Behind the Blonde
Shannon Gartner, DipWSET, FWS
Wife, Mother, Blogger, Aspiring Master of Wine
Hi, I’m Shannon Gartner. The Founder of Blonde Tasting. Thanks for visiting my wine blog, and welcome to this wine community!
I grew up in a small mountain resort community in Southern California called Lake Arrowhead. Playing volleyball was a big part of my youth which harnessed my innate competitive drive and took me to the East Coast for college. I studied business at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and won a Volleyball Ivy League Championship in 2009. It’s hard to remember my first introduction to wine, but it was definitely in Philly and probably involved boxed wine and a game called “Slap the Bag”.
Postcollege wine country trips with friends, family and my now hubby flamed a growing curiosity about the wine world. I lived in San Francisco for 2 years and starting exploring Napa and Sonoma regularly. My appreciation grew. My husband and I got married in Sonoma and honeymooned in Burgundy. In 2013, we went to see the documentary, SOMM, at the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco. I remember being slightly annoyed beforehand that I was being dragged to yet another documentary (during a prior documentary about sushi, I fell soundly asleep in a position that reportedly defied the laws of physics). Little did I know that this particular documentary would change my life. After the movie, we went out to dinner and were, half-jokingly, trying our luck at tasting notes like the characters in the movie. I will never forget this moment. An early 2000’s Merlot from Newton Vineyards. Hmmm. I was getting blackberries, and something, what is that…. green olive… and bell pepper. Incredulous, my husband laughed out loud. He pulled out his phone to look online for tasting notes on the wine, and guess what was there? Blackberry. Green olive. Bell pepper. It was like the clouds parted and a light shined through. Accurately calling the tasting notes was like making the winning kill in volleyball. Or, akin to making the last shot at beer pong. If you’re an athlete (and I’ll generously include beer pong in the category), you know that feeling.
Life brought me back to Southern CA and I began taking WSET classes with Master Sommelier, Peter Neptune, initially, just for fun. Meanwhile, we wanted to start expanding our family, so I stopped my full-time job to focus on making that happen. Four years later, I have two beautiful children and have miraculously been able to continue studying wine along the way. My passion became my pursuit. It didn’t matter how much I was learning about wine, my thirst for knowledge was unquenchable. So, I kept going. Through blood, sweat and tears (sometimes even the ugly cry kind), I’ve managed to achieve the current wine street cred:
Level IV Diploma in Wine & Spirits… What is that?
French Wine Scholar (Highest Honors)… Huh?
Certified Sherry Wine Specialist… The stuff grandma’s drink?
Level I Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers… Fancy wine words
I have been dreaming of starting a wine blog for years. The name Blonde Tasting is a play on words derived from the term blind tasting, where you have to discern every aspect of the wine in a glass without knowing anything about it, and my blonde hair. People often ask me if it’s blonde with an “e” or without. Little fun fact, blonde is for females and blond is for males. So, upon receiving the news that I passed my final unit of the WSET Level 4 and would be graduating, I launched Blonde Tasting. It’s currently a combination of longer-format pieces, here, on the website, and shorter, fun, every day wine tips on Instagram.
Why am I doing this? I absolutely love the world of wine and want to spread the love. Learning about it and talking about it makes my soul shine. Long-term, my big hairy audacious goal is to enter and complete the Master of Wine program. It is one of the most difficult and highly regarded wine programs that exist. There are currently 131 female Masters of Wine in the entire world. Having an outlet for wine writing and building a community will help that dream come true. You can help me get there!
If you are following @blondetasting on Instagram and/or a subscriber to Blonde Tasting, thank you so much for your support!! Come back and visit blondetasting.com often for new reads. Ask me questions. Send me pics! Anything wine, count me in.
And if you don’t know, now you know.