Alright, party people. I have been MIA for a minute and with lots of changes happening in my life lately I feel a post is in order with a handful of announcements I’ve been dying to share. The harvest season was incredible and also incredibly time consuming and exhausting. I neglected my Palm & Vine baby and it is time to get back on track! So here’s what I’ve been up to in the last few months of 2018 and some tidbits on what’s to come in 2019.
WSET Level 2 with Distinction
At the beginning of July I decided to sign up for the WSET Level 2 course. As a newbie to the wine industry, though I’ve done a lot of “research” (read: wine drinking) on my own, I wanted to get some sort of certification to improve my job options in the future and to gain useful knowledge for myself. As I did not intend on becoming a sommelier in a restaurant, I decided to go for the WSET certification because this course seemed more knowledge based and less service oriented. I studied my booty off of the whole month of July. The first weekend of August I drove up to Napa Valley for the two day crash course and exam.
We tasted 40 wines from around the world each day and learned the proper methods of wine tasting and analysis. Honestly, getting to taste countless incredible wines was the best part of the experience and in my opinion making a habit of tasting a wide variety of wines is the best way to learn about wine in general. Some of my favorites were a Luis Jadot Red Burgundy that was one of the most elegant, aromatic, even floral Pinot Noir I have tasted to date. I also surprisingly loved a Beringer Nightingale white dessert wine from 1972. There were many more standouts from the tasting lineup, but these two really stuck in my mind for their uniqueness and complexities. Needless to say, I took the exam at the end of the second day of the course and am now WSET Level 2 certified! Oh, and “with distinction” no less, meaning I only missed one question on the exam! Still dying to know which question it was…
Completed My First Harvest and Fell in Love While Doing So
When I moved to Paso Robles after deciding to make a career change to the wine industry, I had two goals. The first was to get accepted to a Masters program through Erasmus Mundus to study Wine Tourism in major wine regions in Portugal, Spain, and France. While at the time I thought I was a shoe in, in reality this was a long shot. Turned out the latter was true, but luckily I had a plan B. First, I would take a harvest internship working in production at a winery in Paso Robles to get some experience under my belt. Then, I’d go abroad to Australia or New Zealand to work a vintage in the Southern Hemisphere. I knew I could easily get a working holiday visa and I have been dying to learn about these wine regions I know so little about.
Luckily, I was able to score an internship at Adelaida Vineyards & Winery, the winery where I had been selling wine in the tasting room all year prior. I started the internship the first Monday in August and ended the last day of October. I learned SO much about the winemaking process, the incredibly hard work that goes into making each and every bottle, and the passion necessary to really make it in this industry. I loved the experience and my love for wine grew even more. You can read more about my harvest experiences here, here, here, and here.
Speaking of love, deciding to work in production this harvest brought a great love into my life. The Italian intern and I were only friends for the first month or two when he arrived to join the winemaking team at Adelaida. He is a winemaker who studied enology at university, went to Madrid for his Masters in enology, worked for different wineries all over Italy, and then decided to come work for a winery in California for a bit to practice his English. I was helping him practice his English and showing him around town, but that friendship grew into something much more and now I can’t imagine myself without him. Which brings me to my next announcement.
I’m Headed For Christmas In Sardinia to Meet the Family
Actually, as I am typing this blog post, I am on a plane to Italy off to meet the Italian’s family and I’m SO EXCITED!! We will be in Sardinia for just over one month during which I will be getting pasta and bread making lessons from his sweet mom, wine tasting and trying varietals I’ve never tried before, helping with some sparkling wine production, learning from all of his winemaker friends, exploring the entire island, practicing and hopefully learning Italian, and soaking up every single moment of it all. And I will be sharing all of these wonderful experiences here on the blog, of course.
Plan B Phase 2 Commence: Australia
While I was always planning on going to Australia for the next vintage, little did I know the Italian was planning on the same. So during harvest here in California, we set up a few interviews together and were lucky enough to both score positions at the same winery in breathtaking McLaren Vale. More specifically, we will be working at McLaren Vintners which I have a feeling is going to be an epic experience. Definitely a much larger operation processing around 6,000 tons each harvest as opposed to Adelaida’s 300 tons. The winery also brings in fruit from all different regions of western and southwestern Australia. I am so looking forward to the experience and even more so now that I have a partner along with me on this adventures. I’m also stoked to explore the neighboring wine regions, including Clare Valley, Barossa Valley, Adelaide, and more! Stay tuned for food, wine, and travel guides of Australia as we are hoping to stay for the whole year.
That sums up everything happening in my life over the last few months. Honestly, a lot of my dreams are coming true right now and I am so grateful for it all. If I had never decided to take the leap and move to Paso Robles to pursue my passions and follow my heart at the beginning of the year, none of these wonderful things would be happening for me now. So I will leave you with this – If there is something in your heart you’ve been longing to do or a passion you’ve always wanted to pursue but just haven’t had the courage or the means to do so, just go for it. Make the sacrifices and do what you need to do in spite of fears and doubts. You never know what incredible experiences and opportunities are waiting for you on the other side!