“I met you on Facebook Day One I think and couldn’t believe you came to my home for a church fundraiser, albeit a single malt Scotch tasting, without ever having met. Since then I have enjoyed meeting with you, and your husband John Dickey, at numerous “wine-y” adventures. We’re both wine bloggers passionate about the grape, both in Southern California, and while I busy myself in all things Santa Clarita you venture out. I’d love to do a column on you…as you see it’s begun here…to tell my readers more of what you do. Now, don’t make yourself too attractive as I can’t afford to drive all of my readers to your blog!”
How did you get interested in wine?
When I was finally legal drinking age, I was living in Pennsylvania, where the Liquor Control Board (LCB) stringently controlled the sale of any kind of alcohol. Wine and spirits were sold in “State Stores,” with single bottles displayed on shelves with the price. No notes, no information at all, and the clerks weren’t helpful at all. I used to buy bottles with interesting or pretty labels. Received some nice surprises and a few not-so-nice. One of my friends was a State Store manager, and he was able to order in some wines that he liked. For my 29th birthday, he brought me a bottle of Ruffino Riserva Classico – don’t remember the vintage, but now knowing more about Italian wines, I’m guessing the vintage was somewhere between 1971 – 1976. In any case, it was different from any wine I had ever tasted. Expensive, too. It was $10 in 1980. Big bucks!
Explain your blog and its title.
My name, Denise, is derived from the name of the Greek god of wine, Dionysius. The name became Dennis, and Denise is the feminine of Dennis; thus, Goddess of Wine! My blog is my personal musings and meanderings in the world of wine. “Write what you know” is what the experts say! So I’m writing about the wines and foods I’m tasting, the events I’m attending, and interspersing other oddments from my life as I go. Some of my postings are focused on one thing, others ramble a bit more. It’s a work in progress at http://goddessofwine.com.
Tell us about your particular training and LearnAboutWine.com
Well, I’ve been drinking wine for a really long time! My husband, John Dickey (JD), and I have been going to wineries since the early 1990’s. We’ve been lucky to be able to connect with winemakers and wine sellers who have been only too happy to share their knowledge with interested amateurs. Dennis Zadell and his partners at the Cambria Wine Shop in Cambria, CA, really began my true education – every tasting turns into a huge educational and fun event.
Three years ago, I decided that I had to find a way to turn my passion for wine into my occupation, and I started searching for information and jobs. Thru www.LocalWineEvents.com I found a class titled, “So you want to be in the wine business?” and it was being offered by www.LearnAboutWine.com. We went to Loft 218 for the first time, and met Ian Blackburn, who provided the class huge amounts of information about what types of jobs were available in the industry. It was a bit startling to discover how many folks in the room were already in the biz – making wine, selling wine, marketing wine, writing about it – and I left the class even more unsure as to where I could apply my skills and knowledge.
A few days after the class, I got an email from LAW advertising a tasting event at HD Buttercup. The ticket price was a bit higher than I wanted to pay, but at the very bottom of the page, there was a link asking the question, “Interested in volunteering?” I emailed Ian – JD and I have a lot experience getting things done quickly and cleanly – and he said yes. That was the beginning. At first we did set up and strike during events, but after I graduated from the inaugural class of LAW School (Learn About Wine School) with my Junior Wine Executive Certification, I started pouring wines for Ian’s events, and now occasionally teach his Wine Camp (Wine 101) class. I’m also a Professional Member of the Society of Wine Educators, and will be starting the course for the Certified Wine Specialist shortly.
And, wineshopathome (Is that right?), are you still doing that and what is it?
It’s actually WineShop at Home, and yes, I’m still doing that, too. In fact, I was looking for some kind of wine business that I could do along with the mostly volunteer work I was doing for Ian. I actually met my Team Leader for WineShop when I was working one of Ian’s “Palate” classes (a great way to learn about the aromas and tastes found in all kinds of wines). After telling her what I wine snob I was, she invited me to a tasting, and I was hooked!
WineShop at Home is a bonded Napa winery. Like many wineries, we source our grapes from premium growers all over California, and we make small production, artisan wines. Unlike a regular winery, our tasting rooms are our hosts’ living rooms! We do intimate, guided wine tastings in your home. The host pays $59 for the tasting sampler, which includes 5 different kinds of wine, plus a Hospitality bottle, which can be opened for the tasting or saved for later, and provides some small snacks – cheese, crackers, fruit, and chocolate – for pairing with the wines. At the end of the evening, guests have the opportunity to order the wines they like, book tastings of their own, and there are lovely incentives and gifts for the host. We like to say that we bring the Wine Country to you! It’s fun, the wines are well-made and value-priced, and everything is quickly shipped to your door direct from Napa. It’s a great company with a product I really like. And it’s a great way to spend an evening with friends!
Goals for your future that I can steal…err…follow?
As I mentioned, I’m going to go for the CWS certification. Once I achieve that, the next step will be the Certified Wine Educator certification, which seems to have some prestige, although my main interest is really just learning as much about wine as possible and continuing to teach about it. I also plan to continue to write about wine and my experiences in the wine biz. I never thought writing would be this much fun! And I’m meeting such interesting people!
What’s your favorite wine/experience?
Folks always ask me what’s my favorite wine, and I always wish I could give a straight answer! I start out by saying something about Bordeaux and California Bordeaux-styles, and suddenly I’m going on about Rhones and Burgundies and wines from Australia and Argentina and Santa Barbara and Oregon!! I just love wine; I love talking to winemakers who are passionate about their craft, and I love introducing people to wines they’ve never tasted; I love sharing wine with friends and family – and I love making new friends over a glass of wine! Cheers!