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Confessions and How I Officially Became a Wine Educator

I have a confession: I think I may have quite possibly accidentally become a class-attending, book-reading, expert-idolizing wine weirdo. 

Moonlighting as the "Singing Wine Lady" at Sunstone Winery in 2006.

Moonlighting as the "Singing Wine Lady" at Sunstone Winery in 2006.

It all started in spring 2005. I was working on the editorial staff of a travel magazine in Santa Barbara, and in an attempt to meet people outside of work, I picked up some evening dance classes and a weekend job at a nearby winery. Granted, I knew absolutely nothing about wine.

Determined to make a good showing at my interview, I poured over a bunch of books I picked up at the bookstore, as if I were cramming for finals. And, I got the job - thanks, I'm sure, to my historical overview of the Merlot grape to a Pinot-venerating Sideways fan (which, of course, was filmed there in the area).

I have since spent the last 10 years choosing vacation spots based on proximity to wineries; working my spare hours in wine tasting rooms and wine bars; questioning winemakers and industry experts about their views and techniques; attending workshops, classes, and festivals; geeking out over wine celebrities; reading texts about the industry; tasting a broad spectrum of obscure wine varieties; and ultimately, sharing my knowledge with anyone who doesn't stuff their fingers in their ears.
What I've come to realize is that a lot of people drink wine, but very few know much about it. In fact, many don't even know where to start - Should I spend $20 or $50? Why is Pinot Noir so expensive? What is the proper etiquette in a restaurant? What is the wine guy called, again? What do I pair with pizza? Where do the flavors come from if it's just made from grapes? What if I don't smell hints of thyme? What glasses am I supposed to use? So... What am I drinking?! Just tastes like wine to me.

Studying in an airport with a glass of Melville Pinot Noir.

Studying in an airport with a glass of Melville Pinot Noir.

Though I've happily pursued my career as a marketer/journalist, as intended since grade 3, a few years ago I had this crazy fantasy about going into the wine industry, like, for reals, and helping the casual wine drinker explore these questions so they never have to fake it ever again (you know who you are).

So, after great deliberation, I decided it was time to let my marketing consulting business take a back seat and turn my passion for wine education into a profession. This spring I studied for, and passed, the Society of Wine Educators' intensive Certified Specialist of Wine exam and am already studying for advanced wine educator Wine & Spirit Education Trust exams. I have collected 700 flashcards, binders full of note-covered reference maps, and many-a-textbook, but I am really excited to share what I've learned.

Thank you all for your support and for joining me on this journey.

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