I’m stoked to announce that my husband and I will be moving to Sonoma Valley in the coming months. I tell you this not to rub it in (although I’ve already been derided a few times by close friends: “you suck”, “can’t believe you’re leaving Tampa” and, my favorite, “California is bracing for your arrival”) but there will be some new topics on the website.
I recently accepted a job as Vice President of Marketing for Foppiano Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Great wines, 160 acres of vineyards, and an historic winery in transition. A challenge… just the way I like it. Foppiano has been making wine in Sonoma County since 1896, mostly Petite Sirah, and they’re considered the leader in this varietal. This vintage and with their new, young winemaker Natalie West, they released a Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Really good ones too. I couldn’t work for a winery whose wines I couldn’t drink. I, of course, considered selling out over the years while searching for the “right opportunity” (definition: they’d actually pay me) but really, how do you sleep soundly at night if during the day you’re schlocking shitty wine?
So I waited… and waited… and applied to many, many jobs like so many other people in our recession-ravaged country. In the end, the job just fell into my lap. Last October, I interviewed (part of my current job, and will continue to be, is to sit down with winemakers and winery principals) a young, energetic visionary named Todd Arterburn who works for Foppiano Vineyards, a winery I’ve admired since my nascent days in wine writing. He was hired in 2008 as President to pull the aging winery back into the fray. It’s a wickedly competitive wine market now and those who don’t jump in and take risks, lose. I must say, he’s doing a bang-up job thus far. After the first hour of our initial 4-hour lunch, we no longer talked about Foppiano, but about our love of Top Chef, food and my desire to live in California. 2 hours later, he asked for my resume for a position opening up at Foppiano in the spring. 4 months later, after meeting the Foppiano family (now in its fifth generation) and having them look me over, I signed the paperwork.
I will be handling everything marketing for Foppiano: packaging, website design, tasting room, wine club, advertising, events, social media .. the list goes on. But rather than be overwhelmed, I’m bubbling over to start making a difference and jump in, much like Todd did almost three years ago.
This job is not something I thought would ever happen. I love Tampa Bay, Florida but ever since my first flight touchdown in San Francisco in spring of 2000, I knew that California should be my home. And now it will be. Thanks to a chance meeting set up by Foppiano’s public relations company. (Thanks Maggie!)
The website will go on: Mary D. Scourtes, Tampa native and a veteran food writer from the Tampa Tribune and other publications will write once per week on the Tampa food scene. Over the past 20 or so years, Mary has followed erratic chef movement as well as seen innumerable restaurant openings and closings, so I feel confident she’s got this city covered.
But it doesn’t end there… beer geek Robb Larsen will keep sampling beers and share some of his favorite selections at local Tampa beer joints; Chicago-based Sean Ludford will educate about spirits and his favorite cocktail recipes; and I also talked culinary school graduate Jennifer Fields into writing a monthly Kitchen Adventures column about ingredients, cooking techniques and other challenges to making food taste good at home. Lots to look forward to on TaylorEason.com.
Of course, my highly opinionated wine writing will continue and, never fear, I’ll keep seeking out the best wine deals and wine trends. I’ll even objectively review Foppiano’s competitors (one coming out this week). But I’ll also be writing about my transition, my new job, its challenges and opportunities. And reveal to everyone all the cool Sonoma scoop: best tasting rooms, cheap places to stay, good events to attend. I might even deign to travel over the mountain to snobby Napa. All for my readers. It’s a tough job, but now I’m going to do it.