Turning the Tables on Christopher Sawyer


By Carl Giavanti, Carl Giavanti Consulting

“Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers” is a Q&A sequence profiling Wine Writers. We hope you will find out extra about the wine writers you know, and find out about quite a few other people. The goal of this project is to comprehend and build performing relationships with journalists. They are immediately after all, people that

 help explain to our tales, review our wines and possibly supply media protection. You can do this by learning their wine and crafting backgrounds, story and individual passions, palate choices, crafting problems and pet peeves. This is part of an ongoing collection that will be highlighted month-to-month by Wine Business Network.

Christopher Sawyer is an internationally-renowned
sommelier, wine decide, expert, wine journalist and community speaker.
Voted Best Sommelier of Sonoma County 2019 by Bohemian Journal for the
sixth consecutive yr, he is also a receiver of quite a few a lot more prestigious
awards and field honors. To comply with his wine adventures, subscribe to his
Web site  The Sommelier Data files & YouTube Channel featuring The Varietal Demonstrate!, and comply with him on Fb  and Twitter.

How did you come to wine, and to wine writing?

My heritage with wine started off before I was born. First, by my grandpa Carl Sawyer, who aided the Gallo household produce their big-scale creation facility in Modesto and managed 450 employees when he retired 37 yrs later on. Next, as a result of my moms and dads, when my mom achieved my before long-to-be dad, whilst he was the head bartender and she labored in the reward shop at the Ahwahnee in Yosemite in the late 1960s. Afterwards, when growing up amidst the vineyards in Russian River Valley right until my early teens, my 1st wine encounters had been accompanying my mother and her buddies on tasting home excursions in Sonoma and Napa counties in the 1970s and early 1980s. While watching the wine market grow up around me, I was the editor-in-main of the Trojan newspaper at Petaluma Higher College and The Oak Leaf at Santa Rosa Junior University. Then, following starting to be the music critic for The Aggie at College of California Davis, I started off writing articles or blog posts about the environment-class Viticulture & Enology department at UCD, which later spurred my curiosity to take courses on the subject matter at Santa Rosa Junior Higher education. I also started honing my competencies in foodstuff and wine support by operating with a an up-scale catering firm for leading clients in San Francisco and Sonoma County. This all established me up for becoming #2 in command at Wine X Journal and crafting common articles for the SF Chronicle, AAA Journal, Wine Enterprise Monthly, Vineyard & Winery Administration, and pretty much two decades of operating with editor Meridith May for Patterson’s Beverage Journal, The SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel and The Clever Root. Now, that journey proceeds.

What are your main tale passions and palate choices?

I don’t have any choices on what to publish about, as extensive as the subject has worth to visitors. That indicates all the things from wine, spirits and beer to great delicacies and journey and all the way to tunes and movies. A several of my preferred impression article content consist of a person I wrote about Styrofoam shippers, which resulted in the use of far more eco-welcoming shipping inserts by wineries a different I did on the increase in attractiveness of Compact Batch Bourbon for the SF Chronicle a specific investigation of stemware, which I did for Wine Company Monthly with an all-star panel of Masters of Wine, Learn Sommeliers, and other wine execs and a wide range of article content I did on Biodynamics back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which helped increase the bar on that great motion. 

I fully grasp you have commenced an interview podcast sequence. Can you share a connection and details?

While I’ve been featured on a lot of podcasts by means of the several years, my most recent undertaking is The Varietal Show with SawyerSomm, which my spouse Simone Haslam and I introduced in Spring 2020. The new episodes operate on YouTube, Facebook, and my SawyerSomm.com internet site just about every week (Premiering every Tuesday on You Tube: https://youtube.com/c/ChristopherSawyerSommelier). This idea was the result of a series of fantastic are living broadcasts I did with Cellar Go Television and other great wineries after the pandemic “shelter in place” swept across the nation before this year. Extra good exhibits in advance!

Personalized Qualifications

What would persons be astonished to know about you?  

At the top of this checklist would be the fact that I was the in-home sommelier for Gordon and Ann Getty for 8 many years and have performed the exact for John Lasseter (of Pixar-fame) and his wife Nancy for about two many years. That is where my nickname “Sommelier to the Stars” came from! I was also the world’s very first at any time Film Competition Sommelier, which began at the Sonoma Intercontinental Film Pageant in the early 2000s. I also named the Petaluma Gap appellation, approximately 20 years prior to it was granted as an formal AVA of Sonoma County in December of 2017. Which is why Ana Keller and other local producers call me the “Godfather of the Gap.” And lastly, simply because I’m a author, sommelier, wine educator, wine guide and skilled wine choose, a lot of tales have been written about me in Esquire, Redbook, United states Today, Hollywood Reporter, and so forth. 

What haven’t you accomplished, that you’d like to do?

I have often wanted to have a wine present on Food stuff Network. Immediately after I grew to become the official Sommelier for Foodstuff Community in Concert, in Chicago in 2015, we have been in talks with the community about various tasks via the yrs. With any luck ,, it will all appear collectively sometime!

If you weren’t writing about wine for a living, what would you be carrying out?     

 As a nicely-recognized sommelier, wine educator, public speaker, and section-operator of Gravenstein Grill I currently continue to keep really occupied earning a living. These resources of profits have permitted me to be picky about the stories I compose. It took about two many years to get to this point, but it was all worth it

Composing System

Can you explain your tactic to wine crafting and/or undertaking wine assessments?

For more than three decades, my design has usually been based around getting in-depth notes. For that cause, I have a total library of notebooks that occur in useful even just after I produce the content. This was specially real in the dynamic 10-element AVA collection I wrote for Wine Enterprise Regular entitled: “The California Appellation Collection 1983-2013.” This series allowed me to reflect on lessons I acquired because I broke into the wine marketplace in the mid-1990s by examining my notes from prior visits to wineries that played crucial roles in generating these special winegrowing locations what they are nowadays. I even now use this type of thorough notice-taking right now.  

Do you perform on an editorial program and/or acquire story suggestions as they come up?

I’ve constantly finished a tiny bit of both equally. For Napa Valley Everyday living, my main editorial column is targeted on varietals and the luminary winemakers, vintners and growers that put them on the map to continue to be. But I also publish larger, sweeping stories like “Breaking The Mold with Meals & Wine Pairings,” which highlighted insight from Learn Sommelier Evan Goldstein and other sommeliers from the Bay Area, for the Foods & Wine concern, which came out in early summertime 2020. It has been a related tale with The SOMM Journal, wherever my normal column was concentrated on hot wine traits in Sonoma County, but I also contribute other element stories on wines from all around the globe. 

How generally do you write assigned and paid out articles (not your website)? How frequently do you blog site?

To be frank, my wife won’t let me create an report except if I get paid. The standard exception is when a journal, respectable group, or a PR expert mail me a Q&A to fill out. Due to the fact I generate for paid out assignments on a regular basis, my SawyerSomm.com site has become a enjoyable, interactive combination of new web site content for The Sommelier Data files, hyperlinks to not long ago released posts, and advertising of situations that I will be participating in through the calendar year. 

Do you publish your article content on social media? Why is that important? 

Completely! I like to promote the content I produce and the publications I do the job with on social media. I search at this sort of advertising as a potent software that enables me to spread the phrase about new wine tendencies, fantastic achievements by wineries and/or wine locations, and other hot subjects to a broader variety of readers, than just people that subscribe to the publication. Exact is correct with the modern weblogs, critiques and wine judging results—all of which I promote by means of social media as effectively. 

Performing Interactions

What are your suggestions to wineries when doing the job with journalists?

It commences with recognizing the big difference amongst a journalist, blogger, and influencer. Therefore, I would recommend wineries to do some research on us right before sending out generic inquiries that are sent to the masses. Customized notes make a difference, way too. And if they do get terrific mention in posts I generate, thank you notes are unquestionably appreciated. 

What strengths are there in doing the job immediately with winery publicists?

There is absolutely nothing much more critical than creating relationships in the wine marketplace. In the circumstance of winery publicists, it signifies sources are just a connect with, text or electronic mail away from being concerned in an report you are doing work on. Very same is correct when they go on to a new winery or commence doing work with a extra multi-job communications organization. I’m delighted to say I have hundreds of illustrations of gifted publicists I have worked closely with by the years—some of whom are now amongst my dearest good friends on the earth! 

Leisure Time

If you acquire times off, how do you shell out them?  

My times off are constantly used with loved ones and mates. That is primarily legitimate all through the pandemic, which has manufactured every single second with good friends who go to my cellar (with masks) or who I meet up with in wine nation that substantially far more precious. But frequently talking, I adore tunes, traveling, climbing, and athletics (specifically participating in golf, basketball with my son, and watching the NFL). In my cellar, I am also very well acknowledged for taking part in vinyl albums, which I have collected ever due to the fact I commenced DJ-ing back in the 1980s. 

What is your most memorable wine or wine tasting encounter?

Even though functioning as the sommelier at a distinctive evening meal event at Moon Mountain Vineyards (now Repris Winery) in Glen Ellen, I received to spend 20 minutes of a person-on-a person personal time with previous President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev while sipping on wine and telling him about the beauties of Cabernet Franc as his protection guards drank whiskey on the ground underneath. 

Do you have a favorite wine and foods pairing? Favored recipe/pairing?

As a journalist and sommelier, I have so quite a few memories of great food stuff and wine pairings. Several of individuals magic moments took place when I worked with star chef Janine Falvo at The Lodge at Sonoma from 2004-2014. Other wonderful reminiscences are joined to when I was the Wine Director at Taste Napa Valley as effectively as the delicious pairings I do yearly at the Telluride Wine Competition. Exact is accurate at our cafe Gravenstein Grill in Sebastopol, the place I have received Greatest Sommelier of Sonoma County award from the Bohemian magazine just about every 12 months due to the fact we opened in 2015. But on a private degree, just one of my favorites is salty chips with crème fraiche and caviar, with a refined design and style of Blanc de Blancs, like the Domaine Carneros Le Reve. In phrases of composing, my favorite pairings have been the types I did with Foster Farms for President Obama ahead of his blessing of the Thanksgiving turkeys in 2015, https://legacy.pressdemocrat.com/way of life/4676926-181/two-turkeys-to-obtain-presidential?sba=AAS.

Browse more tales in the series “Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers.” 

Carl GiavantiProfessional Editorial
by Carl Giavanti, Carl Giavanti Consulting

CARL GIAVANTI is a Winery Publicist with a DTC Advertising background. He’s heading on his 10th yr of winery consulting. Carl has been involved in small business advertising and community relations for more than 25 several years initially in engineering, electronic advertising and job management, and now as a vineyard media relations guide. Shoppers are or have been in Napa Valley, Willamette Valley, and the Columbia Gorge. (www.CarlGiavantiConsulting.com/Media).


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