Updated: Mar 7, 2019
I often get asked, “how did you get into wine?” Or, “Why wine?” The answer is never short or easy to explain, but I’m going to do the best I can to get everything out here.
To get my thoughts in line, it’s important to know it wasn’t always wine. At the age of 3 I started dance, and by 10 I was already competing (and winning) in grand venues in places like Las Vegas and New York City. Just like how it always is with a first love, my time and life were consumed by dance. I never played with the neighborhood kids after school or on the weekends because I had technique class or rehearsal. All my homework had to get done in study hall just so I could get to bed before 11pm. My closest friends were the ones in the studio with me, not the ones in my classroom.
It was an organic progression for me to go to college and major in dance. I’ve always had a fear of failure (as Capricorns do), and NOT going to college wasn’t an option. To be honest, obtaining a BFA in dance has taught me just as much about life in general as it has about dance. Discipline, time management, focus, and drive are just a few things I took away from my time at the University at Buffalo. Studying the academic side of dance for 4 years gave me a significant internal confirmation that this is what I wanted to do professionally.
So, what the hell does this have to do with wine? Don’t worry…I’m getting there.
I was so fortunate to book my first professional gig just two weeks post-graduation. For the following 6 years I traveled the world performing for companies like Walt Disney and Carnival Cruise Lines. From the Caribbean to US tours, to Japan, I was meeting interesting people and experiencing different cultures all while performing and making money. I was so fulfilled…it was bliss. During this time of bouncing from hotel to hotel, I started peeking at local wine lists. Comparing, tasting, trying. I knew absolutely nothing about wine, but you could say there was a spark of interest…even if I did always settle for the Pinot Grigio.
In the sixth year of my dance travels, I happened to meet the love of my life via Facebook (yeah, yeah get your laughs in now)! The timing seemed to be impeccable as I was starting to yearn for a more anchored life. He lived in NYC so it seemed I could easily transition into a dance teaching career flawlessly…or so I thought.
It’s funny how we think things are going to work out, isn’t it? You tell the universe your plans, and it laughs in your face. Let’s just say I’m glad I had a plan B in mind as running all over the tristate area to get dance teaching hours just wasn’t feasible. The fashion industry seemed like a viable option as there are so many artistic aspects that crossover between dance and fashion. I was also a shopping queen with a love for shoes, so I knew the transition would be pretty smooth. Again, I was so wrong.
Although I worked my way successfully up the corporate ladder, there always seemed to be something missing. Have you ever tried to fill a gap in your soul with your job or another person? If you have, then you know it just doesn’t work. Some pieces of our souls can only be filled with a passion, and for me, that was dance. I would go take “for fun” classes on the weekends, but seeing my technique deteriorate over time was even worse than not dancing at all. Nothing could fill the hole dance once did, and I would go about my day to day feeling a little incomplete.
In October 2014, my husband (then fiancé) and I took a trip to Napa Valley where my feelings for wine started “heating up.” I was hearing the stories behind the bottle. How this label was hand-drawn because the winemaker was inspired by “X,” and how the Meritage was called “X” because it was named after the place him and his wife first fell in love. Not only was I being swooned by the stories and the landscape, but I was also creating beautiful memories with my fiancé that would last a lifetime. After my trip to Napa we came back to NYC and I started seeking out wine bars and shops. I wanted to transport myself back to Napa through wine. The sun, the vineyards, the food and wine…I loved all of it and realized wine could take me back there if only for a moment.
A few years after our trip to Napa, my now husband and I got married on a vineyard in the Finger Lakes (Geneva, NY) due to our love of wine and its proximity to where my family lives. Growing up in Rochester, New York I never really took the time to notice the exciting things happening with New York State wine. Planning a wedding in the Finger Lakes with a heightened awareness for wine made me realize what a deep-rooted connection I felt to the land. I started to enjoy Riesling, I was exploring new varieties like Blaufränkisch and Cab Franc, and I suddenly had this unwavering pride for the region and the people. My cup was filling (figuratively), and I was constantly seeking more knowledge.
Cue @grapechic. A few friends of mine hinted that I should start an Instagram and Blog after seeing posts of wine receiving lot of engagement on my personal page. They noticed how excited I would get talking about wine, sharing the things I’ve learned and how it made me feel. I was passionate about it and the world should know. July 5th, 2017 @grapechic was born.
Have you ever noticed when someone is passionate about something, others want to know more about it and join in on the journey? It’s like your energy and vibes attract like-minded people in this weird magnetic vortex. As a Wine Blogger and “Influencer” I take on the big responsibility of not spreading “bull shit” to the masses. I need to be authentic and unapologetically myself. I didn’t have a formal wine education when I first started blogging, but I knew that it would make me a better version of myself if I did. If I can achieve the best possible me, then I’ll have more to give in all areas of my life whether that be work, blogging or my personal relationships. Starting the WSET journey to piggy back how I felt about wine was one of the best things I’ve done for myself post-dance life. The WSET 3 will have its challenges for sure, but it will be worth it to have an even deeper understanding of the wine world.
Thank you for letting me share this exciting part of my life with you. I’m a better person than I was 5 years ago because wine came into my life and filled my soul in a way no job or material possession could. I’ve seen people out there make fun of the term, “wine journey,” but there’s really no other way to phrase it. Wine is a memory, a place, a connection and a feeling. Once you discover this, your own wine journey begins.