I began drinking wine at the age of nine. My parents immigrated from Greece and Italy and so wine was always a part of our dinner – albeit mixed with 7-Up for me and my sisters! We had home cooked suppers in the evening at our kitchen table, and never watched television while eating, which made me feel isolated from my “American friends” as my father would call them and created some hubbub when I was offered packaged food and milk at other households. I believe sparked my lifelong love of the dining experience and the appreciation for wine, food, music and conversation. Of course, there is a time and place for everything, so it’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed a pizza with a cheap bottle of Chianti while watching the Simpsons.
My first job at a pizza parlor in the suburbs of Chicago deepened my connection to wine and food and kindled a passion for service and hospitality. Although I earned a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Journalism from Columbia College in Chicago, it was the restaurant industry that sustained me financially as I pursued my artistic passions in many cities, including Seattle, New York and San Francisco.
I came to the Napa Valley in the summer of 2005 to explore my interest in wine education. My experience at fine establishments such as Morton’s Steakhouse, The Bubble Lounge and The Buckeye Roadhouse, as well as my creative approach to presenting wine education, quickly lead me to leadership and educational roles at Domaine Carneros and then Constellation Brands where I was fortunate to spend several years at Robert Mondavi Winery in an educational and management role. I am thrilled to be working with the Mondavi family once again and to contribute to its legacy.