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Who We AreMeet our Wine Guys and Gals!
The thing about Grapevine Cottage that I'm proudest of is something I really can't take credit for ... the wine knowledge of our incredible staff. Since we first opened, this store has attracted wine lovers like a magnet. Over the years our staff has grown to 10, all part-time, and all wine lovers, with a wide range of wine related experience and expertise.
Doug and Linda Pendleton
I'm Doug Pendleton, a/k/a The Wine Guy, a self-proclaimed title. Actually, I'm just a guy who has enjoyed wine most of his adult life. And having to make a career change at 50 gave me the rare opportunity to choose to work with something I enjoyed. That's when I decided to open the kind of wine shop I always wanted to shop in.
What did you do in the real world? In my previous life from 1979 through 1998, I co-owned Great Western Boot Company, a multi-state chain of retail western wear stores (and horses don't like me and the feeling is mutual). Before that, from 1972 through 1984, I owned a chain of mall-based imprinted sportswear stores... The Shirt Shack. That was fun...in 1978 I had five stores, 40 employees, and at age 30, I was the oldest staff member. But trust me, this is a lot more fun than any of the rest... and no, there will never be a second store. I've been there, done that, and I still have some of the tee shirts in the attic! (Webmaster’s note: Never say never!)
When and how did your love of wine begin? It began with a trip to Sonoma in 1974, but the real epiphany occurred in 1981 over a bottle of 1977 Sterling Reserve Cabernet someone ordered at a business dinner. I came home from the trip and scoured the town until I could put together a full case. Of course then I had to have somewhere to keep it... then you just can't have just one case...you get the drift....
How would you classify your tastes in wine... old world or new world? I have been accused of liking everything, and for the most part I do. Part of the fun here is that Linda and I get to try such a wide variety of wines. Having to review wines means we never get in a rut of going back to the same style or brand every time. The truth is, I try to appreciate both old and new world styles, but my first love will always be California reds.
All of us have our favorites...what varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? New World wines are what I know best. I really only began to focus on old world wines ten years ago, so I am way behind many of my customers. I have loved drinking and learning more about Italian and Spanish wines. However, experiencing Bordeaux and Burgundy is almost a lifelong undertaking, and at today’s prices I don’t think I’m going to catch up.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? A blue cheese topped filet grilled medium rare with a bottle of Cabernet is still number one, but Osso Bucco with a bottle Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre is a close second.
What was your most memorable bottle? The six liter bottle of 1982 Kenwood Artist Series that my friend Danny Lipco brought from California for Linda's and my wedding...she'll fill in the details.
Your favorite restaurant? That would be at home... the menu changes every night and we love the wine list. Oakley's does a great job and we love Joseph Decuis in Roanoke, Indiana but it's kind of a road trip. Actually, we eat more lunches out than dinners and there's nothing like a burger in the courtyard at Cobblestone Grill.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? Seeing Linda (the world's best wife who was actually supportive of this investment) behind the wheel of our 2002 Aston Martin Vantage DB 7 - V12 (the real guilty pleasure) ... hey, this investment can't do any worse than my IRA....
Funniest moment working here? There have been so many of them...the classics are tasting wine with the winemaker and he asks you to be honest. It happened once with a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc... the wine smelled like cat pee from two feet away but the winemaker really, really, really wanted to know what we thought. We told him...he has not been back....
The most recent was when the lady who had just selected a $300 mixed case of some of the biggest Cabernets and Shiraz in the store turned to Tom Landshof and asked which one would go best with Tilapia. At least he was honest when he told her she should "go buy some steaks."
Best and worst things about working here? The best would be actually getting to know my customers. I spent most of my 40 years in retail behind the scenes, which is why my office now is behind the counter.
The worst, fighting to keep from gaining weight around all this great food and wine.
Linda's real career is leasing and managing medical office buildings. Developing new buildings and the general "care taking" of much of Community Health Network's real estate needs. It keeps her way too busy to spend much time in the store anymore. But, she spent every Saturday with me for the first 3 years we opened. Although she's not here often, she is still my secret weapon behind the scenes.
All those "What We Thought" reviews in the newsletter have a lot more to do with her nose and palate than mine. Five years ago we held a ten bottle blind tasting that we invited people to test their palates by identifying the wines grape varietal and matching it to its magazine review. 150 people tasted and tried the wines, and only two people got all ten right... both were women, and one was Linda.
What is your current job in the real world? My real job is as a Vice President over Real Estate and Retail Services with VEI, the for-profit division of Community Health Network.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? From the very first moment Doug thought about the idea.
When and how did your love of wine begin? I'm not sure if this made me love it immediately, but my introduction was in about 1983, when my mentor at my first job in commercial real estate, George Charbonneau, gave me a bottle of Chablis and Bordeaux as a gift. Unfortunately, I do remember thinking that the Bordeaux would be better chilled!
How would you classify your tastes in wine... old world or new world? Well, I'm still more partial to New World, but my tastes are New World with a throwback to Old World. I don't think I would have known what a Rhône was 15 years ago, and now it is my "go to" Red...but that is also because the French ones have changed their style to be a bit more "New World." I love the crisp, unoaked Hendry Chardonnay (yes, I really do like white wine), but realistically, it isn't as true of an "Old World" style white as I think it is.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? I really do think my favorite food is pizza...usually something involving a very thin crust, and interesting ingredients like artichoke hearts, black olives and maybe goat cheese...pair that with super Tuscan like the Monte Antico Sangiovese Cabernet-Merlot blend and I'm in heaven.
What was your most memorable bottle? A 6 liter of 1982 Kenwood Sonoma Valley Artists Series Cabernet that we served at our wedding reception — it was the very generous gift of our friend, Danny Lipco (who brought it with him from Bakersfield, CA — I think he even had to buy it a seat). He sent us a label in advance, and we matted it and used the matting as our guest register. The matted print and the empty bottle still sit in the kitchen as a reminder of an unforgettable day (where we sat up the camera on timer for our photo). And we still have a couple of bottles left that we plan to open on a few more wedding anniversaries.
Your favorite restaurant? Home, preferably on the deck! And we really don't go to eat out that much...except on vacation, so I'd have to say Grandma Dot's and Trader's on Sanibel.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? A couple of good French subtitled movies and a very lazy Sunday afternoon with rain (or just pull the blinds and pretend it is raining outside).
Funniest moment working here? This is more of an amazing moment...a number of years back, Doug had a Zionsville customer approach him because her brother was making wine in Oregon and she hoped he would try it. We’d had several “homemade” wines brought by before, so we were a little dubious, especially when her brother finally did come in on a Saturday morning carrying his wines in a cardboard box.
So the first amazing thing is that we had the time to taste wine on a Saturday morning (probably wouldn’t happen today, would it?) and still wait on customers, but the more amazing thing was that every single wine we tasted seemed better than the one before. Doug, our co-worker at the time, Jim Mathias, and I kept tasting, and then looking at each other saying “this is amazing...who is this guy and how do we get his wines distributed in Indiana"? Well, in case you haven’t figured it out, the wines were Sineann and the winemaker was Peter Rosback, and the rest is pretty much history for us!
Best and worst things about working here? I can't really claim to work here much anymore, but it is still the interaction with the greatest customers around — as well as the very competent and enthusiastic staff.
Tom Landshof, our self proclaimed "Wine Geezer" has been with us since almost the beginning....
How old are you? The Wine Geezer is 74 and proud of it.
What was your last job in the real world ?
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? You got to enjoy my company beginning in May 2001.
When and how did your love of wine begin? I was brought up in a household that enjoyed wine. My father would always let us children have a taste. Suzanne, my current wife, and I (Note: They just celebrated 50 years of marriage) have always enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner. We started out drinking Mateus, then Lancers when we could afford it, and some Rieslings and progressed from there. We got a little more serious about it in 1968 when we lived in Baltimore. I took a correspondence course from UC Davis in oenology. For an extra buck they sent you a certificate of completion. Since then I’ve been able to claim to be a certified oenologist from UC Davis, as long as no questions are asked.
How would you classify your tastes in wine
Old World or New World?
All of us have our favorites what varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? I would classify myself as a generalist. I like and drink both whites and reds. In whites, my cellar has Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viogner, Muscadet and Riesling, as well as a few oddballs. I probably drink and have more Cabernet or Bordeaux in my racks, but have a good selection of various Italian wines as well as Rhônes, Zinfandels, Shirazes and Pinot Noirs.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? A thick juicy grilled steak with a bottle of Cabernet of Bordeaux. Pasta with red sauce and a Sangiovese or Amarone. Linguini with white clam sauce and a bottle of Muscadet or crisp Viognier.
What is your current favorite bottle? The Insoglio 2008 Super Tuscan.
What was your most memorable bottle? Probably the 1982 Petrus we drank to celebrate the birth of my last granddaughter, who is now 13 years old.
Your favorite restaurant? My current favorite in Indiana is Joseph Decuis in Roanoke, Indiana. In Baltimore, Maryland, the home of one of my sons, it would probably be Charleston's.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? Spending an afternoon with a glass of wine and a good book on the porch.
Funniest moment working here? Can't come up with anything other than the mental picture of Doug crawling in the sunroof of his SUV after locking himself out.
Best and worst thing about working here? I really enjoy the interaction with our customers. We also have a great group of people to work with. There is no competition or office politics to cope with. Everyone helps each other out. The worst thing about working at GVC is the temptation to bring home another great wine. We have so many and it is hard not to just leave your paycheck there.
Carlene Clark is the operations manager of our Fishers store.
What did or do you do in the real world? Prior to working at the Grapevine Cottage I was in real estate. Before that, I had spent 15 years in the wine trade as a buyer in California; selling for Monarch Beverage; and then on to working a three-state territory for a broker whose portfolio included brands such as Sebastiani and Georges Duboeuf. When away from “The Cottage,” I love to visit with my daughters, play with my grandkids, knit, sew, sail, take walks and play ball with my Dachshund.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? I started working at the old Zionsville store on September 22, 2005.
When and how did your love of wine begin? I’ve been in wine sales for about 19 years and it took a trip to France in 2002 to really appreciate the distinction between good wine and fine wine.
How would you classify your tastes in wine, Old World or New World? New world with big extracted fruit is my preference and I prefer wines that are less than subtle. However, I do like most Spanish and Portuguese wines. Since France has taken the “moo” out of some of their wines, I’ve come around a little to liking some French — Burgundies, Cru Beaujolais and Rhône blends. But I’m a sixth-generation Californian, with my heritage dating back to the early 1800s when Spanish was the language, so my heart and soul have been in “The New World” a long time.
What varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? Since Georges Duboeuf sponsored my trip to France, I know a lot about Beaujolais. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a market here in Indiana for Cru Beaujolais but if you want to discuss it, come to the Fishers store for a chat. I also love Champagne, sparkling wines and Cavas so I’m able to help meet a taste profile in that section of the store.
Do you have a favorite memory of a winery? When I represented Sebastiani, I had the honor and privilege of a personal tour of the vineyards, the Cherryblock cottage and lunch with Mary Ann Sebastiani Cuneo and her husband, Richard.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? If the weather is really hot, I like to pair a cold Chardonnay with the boat but if it’s cold outside, I like a fire with my Zinfandel. Food isn’t necessary.
What was your most memorable bottle? A 1982 Pouilly Fuisse that I had while visiting France in 2002. This 20 year Chardonnay tasted as fresh and lively as it probably tasted the day they bottled it.
What is your current favorite bottle? I love Schramsburg Mirabelle Brut Rosé because it’s dry but not too dry and very flavorful without being too yeasty.
Your favorite restaurant? Hands down, my favorite restaurant (if you can call a shack a restaurant) of all time is La Super Rica in Santa Barbara, California. This ain’t no Taco Bell! In fact, you wait in line to place your order then wait in line to get a table...in that order. The menu, which never changes, is handwritten on a chalkboard and placed in the window. Tortillas are made by hand and you can see a woman behind the order-taker rolling masa into balls, smashing them with the tortilla press then tossing them onto the grill. I always order the #6 (pasilias and onions), guacamole and extra tortillas. The food is beyond fabulous and always worth the wait. Wine isn't sold there, but a cold beer always tastes good with Mexican food.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? I’m either reading a book, playing “Words with Friends”, or checking out Facebook on my Nook.
Funniest moment working here? When I worked in the Zionsville store (20 miles from home), my bra strap broke during my eight-hour shift. Although we didn’t have a safety pin, we did have a sewing kit. I locked myself in the little girl’s room and stitched my bra together. My coworkers thought it was much funnier than I did.
Best and worst thing about working here? The best thing is that I’m now five miles from home and the worst thing is that my pals still work at the Zionsville store. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know our new customers and coworkers and am so happy to see some of the familiar faces our previous Zionsville customers here in Fishers.
Looking for good Chardonnay? Adele Huffman is the one to ask. She has pretty strong opinions about the wines she likes (or doesn’t), and she’s not afraid to share them!
What have you done in the real world? I have been a Travel Agent for 37 years. I owned and operated a travel agency until 9/11. I still sell travel, and now I am always looking for a travel opportunity with a vineyard in mind.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? Five years.
When and how did your love of wine begin? Definitely in college, and of course it was Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill.
How would you classify your taste in wines, Old World or New World? New World.
All of us have our favorites ... what varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? Chardonnay, of course! I tend to gravitate toward wines from the Russian River area. I have made an effort to educate myself with other white varietals. I know some of you may find this hard to believe but, I do love red wine as well. I am sure I have sold you a bottle or at least tried.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? I have a couple. I love a great steak and Norton Privada or Marquis Phillips’ S2. On the other side, I love summer sausage, sliced pears, grapes, sharp cheddar cheese and a big buttery Chardonnay.
What is your current favorite bottle? I am loving the Hahn SLH Chardonnay 2007. It fills the bill, for me, of a buttery, oaky Chardonnay. It is creamy, smooth, has that butterscotch flavor I am looking for, and is just a great drink. At the end of the day, Hahn Chardonnay and I just wind down together. I would say we are like friends….
What was your most memorable bottle? Many factors make a bottle of wine, memorable. Even the least expensive bottle of wine can create a memory if the company is right. Sharing wine with my co-workers is the best!!!
Your favorite restaurant? Jeff Ruby’s in Cincinnati, Ruth’s Chris in Indianapolis or Magnolias in Charleston S.C.
Funniest moment working here? Working with Dr. Tom. He makes everyone laugh. (How about the snow, Dr. T?)
Best and worst things about working here? Hands down, the people I work with make this the best place to work. There are days, however, that I need to borrow Bob's gun. (My fellow employees will understand this, lol). I would be amiss if I didn't mention our customers. I look forward to greeting you and try very hard to remember names ... there are a lot of you and only one of me. Please don’t be offended if I have to ask your name more than once.
The worst thing about the job ... so many wines and not enough time to drink all of them.
Interested in French wine? Talk to Paul Johnson you can even ask him in French!
How old are you? 61.
What do you do in the real world? Most of my working life before Grapevine Cottage revolved around foodservice management, along with a couple years at Trader Joe’s.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? Since October 2004.
When and how did your love of wine begin? As both a student and instructor on Dartmouth’s foreign language programs in France, I lived with local families where wine was served daily. This was not high-end stuff, mind you, probably selling at the time (the early 70s) for around 40 cents a liter. While we generally drank beer when out in the cafes, any evening meal at “home” or in restaurants was accompanied by wine. Back on campus in the US, if wine made an appearance, it was still usually in the form of Yago Sangria, Cold Duck, or Mateus Rosé.
In 1976, I returned to France to teach English under an I.U. exchange program and it occurred to me that I really ought to try to learn more about French wine and cuisine on this trip. My girlfriend (and present wife) had brought along a paperback, Guide du Vin by Raymond Dumay, and in the month of down time I had before classes began, I read and re-read it until I practically had it memorized. Soon I was splurging our meager bankroll on Medocs and Beaujolais that cost over a dollar a bottle! I bought a case of Burgundy at an auction for $28. The hook was set. For two years, our travels took us to places with exotic names like Bordeaux, Gigondas, Beaune and Riquewihr. We look forward to doing it all again soon.
How would you classify your tastes in wine Old World or New World? I love what's going on in all of the new outposts of the wine world and wouldn't argue with the quality and value of the wines being produced, but I'm always drawn back to the elegance and finesse of the better-quality French and Italian wines.
All of us have our favorites what varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? Because of my experiences in France, it's easier for me to decipher labels and to recall which varietals and regions go together, so that may pass for expertise when it's really more like being able to remember how to drive home. One type of wine I always find it easy to enjoy is a nice Côtes-du-Rhône from France or the Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre equivalent from elsewhere.
Do you have a favorite memory of a winery visit? Several contenders, but the standout is Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in 1977. As a wine novice, I considered it hallowed ground and hardly dared to get out of my car. But as luck would have it, the busload of Japanese tourists was just pulling away and the maitre-de-chai (the actual head-honcho cellar master) said he had some time on his hands. We spent a good hour touring the grounds, the winemaking areas, and the private cellar beneath the chateau, all the while getting an education from one of the top winemakers on the planet. And no, even though we watched as they splashed Lafite all over the floor as they topped up the barriques, not one drop passed our lips. Dommage but a great memory just the same.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? Hard to imagine anything finer than Lasagne alla Bolognese (courtesy of Saveur Magazine) matched with the Allegrini Pallazzo Della Torre....
What is your current favorite bottle? For day-to-day, the Grand Veneur Reserve in a 3 liter box! Most astonishingly delicious bottle this year: Van der Heyden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2002.
Your favorite restaurant? Kona Jack’s/Daddy Jack’s, after many years in their trenches. Out of town: Umberto's in North Myrtle Beach and Piballe in Manhattan.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? Armagnac, but it doesn't make me feel guilty.
Funniest moment working here? Seeing the look on driver's faces as they passed by all of the cases of wine that were stacked and sitting on Main Street when we were preparing to move the store.
Best and worst thing about working here? Short answer: the amount of money I save on wine and the amount of money I spend on wine.
The other best thing is the fact that people are rarely in a bad mood when they walk into our store and we are almost always to make them happier by answering questions, providing knowledge, and anticipating their needs. I consider the act of buying wine an investment in a pleasant experience to come in the near, or even distant, future. It's fun to be part of helping people look forward to that enjoyment.
Looking for a big, California Cabernet? Silver Oak, Caymus, Quintessa Bob Woolson's the guy who has tried them all!
How old are you? 64 years.
What is your last job in the real world? General Manager Central region Kawneer / Alcoa. I was with them for 37 years and retired in November 2003.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? Six years, I started in March 2004. (Hmmm, it only took Bob four months to get bored with retirement...)
When and how did your love of wine begin? Started to enjoy wine in the mid 1980s. I picked up a Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet for Thanksgiving and that was the start of our love affair with wine.
How would you classify your tastes in wine Old World or New World? Without question, new world wines
All of us have our favorites what varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? California and Washington, Cabernet and Merlot.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? A big new York strip steak with a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet or Marquis Philips S2 Cabernet.
What was your most memorable bottle? It's a tie between a 1998 Insignia, a perfect bottle of wine it was like drinking velvet or the 1997 Merryvale Profile, which had outstanding balance and depth.
Your favorite restaurant? Local Favorite Ruth's Chris, downtown location. Out of Area Don's Pomeroy House, Strongsville, Ohio - The perfect meal: Fish Market Salad (Iceberg, Romaine, Spinach, Red Cabbage, Chopped egg, Blue Cheese, Baby Shrimp with Italian Vinaigrette dressing), New Zealand Rack of Lamb Herb rubbed, Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing, Mushrooms, Truffle Oil, Demi Glaze, and for dessert a Grande Eclair.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? When I started at GVC I was strictly a red wine drinker. I hate to admit it but I now enjoy a good bottle of white wine on occasion.
Best and worst thing about working here? Best thing about working at GVC is the ability to interact with the customers who all have a love of wine. Worst thing is that it costs me money to work at GVC because of all the great wines that I take home on a regular basis.
Mark Finch is our resident Mac Guru... he's the guy responsible for everything from preparing our cookbook to print to managing all the point-of-sale materials here in the store. Mark is our resident "value expert," and can show you where all the bargains are.
How old are you? Vintage 1952, and still maturing.
What do you do in the real world? Printing, publishing and public relations. I did public relations and lobbying for the Indiana highway industry for eight years, then owned a printing company for 17 years. I still do some print advertising, publication and Web design, and freelance writing.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? Since March of 2002, after a brief stint as production manager of a newspaper in Grand Cayman.
When and how did your love of wine begin? My parents often drank Almaden wines with dinner when I was growing up. Each wine had cartoon illustrations of the types of animals whose meat they were supposed to be paired with, so I learned that early on. Later, when I was a high school senior, my friends and I found that we could go into liquor stores and discuss wines for half an hour or so with the clerks and not get carded when we eventually bought some. I ran through a lot of Black Tower and other crockery-bottle Rieslings then, and still have an empty fish-shaped bottle of Antinori white Tuscany wine for fish, vintage 1967. After that came a Boone’s Farm phase. My first purchase of a case of “real” wine was Sebastiani Barbera, vintage 1976, which I bought from Louise Kahn. I still have the wooden box.
How would you classify your tastes in wine... Old World or New World? I try to appreciate every wine for what it has to offer. I drink both Old World and New World wines, but find that I am buying a lot more European wines than I used to, particularly Rhônes and Riojas. But if I were banished to a tropical island where only one type of wine was available, I would prefer that it be Bordeaux-style blends from the New World.
All of us have our favorites...what varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? Rhônes and other red blends, Spanish Reds and Zinfandels. I try to keep up with Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs too, but Doug buys them faster than I can drink them. I’m not a good person to ask for a Beaujolais recommendation — Gamay is one grape I just don’t appreciate, no matter how often I try.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? We eat a lot of lamb, which I like to pair with a Rhône or a Malbec. A Grenache with grilled wild-caught salmon is mighty good, too. Or Riondo Prosecco and Eggs Benedict for Sunday brunch. Or beef tenderloin and a Bordeaux blend — it's impossible to pick just one!
What is your current favorite bottle? The Beronia Rioja Reserva 2005 starts with aromas of coffee and spices on the nose, then continues with flavors of cassis and dark berries on an oak-smoothed palate. It’s worth every penny of its $22 price, and then some.
What was your most memorable bottle? Two bottles here: The 1993 Barolo that my wife, Katz, and I drank on our tenth wedding anniversary in 2003 was absolutely fabulous. Equally memorable was a split of a 1963 Meursault that her grandfather gave us — improperly stored upright on the top shelf of kitchen cabinet for 35 or so years, amber-colored with little floaties in it, and stunningly — and unexpectedly — delicious with rich flavors of vanilla and caramel.
Your favorite restaurant? The Lobster Pound Restaurant in Lincolnville Beach, Maine. For Sunday brunch, Portofino Restaurant in Gun Bay, Grand Cayman. Locally, you can’t beat the burgers at the White River Yacht Club.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? These days, I prefer that my pleasures be of the “not guilty” variety. I’m pretty sure that all my unindicted co-conspirators feel the same way.
Funniest moment working here? That may have been when Tom Landshof sought me out when he needed a “tall guy” and out of the four people working that was me. I can possibly stretch out to 5’7.5” on a good morning. Best and worst thing about working here? The best thing is all the great people I’ve met here, on both sides of the counter. I’d say my least favorite task is packing the Wine of the Month boxes, but our new tradition of having a homemade gourmet lunch afterwards makes it a lot more tolerable!
Since we now have two Toms, Tom Skokut has become known around the store as Dr. Tom, (Ph.D. not M..D), and while he may be slightly underemployed selling wine, we are all very glad to have him.
How old are you? I am 62.
What did you do in the real world? I was a Research Scientist at Dow AgroSciences. My wife and I both retired from DAS three and a half years ago. I had a research career in plant biology for over 30 years (not all at Dow). I worked in plant tissue culture, plant molecular biology and plant genetic engineering. I have worked with corn, wheat, soybeans and canola, but never grapevines.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? Over two and a half years. When and how did your love of wine begin? My parents lived on a small farm in Paso Robles for 20 years after they retired. At my many visits, we would go tasting at the different wineries. By the time they left in 2007, there were more than 30 wineries in a 10-mile radius from where they lived. Twenty years ago, Paso Robles had very few wineries. I had the privilege of watching the area grow into a well-respected wine region.
How would you classify your taste in wines, Old World or New World? Definitely New World. I love the California Cabs and Chardonnays. However, since I have worked at Grapevine Cottage and have been introduced to many new wines, I am really getting into the French Rhônes.
All of us have our favorites ... what varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? California central coast. I have many favorite wineries there. I love J. Lohr’s Chardonnays and Cabs. The Paso Robles Zins can be interesting, especially the ones I get from the Tobin James wine club (one of the few wine clubs that will ship to Indiana!). The Pinots from the Santa Lucia Highlands are really good, e.g. Paraiso. Honestly, I loved this area way before the movie Sideways came out.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? I think you should always go with a wine you like and experiment. A Walter Clore Cab with a steak from the grill is super of course. But try a Riesling with brats, I think they go great together. I think Pinots go with a lot of food — I especially like it with salmon.
What is your current favorite bottle? My current favorite is the Château Thieuley Bordeaux Blanc 2007. It goes very well with seafood, chicken, pork and white pasta dishes, and with a lot of appetizers. It doesn’t have the sharp grapefruit of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc — the fruit is tasty and smooth. A very versatile white.
What was your most memorable bottle? Tobin James Fat Boy. It’s an out-of-this-world Zinfandel and is perfect with Christmas dinner.
Your favorite restaurant? My wife and I go out to lunch a lot. We love to have lunch at The Friendly Tavern, Puccini’s, Stonecreek, Sweet and Savory, Ocean Grill and Athens.
Funniest moment working here? One of my funniest moments was when I blasted a plastic coke bottle from about 20 yards with Mark’s crossbow that shoots wine corks on my very first try. This was in the parking lot and after store hours, of course.
Best and worst things about working here? Worst thing is choosing which wine to take home for dinner — so much wine, so little time! The best thing is seeing my friends from Dow when they come to the store, making new friends (we have the best customers) and meeting our customers’ dogs.
Our gourmet food director, Laurel Steffes, has been with us since we made our move to the new location back in 2005. She is responsible for the purchasing and display of all our meats, cheeses, gourmet foods and wine accessories. And she and her husband, Mike, have quite a cellar, so she can answer your wine questions too!
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? It will be six years in August.
Where did your interest in cooking come from? I remember loving to bake ever since I was in elementary school, and I suppose my interest in cooking evolved from that. My mother and my grandmothers set the example as they were all wonderful cooks, but it was my father who perhaps had even more of an impact on me. He had such a zest for life and a curiosity and interest in trying new things, including food. In a time and a place when most of us thought it couldn’t get any more exotic and exciting than Chinese food, he was always looking for the next taste sensation.
I still remember the Christmas he decided to fix a goose stuffed with chestnuts and sausage and who knows what else. He was so excited about it, but I’m afraid the rest of the family wasn’t quite as thrilled as he was by his Dickensian fantasy. We just wanted turkey with our usual stuffing! But he set an example that led me to seek out new culinary experiences and to want to learn to prepare these foods at home.
When did your love of wine begin? It was my husband who first developed an interest in wine and he’s the one who encouraged me to expand my wine horizons beyond sweet whites. Strangely enough, this is a rather recent development since it’s only been in the past 10 years or so that I’ve discovered there’s a great big world of wines out there and that I love most of them, particularly the reds. It really is never too late to learn to appreciate new things.
Old or New World? Hmm. It wasn’t long ago that I was only interested in New World wines, but I think I’m now beginning to appreciate those from the Old World, particularly French and Italian reds. There are times when I find that “fruit forward” isn’t always what I want.
Favorite varietals/regions? California Cabernets, Oregon Pinot noirs, and French Rhônes.
Favorite food and wine pairing? Cab and cow, of course!
Most memorable bottle? With my increasingly faulty memory, my most memorable bottle is usually the one I had last night! But there are a few that stand out. One is the Gaja Sugarille 2001 that my husband and I drank to celebrate our first attempt at homemade charcuterie. It was the perfect complement to Bresaola (an Italian classic) which, happily, was decent enough to eat.
The second was a 1989 Vouvray from the Loire Valley that we drank in 2008 at my husband’s 50th birthday dinner at Picasso in Las Vegas. This was a revelation to someone (me) who rarely drinks whites. A 19 year-old white that had aged and mellowed into a light golden color, wonderfully viscous in the mouth, with a nose of ripe stone fruit and honey, beautifully complementing the perfectly prepared scallops with Jus de Veau. A happy memory all the way around.
Favorite restaurant? Out of town - Americas in Houston, The Ninth Door in Denver, NoMI in Chicago. When I’m home I like Oakleys and Amalfi, and I head to either Sullivan’s or Ruth’s Chris when in the mood for a great steakhouse atmosphere. A new favorite is Siam Square in Fountain Square when the need for Pad Thai hits and I’m not in the mood to fix it myself. But the best place in town is the Grapevine Cottage on the day we put together the Wine of the Month Club boxes. We take turns bringing in lunch and I think I work with some of the best chefs in Indy.
Funniest moment? Sorry, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. And I’m still laughing....
Best and worst things about working here? The best thing ...how can there be only one? I have a terrific boss. I work with wonderful people who have become dear friends and who are as passionate as I am about good food and wine. I work at a store that has the most wonderful customers in the entire state. I get to go to the Fancy Food Show in New York City every summer (have I mentioned that I have a terrific boss?). And I get a discount on wine (so now the real truth comes out.) The worst thing? Handing over my entire paycheck to pay for all the wine I take home. Also, dusting and vacuuming the store!
You might call Jim Bandy a student of wine! I think he may have the most well-rounded palate of any of us. Ask him about Argentina or his many trips to Napa....
How old are you? 46.
What is your current job in the real world? Corporate sales for Western Union Global Business Payments.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? I joined the team a few months before moving to the new building. So I think I’m in my fifth year. Time really does fly when you're drinking... I mean selling wine.
When and how did your love of wine begin? Advertising was where my career began, and when I began drinking wine. (Ah...a slice of pizza and cold Rosé from a box — lunch of champions!) Almost 20 years ago, I took a challenge from a wine retailer who offered tastings in my Southern California neighborhood. I started off saying “I really don't care for red.” He replied “Give me six months and see if that holds true.” After trying new things every week or so, he was right. I think that laid the base for my continued exploration of different wines and styles of wine. Even at home now, we regularly try new things and find new “friends.” That's one thing I enjoy talking about with our customers: seeing where their taste preferences are, and finding out if they’re interested in trying something different.
How would you classify your tastes in wine... Old World or New World? I like to equate wine styles to music: I think of old world style wines as being much like a string quartet — good background for food, usually balanced, and well-grounded (my new substitute phrase for Terroir). New world wines, though, are the Jazz and Rock bands: spotlight grabbing, toe-tapping, and not always willing to share the stage with food. String quartets have a special place in my heart but I more frequently listen to Jazz and Rock.
All of us have our favorites...what varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? New world reds and Champagne/Sparkling are my strongest suits.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? This is quite difficult as my favorites change often. Right now, it’s braised short ribs with Napa Cabernet, or peppered rare Ahi Tuna with Schramsberg’s Mirabelle.
What is your current favorite bottle? The d’Arenberg Hermit Crab 2009 fits the bill when you’re looking for something between a buttery-oaky Chard and Champagne. Good with food or on its own, this is a versatile white that is also a great bargain! And the Walter Clore Reserve 2006 is a metrosexual blend — a versatile red that never seems out of place, either at the table or just swirling around in my glass. Not over the top, it’s stylish, balanced, and very enjoyable.
What was your most memorable bottle? 1996 Dom Perignon.
Your favorite restaurant? I travel a great deal, and therefore dine out frequently. When I’m at home, though, my favorites are Oakley’s Bistro, The Meridian, and Capital Grille.
Funniest moment working here? It was too funny when...um...I almost forgot: What happens in the back room stays in the back room.
Best and worst things about working here? The worst thing about working here is wanting to load up my car every night with new things to try but recognizing I have to be sober some time. Some of my favorite times at GVC are when I’m helping customers pair wine with their menus. It merges my love of food with all the different wine varietals and expressions we carry at GVC.
You can talk to Jack Hayford about wine, cooking, baking and opera....
How old are you? I’m 71, which makes me the senior citizen of the Fishers store.
What did you or do you in the real world ? I spent 22 years with Ernst & Ernst in Chicago then moved to Indianapolis in 1984 to be CFO of Marsh Supermarkets. My wife and I ended up owning and operating Breadsmith Bakery for 11 years until we sold and retired in 2007.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? I started when the Fishers store opened in May 2011.
When and how did your love of wine begin? In 1965 we became involved with a junior chapter of the Chaine des Rotisseurs in Chicago and began a love affair with fine food and wine. In those days the wines were mostly French; I probably didn’t fully appreciate what I was drinking.
How would you classify your tastes in wine … old world or new world? I like a wide variety and don’t have a strong bias one way or the other. I’m currently enjoying Rhônes and Spanish reds and French, Italian and Alsatian whites so I guess that would indicate a tendency toward old world. All of us have our favorites. What varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? I enjoy a wide variety and really don’t have a strong focus. My favorite might be Pinot Noir and I enjoy the Rhônes. Historically I’ve concentrated on everyday wines so I relate more to the $20 or so wines than to the high-end Cabernets, etc.
Do you have a favorite memory of a winery visit? At an IMA wine auction we bought a Napa/Sonoma trip that included a couple of winery overnights. We spent two nights at Rombauer’s guest house, which was an A-frame with a pool in the hills above the winery - a beautiful setting. What is your favorite food and wine pairing? I enjoy duck breast and/or confit with Pinot Noir. On the white side, mussels with Muscadet.
What is your current favorite bottle? I really enjoy the Schlumberger Pinot Gris.
What was your most memorable bottle? Probably the Château d’ Yquem we would occasionally buy for $25 or less a bottle in the 1960s and ’70s.
Your favorite restaurant? Probably home. We both like to cook, so very seldom go out locally. When we do, my first choice would be Oakley’s Bistro. We eat out more frequently in Chicago because we go there regularly for the opera. Our annual repeat list includes West Town Tavern, Kiki’s Bistro and Picolo Sogno.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? I don’t feel guilty about it, but one of the things I most enjoy in retirement is an afternoon nap – reminds me of being back in college.
Funniest moment working here? Probably playing a bit role in the filming of the TV commercial.
Best and worst thing about working here? The best thing is the interaction with the people – both staff and customers. It’s similar to the bread bakery in that customers are happy to be there. Second best is the constant exposure to so much wine and the opportunity to keep trying new things. It’s not really a worst, but there is some frustration with so much wine and so little time.
Mike Lynam is the guy to ask about Rieslings and Rhônes at the Fishers store....
How old are you? If I were a Zinfandel, my label would say “Old Vine”.
What did you or do you in the real world ? Until I retired in 2010, I was responsible for the North American marketing strategy, communications and external affairs for a German, family-owned building materials company. The family bought an old factory in Shelbyville in 1978, and I started with them at the beginning of 1979. Our sales then were in the neighborhood of $5 million, and my first office was a trailer in the parking lot. We had two marketing managers in the back bedroom; we’d ripped out the fixtures and put the technical manager in the bathroom (seemed fitting at the time); the director of R&D had the old kitchen (also seemed fitting); I was the advertising manager and I shared the living room with our secretary … and all the inventory of our sales literature and promotional items. That’s where I learned the value of inventory control and how to stack boxes to the ceiling. It was a great company and a great career opportunity. By the time I retired, we had grown to four U.S. factories and sales of about $600 million in North America.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? I started in October, 2011.
When and how did your love of wine begin? I followed the same well-traveled path of Lancers, Mateus, MD 20/20, Boone’s Farm and Cold Duck (was that wine?) that many have stumbled along before me. But my real love of wine began about 20 years ago when I fell head over heels for a beautiful lady from just north of San Francisco. She’s now my wife; and needless to say, you don’t get a gal from just south of Napa to marry you if you don’t also love wine. So, I guess I could say that I found two of my life’s greatest passions at the same time.
How would you classify your tastes in wine … old world or new world? New world, but maybe in transition … my personal cellar is mostly new world — and mainly California. But I do have a fondness for German wines fostered by my business travels there; and I’m growing a real appreciation for other old world wines, especially from the Rhône. We have so many really wonderful Rhônes at Grapevine Cottage that it’s hard not to! All of us have our favorites. What varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? I’m more a red person, so a well-made Cabernet Sauvignon or a Meritage from California is still my first love, and I guess that’s an area of focus. But because of my history, I’m fairly knowledgeable about German wines.
Do you have a favorite memory of a winery visit? I love to visit wineries and have been fortunate to be able to visit quite a few of them, so a “favorite” is tough to choose. I sure enjoyed sampling grapes with Erik Miller in Kokomo’s Timber Crest vineyard and checking out Randy Peters’ collection of restored Sterling trucks there last year. And I was fortunate to visit Adelsheim a couple of years ago. After we finished barrel tasting, David opened a bottle of 1983 riesling that looked like old honey and was fantastic. My wife and I also enjoy visiting Charbay Winery and Distillery up on Spring Mountain … really nice people. It seems like whenever we go to Wine Country, we find places that create great friendships and wonderful memories. We’ll be going to France this summer to tour several Rhône wineries, and I’m sure it will also be a trip to remember. What is your favorite food and wine pairing? I can’t think of much better than a great steak with a Cab or Malbec.
What is your current favorite bottle? For the moment, it’s the Domaine Roche Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne 2009. It is very dark in the glass; and the first thing I noticed was a lot of tobacco aromas. It’s full-bodied, dry, and mouth-filling. I liked the black raspberry or dark cherry fruit, the smokiness and chocolate, nice long finish with spice and maybe some licorice. It’s 70 percent Grenache and 30 percent Syrah. Really a great value at $13.99. Parker gave it 91 points.
What was your most memorable bottle? One that I never knew the name of. My wife accompanied me on a business trip to Berlin several years ago; and after the meetings were done, we had two days of free time before we had to come back home. We were staying in a hotel by a small park, so we planned a picnic for the last day. As luck would have it, it was raining — actually more just a drizzle — so we decided not to let that stop us. We borrowed an umbrella from the hotel, bought some cheese, bread, meat and a bottle of some inexpensive red wine from a store on the corner and found a tree along the Spree Canal that looked like a good spot. We spread out our hotel bath towel for a blanket and poured the wine into plastic cups. Pretty soon it started raining harder — quite a bit harder — so there we were huddled under the umbrella, drinking wine, eating bread and cheese, and waving to the boats passing by. I’m sure we were the only two people in the park that day, and that everyone on the boats had to think we were nuts. I know Germany isn’t known for its red wines, and what we had probably wasn’t German, but it’s one bottle I’ll never forget!
Your favorite restaurant? There are so many fine locally-owned restaurants in Indy that I hate to include a chain; but I like Fleming’s because of their wines by the glass and flight selections; Some Guys for their pizza; and home for my wife’s cooking and the reasonable corkage fee.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? Frequently I have to plead guilty to exceeding my wine budget.
Funniest moment working here? I think I’d better invoke the “Vegas Rule” … what happens in Fishers, stays in Fishers … but I will say that it had to do with a young lady buying wine to give to coworkers at her office Christmas party.
Best and worst thing about working here? The best thing is that I still feel like a kid in a candy store. It’s also the worst thing (see guilty pleasure above). But I learn something (actually many somethings) new every day from the people I work with and from our customers. And it just doesn’t get much better than that.
You’ll find Steve at the Fishers store most Fridays and Saturdays....
How old are you? I just turned 62. Experience is a plus in the wine business..
What did you or do you in the real world ? My degree is in psychology, but I’ve been employed in a variety of professions over the years. My favorite job was writing a monthly fiction feature for a magazine, followed closely by working as a sommelier/wine manager in the restaurant industry.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? Since last spring when the new store opened. I was a customer before that.
When and how did your love of wine begin? I’m sure my hedonistic disposition as a child set me up to be a wine lover given the right circumstances but first I had to run away and join the circus, so to speak. Indiana during my formative years was very different from what it is now. After college I trekked across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa where I was exposed to a mind-bending variety of things to eat and drink. I was never the same after that trip. During the 1980s I was fortunate enough to travel extensively again and my appreciation for wine grew as I visited wineries around the world and sampled a wide assortment of wines (and food) with knowledgeable people. I started getting really serious about cooking and gardening so attending wine education classes and tastings fit right in with everything else I was doing at that time. But it wasn’t until I began a career in the restaurant business where I had to sell wine to picky customers on a nightly basis that I understood how important wine was to me and began to treat it as something more than a hobby.
How would you classify your tastes in wine … old world or new world? I like them both, and I think the lines between the worlds have been blurring for some time now. That said, I am constantly reminded how wonderfully many Old World wines pair with food. I can’t truly evaluate a wine that’s just come into the store until I’ve taken a bottle home and consumed it with dinner. All of us have our favorites. What varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? That’s a hard question to answer. One thing about this job is that I am constantly learning. I like trying new varietals and wines from obscure places and those from up and coming wine makers. I find the wines from Italy particularly intriguing and challenging, simply because they have hundreds (thousands if you count clones) of different grapes they grow to make wine. Wines from the south of France and the Loire Valley are ones I like to sell to people. I’ve also learned that a good, colorful story about a wine, winery, or vintner is a fun way to introduce a wine to someone. I think because I worked in restaurants I’m good with customers who don’t know very much about wine and feel intimidated. But I know my limitations. When a customer has questions about Chardonnay (unless its unwooded), expensive Cabs to cellar, or Bordeaux futures I usually defer to someone else at the store.
Do you have a favorite memory of a winery visit? I have a bunch of them. There’s the winery in Provence where we drove down a dirt lane through a walnut grove where the ground was covered with pink autumn crocus blooming. There’s Rutherford Hill Winery on my first visit to Napa in the late 80s where we had a picnic on one of their tables overlooking the valley. There’s Flora Springs, on the same trip, where we discovered you had to schedule a private tour but a Gallo daughter and her boyfriend said we could come with them, and later that day Mike Grgich swatting at fruit flies as he poured wine for us in his tasting room. There’s a little winery in the village of Spay on the Rhine where the tasting room on a Sunday afternoon was filled with locals eating and drinking and we are the only foreigners. And there’s Brys Estate on the Old Mission Peninsula in Michigan overlooking the East Bay where I tasted dry Gewürztraminer made by a young South African winemaker that was a good as anything from Alsace. I’ll stop. What is your favorite food and wine pairing? Wow, another hard question. Here’s an odd one but it’s great and my wife and I have this once a week — Johnsonville brats and California Cabernet. I’m always looking up pairings on the internet and someone suggested this and it works beautifully. So does Zinfandel and red sauce made with spicy Italian sausage. We had chicken paprikash with a Barbera d’Asti recently that was a match made in Heaven. I’m also a big fan of Australian Riesling with Thai or Indian curries.
What is your current favorite bottle? I don’t really have a favorite. Some wines in the store I really like right now are the Siduri Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, the Marques de Casa Concha Carménère, the Obra Prima Malbec, the Argiano Non Confunditur Tuscan red, the Nostre Pais Costieres-de-Nimes white, and the Kaesler Old Vines Semillon. Oh, the Sineann Cabernet Franc is amazing, but there’s not much left.
What was your most memorable bottle? A bottle I had in a little village at the foot of the Pyrenees in Spain when I was 24. It didn’t have a label and I didn’t know anything about wine anyway but it was so delicious with the food I was eating while waiting for a train. I imagined I was in a Hemingway short story. There was also a big jug of cloudy homemade retsina a Greek fisherman on Skyros fetched from his cottage and poured for us on the beach while we ate roe from sea urchin he’d just gathered. I also vividly remember the first Zinfandel I ever tasted having dinner at a friend’s on my first visit to San Francisco in 1983. And my first French rosé on my first day in Marseille. Many more, as well. Life is punctuated with memorable bottles of wine.
Your favorite restaurant? Here in town, probably Recess or R Bistro. I love Topolobampo in Chicago, among many others there.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? Potato chips, chocolate, and nerdy science fiction movies.
Funniest moment working here? Oh, lots of little weird, absurd moments shared with my co-workers every day.
Best and worst thing about working here? Best thing is getting paid for being a wine geek and talking with so many great customers about wine. Worst thing — merging on to I-69 from 465 East on my commute to work. Absolutely messed up.
Looking for a Bordeaux or Cab? Talk to Doug....
How old are you? Too darn young to collect Social Security, but old enough to remember nine St. Louis Cardinals trips to the World Series.
What did you or do you do in the real world? I started out with Phillip Morris, first in Champaign, Illinois and came to Indy as Division Manager. I then spent 32 years in medical sales. Along the way we lived in Kansas City where I worked in the home office of Marion Labs for a few years and traveled the nation as National Accounts Manager. Most recently I was with GlaxoSmithKline covering east central Indiana. Pharmaceutical sales got me off the road so I could finally come home every night but they did want me to spend a lot of those nights in my office. When the layoffs came in 2010, I had an opportunity to do something a lot more fun … here I am!
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? Since the new store opened in May of 2011.
When and how did your love of wine begin? We've had a wine rack with wine on it since the early '70s. In the late '80s my co-workers pushed my collecting to include fine wines from Bordeaux. Through the '90s the collection probably didn't exceed 100 bottles. After the year 2000, entertaining my customers, many of whom had good taste in wine, turbo-charged my interest. So, now I have one cooler devoted to Bordeaux, another for California and Washington, a third for Italian and overflow Cabernet, and a fourth cooler is a catch-all. So, the four coolers hold wine for aging and the four racks hold wine to be consumed over the next couple of years. My wife would really like for me to get a really good cooler that would hold a couple of hundred bottles and put in HER dining room … ha ha.
How would you classify your tastes in wine … old world or new world? Doug tells me my palate is old world and I guess my Bordeaux collection confirms that. But I'm also fond of new world wines and my Cabernet cooler would confirm that. All of us have our favorites. What varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? Bordeaux and Cabernet. That's not to say that I don't have an opinion on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. We learn so much from each other that my knowledge and tastes keep expanding.
Do you have a favorite memory of a winery visit? Del Dotto in Napa. That was the one winery where everything was good and I couldn't dump anything. I drank it all. It was the one winery visit where my wife had to drive when we left. What is your favorite food and wine pairing? Beef and Cabernet or a Cabernet blend. A grilled ribeye with a California Cabernet. Chateaubriand and a good Bordeaux. Fillet with Cabernet or Bordeaux. Lamb with Cabernet or Bordeaux. Are you seeing a trend yet?
What is your current favorite bottle? Hidden Ridge 55% Slope Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007.
What was your most memorable bottle? My wife and I were entertaining two customers and their wives at Peterson's. The waiter asked if we wanted wine - I looked up and all five heads were bobbing. He said, "We're featuring the Merryvale Profile tonight." I looked up and again all five heads were bobbing. So, I said, "Sure, bring us a bottle." It was really good. Three or four bottles later when the check came I found out it was $150 a bottle and we had spent more on wine than on food! When I explained it to my boss, after he cooled down, he said to put on my expense report that the doctor had grabbed the wine list and that I hadn't known how much the wine cost. But it was good!
Your favorite restaurant? Because my kids live out of town, my favorite restaurants are Commander's Palace in New Orleans and Harry Caray's in Chicago. Weekday lunch at Commander's Palace, Martinis are 25 cents and you can't get the smile off my face once they set the Martini down in front of me, plus the food is incredible. At Harry Caray's I like the steaks, they let me bring my own wine, and Harry used to be the announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, my favorite baseball team.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? Spending summer evenings on the screened porch with a glass of wine, watching the sun set over the pond and listening to the sound of the fountain.
Funniest moment working here? That would be when a young woman stuck her tongue out and asked me to match a wine to the color of her tongue.
Best and worst thing about working here? The best thing(s) would be a toss up between the customers, my co-workers and the wine. The customers make working here fun and new wine comes in every week. I learn so much from my co-workers and that makes it fun, too. The worst is leaving a significant part of my paycheck at “The Cottage.”
Dan has a fondness for Old World reds and crisp whites....
How old are you? I’m 55.
What did you or do you do in the real world? I spent many years earlier in life as a numbers guy. I worked in corporate finance, market research, and bank marketing information management. When my wife accepted a three year job opportunity in England in 1998, I became a stay-at-home dad for our three children. I completed that role when our youngest began college recently.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? I’ve been at the Zionsville store since October 2011.
When and how did your love of wine begin? Like many college students in the 1970s, my wine journey started with things like Reunite Lambrusco — sweeter than today’s wine and cheap. My real wine appreciation began with a 1992 Ferrari-Carano Merlot paired with duck at a restaurant dinner. That opened my eyes to the way wine and food can enhance each other. I was hooked on learning about and trying as much different wine as I could.
How would you classify your tastes in wine, Old World or New World? I enjoy wine from all over the world, but I’m leaning towards Old World wines now, particularly the reds. In addition to the fruit, I find that earthiness, spices, and other flavors stand out more in these wines. That makes them especially interesting to me.
All of us have our favorites. What varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? Based on what I’ve been drinking recently, I’m learning more all the time about wines in the store’s Mediterranean room. On the New World side, I’m most familiar with Syrahs and Shirazes. I also have a good feel for crisper whites such as Sauvignon Blanc.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? A braised meat dish from Mediterranean cooking paired with a good red wine from the same region.
What is your current favorite bottle? I love the 2007 Gerard Bertrand Tautavel from France. Great dark fruit with nice spice and earth notes. An excellent value, too!
What was your most memorable bottle? I tasted Châteauneuf-du-Pape for the first time in 1999. I’ve forgotten the winery and the vintage. What I do remember is the flavor depth and complexity in that wine. It’s the first time I realized how extraordinary a great wine can be. I’ve had a soft spot for Châteauneuf ever since, but none of the others I’ve enjoyed hit me the way that first one did.
Your favorite restaurant? My wife and I often choose Oh Yumm Bistro at 56th and Illinois when going out for a nicer meal. The food is always excellent, the service friendly, and the neighborhood restaurant vibe a plus. The wine list is moderate in length, but there’s always a good choice to complement what we’re having. We love Pizzology for a simpler dinner. They have great pizzas and salads and a nice selection of Italian wines to go with the food.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? The peanut butter filled pretzels from Costco are one of my go-to snacks. A container of these pretzels ended up on a shelf next to Nutella when we moved my daughter into her college dorm room. That looked like a good combination to me. It is good and now it’s my favorite guilty pleasure!
Funniest moment working here? The mystery of the excess change in the front register one morning.
Best and worst thing about working here? The best things about working at Grapevine Cottage are the great customers and co-workers. Buying and selling wine generally puts everyone involved in a good mood. The worst thing? So many wines and not enough time to try them all!
Don’t let Mat’s youthfulness fool you — he’s responsible for wine inventory management at both stores and knows as much about wine as most wine lovers twice his age….
How old are you? Twenty-six. I actually get asked that quite frequently.
What did you or do you do in the real world? I have worked at my family’s restaurant, McGraw’s Steak, Chop & Fish House, since we opened in 1999. As a teenager, I did all of the less glorified positions such as kitchen prep, busing tables, and washing dishes. My return home for summer break after my sophomore year at IU coincided with the departure of our head chef. At that point I became responsible for all the food purchasing and menu development, as well as cooking on the line. After my 21st birthday, I took over the liquor purchasing and menu development including the wine list.
How long have you been with The Grapevine Cottage? Almost three years.
When and how did your love of wine begin? Initially, when I took over the wine list at the restaurant, I really liked small batch bourbons and craft beer. I had the misconception that marriage and a mortgage came before appreciation of wine. When preparing for my first wine dinner at the restaurant, I spent night after night reading, drinking, and cooking but mostly cursing out loud. Pairing the wine with properly prepared food in a progressive sequence for 30 to 40 people in a timely manner is very, very stressful and exhausting. However, when successfully executed, the resulting feeling cannot be matched. I think it was that experience that ignited my interest in wine.
How would you classify your tastes in wine, Old World or New World? New World.
All of us have our favorites. What varietals or regions do you feel are your strongest areas of expertise? In terms of varietal preference, I am a fan of Syrah. I like the spice.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing? Although absurdly simple, a ribeye, preferably bone-in, and an Argentinian Malbec.
What is your current favorite bottle? Orin Swift Papillion 2009
What was your most memorable bottle? A tie between Orin Swift’s The Prisoner 2005 and Owen Roe’s Ex Umbris Syrah 2009.
Your favorite guilty pleasure? I don’t know. I guess if I actually felt guilty, I probably would not want to tell all the people who read this.
Best and worst thing about working here? The people. Our customers and other Grapevine Cottage employees make it a great place to work.
Grapevine Cottage Zionsville • 61 South Main Street • Zionsville, Indiana 46077 • (317) 733-1010
Grapevine Cottage Fishers • 8902 East 96th Street • Fishers, Indiana 46037 • (317) 288-5316
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