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Didier Loustau & Susan Quinn, Co-Founders of ToutSuite Social Club – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Didier & Susan of Tout Suite Social Club

A chance encounter four years ago is what brought together Tout Suite Social Club’s Didier Loustau and Susan Quinn. Didier, at the top of his game in the wine marketing business, and Susan, an innovator in streaming media were the perfect pair for a project as dynamic as Tout Suite Social Club. The pair produces several live streaming shows, including 5ive O’clock Somewhere, Meet Your Maker, and Tasting in the Dark. We are proud to have these groundbreaking individuals as a part of our Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board.

What were each of your paths into the wine industry?

Susan: Coincidentally, I grew up making serious garage wine with my family (my jobs: bottle washing, grape picking, occasionally working the cork machine) but we had nothing to do with the wine business. I was drawn to San Francisco for a career in high tech in the mid-90s. In 2009, I was inspired by the recession to create a social streaming video community, real world and online, to help the entrepreneurs, or the “makers,” of great products to connect directly with their customers in an authentic live, interactive experience using technology to make those connections spread far and wide. Fortunately, I met my partner Didier who is equipped with so much wine knowledge, friendships, and many skills, too many to mention. So my newest tech venture involves lots of trailblazing people, interesting human stories, and excellent meals that pair perfectly with great wine, cocktails, artisanal spirits and beer.

Didier: I studied at a private hotel/restaurant school in Bordeaux. I came into wine later as a natural extension of managing restaurants. I want to mention that I didn’t go into that business because I loved it, but I figured that this would be the perfect job for me to travel the world, as there are French restaurants everywhere.

What were the steps you took to prepare yourself for your career?

Susan: As an entrepreneur by nature, I jump in and learn as I go. The only ingredients necessary are passion and drive. Passion for your work is what makes you intensely curious and inspires you to work late into the nights, dream about work at night, and still be excited to get up the next day and do it all again, and again. Drive, or tenacity, is what you need when doubt creeps in and makes your passion look silly for a minute! It happens. In my experience, you need to find a career that triggers a balance of both.

Didier: Travel/work, work/travel while putting myself in some strange situations in order to build experience. The love of the business came later.

Why did you decide to start ToutSuite?

Susan & Didier: We knew we had a grasp, or just a whiff of an idea, on a unique and powerful means of communicating. Before we started ToutSuite, we spent each day, for months on end, brainstorming all kinds of business models: a webcast travel adventure game, an online tasting club, national wine events… We kept coming back to the real human connection. Once we solved that concept for ourselves, the business instantly crystallized in our minds and the future was inevitable; we could not fathom of not starting it.

What do you hope to accomplish with ToutSuite?

Susan & Didier: We hope that people will have extreme fun with the platform and use it on their own to take connections and discovery to a new place!

How important is the role technology and new media in the wine industry?

Susan & Didier: Technology and new media are requisite for the wine industry, or any industry where people buy products, sell products and need to communicate.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Susan & Didier: Explaining it. Truly innovative startups cannot be explained. You have to experience it for yourself.

What is your favorite aspect of what you do?

Susan & Didier: Seeing the wonder and exhilaration of others (makers and consumers) who have just experienced a live ToutSuite show for the first time. And checks. Yeah, we get paid for this shit!

What advice would you give college students considering a career working in beverage media?

Susan & Didier: Be original. Be bold. Be curious and kind. Tell stories in a way that is unique to you. If you are curious and kind, you’ll find stories that were always there, just waiting to be told, that will delight your audience. If you can truly engage your audience to interact with your stories, you are now scaling friendships.

Follow Tout Suite Social Club on Facebook and Twitter!

Pre-order your copy of Drink Careers 101 today on Kickstarter!

Comments Off on Didier Loustau & Susan Quinn, Co-Founders of ToutSuite Social Club – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 04.01.2013 |

Katie Hamilton Shaffer, Founder of Feast it Forward – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Katie Hamilton Shaffer

Katie Hamilton Shaffer moved to the Napa Valley 10 years ago to pursue a career in the food and wine industry, and ended up a philanthropist and vintner. Katie is currently embarking on “Feast It Forward”; a philanthropic effort in the Napa Valley that uses food and beverage as a way to promote good will & charitable giving. Katie is releasing several beverage related products as well as a line of spices for Feast it Forward through Napa Valley’s own Whole Spice. At the same time, she is developing a web-show based on Feast It Forward. Her energy and talents are endless and we are proud to have Katie as a member of the Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board.

What was your path into the wine industry?

My joke is, in all seriousness, that I wanted to go to culinary school but they didn’t have a soccer team. So I played college ball on scholarship, then moved to the wine country after my sports career to pursue a lifestyle/path of food and wine.

What were the steps you took to prepare yourself for your career?

Think big. Dream Big. My favorite quote is “The road to success is always under construction.” Sometimes you’re not measured by your successes, but how you handle your failures. That shows true character. If anything, in regards to business I’d say I’ve learned to “try and apply.” True experience is what prepares you. Most importantly, if you’re truly passionate about something people will see that and want to follow. You must constantly prepare for what’s next.

Why did you found Feast it Forward?

Based on the concept “pay it forward,” my mission was to create not only a community, but also a lifestyle for philanthropic living. Further, this innovative media concept will bring foodies, winos and philanthropists all together under one brand while going “beyond the bottle” introducing causes around the country, alongside the chefs and winemakers that are inspired by them.

What has the response to Feast it Forward been thus far?

Though the response has been great, I’m excited for when we officially “launch.” As a start-up, the last 2 years has really been all about the plan and numbers, while sharing and promoting some of our smaller divisions of what will exist. It is a slow build.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Patience. I’ve owned other businesses, but nothing compares to this level. Not to discount my past companies, but when you’re building an actual enterprise, with real numbers and investors, there is so much involved. I’m a fast worker and mover, so naturally I want things to happen now. With that, I’d say my biggest challenge is slowing down and taking my time.

What is your favorite aspect of what you do?

My favorite aspect of the industry is the ability to truly combine all of my passions, food, wine, entertaining, and giving back. There is something to be said for finding your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life. I can honestly say that’s how I feel.

What advice would you give college students considering a career working in the wine industry?

Like anything, it can be laborious, but it sure is rewarding. List out your motivations, passions and interests while sharing your ideal positions within the industry. Apply that list and consider shadowing or joining an internship program where you can further understand what opportunities are available. It may strengthen your initial thoughts or completely change your direction. As I say, “try and apply.”

Follow Feast It Forward on Facebook and Twitter!

Pre-order your copy of Drink Careers 101 on Kickstarter today!

Comments Off on Katie Hamilton Shaffer, Founder of Feast it Forward – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.29.2013 |

Great Deal From Delgadillo Cellars


Delgadillo Cellars

We have big news from the incredible people at Delgadillo Cellars! They are discounting their 2003 and 2004 vintages $10, and donating 20% of their sales to the Drink Careers 101 using the code “DRINK101.” Delgadillo Cellars is a small production winery that only produces around 150 cases annually. Each vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is painstakingly aged for around 6 years; 20 months in the barrel, and 5 years in the bottle, ensuring the wine is perfect upon release. Those of you who have tasted wine from Delgadillo Cellars know just how awesome this deal is, so take advantage of it before it is over and back our Kickstarter project!

Comments Off on Great Deal From Delgadillo Cellars 03.28.2013 |

Joshua Cairns of Hahn Family Wines – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Joshua Cairns

During his career at Hahn Family Wines Joshua Cairns has risen from file clerk to the Director of Marketing. He has studied the business from all angles over the last decade and found his niche. His story is a classic example of the hard work and dedication it takes to make it in the beverage industry. We are proud to have Joshua, his wisdom and experiences as a part of the Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board.

How did you get your start in the wine industry?

Having grown up in Napa, I’d been around wine for a while. While attending UC Berkeley, I was working my way towards becoming a paralegal for a firm in San Francisco. The world of law didn’t seem to fit so when I discovered that a friend from Napa had just started a small sales & marketing company, I asked if they had any open positions. The Monday after graduation, I started at Wimbledon Wine Company (now Hahn Family Wines) as a file clerk and assistant.

What did it take to work your way into the position of Director of Marketing?

A lot of filing! Also, a fair bit of perseverance, and the willingness to learn. My degree from Cal is in classical history, which as you might imagine, left a lot to be learned. Since I grew up in the Napa Valley, I knew names of wineries and people in the industry but very little about how the wine business actually works on a day-to-day basis. In the last decade, I’ve progressed from file clerk through just about every position in marketing and admin at Hahn Family Wines — accounts payable, accounts receivable, collections, order entry, inventory, warehousing, ecommerce and online marketing. But, I am lucky enough to work for a company that helped me learn through doing and not just reading or observing. Taking any opportunity I could to pick up a new skill or bit of knowledge, I discovered that marketing is was I wanted to be doing and that I wanted to keep doing it in the wine industry. I think it was this practical use of that same range of skills and knowledge I’d acquired over the last 10 years that helped gain me the promotion to Director of Marketing.

What is your favorite aspect of working in the wine industry?

Well, if I’m being totally honest, I like eating and drinking! You can’t help but like that part of things in this business. But, what I really enjoy about it is the opportunity to constantly meet new people within the industry; it’s a small enough world that everyone is willing to share their knowledge and their passions. Meeting people across all segments of the wine world allows me to adapt their insight to not only my position as Director of Marketing but to other facets of Hahn Family Wines as well. Being a family-owned winery, we’re allowed the chance to wear a few hats at once so job descriptions often evolve over time to include the information you pick up along the way from wine compatriots.

What are some of the challenges you face with wine marketing?

One of the main challenges is definitely the slower pace of change in the wine industry as compared to some others. In order to keep up with the flow of technology and ideas going on in the wider world, we have to look at what companies outside the industry are doing. It’s for that reason that I try to attend at least one tech conference annually that has nothing to do with wine. Bringing some of those ideas back to HFW with me helps make us a cutting edge winery that hopefully increases that pace of change just a little bit.

Is there anything exciting going on at Hahn right now that our readers should know about?

For the first time in 16 years, we have a new winery president. While many of the best parts of Hahn will remain, having someone new at the top allows us to reassess what we are doing and why we’re doing it. This has already resulted in some new and exciting changes at Hahn that we’ll be rolling out soon so stay tuned!

If you could give one piece of advice to a student considering a career in wine marketing what would it be?

Don’t turn down any work or learning opportunities, no matter how small you might consider them to be. You never know when working hard as the file clerk or marketing assistant will yield that big next step in your career.

Follow Hahn Family Wines on Twitter and Facebook!

Comments Off on Joshua Cairns of Hahn Family Wines – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.27.2013 |

Chelsea Prince of Chelsea Print and Publishing – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Chelsea Prince of Chelsea Print and Publishing

Publisher and author Chelsea Prince is a woman driven by a love of the written word that began at the age of 4. Since then, Chelsea has attended Syracuse, working for The Daily Orange Newspaper, founded InternCircle.com, worked at Women’s Wear Daily, InsideFacebook, and now her very own Chelsea Print and Publishing. Most recently she penned and published Rock and Vine, a look at the next generation in the California wine business. Chelsea is a driven individual looking to shape the Millennial generation of Publishing. We are proud to present Chelsea Prince to you as a Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board member.

What was your path into the publishing industry?
Publishing has always been my career target, so I shot a quiver-full of arrows everywhere I could. I worked on the editorial side and publishing side, I tried editing versus writing. I worked for traditional “big name” print publications and startup online publications. Whatever I could get my hands on, I grabbed. Internships were an extremely important part of building my career path, particularly because I developed a social media start-up, InternCircle.com, which was a virtual portal to the internship world. Although I enjoyed conceptualizing, managing and writing all of the editorial for the company, I found that the medium itself wasn’t compelling to me. I don’t love the Internet like I love books. I read my first chapter book (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) when I was four, and have read an entire book almost every night since. It became obvious to me that books were my calling, and I founded Chelsea Print & Publishing. The company, which produces beautiful “readable” coffee table books, provides an intersection between art, philanthropy and storytelling. So far, we’ve published Snowcial and Rock and Vine: Next Generation Changemakers in America’s Wine Country.

What were the steps you took to prepare yourself for your career?
I took a relatively straightforward approach to publishing; I studied it. I knew I wanted to work in publishing so I pursued a major in magazine journalism and European history at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. When I wasn’t running around writing articles for class, I was at The Daily Orange campus newspaper chasing leads and managing more than 250 writers.

What inspired you to write Rock and Vine?
There are many factors that contributed to the inspiration (I’ve been to global seminars about “generational” topics for years now), but I was particularly drawn to the three-fold story that comes with wine. There are three stories in one bottle of wine: the story of the wine itself, the story of the winemaker and the consumer’s story. There are many wine books out there, but I saw that there was a wine story yet to be told: the next generation. How will the next generation perpetuate and evolve the story of Napa and Sonoma? That’s Rock and Vine.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing and researching your book?
Most books take years to write, but I took 6 months from start-to-print. It was beyond challenging, but it was necessary. The purpose was to bring a moment in time to readers, a moment where the next generation is at a tipping point and about to take the reigns in the wine industry. There were weeks of 20-hour days, but fortunately I could turn to the consultation of Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine, and many others for interviews and insight.

What was your favorite aspect of writing Rock and Vine?
My favorite aspect is the intimacy that comes with knowing and completely throwing oneself into a subject. From writing Rock and Vine, I now know one small part of this big world that much better.

What advice would you give college students considering a career working in publishing?
I once heard a quote that reads something along the lines of “make a career of what you do in your free time,” and I encourage everyone to stick to that. It’s incredibly fulfilling to do what you’re naturally inclined to do, and you’ll be much more successful if you have passion. Passion gives you the grit to push through the hard days.

There’s a feature story of Christina Turley of Turley Wine Cellars in Rock and Vine, who has taken this advice to heart. A couple years after college, Christina left a lucrative career at an art gallery after realizing that she spent all of her free time reading food and wine blogs, planning menus for gallery events and thinking about restaurants. She decided to learn the ropes as a sommelier in Manhattan from the ground-up, and now works as the Sales and Marketing Director for Turley Wine Cellars.

Follow Chelsea Prince here on Twitter.

Pre-order Drink Careers 101 here on Kickstarter.

Comments Off on Chelsea Prince of Chelsea Print and Publishing – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.26.2013 |

Monique Soltani – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


We are extremely pumped to have Monique Soltani of WineOh.tv involved as a Project Advisory Board member for Drink Careers 101. Monique has built on her broadcast journalism background to quickly establish herself within the wine/video scene. WineOh.tv was honored last year for the “Best Original Video or Photography on a Wine Blog” at the Wine Blog Awards, hosted by yours truly, and she’s become a fixture at all of the coolest Bay Area wine events as she reports and interviews on-location.

Being that video is Monique’s medium of choice, we thought it only appropriate to conduct her Drink Careers 101 interview on camera, which we did on-location at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone during Premiere Napa Valley.

Pre-order the Drink Careers 101 Guide on Kickstarter now!

Comments Off on Monique Soltani – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.25.2013 |

Ian White of Butter Communications – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Ian White

Ian has become Mr. Napa Valley with his many projects and platforms shining a spotlight on the region. He is the Wine Country Director of 7×7 Magazine , California Home+Design Magazine, and the Creative Director and Editor of Napa Valley Life’s “INK” section. If there’s a happening event in Napa, you can count on him being there with enthusiasm.

What was your path into the wine media?

I fell in love with a girl from Napa and chased her up to St. Helena. I knew that I simply had to find a job in the wine industry, it was too much fun not too. Luckily my days of writing for Lonely Planet, the connections and network I built at that time paid off. After that, I just did right by the people in the wine community and they have done right by me.

What were the steps you took to prepare yourself for a career the wine industry?

I visited a ton of wineries, asked a million questions, and then started developing ideas, programs and content that fit the needs of the community.

How do you juggle all the awesome projects that you have in the world of beverage?

One sip at a time, and with the knowledge that if I do right by the wine community, it will do right by me. Also, always be sure you’re owed more favors than you owe.

What does being the “InsiderNapa” individual mean to you?

I chose that title because I’m in a position that provides me a very unique and inside perspective on the wine industry. I have direct access to the industry, and information about the industry at every level from CEO to farmer. I also work in every aspect of the industry, from media to winemaking, to events, sponsorships, sales and marketing; and travel to wine regions and wine events all over the world. It definitely helps that my wife’s family has over 30 years of history in Napa Valley and is extremely well respected in the community. It’s also worth noting that I’ve been accused of having one of the strongest networks in Napa Valley and Sonoma.

Do you have a favorite moment or experience in Napa?

Watching Grace Potter and the Nocturnals play a Live in the Vineyard show in the Peju Gardens on a perfectly beautiful spring day. Or seeing the Barr Brothers play Live in the Vineyard in the Peju Kitchens. Or maybe the NVL INK Black Valentine Ball, so many great times!

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Having a million different projects going on at once and never knowing which one I should focus on. It’s tons of fun and allows for extreme creativity and you never get bored. It’s worth every anxious moment!

What is your favorite aspect of what you do?

Supporting the community I live in, and being a conduit to the city I grew up in (SF) for the community I now live in (wine industry).

What advice would you give college students considering a career in wine media?

Find your voice (write a lot), be honest in your writing, spend a ton of time learning about wine and experiencing every aspect of wine, and the wine industry. Think a lot about what the next big thing will be, what the needs are, and future are for the wine industry and be sure to examine all of this from the most micro to the most macro levels. Find a voice and be the best at what you do! Never pretend to be something you’re not or write about things you don’t really know about, and read these blog posts!

How to Get a Job in the Wine Industry, Part 1
How to Get a Job in the Wine Industry, Part 2
How to Get a Job in the Wine Industry, Part 3

Comments Off on Ian White of Butter Communications – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.21.2013 |

Whitney Rigsbee of Nomacorc – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Whitney Rigsbee of Nomacorc

Today we are pleased to present Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member Whitney Rigsbee from Nomacorc.

Wine closures have become a hot topic in recent years. Natural corks have become polarizing due to the potential of creating flaws in the wine, screw caps and synthetic corks have become increasingly popular. Based in North Carolina, Nomacorc is a leading producer of synthetic corks, and has been extremely active educating wine consumers and industry professionals about the advances and benefits of synthetic cork, which include the ability to control the amount of oxygen reaching the wine during aging and eliminating the risk of TCA taint. I had the opportunity to connect with the Nomacorc team in Sacramento in January during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, including public relations specialist Whitney Rigsbee. Whitney has such a passion for work she does at Nomacorc, as well as her company’s mission to innovate wine closures and improve the wine drinking experience, and we’re thrilled to have her bringing her talents to our Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board.

What was your path into the beverage industry?

Prior to joining Nomacorc, I was working for an agency based in Raleigh, NC doing public relations for a global toilet paper and soap manufacturer. Outside of the office, I was volunteering for a non-profit called the Frankie Lemmon School and Developmental Center, a pre-school for children with special needs. Nomacorc is a big supporter of the Frankie Lemmon School and several of its employees volunteer for the school’s annual Triangle Wine Experience fundraiser. I ended up meeting two of my soon-to-be (amazing) colleagues working on the marketing committee together. After about nine months volunteering with them, I noticed a media relations job opening that one of my soon-to-be colleagues posted on LinkedIn, and sent him a note asking about the position. I had really enjoyed volunteering and working together so I thought the transition over Nomacorc would be a good fit. A couple of e-mail exchanges, a phone interview, and two in-person meetings later they offered me the position at Nomacorc. I like to joke around with my coworkers that I went from toilet paper to terroir in a matter of two weeks! I’ve loved it ever since.

Can you explain your current role at Nomacorc?

What’s so great about the marketing department at Nomacorc is that you are exposed to many responsibilities and areas of work. My main focus is public relations and social media for Nomacorc’s English-speaking territories including North America, Canada, UK, Australia and S. Africa. However, I also try to lend a hand anywhere else that is needed, including internal communications, events, editing, copywriting, etc.

It’s obvious that you and your colleagues at Nomacorc have a lot of passion for your work. Can you talk about this passion and what inspires you so much about working with bottle enclosures?

Nomacorc’s founding principle was based on providing a better wine closure solution for the wine industry, helping to deliver the best possible wine to consumers. Today, that same principle still applies and we truly consider ourselves as a partner to wineries across the world. This foundation can be felt across the company and the energy and passion is contagious. The technology, science and work that we are doing to help wineries make better wines is extremely rewarding and fun! I think what inspires me is that something so small as a closure can be so impactful to the taste and feel of a wine. We have so many people working here that are extremely talented and I just feel lucky to learn and grow from them.

What is your favorite aspect of your work?

The people! Not only do I love everyone that I work with at Nomacorc, but I also meet so many interesting and unique people from around the world. Most of the people who work in the wine industry have such a passion for what they do and are willing to share it with others. Being more of a “newbie” to the industry I have learned so much from journalists, colleagues, and our customers through casual conversations, meetings or even over a bottle of wine at dinner. It’s great to make so many connections and then see updates on social media about how their life is going or a new bottle they are trying or vineyard they are visiting. The people are what truly make the beverage industry so great. Plus, the wine drinking part isn’t so bad either!

What advice would you give college students considering a career working with enclosures/packaging in the beverage industry?

Embrace the unfamiliar. For those that aren’t exposed to the enclosures/packaging areas in the beverage industry (which most college students probably aren’t) this career path might seem intimidating or obscure. Don’t judge a book its cover. Within the packaging industry there are so many different areas of work including engineering, finance, sales, research and marketing. Connect with people that currently work in the industry and see if you can shadow with them for a day or intern for them for a semester. The best way to learn is to actually work. I think a lot college students have this stereotype that the only job in the beverage industry is working at a winery or being a salesperson. There’s a huge window of opportunity within the beverage industry with an array of different jobs that are all unique and great! All you need to do is connect with people, expose yourself to different areas and situations, and figure out which path you are willing to work towards and create for yourself.

Follow Nomacorc here on Twitter and Facebook.

Click here to back our Kickstarter project!

Comments Off on Whitney Rigsbee of Nomacorc – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.12.2013 |

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