I have always loved music. I grew up in musical home where my mother was a professional harpist. If that’s not enough to convince you that we lived and breathed music, I don’t know what would. There were piano lessons at age 5, and by the time I was 16, I had on a full scholarship for classical piano at one of Missouri’s state universities. Somewhere along the way I picked up the bass, and after a few years of playing shows and symphony concerts, I started playing standard Jazz with multiple bands. I loved the creativity of Jazz. But even as a kid, no matter the genre, I couldn’t get enough… hours and hours of listening to the likes of Stevie Wonder, all the way to Christian rock, encompassing all the music my parents would allow for listening.
Although born in Houston, Texas, my growing up years were in Springfield, Missouri. Following my university studies in Springfield, I moved to play with a band out of Houston, of which my younger brother was the drummer. All the plans of being the next Dave Matthews quickly crumbled at the feet of my, then to be, future wife. Needless to say, I stayed in Houston. I started working in restaurants again, just like I did in my college days, to save up for a ring. The craziest part of the whole story is that my wife is the reason I caught the wine bug. One night we were out to dinner and she begged me to share some wine with her. Being the beer drinker that I was at the time, and to fit the male stereotype, I normally drank the white wine we shared as fast as I would a beer. But this night was different. I’ll never forget tasting a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand for the first time. I was floored. Wine can taste like this? And that’s where it started.
I was determined to understand how a certain grape variety could taste one way here and then taste completely different there. I couldn’t stop searching. I was on a quest. It was not about quantity, it was about discovery. I bought and read the entire Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil, and by the end had passed my level 1 with the Court of Master Sommeliers. I kept going. I joined tasting groups, read more books, and basically studied as much as I could. After another two years, I passed level 2. From that point on, it was selling wine in a dining room to helping open up a wine bar, and then on to selling fine wine with a locally owned wholesaler.
Somewhere along the way all the wine lights came on. Wine somehow transitioned from head knowledge to heart knowledge. Realizing that the title sommelier has a bit of a stigma that comes with it – an air of snobbery and elitism – I didn’t want to be known as that. My philosophy changed. Wine is about appreciation – about discovery. It is something to be shared with friends and loved ones and as an olive branch for communication. Fellowship across a dinner table. Love. Passion for life. The stuff that’s in a bottle no matter the price point, is a produce at its simplest form. The best winemakers are farmers, and the best wines are not all the brands seen on every grocery store shelf. There are places around the world where families are making really cool stuff, and I want to find them. I want to share them with my friends.
In this quest, Vino & Vinyl has been moving from something that has always been a dream in my heart, to actually taking form. At its core is a desire to help people find wines and music they really love, and hopefully learn and evolve along the way. Sure, we’re a bit rebellious and non-conformist when it comes to big and corporate, but it’s all driven by the desire to discover and support the underdog. Just as radio stations play the same twenty songs a day, grocery stores mainly support the large production wineries. Vino & Vinyl is not for everyone, understandably.
We are looking for the people who are hungry, ready, and looking for something new. Something like Allen Stone or the Alabama Shakes. People who are ready to taste things like Sandhi Chardonnay from the Santa Rita Hills, or Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir from the extreme Sonoma Coast.
Come follow me on my search for the unique – for wine and music made with passion, heart, and soul.