It seems proper to me that I should continue our new feature with responses from the individual I probably work most closely with here at RIDGE, both literally and figuratively, Sara Teeter. She is our Hospitality Representative, and not only do she and I work together on all matters related to guests visiting RIDGE Monte Bello, but we share an office together! I first met Sara when she applied for a part-time position in our tasting room; she was the first person I interviewed, and I knew from the first minutes that she’d be perfect. I also suspected, and in the end was proven right, that her connection to RIDGE would go far beyond the weekends, and far beyond the tasting room. Sara and her husband Ryan, a winemaker who is based at Lavender Ridge, and who with Sara has his own label Bonfire Vineyards, are consummate foodies who love fine wine and imaginative foods (see #8 below!), and together they’ve brought a brillaint perspective to what we try and accomplish here at RIDGE as regards our visions for hospitality. It’s a real pleasure having her here, and it’s a real pleasure to present her answers to The Official RIDGE-Ite 20 Questions Questionnaire!
The Official Ridge-ite 20 Questions Questionnaire
1. Can you briefly describe the first time you remember “consciously” drinking a bottle of wine (meaning, you were aware of what you were tasting, and to what extent you were enjoying it)?
I was 22 years old and on a tour at Opus One in Napa, and I can’t recall the vintage…
2. Who first “turned you on” to drinking good wine?
My husband Ryan is a wine maker, and early on he made it a goal to educate both of us about all of the wine regions in California before branching out to other countries.
3. Do you remember the first time you tried a wine from Ridge? (What was it, where did you try it, etc.)
Yes, a 1971 Cab… I want to say York creek? It was at a Z list after hours event, when we still had them on the knoll. I had just turned 21 and it was my first time wine tasting, ever. What a way to start. To my unsophisticated palette, at the time, I remember it just tasting downright old and musty.
4. When did you first realize you had an interest in wine that went beyond that of the “casual” consumer?
I suppose when Ryan began making it, seriously, and we had barrels of it in the garage.
5. What was your first job “in the industry?”
Working Sundays in the Tasting Room, here, at Monte Bello.
6. When did you first join Ridge, and what led you here?
I joined Ridge about 8 months ago, after deciding I wanted out of my Stanford Univ. job. I had been in Petroleum Engineering, and was starved for people who shared similar interests to me.
7. If you had to pick, is there one Ridge wine that you prefer above all others?
Oh my god, this is sooo tough! My favorite changes weekly, I suppose it would be the 1997 Geyserville.
8. Do you have a favorite food and wine pairing?
A Chardonnay with Asian pear slices, topped with a tiny smidge of crumbled blue cheese and sprinkled with ground cardamom, then broiled for a few minutes in the oven. Heaven!
9. If you could have any Ridge wine, served with any meal, cooked by any chef, with any companion, anywhere in the world, what would you select?
That ’97 Geyserville, with something in season and rustic, created by Jamie Oliver, with my husband on the terrace of the Hotel Splendido in Portofino Italy.
10. Is there a common “myth” or “belief” or supposed “truism” in the world of wine that you’d like to take the opportunity to debunk? (white wines only with fish, wine is made in the winery, alcohol levels in California are too high, the 100-pt wine rating scale is obsolete, etc.)
I really can’t stand it when I open a bottle of wine for a customer who has purchased it to picnic with outside, and they sniff the cork looking wildly contemplative. As if they are sniffing out the entire life span of the wine and calculating whether or not the vintage was decent or not. People, sniffing a cork means nothing! You can’t tell anything about a wine from the cork, except maybe if the cork appears to be rotted and the wine is corked.
11. Outside of California, what is your wine region of choice?
Penedes, Spain for my love of Cava.
12. When you’re not drinking wine, what is your beverage of choice?
I love coffee with almond milk or soy.
13. If you could have any other job in the wine industry then the one you have now, what would it be?
A Cheese Maker! Ok, so it’s not in the wine Industry, but I just know I’d be awesome at it.
14. Wine & Cheese, or Wine & Chocolate?
15. What has been the best wine experience to date in your life? (Where were you, who were you with, what did you drink, etc.)
We met a gentleman at Talbot in Carmel Valley who seemed to take an interest in us. Talbot is known for their magnificent aged Chardonnays. He was making a grand purchase of roughly six cases, each bottle starting at $100. He opened up three of the oldest vintages for us to sample and discuss with him. I distinctly remember a 1991 Chard that made me weak in the knees. We were absolutely stunned by his generosity and will never forget him.
16. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen happen in a wine tasting room?
It’s more “the funniest thing I’ve ever heard”. I really can’t recount any of them here as they are highly inappropriate.
17. What do you consider to be the five most important items in your fridge right now?
Champagne, butter, soy sauce, lemons and Parmesan.
18. If you could offer one piece of advice to someone who is interested in getting a job in the wine industry, what would it be?
It’s not glamorous, I wash a lot of dishes. Most wineries are run on the bare minimum of staff, so you can end up being a lot of things to a lot of people, and you need to have innovating ideas to be successful.
19. How do you feel about the “aroma wheel”?
It helps. I wouldn’t mock anyone who uses it. Whatever helps you learn!
20. What’s the desktop photo on your computer?
My West Highland Terrier, Remy, taking a nap.
Thank you Sara!