Sommelier Nadine Brown was born and raised along the shores of Jamaica and Puerto Rico. She came to the states to pursue a degree in social work. After working with children for a number of years she later moved to D.C. After months of trying to find a job in her field she took a job as a hostess at a new French restaurant opening on Capitol Hill. She had no previous restaurant experience and had every intention to return to social work. However, she fell in love with the hospitality industry. She quickly moved up from hostess to manager in a few short years. Nadine first came to wine by reading and found the history of wine fascinating and took her first wine captain course to help her be a better manager.
Today, Nadine is a twenty year veteran of the Washington, D.C. restaurant industry. She spent over 14 years at Charlie Palmer Steak as Wine Director and Sommelier. Nadine and her husband were managing partners of Society Fair, a boutique eatery in Alexandria Virginia, where she worked as General Manager and Sommelier. She is a two-time winner of the D.C. RAMMY’s Wine Program of the year for the region. Her palate won her the title of rising star from Star Chef in the summer of 2006. Nadine is a proud board member of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan D.C. and the nonprofit the Verasion Project. Nadine holds certifications from both the Court of Master Sommelier and WSET. She continues to be a mentor to many young professionals in the business. She is a mother of two rambunctious children, Estelle and Emerson who keep her on her toes daily.
The Veraison Project:
Founded by Julia Coney, Black Wine Professionals is a resource for wine industry employers and gatekeepers, professionals, and the food and beverage community. Our goal is to lift up the multifaceted Black professionals in the world of wine.
Black Wine Professionals was born out of necessity. For too long, Black Wine Professionals have been overlooked and absent from conversations, tastings, product marketing and much more. That changes now because we’re here and we aren’t going anywhere.
Black Wine Professionals will continue to grow as we expand our site to include event listings, educational resources, job postings, and a discussion forum. We look forward to partnering with companies and organizations committed to furthering our mission.
Julia Coney (Founder) is a Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas-based wine writer, wine educator, speaker, and consultant. Her wine writing includes stories on wine, winemakers, and the intersection of race, wine, and language. She holds a WSET Level Two Certification in Wine and Spirits and is currently pursuing her Master Level Champagne Certification with the Wine Scholar Guild and WSET Level Three Certification.
Her work has been featured in The New York Times, VinePair, Wine Enthusiast, Thrillist, The Tasting Panel, Plate Magazine, Forbes.com, WineEnthusiast.com, The Washington Post, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine Searcher, the Financial Times, Jancisrobinson.com, Glamour, Essence, and numerous print and digital publications. Julia is a 2019 Fellow of the Professional Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Julia has spoken at conferences such as wine2wine, Assemblage Symposium, The Culinary Institute of American's Summit for Sommeliers and Beverage Professionals and Batonnage Forum. You can find her on all social media at @juliaconey.
Larissa C. Dubose (Director of Education), is a Certified Sommelier, and market-savvy Sales Manager with over 10 years of experience in the Wine, Spirits & Hospitality Industry. Larissa is currently a Senior On-Premise Manager who manages the sales and distribution goals for Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Larissa is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, Level 3 Certified with WSET, and a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators.
Larissa has a thirst for education and will provide insight on seminars, books, and tools for fellow Black Wine Professionals to thrive. Larissa loves the factual aspect of wine and educates in a way that is organic, fun, approachable, inspiring, and authentic. You can find her on all social media at @lotusvinewine and her website thelotusandthevines.com
Shakera Jones (Community Liaison) of Black Girls Dine Too—a lifestyle brand, blog, and social media space—serves as a guide to the wonderful world of high-end food and wine; a need she identified from her own experiences exploring her passion for food, wine, and culture in this space. Shakera hosts bi-weekly virtual “tastings,” exploring grape varietals, production, and regions to broaden the palates of her followers through her welcoming teaching style and warm personality. A tech professional by day and wine student by night, she is currently studying to obtain certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers and Spanish Wine Scholar program with the Wine Scholar Guild. An aspiring wine journalist she has written pieces for Seven Fifty Daily and is one of the new cast members of SommTV.
Shakera thrives on bringing people together. In her role, Shakera will plan virtual BWP community events and when the world eventually opens up, in person BWP events. You can find her on all social media at @blackgirlsdinetoo
Maryam Ahmed (Chief T-Shirt Designer and Advisor to BWP) is a NY native based in Napa, CA. She has been in the food and beverage industry for over ten years. At the Culinary Institute of America, Maryam develops hands-on and thought-leadership programs for consumers that love food, wine and the planet. She is also the director of the annual CIA Summit for Sommeliers and Beverage Professionals. Maryam coaches and consults for socially conscious entrepreneurs to implement ideas, create experiences, and launch and scale their businesses.
Maryam has a degree in hotel administration as well as enology & viticulture. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a board member for The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers and is one of Somm TV’s newest cast members.
Maryam is an advisor to BWP and chief t-shirt designer for our community. You can find Maryam on Instagram @goodfriendsgoodfood and through her website maryamahmed.co
Tammy Gordon (PR & Marketing Strategist and Advisor to BWP) is the founder of Verified Strategy, a social and digital-first public relations, communications and marketing agency based in Washington, DC. She works with companies, organizations and causes that want to build audience-driven communities.
Tammy is a perpetual WSET student, constantly learning more about the wine industry, but avoiding the actual test. A former spokesperson and publicist for the Office of Champagne, she is deeply committed to a future where wine is accessible to more people.
She can be found on Twitter: @tammy and Instagram: @tammygordon, usually posting about food, drink, travel and her dog, Ike.
As a second-generation sommelier and restauranteur from Chicago, Philippe Andre has been on the cutting edge of wine and cuisine for fifteen years. He developed a passion for hospitality, wine education and Champagne early in his career. Before his U.S. Ambassador role with Charles Heidsieck, Philippe focused on wine auction curation, luxury wine and spirits brand development, and private client management. In addition to his Champagne travels Philippe serves on the board of the United Sommelier Foundation in the support of future Sommeliers.
As the wine buyer, head sales person, and architect of the Progressive Scale for The Urban Grape, TJ is directly responsible for the store’s successes. He has been profiled by the New York Times, Food & Wine, Imbibe, Real Simple, Health magazine, MarketWatch, Eater National, Boston Magazine, Boston Common, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Boston Business Journal, The Improper Bostonian, and Terroirist, among other regional and national publications. The Beverage Journal named TJ one of ten “Black Drink Innovators to Watch” in 2020. TJ has been featured on shows such as Basic Black (WGBH), The Hub Today (NBC), Dining Playbook (NESN), New England Living (CBS), and Chronicle(WCVB), and is a frequent guest wine educator at corporate meetings and retreats.
Thanks to TJ’s leadership, The Urban Grape was a finalist for Wine Enthusiast's 2020 Wine Star Award for Best Retail Store in the US, and was called “Boston’s Revolutionary Wine Store” in a cover story for Beverage Dynamics. He has taught classes on drinking progressively at, among other places, Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, the Boston Center for Adult Education, Boston University, and the Boston Wine Expo. TJ is a seven-time returning Sommelier for the Nantucket Wine Festival and has been featured as the resident wine expert on the New England lifestyle show, “Home, Life, and Design.”
Thomas’ entrance into the wine industry was created during a 1999 wine tasting trip to the Burgundy wine region in France. At the time he was a senior financial executive for a large biotechnology company and prior to going on that tasting trip, Thomas never dreamed of owning his own vineyards and making wine. It was that wine tasting trip in 1999 that altered his dreams, and led him to chart a new course in life… a life in the wine industry as a vintner. With the new found enthusiasm driving him forward, in 2001, Thomas was able to purchase a 40-acre parcel of land to begin the process of constructing that new future.
Located in The Anderson Valley, a cool climate wine appellation in south western Mendocino County, Thomas T Thomas Vineyards began with Thomas first developing the property and building a home, and in 2008, planting a 3-acre pinot noir vineyard. Also, in 2008, Thomas built a winery next to the vineyards, with the understanding that one day he would produce and store his own wine there. In 2011 with his first commercial crop, Thomas began selling his grapes to small local wineries that made wines from his grapes. Since Thomas didn’t have a background in the wine industry, he thought it prudent to take the long view, learning about the wine business from the ground up and he also wanted to see how his grapes performed in the hands of experienced wine makers. From 2011 until 2017, Thomas was a grape grower only, when in 2017, Thomas decided to take a small portion of his grape production to forwardly integrate and create his own wine brand; A decision that was always part of his long-range plans. Starting in 2018, Thomas stopped selling his grapes to third party wineries and now he takes 100% of his production for his own brand. Currently, Thomas makes four different pinot noir wines, where three wines are produced from 100% estate fruit and the fourth wine has a mix of non-estate fruit. Starting with the 2020 vintage, Thomas has added a Chardonnay wine offering, which he sources from quality vineyards in Anderson Valley and Thomas has also cleared additional land for a future planting of estate chardonnay.
In his short time in the wine industry, as grower, wines made from Thomas’ grapes have been recognized wining multiple Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at prestigious International Wine Competitions and also receiving multiple 90+pt scores by well known wine magazines. In his short time as a vintner, Thomas’ wines have already received multiple 90+pt scores and have received Platinum, Silver and Bronze medals at recent International Wine Competitions.
Chicago native Brian Duncan can be best described as a food, wine and hospitality evangelist. He possesses an unquenchable enthusiasm enriched by decades as a restaurateur, winemaker, seminar speaker and wine educator. Duncan has contributed his expertise to several Chicago’s premier dining destinations, including (Co-Founding) BIN 36 Restaurants, BIN Cafe Wine Bar and Market and A Mano Trattoria.
As a winemaker, Brian created the BIN 36 and D&S (Duncan & Sachs) wine brands sold in 30 markets around the United States. Under his guidance, BIN 36 received an “Award of Unique Distinction” from the Wine Enthusiast magazine for its commitment to delivering the most wine-friendly experience to its guests. BIN 36 was also chosen by Wine & Spirits magazine as “The Best Wine-Pairing System” in the nation. Brian's accolades include being featured as one of America's leading wine experts in GQ and Food & Wine magazine, and as a returning featured speaker at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic.
Brian was honored as the Gourmet Wine Cellar Wine Director of the Year, and received four consecutive James Beard Award nomination in the national "Outstanding Wine Service" category.
In 2015, Duncan created "Down To Earth Wine Concepts LLC", a multifaceted consulting company encompassing the culmination of his career experience and expertise in Public speaking, hospitality, food and wine training, interactive wine/food seminars and corporate team building exercises.
Lou Garcia was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. He has a Bachelor’s degree from University of Cincinnati and an MBA in Finance & Marketing from Indiana University. He spent 25 years in various division, group, and corporate financial roles at three large companies - Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, and Avery Dennison.
In 1998, his first career venture outside the big corporate world was as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for LBC, Inc. in Lancaster, Ohio, the largest distributor of charitable gaming and bingo products, equipment, and services in the U.S. Lou developed an interest in the wine industry in the late 1990’s, but decided to wait and continue his search in California after accepting a job offer in 2001 to become CFO of a company in San Jose. However, he was still unable to find a senior financial position in the wine industry because he did not have any wine related experience. Lou combined his entrepreneurial spirit and love of wine when he and his wife, Janice, purchased Stover Oaks Winery, a small winery and vineyard in El Dorado County in the Sierra Foothills of California.
One year later, with hands-on experience, Lou became General Manager and CFO of Frank Johnson Vineyards and Roshambo Winery in Sonoma County and held this position for four years while owning Stover Oaks. In 2009, he became Controller & CFO for Hall Wines in Napa County and worked there through the end of 2015 when he retired with a plan to move back to Ohio. Even though he no longer owns the winery and vineyard property in the Sierra Foothills, he still maintains the Stover Oaks brand while living here in Ohio. The wines are made in California from locally grown grapes.
Lou has been owner of Blackthorn Enterprises, Inc. since it was created in 2004 to purchase Stover Oaks Winery. For the past four years, while still owning Stover Oaks, Lou was an independent sales agent for H & A Barrel Management which leases new barrels and sells used & reconditioned barrels to the wine & spirits industry. His recent focus has shifted to financial & business consulting and recently became Area CFO for SharpCFO providing fractional and interim advisory services for both profit and non-profit organizations.
As a strong believer in giving back to the community, Lou has been involved with many non- profit organizations over the years. He has participated in multiple community, college, and corporate fund raising drives including the United Way Board of Review in Fairfield County (Ohio) and the Napa Valley College Foundation (California) as a board member from 2012 thru 2015. He is currently V.P. & Treasurer for his trade association composed of wineries, vintners, and growers, a 501 (c) 6 non-profit, which was formed in 2002 in California. He is one of the Charter members.
Lou has consistently demonstrated success in achieving business objectives by providing analytical skills and financial advice that generate effective strategic and tactical decisions.
AAAV - https://www.aaavintners.org/
Stover Oaks - https://www.sierrawines.com/winery/winery00026.aspx
H&A Barrel Management - http://ha-barrelmanagement.com/
Association of African American Vintners:
Phil Long: firstname.lastname@example.org
Longevity Wines: https://www.longevitywines.com
In this episode the tables are turned!! Our host Sukari Bowman is in the hot seat and is interviewed by Larissa Dubose of The Lotus and The Vines! Enjoy all of the laughter and love!
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1340 Beer Wine and Spirits: https://www.1340bws.com/
Derrick C. Westbrook: https://www.derrickcwestbrook.com/
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Shall We Wine:
YouTube: Shall We Wine
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The Urban Grape:
Innovation, Technology and Hope
In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking with Santiago Navarro of Garcon Wines. We speak to Santiagoabout:
Santiago Navarro is a serial entrepreneur who first entered the magical world of wine professionally in 2010. His first venture, Vinopic Wines, was an online retailer and the world’s first retailer to use science to rate and score wines for their intrinsic quality. It was while building this business, and when shipping wines through the complex supply chains required for digital sales, that Santiago realised that the 19th century round, glass bottle might be the biggest issue in wine and that advancing wine packaging into the 21st century might represent the industry’s biggest opportunity. Many years later, and having co-founded a travel business in between, he started working on developing a 21st century wine bottle. Santiago is now fully focused on Garçon Wines, as CEO and lead co-founder, targeting the 35 billion bottles used annually in wine and advancing both the wine and packaging industries to be more sustainable through innovative, beautiful, flat bottles and game-changing transit packaging. Santiago is a firm believer in Sukari’s mission to make wine more approachable.
In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking with Thomas Price of Jackson Family Wines. In this episode we speak to Thomas about:
Thomas Price has been in the Hospitality Industry for his entire adult life. Thomas was born in Pasadena, California in 1965. His family moved to Alaska when he was 7. Thomas’ first restaurant job was as a Dishwasher at a diner in Juneau at the age of 14. By 18, Thomas was the day Lead Cook at an upscale burger house called Harry’s in Anchorage. Thomas moved into the front of the house as a Server and Bartender upon turning 21. His passion for wine was instantaneous, and was fueled by a stint as a Server at Zeppo’s, an Anchorage wine bar, and wait shifts at their parent restaurant, The Marx Brothers Cafe.
Thomas moved to Seattle in 1988, where he met his lovely wife, Jessica. Jessica shares Thomas’ passion for food and wine, and they both worked at some of Seattle’s most notable restaurants of the era, (Dahlia Lounge, El Camino, Etta’s Seafood, The Santa Fe Café).
In 1997, Thomas and Jessica opened their own restaurant, Luau Polynesian Lounge, in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. In 2004, Thomas and Jessica decided to pursue other challenges, and sold Luau.
Thomas decided to attempt to obtain his Master Sommelier certification, the highest standard for wine and spirit sales and service in the world. Thomas began as a waiter at Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill, and obtained his Basic Sommelier certification in September of 2004.
In 2005, Thomas was promoted to a Sommelier/Captain position and in 2006 he obtained his Certified Sommelier certification. Thomas was approached by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to be the Wine Director for it’s Seattle and Bellevue stores. He was there until 2007, and returned to The Metropolitan Grill as a Sommelier. In September of 2007, Thomas passed his Advanced Sommelier certification on the first try, and became eligible to sit The Master Sommelier Exam.
In June of 2008 Thomas was named Head Sommelier at The Metropolitan Grill. Thomas obtained his Master Sommelier certification in May 2012. Thomas is dedicated to sharing his passion for wine with his guests, friends, and loved ones, one bottle at a time.
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In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking with Tuanni Price of Zuri Wine Tasting. We speak to Tuanni about:
Tuanni Price is on a mission to make the complicated world of wine simple. In fact, that is the motto of her wine lifestyle business, Zuri Wine Tasting. The self-proclaimed wine enthusiast curates’ wine-filled lifestyles from Southern California to the Southern-most part of the globe in Cape Town, South Africa.
Tuanni uses her brand, Zuri Wine Tasting, to host private tastings, teach wine tasting classes and host wine tours. In addition, she produces small to large scale wine experiences for corporate and non-profit clients.
Tuanni grew up in South Central Los Angeles and was not exposed to wine early in life. She was in her 30’s when her interest in wine peaked. One evening while dining at the St. Regis Hotel, she was snubbed by the Sommelier. From that moment on her goal was to learn and share as much as possible about wine and its accompanying lifestyle, enabling her to help others avoid that feeling of intimidation. Tuanni started a wine club with her friends, she studied with the Society of Wine Educators and North American Sommelier Association. Tuanni has traveled the world sipping and learning about wine. Tuanni made a bold move in 2018 to expand her business to Cape Town South Africa, spending part of each year contributing to the vibrant and exciting wine industry there. Zuri Wine Tasting now offers its services to clients and wine lovers in both the US and South Africa.
Today, aside from managing the day-to-day operations and event planning on behalf of Zuri Wine Tasting, Tuanni also host a podcast, aBroad Drinking Wine. She volunteers for PYDA (Pinotage Youth Development Academy), Blacc Cellar Club in Stellenbosch and the US-based AAAV (African American Vintners Association). She holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Grambling University.
Society of Wine Educators
North American Sommelier Association
Grambling State University, B.A. Liberal Arts
The Last Sip:
When you finish your day and sit down with your favorite glass of wine, what is on your music playlist?
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In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking with Donae Burston Founder and CEO of La Fete du Rosé. In this episode we speak to Donae about:
Donae Burston is a luxury wine & spirits leader with over 15 years of industry experience.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Donae achieved a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Mathematics from Clark Atlanta University in 1998. He concurrently completed a second degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, before he began his career in the information technology sector, initially consulting on Healthcare Systems. In 2003, Donae entered the alcohol industry, working on the promotional side of a number of iconic brands in the U.S, before he joined the luxury group, LVMH. During his 10+ years with the company, he worked across brands such as Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, Moet & Chandon, Belvedere Vodka and Hennessy Cognac. While with LVMH, in 2011, Donae created the first-ever luxury champagne bar in a sports arena at American Airlines Arena during the Miami Heat’s championship run. In 2016, Donae became the Regional Director of the Southeast U.S, Caribbean and Latin America regions of Armand de Brignac Champagne in which he was responsible for the brand’s commercial and marketing goals in each territory. While with Armand de Brignac, he achieved a 206% increase of sales in the Southeast U.S. for the brand.
Throughout his career, Donae found that in general, the wine industry was not embracing the multicultural consumer (in messaging, marketing/event participation, social media, etc). As an African-American man himself, he wanted to create a quality product inspired by his zest for life and travel that honed in on catering to the margin that had been overlooked, particularly when it came to rosé. With a commitment to create a St. Tropez rosé that is both authentic and exceptional, in 2017 Donae went directly to the esteemed Domaine Bertaud Belieu winery. After several trips and a number of blending and tasting sessions, in summer 2019, La Fête du Rosé was born - a brand that speaks to all demographics with a focus on targeting the multicultural audience; hence the name “La Fête” – which translates to “the rosé party” – one that everyone is invited.
Donae splits his time between Miami and Atlanta, where he lives with his fiancée and their 2 year old son, Noah.
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In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking with Victoria Robinson of Topaz Vineyards. In this episode we speak to Victoria about:
Topaz Vineyards intends to build a corporation whereby skilled consultants will match performance expectations to industry realities. Our company will initially span 28+ acres of rich agriculture including but not limited to: Muscadine grapes, cultivated into a rich, sweet Moscato and a Prosecco; various fruit trees that will be infused to create Vix Sangria and our signature fruit wines; a hybrid Tempranillo blend conducive to the changing climate and similar soil conditions to its native Spain; a 3.5 acre natural fishing pond for clients who desire to fish and will be created as a Pay-Pond; a commercial kitchen/restaurant that will house “Isabel Kitchens”, which will be used to conduct cooking classes including but not limited to: catering to dining clientele, making vinegar, jelly and creating generational recipes passed down from familial generations, from earth to table. A Tasting Room & Store that will boast the finest wines from Minority and Diverse Vintners across the country (The Minority Room) and wine-related products from local and various vendors. A wellness spa: will boast various steaming rooms, massage parlor and facial room with signature Angel Hill Wellness Spa products such as the Merlot Facial Mask made from red wine, mineral clay and honey, Sangria Sugar Body Scrubs and Signature Perfumes. A Cigar Bar. On additional 50 acres, a 9-hole executive golf course. Finally, the last structure in plans are building condo-style timeshare properties to give individuals the opportunity to stay and enjoy the property at extended amounts of time while renting their time out to others when not utilized.
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Instagram: @topazvineyards and @vlcenterprises
In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking with TJ Douglas of Urban Grape. In this episode we speak to TJ about:
TJ Douglas is the owner of The Urban Grape, a ground-breaking and wildly popular wine store in Boston. The store concept is simple, but revolutionary – Drink Progressively. Their Progressively Shelving system of sorting wine by its body, instead of by varietal or region, brings ease and unexpected surprise to customers, and business is booming as a result. The Urban Grape has won multiple accolades as Boston’s Best Wine store from both Boston Magazine and The Improper Bostonian, as well as a 50 on Fire award from BostInno, an innovation think tank in the city. In 2018, Vinepair named The Urban Grape the top retail store in the North East. In 2019, UG was profiled in Food & Wine magazine and was named a Top 100 Wine Retail Store in America by Beverage Dynamics.
As the wine buyer, head sales person, and architect of Progressive Shelving for The Urban Grape, TJ is directly responsible for the stores’ successes. He has been profiled by Boston Magazine, Boston Common, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Improper Bostonian, Massachusetts Beverage Journal, and Terroirist, and has been featured on Dining Playbook (NESN), New England Living (CBS), Chronicle (WCVB), French Oak TV, and How2Heroes. Thanks to TJ’s leadership, The Urban Grape was also called “Boston’s Revolutionary Wine
Store” in a cover story for Beverage Dynamics. He has taught classes on drinking progressively at, among other places, the Boston Center for Adult Education, Boston University, and the Boston Wine Expo. He’s the co-author of The Urban Grape’s bestselling wine education book Drink Progressively, and the resident wine expert on the New England life style show, “Home, Life, and Design.”
TJ is an active member of his community, serving on the Board of Trustees of The Fessenden School and Summer Search Boston. He is dedicated to increasing diversity in the wine industry especially by creating job opportunities for people of color. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.
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In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking with Akash Patel of Akash Winery. In this episode we speak to Akash about:
Akash Winery & Vineyards is owned and operated by the Patel Family, Ray, Nalini and Akash. With a life long dream of owning their own winery, The Patels invested in a parcel of land in the beautiful Temecula Valley Wine Country in 2010.
The story of the Winery begins at the vineyard. Located in the heart of Temecula’s Wine Country, off of Calle Contento, the vineyard stretches across a 20 acre parcel where the Patels, Winemaker Renato Sais, and the winery staff give the vines the upmost care all year long. Working together, learning and understanding viniculture, curating the perfect grape & vine, and learning the wine business have become a huge passion for the team.
100% estate grown & single vineyard, Akash wines are developed with passion and sophistication. The wines showcase familiar varietals in contemporary, eye catching packaging, and are crafted with consistency of style and quality across all vintages.
The Akash Winery & Vineyards tasting room officially opened mid 2019, though the Patels also hope to open a resort, spa, events venue, and bed & breakfast in the coming years.
From the Patel Family to yours, we hope you enjoy our story and the wine that we produce.
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In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking with Rajat Parr. We speak to Rajat about:
Partner/Proprietor, Sandhi, Domaine de la Côte; Evening Land Vineyards
Co-founder of Domaine de la Côte, Rajat is a three-time James Beard Award winner and regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on wine.
A trained chef, Rajat grew up in Calcutta, India, before journeying to the United States where he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. It was at the CIA where his interest in wine took hold. After graduation, Rajat chose to pursue the cellar instead of the kitchen, venturing to San Francisco to join the staff of Rubicon, the renowned wine-focused restaurant of Master Sommelier Larry Stone. Rajat quickly rose in the ranks, becoming a protégé of Stone. Here he honed his wine knowledge and tasting skills, while beginning a career that would see him become one the world’s most celebrated sommeliers.
Raj eventually left Rubicon to take over the wine program at San Francisco’s landmark Fifth Floor restaurant before moving to join chef Michael Mina as wine director of that chef’s eponymous restaurant. The Mina Group would eventually spawn over 20 restaurants across the country, wine programs all overseen by Rajat. During this period winemaking began to evermore capture his imagination.
Eternally fascinated not just with the taste of wine, but the question of why it tastes the way it does, Rajat not only frequently traveled to European wine regions; he also made use of his proximity to California wine country, becoming close with several of California’s top winemakers. This ultimately translated into bottling his own wines. At first these were blends selected from wines produced by others, but in short time Raj became more deeply involved—calling picking times, overseeing fermentations, etc. As vineyards and winemaking became ever more an obsession, Raj made the transition from sommelier to producer.
During this period, he became closer to Santa Barbara County winemaker Sashi Moorman, as they found mutual interest in pushing the boundaries of California wine, every vintage seeing how much earlier they could harvest to achieve more balanced alcohols, racier acidity, and purer flavors. In 2011, Rajat and Sashi launched Sandhi, producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from select vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills. In 2013, they released wines from his new estate vineyard, Domaine de la Côte, located on the westernmost edge of the Sta. Rita Hills. Most recently, in early 2014, Rajat and Sashi took over the historic and acclaimed Seven Springs Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon.
Beyond his wineries, today Raj has also co-authored the James-Beard-Award winning book Secrets of the Sommeliers (with Jordan Mackay), their new book The Atlas of Taste. He also co-founded the trend-setting California non-profit wine group, In Pursuit of Balance. He lives in Santa Barbara, though he can still be found frequently traveling the world speaking, educating, tasting, and obsessively learning.
The Last Sip:
When you finish your day and sit down with your favorite glass of wine, what is on your music playlist? Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Miles Davis
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