INTERVIEW WITH A MASTER OF WINE
One of thirteen US women to have a Master of Wine status
In 2013 Amy achieved the title of Master of Wine, becoming one of only thirteen women in the United States to achieve this remarkable goal. She also works for Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, with her husband, co-owner of Black Sheep Finds selling their wines in southern California. Amy is also a partner at Wine Ring, the leader in personalization software in the wine and spirits industry.
Tell us a little about your background – how did you first become interested in wine?
I was an actress and a waitress in LA, and I sort of fell into wine out of job necessity and I think probably boredom too! I found the endless details around wine to be fascinating.
When did you first think, “I want to become a Master of Wine”?
I have always been academically oriented, so in my spare time I would read and study wine. Then one day in 2006, kind of on a whim, I decided to apply to the Master of Wine Study Program because I thought it would be “fun”. I was shocked that I was accepted!
What’s the best thing about your job?
Working with my husband in the vineyard. We have a small 5-acre organically farmed vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County, California where we do as much of the farming ourselves as possible. During the COVID crisis we have found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands. We have spent our time hand weeding, sucking and shoot thinning in the vineyard. It has been great, but my lower back hates me.
That bag of dried apricots you have in your cabinet is likely to have more sulfites than a whole bottle of wine.
What wine do you think people should appreciate but don’t?
SYRAH! I wrote my Master of Wine dissertation on “The Decline of Varietally Labeled U.S. Syrah” because my husband and I not only grow and make Syrah, but some of our favorite wines in the world come from the Northern Rhone Valley in France, which is Syrah country. My dissertation showed that people don’t buy Syrah not because they don’t like it, but because they don’t even see it on the shelf when Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are options. In other words, they aren’t even aware of it as an option. So people should drink more Syrah – try it – you’ll like it!
What is your favourite expensive wine, and your favourite affordable wine?
My favorite “most expensive wine” is not all that expensive, a couple hundred dollars, either Salvioni, Cerbaiola, Brunello di Montalcino or Poggio di Sotto, Brunello di Montalcino. As much of a Francophile as I am, both of these wines are wonders at 10, 15, 20 years old or more. For white wine I would choose Burgundy, of course! Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne is expensive and gulpable! My “least expensive wine” would probably be in the $25 range. I don’t drink much wine below that price point, because life’s too short! Muscadet Sevre at Maine from the Loire Valley, a crisp, unoaked white wine, or Gruner Veltliner from Austria. Those are go-to BTG options for me.
What wine fact can you share with our readers so they can impress their friends?
1. Red wines almost always have fewer sulfites than white wines, and that bag of dried apricots you have in your cabinet likely has more sulfites than a whole bottle of wine. Sulfites do not cause headaches. Alcohol and histamine are the likely cause of your red wine hangovers. 2. A more fun fact, it takes about 400 grapes to make a bottle of wine.
If you were hosting a dinner party, who would you invite (from anytime, anywhere)?
PRINCE!!!!!! Only Prince. No one else. Not even my husband would be invited.
What is your wine guilty pleasure?
Champagne. I say this is a guilty pleasure because while a guilty pleasure should perhaps be more akin to the wine equivalent of Cheetos, it’s a guilty pleasure because it’s expensive. I should not spend as much money on Champagne as I do. I will drink Champagne at any time, on any occasion, with any type of food. Taco truck burritos and Champagne are a favorite pairing at our house!
MEET AMY AT AN UPCOMING EVENT
Now that you’ve learned a little more about Amy, find out how you can meet her – and others like her at our upcoming events! You can tap into Amy’s vast wine knowledge, as well as industry-leading business discussions, by signing up to our exclusive B2B virtual tasting experiences below.