Born in Dublin, Ireland I’m part of that Irish generation known as “The Pope’s Children” who were raised with an outward looking view of the world and a deep and lasting appreciation for our own history and culture.
I was encouraged to travel early in life visiting the US twice in the late seventies and this has remained a theme in my life since. My introduction to wine was at the family dinner table and on family holidays to France and Spain in the 1980’s. Wine was always part of the warm, hospitable home that I grew up in.
My passion for wine truly started whilst I was a Catering College in Dublin. During this time I started my WSET exams and became fascinated by the breadth of wine available from all over the globe. On a visit to London as a Scout Leader in 1988 I was heard to say on entering the Food Halls at Harrods that “one day I’ll work here”.
And so it came to pass. In 1990 I did my college placement in the Food Halls at Harrods. I spent 15 months working in all of the Halls ending up in the Wine Dept. From Harrods I moved to Sainsbury’s to run the Wine Dept. at one of their most prestigious stores at Cromwell Road in West London. This was followed by a move to Head Office to work in the Wine Dept. as an assistant to the wine buyers. My timing was great as in 1992/3/4 I saw at first hand the explosion in wines from the “New World” that were making their way into the UK. I was responsible for arranging shipping schedules, after trip tastings among lots of other tasks.
My contact directly with producers from many parts of the world led me on the next stage of my odyssey into wine. In August 1994 I packed my bags after 4 great years in London and took a one way flight to LAX. I had arranged to work harvest at The Firestone Vineyard in Santa Ynez. In between this and the 1995 harvest I travelled to work the 1995 harvest at Nobilo Vintners in Auckland, New Zealand.
This was followed by a move to San Francisco and a job with Kermit Lynch in Berkeley. It was here that my eyes were opened to the wines made by people who cared deeply about their wines expression of terroir. From here it was back to Ireland and whilst trying to open a café / wine bar I worked as a sommelier at Peacock Alley.
I returned to London in 1997 and following a couple of short stints with the renowned retailer, Oddbins, and as a buyer for the Food Hall and Restaurant, Villandry, I worked for BRL Hardy in training and tasting role. I hosted tasting for all facets of the trade ranging in size from 4 to 250+. I met Guy Anderson at one of these events and he offered me my first break in National Sales, selling most infamously Fat Bastard Chardonnay. Along with La Chasse du Pape from the Rhone and Calvet, Bordeaux, my exposure to quality brands in National Sales was invaluable. In early 2000 I took a National Accounts position with Capricorn Wines representing many regarded New World producers and oversaw increased sales.
In late 2001 I decided to take the plunge and move home to Dublin and work with my Dad in the family business. I spent 7 years running the show and learned a huge amount about the many challenges that face business owners in this time.
I moved back to Napa in late 2008 and spent some time with Crocker & Starr in St Helena before deciding that I have much to offer small, resource strapped, wineries. I am currently enrolled on the WSET Diploma course having passed units 2 and 3 (the hard ones).
I founded 3 rock marketing to share my knowledge of wine and marketing with businesses and I’m now starting to share my knowledge of wine with you, and the world. I have been privileged to have worked with wine for over 20 years. It has allowed me to traverse the globe, to cross the equator countless times, to fly over the Date Line and arrive before I’ve left.
A few insights into me;
Wines to take to a desert island?
White Riesling, Domaine Ostertag
Red Zinfandel, Ridge Lytton Springs
Most memorable wines?
White Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Semillon
Red Hermitage, La Chapelle, 1995
Most spectacular wine region visited? Central Otago, NZ
Greatest innovation in wine? The Screwcap
Favorite Food & Wine combination? A rack of Sonoma Lamb cooked on the bbq, served with a Chickpea, Feta and Grilled Peppers salad, accompanied by a glass of Clare Valley Shiraz (heavenly)
Most spectacular place to have a glass of wine in the Napa Valley? The deck at Auberge du Soleil
Favorite Beer (because I drink that too)? Guinness (had to be, but I love many others)
Favorite City Visited? Venice, Italy
Favorite City Lived In? San Francisco
Greatest ambition? To play the saxophone, well!!
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