Today’s Wine Industry Interview:
Tina Morey | #WineStudio
By L.M. Archer
Note: This is a reprint of a previous interview I conducted with sommelier, educator and thought leader Tina Morey, founder of virtual wine community #WineStudio.
Blame cake shop owner-turned-sommelier Tina Morey for the viral success of virtual tasting ‘venue’ #WineStudio. As Tina describes it, “#WineStudio is a 4-week online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates. It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.”
Here, I catch up with Tina Morey to talk taste, trends, and the secret behind her successful online buzz.
Let’s talk wine. What inspired you to create #WineStudio?
I noticed there were many online chats that tried to cram a tasting of too many wines into a one-hour spot, [with] never enough time to make a connection with either the wines or the wine makers. I wanted something different. I thought there had to be a better way to converse, study and learn from each other…while wearing pajamas (for me at least—it’s late! :))
#WineStudio provides a dynamic, interactive educational platform for wine lovers world-wide. How do you determine your topics each month?
I could say that I’m ahead of our industry, that I’m a mover and shaker… but honestly it’s luck, a fair amount of research and who you know. I produced an Oregon Chardonnay program in 2014 when there were just whispers, two cider programs before the term orchard cider had been heard, and we learned about the Hudson Valley when most folks never knew wine was made there.
Of course, after two years in I now have regular clients, which is wonderful and sustainable. It’s good to see that other folks feel that the program is what their clients have been searching for: a grassroots approach to engaging brains and palates while generating a considerable amount of online buzz.
Do you find certain regions, varietals, and/or producers resonate with you? If yes, are you willing to share a few?
What resonates with me is people and what resonates with them. #WineStudio has somewhat morphed into an educational PR for my clients; a symbiotic relationship between me, my clients, their clients and our eager participants. I love it when my participants get excited about what we’re discussing and drinking and feel comfortable and empowered telling others about their experience. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Talk about your path to wine. You sold your cake business in 2005, enrolled to become a certified sommelier, and are currently on the road to becoming Master of Wine. Any special moments that helped you realize you’d made the right decision? What inspires you to keep going?
Master of Wine. Wow, when I made that decision I believed that was the right path. But in the midst of studying, life happens and with it change, experience, people. Although I love wine, I keep coming back to a Boston University conference I attended a lifetime ago. It was to highlight their new Food and Wine Masters Program and I was in awe. It wasn’t the right time then but who knows now. I always say wine is like reading a book. When you first try it you may not understand it so you get frustrated, but throw in a few years of open-minded life experience and you just might get it.
Any folks in the wine business who have proven instrumental in helping you along your path?
In terms of #WineStudio, it was a chance encounter at a Wine Bloggers Conference where I met Arnold Waldstein – a tech consultant, who taught me that everyone has a point of view to offer, no matter if they’re industry or not. Soon after that #WineStudio was born.
Overall though, my former classmate Cassandra Michele Brown, who, since 2007 when we graduated together, climbed her way to become director of wine at one of the world’s better known hospitality groups. She has always been an inspiration for me to keep at it, no matter what obstacles show up.
What has surprised you most about the success of #WineStudio?
The “success” of #WineStudio. Huh, I guess when you say it like that I suppose it is. When it began, it was sort of revolutionary. The program was always meant to be inclusionary – anyone can participate, no matter what your level because everyone has a voice. And now folks are truly embracing it. Those that have other jobs not in wine have taken to the program brilliantly saying that this is how they study. And those who are in the industry but have yet to taste particular wines want to join. I love that.
Anything you’d care to share with readers about both of your programs – PROTOCOL wine studio and #WineStudio?
PROTOCOL wine studio began over five years ago with the intention of becoming a think-tank for the wine industry and I’m happy to say Guy and I certainly have achieved a level of success with our various projects.
#WineStudio in particular has flourished and I’m looking forward to more collaborative relationships with other like-minded individuals in the food and beverage community. We are always much more powerful when working together.
Finally, if your experience as a sommelier has taught you anything, it’s taught you…?
A sommelier cannot be a sommelier without serving people. We’re shaped by our acquaintances, our actions, our words. Be thoughtful, be mindful and above all, be better.
Have a favorite #WineStudio series? Feel free to leave your comments below.
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