"Nurturing our relationships not only feeds our souls, it gives us a good enough reason to do everything else." – Unknown
"Wine drunken with moderation is the joy of the soul and the heart." – Ecclesiasticus 31:36
"The secret to real happiness is sharing it." -- Oprah Winfrey
Wine -- and food, its natural partner -- brings people together, nurtures our souls and helps build a sense of community. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia where most of the days were as sunny and warm as the family and friends who surrounded me, I gained an early appreciation for food and hospitality. Holiday gatherings and other celebrations were marked by large feasts that were frequently held at the home of my maternal grandparents who were farmers, transplanted from small rural towns in Georgia. I fondly remember the orchard in their backyard where my sister, cousins and I delighted in picking plums, peaches and apples to eat as fresh, healthy snacks or for my grandmother to prepare delicious jellies that she served with hot, buttered homemade biscuits. We were also assigned the chore of gathering pecans that had fallen from the pecan tree in the front yard, so that Grandmama could make her sticky pecan pie that was never too sweet. Shelling the pecans was not so tedious when we could pop an occasional one into our mouths and chat about whatever was on our minds.
Childhood travel was usually a car trip to Alabama or Louisiana, where I experienced another southern culture and enjoyed the eclectic cuisine of my paternal relatives who are of Creole and African-American descent. "Dear" (as we called my grandmother) made the best gumbo I have ever tasted. And turning the crank for "Papa" (my grandfather) to churn and freeze his creamy delicious homemade ice cream was a job that all the children willingly stood in line to do.
With this heritage, how could I not love food? But when did I start to appreciate wine, its natural companion? After completing a BA in Mathematics from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, I left the warmth and safety of my sunny, southern hometown to settle into New England, where I knew no one. There, in the dead of winter, I experienced my first bowl of cioppino with a glass (ok, two) of Chianti. The cioppino warmed and nurtured my body, and the company and conversation with a new friend warmed and nurtured my soul. The tart cherry, clove and cinnamon flavors of the Chianti were a nice complement to the briny and sweet flavors of the seafood and tomatoes in the cioppino. Unlike other wines I had experienced in the past, this one was somehow more authentic -- it seemed to reflect its roots and place of origin. Like the conversation with my new friend, it required a little more contemplation than lighthearted cocktail chatter. And something about that was very homey and comforting as well.
Since that moment, when I first realized the joy of pairing (and sharing) good wine with food and friends, I have traveled for work and leisure and even put down roots in several places. Along the way, I acquired an MBA in Marketing and Corporate Strategy from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor along with more than a few recipes and wine labels. I served in Marketing and Strategic Planning for organizations including Hallmark, The Walt Disney Company, Ogilvy and Mather, Deutsch Advertising and The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.
In 1998, after my first daughter was born, I took a hiatus from the paid work force to focus on my new role as a mom. Attending mommy and me classes, going to the playground, and hosting mother/toddler playgroups at my home, brought me immeasurable joy in the first few years of my daughter's life. At the same time, I missed the "co-ed" social interaction and discussion of topics and ideas outside of parenting that were a part of corporate life. One solution was to host dinner parties with fellow foodie friends and colleagues to which we would each bring a special bottle of wine to share with the group. It was at these dinners, that I began to truly appreciate the diversity of wine grapes and regions and the complementary relationship between wine and food. In the summer of 2001, upon the recommendation of Larry Morse, close friend, fellow foodie and beverage manager at O'Neal's Restaurant at Lincoln Center, I enrolled in the Viticulture and Vinification course offered by the American Sommelier Association. After a period of 24 weeks of probing into the intricacies of wine growing and production in major regions around the world, followed by an introduction to spirits, beer and blind tasting techniques, I successfully passed a written exam at the end of the course, thereby earning the right to be called a Certified Sommelier. Over the next 7 years, my husband Dan and I created a second beautiful daughter, and after several years of enjoying time with her in her early stages of life, I returned to the classroom and completed the rigorous blind tasting course through the ASA in 2008. It was then that I decided to turn my passion into a career, launching enJoie in the fall of 2008.
Having visited and tasted my way through wine regions including Napa Valley, Santa Barbara and Ojai, California; Washington State, Long Island and the Finger Lakes, New York and Burgundy, France, I have observed that although the customs, climates and scenery vary in different regions, a constant is the enjoyment of wine and food as a comforting experience that creates a forum for sharing friends, culture, ideas and life.
enJoie is a lifestyle, media and events company that provides food and wine-related education, services and marketing to private and corporate clients. Services include wine tasting events, personal and corporate gift shopping and cellar planning and management.
The mission of enJoie is to continue and share this joyful journey with you.
Let's get started!
Partial Client List:
Bacchus International, LLC
F.W. Pierce, Founder, Ciao Bella Gelato
Susan and Derek Johnson, Esq.
Nixon Peabody, LLP
Mats and Lydia Carlston
President and Creative Director, Harriette Cole Media (Former Editor, Ebony Media)
Riley Williams, MD and Tanya Williams, MD
Kathleen Tait and Tony Rosenthal/The Retreat for The East End
Goldman Sachs & Co
Morgan Stanley & Co
Peter and Janel Trivelas