This past month sommelier and wine educator Erica Landon spoke with wine writer Pamela Heiligenthal about her career as a wine professional in Oregon. 
The wine enthusiast is an instructor and department head for the International Sommelier Guild, with whom is she is accredited. 
“Wine is such a dynamic subject, ever evolving,” she said during the interview. “Every vintage, each region, production methods, varietals, wine law … Everything is constantly changing, you can always learn, and continuing to challenge yourself is so important.”
When asked whether her being a woman was an advantage or a disadvantage for her, she said the wine industry at large – as stuffy as it can be – benefits from female leaders.
“The world of wine can be a little stiff at times, and as women in a male dominated industry, we have the ability to (lighten) it up a bit,” she aid. Women also have a tendency to nurture, giving us a natural ability to make the complicated subject of wine less intimidating.”
Though the first part of her answer was positive and relatively lighthearted, the second half of her answer to Heiligenthal's questions was more sobering. Early in her career, she said, patrons did not take her wine recommendations seriously and often went over her head for opinions.
“When I was younger I would approach guests to help with wine selections and they would not take me seriously, even request the male Manager of Sommelier,” she said, “but today this industry is full of ambitious, strong women and I am honored to be a part of it.”
When Heiligenthal asked her what she'd be doing if she wasn't a somm, Landon said she and her husband Ken would dive further into the world of viticulture.
“There is something magical about being out in the vines, watching them grow and listening to the world. It is so peaceful regardless of weather, it is very calming,” she said. “At least until harvest!”
Landon said her favorite wine region is Oregon's Willamette Valley, where new varietals are gaining ground and the industry is growing.
“Pinot Noir is certainly the King, but I think there are some exciting white varietals that are competing on the world stage,” she said. “Chardonnay in Oregon is reaching new levels of quality; Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are being taken more seriously.”
The Oregon sommelier ended her interview with a recommendation: try jerez.
“It is certainly a distinct style, and not for everyone, but the wines are stunning with food and great as an aperitif,” she said. “For the time and effort put into making them, they remain at insanely low prices.”
Photo Credit: Walter Scott Wine