Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Interview with Michelle Paris of Adventure in Wine

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Michelle Paris is a professional sommelier, entrepreneur, educator and innovator. I met Michelle at a wine tasting she was hosting at a fashion event during the summer. I enjoyed her energy, enthusiasm and the way she taught us about food and wine pairings. I was inspired by her start-up business, the risk she took to start something new, and her continued pursuit of further education.

Michelle left her investment banking career in 2011 to turn her lifelong passion into a successful start-up business in wine production, distribution and education. Her latest expansion involves organizing wine events and introducing her guests to the nuances of wine styles, wine selection and food pairings.

Visit her website Adventure in Wine here for more information!

AT - Give us your 5 minute elevator pitch on Adventure in Wine

MP - Adventure in Wine is an events and education company. We specialize in both corporate and private events and tastings. Events run the gambit from formal, sit-down tutored tastings to more casual cocktail party settings to fully catered dinners with wine pairings. I also hold the Professional Fromager Certificate so we also do wine and cheese tastings. We provide the wine and/or cheese as well as the expertise. Adventure is guaranteed.

We offer the world renowned Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certificate programs in various cities across Ontario. This is a fantastic four-level program in both wine and spirits from true beginner to advanced.  I’m thrilled to be able to offer it.

The longer-term goal is to grow a wine tourism business and I am currently visiting as many wine regions and meeting as many people as I can. I think that Greece might be Adventure in Wine's first wine adventure!

AT - You worked had a corporate career before this venture, how did this all start?

MP - I have always had a passion for wine. My father’s family is French and I spent many summers in France while I was growing up. My first wine memory is actually from when I was three years old. We were at a dinner party and the adults were drinking pink champagne. I was fascinated by both the colour and the bubbles (what little girl doesn’t love pink!).

Over the course of my Investment Banking career I had the luxury of tasting many fantastic wines and was also able to do a fair bit of travelling. I started informally studying wine in the late 90s.

The wine business was something I always wanted to get into but I didn’t know what I was going to do.  I toyed with the idea of buying land in Niagara in the late 80s but had no resources (hindsight is 20/20!). I explored becoming a finance person for the wine industry. Finally, on a fated trip to Argentina in 2007, I discovered a winery project that I ended up buying into. This was the impetus I needed. I resigned for my first harvest in spring 2011, went back to school to become a sommelier and completed the WSET diploma.

AT - Did you do this part-time before leaving your corporate life, or take time off to launch it?

MP - I owned the vineyard as of 2008 but continued working full time until I jumped head-first into my new life in April 2011. I have not looked back. However, I did make sure I had set aside money to live on while I was in school and building the business so there was some planning!

AT - Why wine and hosting and teaching? What was the appeal?

I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do after I finished studying. The more I studied the more I discovered how much I enjoyed being in front of people and getting them excited about wine. Wine events and eventually wine tourism are perfect vehicles for me.  It makes me incredibly happy to see someone have an “aha” moment!

AT - Top 5 favorite places you have visited!

MP - Just came back from a wine tour of Greece.  Spectacular!  Right now Greece is my #1.

Other favourite wine regions are:

- Burgundy, France

- Rhone Valley, France

- Tuscany, Italy

- Sonoma, California

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