Last year I watched a Netflix original movie called “Uncorked” that I really enjoyed. It was about a young man upsetting his father when he pursues his dream of becoming a master sommelier instead of joining the family barbecue business. I loved the movie in part, because never in my life had I ever heard of a wine sommelier and all they do to pursue their passion. I found it fascinating!
I never thought that I would get to encounter a real life one, especially in our area, until one day I was contacted by Heidi Singer. Originally from Connecticut, she is a WSET Level 3 certified sommelier who recently moved to our area from New York City. (She also lived in Spain for 8 years)! Heidi’s bringing private wine tastings and events to Topsail and surrounding areas with the creation of Topsail Wine Experience.
Love Led Her Here
When COVID hit NYC in March, she lost her job like so many, and went to stay with her folks who lived in Tennessee. She had an old industry friend who lives in Sneads Ferry, so she came to visit her, July of last year, which is when she met her current partner. After leaving for a few months, she came back in September and decided to stay because she had fallen in love with him and the southern coastal lifestyle. How romantic, and a testament to the fact that a lot of positive things came out of people having to relocate due to the unfortunate pandemic.
Change of Scenery
The vast difference between here and NY is what she loves so much. “In New York City it was so difficult to even access a decent beach. I grew up on the coast so the ease of getting to a beautiful place that is not crowded is an absolute luxury.” I echo her sentiments. As someone who is not from the coast, I learned that our easy access to the beach is definitely a luxury that was such a mystery to me before living here.
She loves that not only is there a ton of support for small businesses, but there’s an overwhelming presence of female-run ones. The women who own businesses here have been so down to earth, supportive and an overall pleasure to work with!
Topsail Wine Experience Takes Sail
Her industry shut down during COVID, and it was devastating for her. She missed her work so much, even though she was still hosting virtual wine tastings via Zoom and working online. As we’ve all learned by now, the in-person interaction was missing and it’s incomparable. So, she began to think creatively about how she could translate her skills and passion into something she loved doing that would be more sustainable long term. That’s when the concept was born of hosting wine tastings at people’s residences.
After spending a few months visiting local businesses and getting to know the area, she realized that the community really embraces new, creative offerings. Having access to great resources was a plus, as she gives a shout out to local fav beer garden, The Crooked Lotus. She wanted to combine her city skills with our laid back environment and decided “let’s give this a shot!”
This Woman Knows Her Wine
Her background is strong for the task. Over ten years, she spent in New York City working first as a bartender, then a sommelier, and finally as a beverage director. “I also worked for a fine wine importer in sales as well as for ‘Wine & Spirits Magazine’ in their tasting department for blind tasting panels, evaluating wine for the magazine.”
Achieving her WSET Level 3 certification is something she’s really proud of. And she should be: it’s a grueling exam, and in the wine industry, it’s very prestigious.
Anyone else jealous?! Heidi has it going on.
She did encounter challenges, such as finding the glassware that she wanted in large quantities. She admits she’s not tech savvy so building a website was difficult albeit a great learning experience. What else?! Self doubt, she adds. The loss of her job and then subsequently relocating to uncharted territory made her question her purpose and if she could find a way to create a livelihood, when this concept is new to this area. It’s the most rewarding leap of faith she has ever taken.
She wants people to know that a lot of times there’s a sentiment that wine is an unobtainable luxury and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. She says she knows she’s done her job when she’s able to bridge the gap between that misconception and what people like.
“Wine is social. It’s an all encompassing subject, and watching the joy that comes from such a simple, yet complex thing is a very unique experience to share with someone.”Heidi Singer, Owner & Sommelier, Topsail Wine Experience