Mary has worked in almost every facet of wine business, from the tasting room to sales and marketing, and is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Her love of wine has taken her to the wine regions of Oregon, Washington and California and her background in education has prompted her to start Vindulge, a wine consulting company. It is through Vindulge that Mary hopes to make learning about wine a fun and approachable subject and get her students as excited about wine as she is.
As one of the speakers at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy and member of the 8-day Press/Blogger Fam Trip, we caught up with Mary and talked to her about her wine experiences and Vindulge.
1. The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?
I view Umbria as a very up and coming wine region quite often overshadowed by its larger and more popular neighboring regions. It is an exciting destination to discover some good wines at great values and equally great regional foods and I am looking forward to exploring all that it has to offer.
2. As your blog is dedicated to educating others about wine through your consulting business, how did you get into wine and what is it about wine that excites you most?
I got into wine many years ago while living in San Francisco. At the time I was in a graduate program in communications and teaching college level courses on public speaking and communications. Being so close to so many fantastic wine regions it became a hobby to spend my weekends visiting new wineries and educating myself on wine. It wasn’t until five years later after I had moved to Oregon that I made it a profession. I started by working at different wineries in various positions, then I wanted to focus more on a variety of regions, not just the one I was living in. It was then I started studying for my certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers to explore wines from all over the world. I started my blog to document the many things I had been learning while studying for my exams. My consulting business took off soon after as a result of requests I had been receiving to lead classes on wine and help restaurants (who didn’t have a full-time sommelier) build their wine lists and train their employees on wine service. Combining my background as an educator with my passion for wine just fit perfectly. What excites me most about wine is that it is always changing and never the same. Even two bottles of the same wine can taste different depending on when and where you open them and whom you drink them with. Wine is the most exciting beverage that exists and there is an unlimited amount of information to learn about it for those who are interested.
3. What do you hope to take away from this conference that you can use in the future with your business?
What I hope to take away from the conference is twofold. First I hope to soak up as much information as I can about the wines and regions we will be exploring so that I can share that newfound knowledge with my readers, clients, and friends back home. But what I also hope to take away is hospitality best practices that I can use to educate my clients and help them strengthen their businesses. I hope that from learning from some of the many experts in attendance at the conference I can provide my own clients with examples from perspectives from all over the globe on wine, tourism, and hospitality.
4. Your blog mentions you have worked and explored the wine regions within Oregon and California, what advice do you have for fellow traveling wine lovers?
My best advice for traveling wine lovers is to explore new regions with an open mind. Avoid walking into one region thinking the wines should taste the same as another. For example, do not expect to walk into a winery in the Russian River Valley and expect the Pinot Noir to taste the same as they do in the Willamette Valley. Appreciate each region for the unique characteristics it has to offer their wines. In addition I also people to plan to spend as much time as they can in one specific region so that they can soak up as much as they can on one region at a time, instead of rushing through a bunch of regions in a short amount of time. I also recommend that they go into a region with a few places they want to visit and schedule time to visit those on their list. Importantly, though, I also advise to also schedule time to explore wineries at random. Some of the best wineries I have visited I found by accident or by asking winery employees for their favorite spots. Having a pre-planned itinerary can be important, but exploring a region with no agenda can allow you to discover some wonderful gems you may not have discovered otherwise!
5. Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?
I would love for Hunt to present a variety of Italian wines including some of the more internationally well-known wines. But more importantly I would love to hear about some of her favorite gems that we would not be introduced to otherwise. I know from working at wineries in Oregon that many of the best produced wines never leave the state (let alone the winery’s tasting room), so I would love to experience some of those wines that never leave the country therefore we in the Unites States never get to experience unless visiting the country itself.
Join us at the International Wine Tourism Conference to network with Mary and 300 other attending wine professionals.