Let’s start out with how long have you been with Heinen’s?
It was one year in February. My background is in food & wine and the restaurant business which I’ve been in for over 15 years. I’ve worked in restaurants in Chicago and Atlanta and finally decided to come back home to Ohio. The hours at Heinen’s just work out better for me than restaurant hours, yet I still get to be part of the food and wine business.
What’s your favorite part about the wine industry?
There’s always something new and there’s so much to learn. I’ve had the chance to work out in Napa and Sonoma and also have taken and passed the Level 1 exam offered by The Court of Master Sommeliers’. And in restaurants where I’ve worked, I’ve helped in setting up the wine menus and staff training.
Tell us about the time you spent out in Napa and Sonoma?
I was staying at Trinchero and working out in their vineyards during crush, so it was in the fall months. It was a very busy time of year–lots of hands-on experience, lots of multitasking and lots of excitement.
All of that experience helped me to pass the first level of the Court of Master Sommeliers’ exam. There are four different levels. There’s only about 140 people in the country that are Master Somms and only just a few more worldwide. It’s geared to the restaurant and hotel business—that’s how I got started on the process. (And yes, I’ve seen the movie Somm!)
Do you like to cook?
I love, love, love to cook. I’m self-taught –I’ve been around restaurants and chefs for so long I just picked it up. My husband asks me all the time “Why do we even go out to dinner?” I tell him it’s because I need the break!
So what’s always in your fridge?
Lots and lots of fresh veggies, lemons, white wine, butter, and a really good protein. I also always have extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper on hand. You usually can make a pretty amazing meal just with these basics.
Are you seeing any trends in the wine world right now?
The Portuguese wines that are coming out now are really exciting. The grapes that are grown to make port are being made into some really, really nice wines. It’s very big in NYC right now and it’s starting to catch on here. I like educating people about something they’ve never tried.
Do you have a favorite varietal?
Oh gosh! I’m kind of all over the map. It changes with my mood. Or with what I’m having for dinner. I like an Albariño from Spain, Cabs from California…and I love these Portuguese wines! Look for the Esporão in our wine department if you want to try it.