There is a true art to life, and if you listen it will speak to you in a poetry that moves beyond words. Wine, too, is a language that speaks through poetry. As humans we each have our own terroir, or sense of place, that has seasoned our lives with experience. Each place we go and each person we meet adds something to who we are. It is the same as how soil type, surrounding climate and yearly weather patterns affect the flavors of the wine we drink. I am Amber Weed and this is a preview into my personal terroir.
I was too excited to sleep on the plane over to Paris. I had never been outside of the United States and the thought of being surrounded by a completely foreign experience made my imagination go in all sorts of directions. I met my friend Cristiana, who was studying French abroad, at the Gare Du Lyon train station. It was a gorgeous yet frosty November evening. We stopped by an adorable French shop to pick up a fresh baguette, cheese and a bottle of Champagne. This variety of treats was a far cry from the pizza and kegs I was used to back home, which was then the infamous college town of Isla Vista, California. We arrived at her third floor unit where she immediately popped the cork of the champagne out the window and we toasted to being in Paris. That toast marked the beginning of my interest in wine. Wine was everywhere in Paris and seemed to be the center focus of French art and culture as a whole. I loved seeing people enjoying a glass of wine with their books in the afternoon or with a long, relaxed meal for their late dinners. I saw this theme continue throughout Europe as later travels brought me to Spain, Italy and Switzerland.
After college I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico with my then boyfriend, now husband Josh. We lived atop a hill in his parent’s guest house overlooking the artful town on one side and the beautiful high altitude desert on the other. Around that same time Josh’s younger brother, Chris, moved back home after graduating from Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland. Chris avidly studied wine atlases and encyclopedias. Europe had nurtured his love for wine culture as well. He was studying for his upcoming sommelier exam. Until then I did not know the depths and complexities of wine. I began to care a little more with each glass I enjoyed. Words like, “Bouquet, legs and decanter,” danced in my mind. We had many family dinners where we spent much of the conversation talking about the wine we were sipping. The serenity of New Mexico inspired me to develop my art. I painted and made jewelry for hours on end and wine played an integral role in helping my creative juices to flow.
By the end of our year in Santa Fe, Josh has changed his mind about going to graduate school for political science and instead enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Portland, Oregon. We packed up our life and hit the road heading to the Northwest. It was there where we met John Eliassen who was Josh’s wine and beverage teacher as well as the winemaker at La Bete winery in the Willamette Valley. We were asked to help bottle their 2009 vintage of Pinot Noir. A group of us worked together on the bottling line while the Oregon sky was heavy with clouds and drizzling rain. At that time I knew that the wine industry was home for me. The sense of camaraderie and community had inspired me.
An externship opportunity for Josh brought us to San Francisco. He worked at the Michelin starred Masa’s Restaurant off of Union Square under Chef Gregory Short, a French Laundry alumnus from the days when Keller still manned the stoves. We were soon surrounded by great friends from all walks of life in the culinary world. Food and wine became our everything, so naturally we gravitated to Napa Valley. We moved here over a year ago and became married in April. I first worked at Duckhorn Vineyards and began here at Cornerstone Cellars just about a week ago.
I am excited to be a part of such an interesting and innovative team of people. Jeff, Craig, Allison, Alex, Adam and the rest of the staff have been more than welcoming. This should be a fun adventure! I would like to invite all of you to the Cornerstone Cellars tasting room in Yountville. I am really looking forward to getting to know Cornerstone fans as well as help to create new ones! Please visit us the next time you are in Napa Valley and share with me a bit about yourself.