One of my first real vineyard experiences was during my trip to Châteauneuf-du-Pape in France in 2018. It was unlike anything I’d known. The vineyard was owned by the granddaughter of the original owner. She let me into her winery, which by all accounts was unassuming. To think that one of my favorite wines in the world wasn’t set in a palatial estate grounded me in redefining luxury, quality, and taste. We traveled to the vineyards in her truck along with her two dogs. We weren’t dressed as a sommelier and winemaker, but as people who explored the vineyard happily and played in the dirt. At the farm there were layers of gallet rocks on the ground, which felt like a warm cast iron skillet to the touch, and gnarly bush vines. I was taken back to my grandmother’s kitchen, to the heat of her skillet.
When we think of wine, we have an identity of it being an exclusive, kind of vague, unknown thing that we all enjoy. But no one really feels confident talking about it. I want to change the narrative of how we think about wine and who we associate wine with. I want to push the way people think, talk about, and drink wine in a different direction. When people stop thinking about [the wine world] as old white men, and when I’m not an anomaly anymore, that’s when we’ve made a real impact.
My trip to Bordeaux [a year later] was for a trade-only exhibition. I’d taken wine trips before, but this was the first time I was able to articulate my thoughts on a world stage. I got to talk to winemakers and distributors and importers, and they were really curious about where I thought the world [of wine] was going. It was the first time I really felt like my voice was heard and respected, in this business that is so hard to break into.