How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
I have worked in the wine industry as a sommelier for the past 8 years. I had never worked in hospitality previous to this. I have a BS in Nursing and I worked in this field until I fell in love with wine. I love cooking and food, it is a natural pairing. My wine path is a long but super fun story. I started collecting wine 38 years ago and living in CA, started with Napa. I quickly became bored and decided to learn Italian and French wine. It was daunting, tasting alone and reading. I was a mom driving kids and working in my ex husband's medical practice. No one in our circle had any real knowledge or interest about wine. I was obsessed! I then was divorced, moved from the suburbs to Los Angeles. This is where I met wine collectors with insane cellars and was VERY fortunate to taste and drink very old vintages and many regions of the old world and new world daily for many years. I MEAN OLD.This experience was a beautiful gift for a wine nerd. I took the Intro CMS course and was convinced to take a sommelier position at a cool family owned high end steak house in LA. My boss was in his late 80's when I started, he had stories like you would not believe, and his palate was still good! I had the best job buying wine for the steak house was also another gift, tasted daily and so many wines. We had a blast buying wine and having a beautiful friendship, he died 3 weeks after I left last November. I miss him! I did begin WSET during my employment in LA and am currently half way through the Diploma of WSET. I am a French Wine Scholar and am currently completing Burgundy Master Class. I am always studying, tasting, and wanting to improve my knowledge. I moved to Austin 1 year ago. I am now currently working in a wonderful wine bar/bottle shop in Lakeway TX The Wine Cellar, that is a perfect fit !!!! Finally. It took some time to find my way here in Austin TX . We have some work to do.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I had dinner with a college friend who grew up in France, he ordered a Beaujolais! That was the beginning of the rabbit hole! LOL
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
#1 LOVE helping guests with wine selections and totally match their desires. Turn them on to something new and different to expand the palate if they would like. #2 Blind tasting for myself and broadening my knowledg .
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
I regularly practice yoga, ballet barre, and tennis. I love outdoor activities.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
Personally I would like to see more representation of older women (50+) in the restaurant and wine industry. There is a significant amount of age discrimination.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
All of us have a unique gift we can contribute to this industry. No matter our background or experience, everyone should be able to contribute and learn. Equality in the wine industry is achieved when everyone's opinions are respected and listened to.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
I share my knowledge with everyone and especially love to teach anyone about wine. It is so exciting to find a wine that people love and are willing to learn more about.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
The most valuable opportunity for me in this industry was finding a mentor, who propelled me in to the industry. More to come in the next answer :) It is also critical to find a wine tasting group that you meet with on a regular basis to have structured tastings and conversations.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
Paul Sherman was my first mentor who propelled me in to this industry. I was his TA at a UCLA diploma wine studies class. We connected so easily, we had many mutual friends . He took me under his wing: helped me through many many tastings, assisted me with organizing my wine list at the LA steakhouse, and basically taught me everything I know about blind tasting. Paul introduced me to another inspiring person: Christie Norman. Christie led me through years of blind tasting groups, even found a way for us to continue during the pandemic virtually. These tastings actually brought our LA somm community closer and bond. Cristie connected me to so many people in the industry. She was constructively critical during blind tasting groups and helped me tremendously to establish my palate. She has done so much for our industry and is a huge inspiration for me.