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Pursue Your Passion; Stacy Briscoe

Dracaena WinesWhat is the definition of being successful? Is it making more money than you know what to do with? Is it having letters after your name that people aren’t even sure what they mean? Or is it simply being happy? When Mike and I decided to enter the wine business, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road. We were realistic. We understood that we would neither be an overnight sensation, nor ever be as recognized as Robert Mondavi. That’s not why we entered the business. We entered the wine industry because we love wine and it was our dream to own a winery. We chose to not just wish or dream about it, we made a conscious decision to make it happen. We chose to Pursue Our Passion.

It’s a scary thing chasing down your dreams, but if you don’t enter the race you are never going to win. One of my favorite sayings about Pursuing Your Passion was made by “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky. He very eloquently stated, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” He knows you need to take risks. You need to leave the safety net that tethers you to your comfort zone so that you can experience what happens next.

In this, what has become a monthly tradition, a guest blogger will tell you their story of how they pursued their passion in the wine industry. These people understood what Van Gogh meant by “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”

Have you ever had the feeling that you would be best friends with someone, if you’d ever get to meet them? Do you know what I mean? The world is such a smaller place thanks to social media. I have “friends” in countries that I have never visited. When I wake up in the morning, I have a slew of “good mornings” in my feed that makes it difficult not to have a great day. But there are certain people, who as you read their feeds, and their blog posts, or listen to them on podcasts, you just get sad that there are too many miles between you.

This is how I feel about Stacy Briscoe. I think we have tried to get together, while I’ve been in CA two times already, but the Gods have been against us, and something pops up that gets in the way! (the latest being my dang phone again…. but that’s a different story) If all else fails before, we have the Wine Bloggers Conference in November in Sonoma, where I know we will meet up!

Stacy’s smile is infectious. Take some time and read through her posts. She has a great sense of humor and appears to not have a malicious bone in her body. Plus, she finds some really cool GIFs! As you read through her posts, she doesn’t just write about the wine, she weaves a story for you. Listening to her on a podcast, she is a genuinely happy person and extremely modest. When I asked if she would like to be this month’s guest blogger, her response was “wow, thanks! Not sure people will be interested in me, but yes.” I assured her, I wasn’t the only one interested in her story. I’m delighted she agreed, and I know you will enjoy the interview. Her personality shines through! You can find Stacy on Twitter , Instagram, and her website BriscoeBites.  Additionally, she is a freelance wine writer and editor featured in such publications as the SF ChronicleDrinkMe MagazineGirls on Food Blog. 

~Sláinte! 

You went to UC Santa Cruz for English-Language Literature, what were your goals and aspirations while in college?

I’ve always been a reader. I’m a complete book nerd, so the idea of “reading my way through college,” was immediately appealing. It wasn’t until my junior year, when a professor nominated me for a writing award, that I realized that writing — something that always felt like a chore — was actually something I was good at and, in a kind of masochistic way, enjoyed.

My senior year, I was bound and determined to move to New York the second I graduated to embark on a career as a fashion editor. I took intermediate and advanced fashion design classes (among other visual art classes) with this explicit goal in mind.

That…never happened.

When did you decide to start your blog Briscoebites? What were your thoughts when you began the blog? Tell us about the early posts, compared to now.

My “first draft” of BriscoeBites happened just before I was married in 2013. My husband and I connected early on in our relationship with our mutual love for cooking healthy meals together. Once we were living together, it became an everyday occurence, and I really just wanted a way to chronicle our recipes because, in all honesty, I’d forget them!

I wasn’t committed to it at the time. I was working as a full-time personal trainer and didn’t have the time or passion to keep up with the website. To make a long story shorter, I eventually embarked on a writing and editing career, leaving personal training all together. At one point I found myself unemployed and twiddling my thumbs. It was actually my mom who suggested I start the website back up as a means to keep my fingers writing (instead of twiddling).

When I look back at earlier posts, it’s clear that I was still figuring out how to talk about wine. But I feel like I’m constantly figuring that out. So, even if my first wine post may read as “less knowledgeable,” I’ll never delete them — wine’s a journey (drinking it, writing about it, studying it) and my website is chronicling that journey.

Tell us what it’s like to be a freelance writer.  How do you go about getting your assignments? What does “freelance” entail?  

I stumbled upon freelance writing much like I stumbled upon the initial writing talent in college: Someone else saw potential in me and gave me the opportunity to try. I have a “Be in a place of yes,” theory when it comes to my career — say “yes” to every opportunity; I never want to use the words “I should have, could have, would have, but didn’t.”

Once I finished my first assignment, I re-fell in love with the writing process and started to seek out opportunities instead of having them come to me. Freelance means I’m constantly putting myself out there, asking for work, pitching ideas, and dealing with rejections just as much as (or at times more than) acceptance.

But it also means I get to meet a lot of interesting people — the people behind the wine (or food) — connect with them, and tell their story. That’s really where my passion is, connecting people with other people via a good story.

When you began, were you more interested in food or wine? How has your interests evolved?

My website started as a food-based website, with wine almost as a footnote. But it was my wine writing that garnered the most attention and, honestly, the writing I felt most passionate about. I wasn’t just putting my spin on someone else’s recipe — I was telling a story. I fell in love with the research, the personal connections — between myself and the wine, the winemakers, and those that I’d share the wines with.

Do you remember your “ah ha” wine? What was it? When did you have it? Where were you?

Yes. It was at an anniversary dinner at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino — a Patricia Greene Pinot Noir. This was the first time I’d experienced a wine with levels of flavors and textures. Until then — though I could tell the difference between, say, a Cab and a Pinot — red wine, for the most part, all tasted the same to me.

I took my first sip of the Patricia Greene (I think the somm may still have been standing at the side of the table), and I immediately declared (yes — declared) “Flowers! Flowers…it tastes like flowers!”

Who knew wine could taste like flowers….

You state that you have a “strong palate,” what do you mean by that and how does that help you in writing wine articles?

What I mean is that I seem to taste things differently than other people. I tend to “play with my food,” because I’ll find things on my plate that taste differently or better if I eat it a certain way or in a certain order. I think I get it from my dad. He’s the one who taught me to cook and bake and to taste everything.

Again, this initially helped me in regards to my food fascination and recipe developments — knowing all the different spices, herbs, aromats, etc. What this also means is that, as a result, I have a large library of flavors in my brain that I can use to describe the wines. So, when I say that the Patricia Greene tasted like flowers — you can trust me.

What is your favorite aspect of writing about wine? Your least favorite?

I’m officially down the wine rabbit-hole. There’s nothing I don’t want to learn about wine and my writing career allows me to ask the questions that, as a regular wine consumer, I may have been too shy to ask. And, in effect, I suppose I’m helping those who may feel the same way, which is cool.

Least favorite? There’s probably still a little part of me that, after an awesome interview or tasting says, “Ugh…now I have to write about this?” And it’s only because I’m scared that I won’t do the interviewee or the winemaker justice. There’s a lot of pressure telling someone else’s story and portraying, not just the facts, but the feelings as well.

Tell us about your most exciting moment/meeting/interview. Why does this stand out in your mind?

My first winemaker one-on-one was with Randall Graham. Best. Interview. Ever. Not only is he one of the most relaxed people you’ll ever meet, he’s a natural teacher. I’m sure I asked him a lot of “newbie” questions, but he was more than happy to talk me through everything. And I think he was the one who really opened my wine eyes — I never saw the science behind wine as thought-provoking before I met him. But all wine starts even before the grape or the vine — he takes wine to a molecular level and still has fun in the vineyard and enjoys drinking good wine.

Roll model, idol, mentor, great guy.

Have to ask… What is your most embarrassing wine moment? Can you laugh at it or does it keep you up at night? :o)

I can’t think of one — which makes me worry what that means it’s in my future!

One of our tag lines is “Pursue Your Passion.” You obviously have passion for wine. If you met the younger version of yourself, what would be your wine advice?

Stacy, don’t be so rude to Matt when he offers you your first glass of wine. You’ll hate it, but later you’ll wonder what it was.