The wine writers I’ve featured on this blog, up to this point, have been people I’ve worked with over the years.
Recently, I was asked by wine writer Lorrie LeBeaux if I’d write about her on my blog.
Lorrie S. LeBeaux ~ originally from New Orleans ~ Wine Writer #37…
“Hum…” I thought to myself, “You know, why not?” If it means something to her, then it should mean something to me.
Anyone out there with a Girl Scout history knows the song, “Make new friends, but keep the o-old, one is silver and the other’s gold.”
The timing was just right to let in a bit more light into my life. With the onset of Web 2.0, and the ability for people to launch themselves (including me with this blog), there’s a proliferation of new writers who are out there. As a publicist, if I don’t expand, then I must contract. I’m not ready for that, boys and girls; so I thought, “Bring it on.”
As it turns out, both of us have had to undergo a complete revamping of ourselves. When I reinvented, the trauma left behind for me was leaving over 40 years of life; all my connections, family, friends, job history, etc. It wasn’t the floods of New Orleans that did it to me, however; so my trauma wasn’t unexpected, nor was it anywhere near the same magnitude as it’s been for Lorrie.
That was her segue into wine writing, the flooding of New Orleans… A woman who had been shifted to another part of the country, and made to reinvent herself. I have friends who live in Louisiana… One couple ~ Dwayne and Charlene Shockley of Select Brands, who are in the wine business; and Linda Rioux, a childhood friend. Dwayne survived the floods with many of his family losing everything. Dwayne had built his home on 14 foot stilts. The waters just came to the bottom of his floorboards, but without touching them. Their water damage came from their ceiling. Their family – parents, siblings, etc., and friends didn’t fare as well. The have had to live in FEMA trailers. Linda just got out. She was able to sell her home, and she returned to Maine.
So now, here’s a new person in my life, who left her life behind and found herself reinventing into the writing world of wine. What a way to get a calling… “And then the floods came, and then……”
When I learned of Lorrie’s background, I shared with her that I love New Orleans. Having made five or six trips there, my heart is in The District… Until recently, however, I knew a lot less about NOLA than I would have imagined. I had recently seen Wendell Pierce, pitching a new show that he was going to be starring in, Treme. Wendell’s playing the musician Antoine Batiste. In real life, Pierce was born in New Orleans and raised in a neighborhood next to Lake Pontchartrain. He’s putting his real heart and soul in this character. I love this show… every part of it. I asked Lorrie if she’s seen it. She told me that her stepson Herman LeBeaux is a drummer on the show. Why was I not surprised?
And so, I read her Q&A and thought, “Lorrie just fits in with everyone else.” When I got myself into the wine business, I had people who were kind to me… Time to return the favor.
Enjoy her answers; they’re very insightful.
Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?
[LORRIE] I possess a BS degree in Public Health/Health Education from Dillard University of New Orleans, LA. My field of work is in the Social Service field. I evacuated from New Orleans to Little Rock, AR and worked as a Long-Term Case Manager for Katrina Aid Today, a program run by the Salvation Army. The program has closed and I am in a job search mode.
When did you start writing about wine?
[LORRIE] I started writing about wine in March, 2005. I began a wine, food and decor newsletter entitled, Life’s Little Luxuries Newsletter.
What prompted you to start writing about wine?
[LORRIE] I began writing about wine because it had always been my passion along with creating wine and food pairings. It also provided an outlet to be creative and write about what I loved. I also began educating women of color about wine and how to create great wine and food pairings. Diversity was needed from my perspective in the wine world, and I felt the need to be one of the pioneers in that charge.
What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?
[LORRIE] I truly enjoy providing honest reviews on wines that are easily found at local grocery stores that have wine sections or local wine shops. In addition, I love finding new wines, examining wine trends, and providing food pairing suggestions.
How has your job changed since you’ve started?
[LORRIE] My job as a wine writer has evolved to becoming a “go to person” on the site ebacchus.com for wine recommendations and food pairing ideas. I’m also on sample lists at prominent vineyards and wineries.
What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?
[LORRIE] The most memorable wine I ever tasted is a hard question. But, a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina, I had gotten a sample bottle of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates Stature. I can’t remember the vintage, probably 2003, and a dear friend was at my home troubled. I had planned on waiting to put a juicy rib-eye steak on the grill to sample this wine, but she’s a wine lover, so I opened the wine. The wine was wonderful; we both jumped up and down, she stopped crying and it was a great memory for me. I was also glad we drank it, because it would have floated away!
What’s your favorite variety?
[LORRIE] Jo, asking the question, “What is your favorite variety?’ is like asking which child you love the best. But, I’m in love with bubbly; my favorite is Iron Horse Russian Cuvee!
Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?
[LORRIE] I truly do believe that there are many QPR wines today than ever before. Rodney Strong, Kendall-Jackson, Ferrari Carno, Castello di Borghese of Long Island, Don Sebastiano & Sons portfolio of wines, Bogle to name a few are great wines to buy that won’t break the bank.
What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?
[LORRIE] I hate to admit this, because I am a true romantic when it comes to the process of opening a bottle of wine, but screw caps are wonderful for keeping wines fresh for a few days.
What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
[LORRIE] My favorite food and wine pairing is my Oyster Appetizers in Athens brand filo shells recipe and sparkling wine. I love Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee with this pairing.
What are your interests outside of the wine business?
[LORRIE] My interest outside of the wine business is cooking, decorating, writing, watching movies, reading magazines and spending time with my family and friends.
Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?
[LORRIE] I am inspired by Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. He and I share the same palate as far as wine picks. Also Deborah Brenner, author of Women of the Vine, inspires me with creating her own wine label Women of the Vines wines. She has a lot of guts. Joy Sterling of Iron Horse inspires me, with her love and passion for wine and the land. She is an email buddy of mine as well as Amelia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards. As a women of Hispanic heritage, she has made a place for herself in the world of wine. I don’t want to forget Andrea Immer. I loved Her show Pairings with Andrea. She seemed down to earth and knowledgeable and I love that! I would also love to have a glass of wine with Carolyn Evans Hammond the author of Good, Better, Best Wines. She seems to have the same spirit as the above ladies of wine, a spirit shared by me. My dream is to go on the Oprah show and talk about the diversity in the world of wine and women and wine.
For what would you like to be remembered?
[LORRIE] I would love to be remembered as a self-starter African American female wine writer, who added something to the lives of all wine and food lovers in the world. I also want to be remembered as an honest wine reviewer and a friend to my favorite wineries. I also want to be remembered as a good wife, mother of two, one of which is 13 years old, Evan who suffers from Autism, and is on the “B” Honor Roll in his Special Education classes at his school in Little Rock, AR. I’m also the proud mother of one of, if not the youngest English instructors at Dillard University of New Orleans, LA, my old University, my daughter Angelle. And last but not least, a good person, good cook, and great friend.