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Hi! I created NorCal Wine in 2008 to share information about the wines and wineries of Northern California, my home base. Since then, I and my readership have branched out considerably. This site still maintains a heavy California focus, but covers other regions and topics as well.

How I got into the wine biz

Call it an evolution. Call it a casual interest which became an obsession. I call it good fortune.

I didn’t grow up surrounded by wine or even seeing it at the dinner table regularly. I became interested when, well after college, I was working in Silicon Valley and found myself with both spare time and spare cash. I started going to local wine regions, especially Sonoma County and Napa Valley.

In the beginning, my taste was for the bold and fruity. The more oak and chocolate the better. That soon changed.

When I get interested in something, I tend to get pretty serious. So I read stacks of books and magazines. I spent increasing amounts of time in vineyards—not just locally but in Australia, France and wherever my regular business took me. I became an advisor to friends and co-workers on where to go, what to buy and which wine to pair with their meal.

Over time, as I tasted more and more wine, my palate became increasingly acute and discerning. I started to look for complexity and nuance. My natural preferences for elegance and quiet conversation came to the fore, leading me to seek that in wine. (Fortunately I’m still able to enjoy both the bold and the beautiful.)

Eventually, I found my daily work less compelling than the world of wine. Enticed by deliciousness, entertained by wine and food events, and charmed by the folks of the wine business who, for the most part, are in it for passion rather than outsized profit, I surrendered.

I quit the day job, accelerated my studies and started writing.

What I do aside from this site

I am a professional wine writer and wine educator.

My writing appears in a variety of places, both print and online. I post links on this site to outside articles as they become available.

Most of my teaching is at the San Francisco Wine School and includes courses for the certifications above, as well as Food and Wine pairing, Wine and Beverage Program Management and more. I also book and create custom classes and events, both independently and for the school. Non-class events include guided tastings and happy hours, wine dinners, wine country tours, seminars and more. These events can be large or small—and as casual or formal—as you like. Please contact me if you have interest for yourself, your company or winery. Just click that little envelope button at the top of the page to send me an email.

My credentials

In addition to extensive direct experience, oodles of international wine travel, tens of thousands of wines tasted, etc., I have studied wine formally and hold a number credentials. (And I’m working on more! There’s always something else to learn.)

Among my current credentials are Certified Sommelier, Diploma in Wine & Spirits (WSET), Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Professional, Level 3 Sake (WSET), Certified WSET Level 3 Educator and Certified Napa Valley Wine Educator. I also have formal training as a chef.

I have been a fellowship recipient of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. I’m also an inductee of the Eschansonnerie des Papes, the honorary society of Chateauneuf du Pape.

My services (Hire me!)

Some of the services I offer in addition to teaching include:

  • Freelance writing
  • Consulting on wine programs for wine bars and restaurants
  • Creating and moderating seminars and panels
  • Consultation to wineries, wine regions and other businesses about wine markets, trends & quality
  • Wine reviews for publications, buyers or regions
  • Wine judging
  • Wine tasting coaching

I hope you enjoy this site and I look forward to hearing from you!