Fred Swan

Fred Swan is a San Francisco-based wine writer, educator and authority on California wines and wineries. His writing appears in SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel, the blog at, winereview.planetgrape.comthe San Francisco Wine School blog and his own site, among others. Freds certifications include WSET Diploma, Certified Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Professional, Sud de France Master, Napa Valley Wine Educator, WSET Level 3 Sake and Level 3 WSET Educator. In 2009, he was awarded a fellowship by the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. In that same year, he was inducted into the Eschansonnerie des Papes, the honorary society of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC. 

Fred won first place at the 2015 Napa Valley Wine Writer Symposium for his fictional wine review of 2009 Chateau de Plonk. Read his winning piece here, learn about the event, and get pro wine-writing tips from industry greats!

Get to Know Fred

What is your favorite wine region to visit?
Well, I’ve never been to a wine region I haven’t enjoyed. And I’m very fortunate to live just an hour or so from some of the best in the world. However, if I leave California out of the mix, I’d have to say my favorite wine regions to visit are in Australia. Both the Barossa/Adelaide Hills/McClaren Vale area and Margaret River. You have to love being able to taste great wines while watching kangaroos bouncing around.

What is your favorite class to teach?
I have a soft spot for the CWAS classes, all of them. There are so many great stories to tell.

What's your most memorable wine experience?
I’m fortunate to have had many great and memorable wine experiences. Among them were the epic dinners and vertical tastings of the Masters of Food & Wine which used to be held in Carmel. There were verticals of Penfolds Grange, Henschke Hill of Grace, Chateau Margaux, etc. If I had to choose just one though, it was probably the week I spent in Bordeaux on a small tour led by Ralph Sands of K&L. It was fascinating, delicious and perfect from start to finish.

What's your most memorable food and wine pairing?
Well, the pairing that I’ll never say “no” to and isn’t too fussy to reproduce consistently is succulent Peking duck with high-quality, slightly aged sparkling Shiraz. Scrumptious!

Name some recent wine discoveries that you find exciting.
I just tasted some remarkable Garnacha Blanc in Spain’s Terra Alta DO. Regrettably, few of them are available here yet, but the producers are working on that. Truly remarkable wines.

What do you think is the most unappreciated wine or region in the world?
There are so many good answers to this. A lot of people, especially somms, value German rieslings very highly, but somehow those wines remain very affordable. So, clearly, people aren’t drinking enough of it. My personal unicorn is top-quality, aged sparkling Shiraz. You can’t get it in the U.S. and people laugh at the thought. But, the wines can be very complex and sophisticated. Really! As for regions, Lodi has amazing potential that is just now starting to be tapped.