The wine that lit the fire:
It wasn’t one wine. It was the first wine class I took as part of the hotel management program in college. I had a fantastic teacher from day one. He made me want to come to wine class each week. I knew that after completing the three year program in hotel management I would come back and earn my sommelier diploma.
There’s no traffic on the highway of excellence. It’s about dedication, time and energy.
The thing that led you to wine as a career:
It goes back to those early wine classes in my hotel management program. I knew after taking those class that I would come back to the college after finishing my hotel program and earn my sommelier diploma.
Three years ago I left the floor of the restaurant to open my own company. I was already doing it practically fulltime anyways. My business is currently dedicated mostly to hosting corporate wine events. I also teach with the Court of Master Sommeliers, write about wine for various publications, do radio work and collaborate with Nespresso on educational events about 20 days per year.
Favourite part of your job:
The freedom of managing my own agenda. There is a pleasure, and a risk, with being your own boss. The risks are big but so is the reward of managing my own schedule. This is very precious to me. I also like doing events, working with new chefs, new teams, and new wine selections on a regular basis. It’s like working at a new restaurant every event but to do this properly you must have a lot of experience.
If you could pick another way to get involved in the wine world, what would it be?
I would like to work as a buyer. Currently I select wines for relatively small groups via hosting events but I’d love to buy wine for a larger audience such as a liquor monopoly. When buying for a retail environment you can put your own colour on the shelf.
Current wine crush:
Even though he passed away recently it is Gerrard Basset. He was my and lot of sommeliers’ mentor as not only was he the greatest sommelier ever, he was also humble and kind. When I grow up, I want to be like him.
Favourite wine resource:
Guildsomm is my go-to. When I was preparing for my MS (Master Sommelier) it was my bible. I also use Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Wine Companion frequently.
Sancerree and goat cheese is a personal favourite, but a great Chablis with snow crab is simply like heaven.
Dream dinner date:
It’s not someone in the wine world. Michelle Obama is a very inspiring women, that I’d like to have a dinner conversation with, but I’d also like a pre-dinner cocktail with Lady Gaga.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
When doing my MS, I had a person told me “its not if it’s about when you earn the title.” For me this keep me focused to continually dedicate the time and energy to earn that title.
Have you ever experienced gender bias or discrimination in your work?
At some points I have been working with a large number of men, but it’s not something that ever bugged me. It probably motivated me to be better in everything I do. Today, I don’t witness personally that much gender bias.
A good example of the lack of women representation in the wine world was at the recent Best Sommelier of the World Competition where only about ten . Why do you think women are underrepresented in the wine industry?
I think the situation is a little different here in North America. At this point in North America, women have made more advances than other places in the world. Some countries still have a long way to go. With respect to the competitions, they simply not for everyone. It is very difficult to compete and have kids. Admittedly I sacrified my family lifein order to compete. I don’t believe a man has the same consequences of parenthood as a women.
Is there something that you do to support the women in our industry? What would you like your legacy to be?
My advice is that you have to believe what you have to do. Nobody is going to open the door for you. My legacy is that I made a place for myself in this wine world.
Is there anyone who has become a mentor for you, or otherwise been especially inspirational or supportive?
Again, Gerard Basset, but also Doug Frost (Master Sommelier, Master of Wine). I love him. Doug is so knowledgeable. When you reach the heights Doug has it is very easy to be complacent, not opening the books as often or traveling as much. He is amazing in his constant preparation. Each time I see him give a lecture or a magazine article he has written I am amazing with how he is presenting his topics.
I am starting to look at doing the MW (Master of Wine) program. It’s something that I am really tempted by. It is going to be difficult as that program takes a lot of energy. When I studied for Best Somm of the World and Best Sommelier of the Americas I invested lot of time in reading. The challenge is my current business also takes a lot of my time. I also want to learn Spanish, and travel more. It’s a long list of things to do. I don’t know if one lifetime is enough to achieve everything.