I met Jessica Milby at a food bloggers social event a few weeks after the start of my internship here at WWA. I had a great time chatting with her, and her love and knowledge of wine and the wine industry really made an impact on me—she showed me that wine brings people together and that wine events can be fun and filled with youthful energy. Jessica also told me about her group, Young Winos, a social group that gathers young wine enthusiasts together to chat and learn about wine through creative social events. Young Winos sounded like a great idea to me, and I wanted to learn more about Jessica and how wine inspired her to create a wine group that appealed so well to young people.
How did you get your start working with wine?
I started as a server at a wine bar in Richmond part-time. I had no knowledge of wine at all but did have some serving experience. I learned a ton in my first few weeks and was intrigued by all the facts you can learn and how wine brings people together. My passion just took off from there.
What about the wine industry appeals most to you?
The fact that wine is always changing. No two vintages are the same so you must keep tasting! Also, you can never know all there is to know. My knowledge and experience continue to evolve.
How would you describe the wine industry/community in the Virgina/DC area?
Growing. More and more people are getting into wine and we can’t learn enough. The ambition to learn and taste has helped the wine community grow across the area. People are learning from institutions like WWA, on their own, through local groups, and just by sharing bottles with friends. That’s what wine is all about.
How did you get the idea for Young Winos and what kind of niche did it fill?
I found myself wanting to attend local wine events and geek out with others. However, my friends only enjoyed to drink wine and weren’t on the same level that I was. I searched for wine groups and came across Young Winos out in CA. At the time they had a couple different ‘chapters’ across the US but none here in DC. I inquired about starting a DC chapter, was approved and took off from there. Starting with just myself, a Twitter and a Facebook, I reached out to young people in the DC metro area and began planning events. The group has attracted many different types of winos, from those who are in the industry and educated in wine to those who just want to learn more. It’s an easy way to mix and mingle with fellow winos at different events that we host or attend. Now, two years later (this week!) we have over 300 members on our FB group and host 3-4 events per month.
What is your favorite wine event that you’ve attended in the past year (it’s okay if it’s an event you worked on!)?
The Mollydooker Wine Dinner at Hotel Palomar last September. Mollydooker is one of my favorite wine producers in Australia. Big, fruity, complex, and reasonably priced—all things I look for in a wine. The employee’s personalities were fun and energetic which made the dinner that much more enjoyable. They asked attendees to help demonstrate the ‘Mollydooker Shake’ which is a way to prepare the bottle to be drunk in its early stages. For more info click here. Also most of their wines are blends, so at each table we were given a cylinder and pours of each wine to make up our own blend. They hosted a competition of who made the best blend at the table! This was a great way to interact with the fans and to create a great community with fellow table members, it was such a memorable experience that I blogged about it here.
Do you have a favorite winery in the Virginia area?
I have a few favorite VA wineries: Paradise Springs, Hillsborough, and Barboursville. All produce award winning wines that are easy to pair with food, have a depth of flavors, and the wines are easily drinkable. The tasting rooms are spacious and led by knowledgeable staff who are always welcoming. The view at Hillsborough is also another great attribute!
And to wrap it up, what is your favorite wine, and why?
Wow, one single favorite…I can tell you that I’m a sucker for Cotes du Rhone or anything French. Chateauneuf du Pape, a southern Rhone wine region, has a special place in my heart. The earthiness, bold flavors yet delicate fruit makes CdP a favorite in my book.
Anyone interested in checking out the Young Winos, should take a look at their Facebook page, here.