Rebecca Chapa is a Certified Wine Educator, Certified Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist®, and holds the Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in London. Chapa’s blog explores wine, spirits, travel and culture. Chapa launched Tannin Management in 1999 in San Francisco. Now in its 15th year of business, Tannin Management spans both coasts with headquarters in San Francisco and Nantucket Island. Chapa excels in event management, particularly with beverage. Currently she is the San Francisco brand ambassador for Armagnac and works promoting Napa Valley wines as an Ambassador for the Napa Valley Vintners. Chapa is also an educator and teaches for the San Francisco Wine School and W.I.S.E. Chapa has been Beverage Manager for Eat Drink SF (formerly called SF Chefs) for six years. She has taught wine classes for consumers with her own company, Wine by the Class since 2001.
Chapa was Chairman of the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition from 2007 to 2012 growing the competition to more than 200 entries. Rebecca has written freelance for Santé and wrote chapters on California wine regions for The Global Encyclopedia of Wine and on the California Wine Business for Greenwood Publishing's The Business of Wine. She hones her palate tasting as an international judge for competitions such as the Concurso Internacional de Vinhos Cidade de Porto (Portugal), the Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition (formerly called the Los Angeles County Fair), San Francisco International Wine Competition, Dallas Morning News, National Women’s Wine Competition and San Diego International Wine Competition. She served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Wine Educators and was Co-Program Chair of their 2000 conference in San Jose. Chapa judged Santé Magazine’s Restaurant Wine and Spirits Hospitality Awards in 2000 and 2009, and has been a judge for Sunset’s Wine Awards.
Chapa has been featured on television on View from the Bay, in a satellite media tour for Canyon Road Winery, a pilot for Wine Country Living, as a guest reporter for Latin Eyes and Epicurious.com. (see media clips at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtk3LBG1xes) As former ambassador for Rubicon Estate she travelled the United States fostering relationships with the top sommeliers in the country and gaining sales experience. Chapa has been an adjunct instructor at the Culinary Institute of America teaching Tasting Terroir and Oregon and Washington Intensive and has taught WSET classes.
What is your favorite wine region to visit?
I could never pick a favorite region, there's so many unique experiences in each one and every region is so diverse! The first region I ever visited, though, Piemonte, will always have a special place in my heart. It was truffle season, November of 93 as I was just about to embark upon my career in wine post college and I spent three weeks there with a group of 10 of us. We had such a blast, incredible food, hospitality and of course wine, all courtesy of Carlo Petrini and Slow Food.
What is your favorite class to teach?
I love to teach about Spain and Italy. I feel like Italy is almost like teaching about 20 countries, Spain is so exciting because they have the greatest balance between tradition and innovation. I also love to teach about Viticulture, I get a little obsessed with soils and geeky tech stuff like biodynamics and trellis systems.
What's your most memorable wine experience?
When I was in college at Cornell University our wine prof, Professor Mutkoski, let us create our own for credit course, to enter the Wine Challenge that was being put on by Kevin Zraly of Windows on the World. He just warned us that if we did that we would not get credit for the senior year class unless we won. So of course we won (against the CIA). As a thank you Prof hosted a dinner and Kevin Zraly and Robin Kelley O'Connor joined us and we tasted some of the most incredible Domaine de la Romanee Conti wines from the 50s and 60s that were part of the school's teaching cellar. It ruined me forever, the wines were incredible.
Why did you decide to become an instructor?
As a kid I used to set all my stuffed animals in rows and used to "teach" them and then give them tests. I love to inspire others to explore wine in more depth and set them on the right path. I also feel that to truly understand a subject you must be able to teach it... I think it's just something I am happy doing. Once while I was talking in my sleep my friend Alicia Towns Franken (also in the business) asked me how Champagne was made. I was completely asleep but started answering her down to the details of the process. When I woke the next day with no recollection of it she told me, "Chapa you know, you really can teach in your sleep." But never fear... I make sure I am fully awake though when teaching San Francisco Wine School classes, don't worry.
What's your most memorable food and wine pairing?
Probably the first time I tasted white truffles with older Barolo. Nothing so ethereal and memorable.
What's the biggest challenge in your job?
Finding the time to keep learning and studying! Regions, wines, things change all the time, so it's a lot to keep up with that along with my other work projects.
What other passions beside wine do you have?
I am a singer songwriter and love playing gigs! I play guitar and sing.
Name some recent wine discoveries that you find exciting.
I recently went to Greece and tasted the first really amazing Retsina (Kechris Tear of the Pine) I had ever been introduced to! Just like any wine, by using quality resin, quality base wine retsina can be crisp and delicious! It was incredible. Of course I am also really jazzed about Armagnac (which although is not wine is made from wine!)
If you could teach anyone in the world, who would you want to teach?
It would make me very nervous but to teach my mentor Kevin Zraly would be pretty cool, I would love to use it as a learning experience to see what he thought about how I adapt his fun teaching style when teaching more technical information, I am sure I would learn a lot from that. Of course I'd love to host a class for Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton if they'd sing me a song ;) Call me guys...
What do you think is the most unappreciated wine or region in the world?
Mexican wines are pretty amazing, I have recently tried a bunch and I feel that no one really knows much.