After dedicating their professional lives—and personal time—to wine, some sommeliers are ambitious enough to take the ultimate deep dive: creating their own. Get to know these four sommeliers and their wine labels.
Mary McAuley, Ripe Life Wines
“I’m a beach kid, and I grew up on the Jersey shore,” says McAuley.
Her upbringing, experience as a sommelier and “unofficial wine guru for family and friends” inspired her first wine, an unoaked Chardonnay called The Clambake. And while this food-friendly California white wine is perfect for seafood, McAuley thinks that what’s in the bottle should be able to stand on its own.
“The end factor is flavor,” she says. “I’m still focused on flavor.”
The 2015 Clambake Rosé will get you ready for summer, and stay tuned for an upcoming red blend, The Tailgate.
Chris Blanchard, Down By Law Wines
How many rappers turned Master Sommeliers do you know? From the studio as “DJ Vitamix” to the winery, Blanchard is looking to compose something fresh.
“Chefs get to create something new, while sommeliers pour wines created by other people,” he says. “I really wanted to create.”
Looking to pair Down By Law Wines California Cabernet and Chardonnay with music? Selections from Blanchard’s playlist include “Bonita Applebum” by A Tribe Called Quest and “Knee Deep” by Funkadelic. For a different tune in your glass, Down By Law Wines now has a Grenache Blanc from Spain’s Catalan region.
André Hueston Mack, Mouton Noir Wines
Though California has plenty of allure when it comes to wine, Mack chose to set up shop in a different state.
“Oregon has always spoken to me: the people, the climate and the wines that I was really intrigued with,” says Mack.
And with wine names like O.P.P. (Other People’s Pinot Noir/Pinot Gris), not only is Mack trying to evoke emotion before you crack the bottle, but he has a mission regarding wine: “I also want people to know that you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy wine, and it doesn’t have to be this fussy, humorless thing.”
Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen, W.T. Vintners
Grüner Veltliner doesn’t come to mind when discussing Washington State wine, but the grape suits Lindsay-Thorsen. It’s an example of the uniqueness of the state.
“Washington has this amazing ability to be a bridge between the Old World and New World,” says Lindsay-Thorsen.
Red wine fans can check out single-vineyard Syrahs and a Southern Rhône-style blend. And regarding those vineyards, Lindsay-Thorsen says, “At W.T., we’re really about championing these special places and capturing these moments in time, taking what mother nature gave us in a vintage, and hopefully, let that be the star.”