
1996 Worked in restaurant/wine bar in Alresford, Hampshire
1996-2001 Worked at Porter Cellar Bar (now Clayton’s Kitchen) in Bath. Got a buzz cut
2003 Worked in hotel in south-west France
2006 Began at The Wykeham Arms gastropub in Winchester
2008 Started at Fifteen Cornwall as waitress
2015 Became head sommelier at Fifteen Cornwall
2019 Started at Paul Ainsworth at No6