How did I end up here? I was in my mid 20s, on a predictable academic route, and my life seemed set. I’d teach and write research papers forever. It was a future that made my stomach turn because I knew it didn’t excite me. I thought I might enjoy publishing because I loved to read, but that, too, wasn’t what I expected. A lot of things aren’t what we expect and sometimes that’s a good thing.


I got a job in a restaurant, thinking that, at the very least, it’d be fun, and quite possibly I’d overcome my shyness. It was unexpected that I would love it as much as I did. I learned about food, I learned about culture, farming and history. It fascinated me. I started to taste wine in a way I never had before and I tried wines, like Sherry, which transported me to other places. I read about wine in my free time, and day-dreamed about places near and far. At that time, I didn’t think this would be my future. I thought it was fun in the moment and that one day I would want return to academia.


Over time I started to notice people with careers in wine—wine directors, beverage managers, wine writers, importers, distributors, educators. Unlike my previous pursuits, my interest in wine hadn’t waned. If anything, I loved it as much as I did when I first started learning. I made a conscious choice to pursue this and turn it into a career. I didn’t know exactly what that would look like, but I’m glad I tried.


Where are you working currently and how has being a MS supported you in your current role?

I own my own business, Ungrafted, a restaurant, and GluGlu a wine bar, both in San Francisco. I wasn’t an MS yet when we signed the lease on the Ungrafted space, but I became an MS before we opened our doors. The credential was not mandatory, but it has helped. We get a lot of press because of my status and the fact that my husband is also an MS (we run the businesses together). Our titles help us recruit high caliber staff who can run the ship even if we are absent one night. And our titles help us gain the trust of our guests even before they’ve met us. In no way does it mean we don’t have to work as hard. If anything, it means we have to work harder, but it’s so worth it.


Where were you working when you passed?

Since we already getting ready to open Ungrafted, I had a lot of little jobs instead of one main job: I was teaching wine classes, doing consulting for multiple restaurants, editing, and picking up shifts at a wine bar. The flexibility was useful for me, as I also had my young baby with me most of the time.


What made you want to become an MS?

It was a windy road. I was running a wine and bar program and studying with people who were sitting for high level exams, but for me it was just for the fun of it. I remember one day Larry Stone, MS, came in for a tasting appointment and asked me if I ever wanted to sit for CMS exams. At that time I didn’t, and I told him as much. But the more I studied the more I noticed that there was a huge difference between the people who were actively learning and those who were comfortable knowing only a little bit. I signed up for my Intro and Certified exams, and when I passed those I decided to go for the gold. I very much think that if you’re going to do something you should always aim to rise to the top.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

Make sure to have a life outside of wine. If you don’t and if you fail, it will feel like your life is over. What’s the point of that? This is supposed to be fun, even if it’s hard. Always remember that you have a lot going for you outside of this, a lot of things that make you who you are. Keep your head high and trudge ahead, and don’t compare yourself to others. Also, it’s not important if everyone likes you. Let that go, let all of it go. You are YOU, and you are NOT perfect. Find some comfort in this.

What is your desert island wine, or what wines/beverages are you currently excited about?

I love crisp and refreshing—Chablis, Gruner, Champagne, and Beer, but I also love to hear about new grapes and new ideas. I’m a big fan of Gut Oggau and there are some great wines coming from Greece and from Chile. If I had to select just one thing to have on hand forever and ever it’d be Champagne. Even now, after tasting wines all day, it still feels like a treat to open up a bottle of Champagne and celebrate whatever victories there were that day.