Getting some of the background from each of these authors just enhances my interactions with them and today we turn the spotlight on WineJulia: Julia Crowley. Coming to us from Oregon’s wine country, Julia’s an invaluable voice helping to turn people on to the fabulous wines from Oregon’s exploding wine scene. I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot more from Julia in the coming months but for now lets get to know Julia Crowley!
JC: There were actually two "aha" moments in my life that unlocked my passion for wine. My first moment was the simple discovery of wine and how complex and delicious it can be. I was in the Loire Valley with my sister, in the small town of Brissac, not too far from Angers, France. We stayed the night in a historical and absolutely incredible 11th Century castle named Chateau de Brissac. We were the only two guests staying at the castle along with the Duke and Duchess of Brissac and their children.
Their chef prepared us a phenomenal dinner which was served in the castle's main dining room with a table that could easily seat 100 people. But it was just my sister and I, and just two places were set right in the middle of the longest table I had ever seen. Chateau de Brissac's wine was served with our meal, and I was particularly fond of one of their reds.
When the Duke came in to check on us after dinner was over, and also to apologize because he and his family had hoped to join us, he asked which wine we liked best. We both agreed that we loved the wine that was served with the main course: 1998 Chateau de Brissac Anjou-Villages-Brissac "red wine." At the time, I had no clue it was Cabernet Franc, I just knew I loved the lush and silky texture that offered fruit characteristics highlighted by nuances of white pepper.
The Duke popped the cork on one of the bottles and gave it to us along with two glasses and said, "Enjoy this while you explore the castle. Feel free to to explore as many rooms as you wish, but be sure to remember your way back to your room." So, we did - we explored and discovered amazing theaters, bedrooms, and secret passageways through small doors behind hanging tapestries. It was marvelously incredible. I'm not sure I've ever enjoyed a bottle of wine as much as that one. So, I guess there was not only a specific wine that unlocked my passion, but a moment and a place as well.
My second aha moment was when I tasted my very first Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. New to Oregon (from Florida), our neighborhood association had a get together at Iris Hill (now Iris Vineyards) in the southern Willamette Valley not too far from where we had bought our house in the South Hills of Eugene. One unforgettable sip of their 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir stole my heart, which has belonged to Oregon Pinot Noir ever since.
Snooth: How did you get involved in wine writing?
JC: I used to own an Oregon-centric wine bar here in the South Willamette Valley which I opened not long after that first sip of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. All of the wine in my shop was grown and produced in Oregon, with an occasional exception for superb findings from Oregon's neighbor to the north, Washington. Just weeks before closing the sale of my wine bar (I wanted to spend more time with my two young boys), I met the marketing director for the South Willamette Wineries Association. She was curious about what I'd be doing once I handed over the keys to the new owners of my beloved wine bar that had been named one of the top five wine bars in Lane County, and I simply said I'd be spending time with my boys. She mentioned that the Association was looking for someone to blog on their website, and with my knowledge of local wines, and the flexibility of working from home, I jumped on the opportunity.
Not having ever written anything professionally in my life, I was taken back by how much I loved it, and I dove right in. From there, I was asked to join the newly established Eugene Daily News as their food & wine editor, which was not long after suggested by the publisher that we, as business partners, start a wine website that focused on Oregon wines. With his expertise in building websites, including Eugene Daily News; along with, my expertise in wine, writing about wine, branding and social media marketing (which I had been establishing since branding myself as Wine Julia), WineJulia.com was born. My business partner suggested we use that name because I was already well known throughout Oregon and the world as Wine Julia - the name I used on Facebook and Twitter after selling my wine bar, where I had thousands of followers. WineJulia.com gained international attention rather quickly, and just four months after my very first post on WineJulia.com, the website won the prestigious award for Best New Wine Blog of 2012 from the Wine Blog Awards, which was presented to me during the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference that just happened to be in Portland, Oregon, that year. Not long after, Snooth invited me to be a mentor, and I was honored and jumped on the opportunity to be a part of such a well respected and well known establishment.