Staff Feature: Grant Wood, Tasting Gallery Manager

There’s a good reason Jessup Cellars was voted CellarPass’s “Friendliest and most knowledgeable staff” four years in a row and is consistently recognized as one of the best wineries in Yountville. The foundation of the Jessup Cellars experience is built on unparalleled local knowledge delivered by friendly, down-to-earth team members. Visitors to Jessup Cellars will be familiar with the warm and humble Tasting Gallery Manager, Grant Wood. Here’s are some of his insights on wine education and creating award winning customer experience.

Perhaps like many Napa Valley locals, Ironically, Grant only began to fully appreciate the world of wine, later in life. Born and raised in this beautiful corner of California, Grant admits now realizes that he was destined to end up in some form of hospitality. Grant was Drawn to the idea of food and wine, after catering at wineries while completing his schooling, his passion for Napa Valley wine steadily grew Having undertaken multiple levels of WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) and CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers), Grant is now in his final stages of completing his Level 4 Certification of WSET’s Diploma of in Wine & Spirits.

“The beauty of wine studies is that it allows us to interact with people and connect with the world in a totally different way. To me, wine is more than just grape juice, each bottle is an opportunity to learn and take a cultural look into the lives and history of people, a time, and a place, and the natural systems put in place that support it. The wonderful customers I’ve served and people I’ve met during my studies have helped me develop traits that I never used to think of or care about. I smell and taste with a verve like never before and I feel more connected to nature when something is in my glass that expresses a connection to the earth that only wine can do.”

Favorite recent food and wine pairing?

“My favorite pairing of 2020 has to be my Christmas Beef Wellington and 2016 Jessup Cellars ‘Juel’. Bordeaux inspired varieties are so easy to pair with a rich Christmas dinner. Another recent favorite was lobster rolls and our gorgeous Carneros Chardonnay. I recently cracked a bottle of 2013 Jessup Cellars Viognier with butternut squash bisque. Absolutely killer! A nice, easy go-to for me at home is some hanger steak and greens with a Handwritten Cab like the 2016 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. Tonight I’ll sous vide a butter and garlic whole chicken for a few hours, broil it to finish, and rip into that with a Jessup Chardonnay!”

Tell us about wine education efforts in the tasting room?

“My philosophy as Tasting Room Manager is creating a fun learning environment that encourages our team to want to continually enhance their wine knowledge. I believe wine education has a way of enhancing both professional and personal growth. Our team’s natural curiosity, and love of wine and food, allow them to engage and excite our consumers through two-way learning, allowing peers to learn from each other. Guests notice and our staff’s ability to answer every question with ease, accuracy, and in a way that’s relatable and unpretentious. This is a big part of our reputation as “Friendliest and most knowledgeable staff,” and also why our virtual wine tasting events have been so incredibly popular.”

So, keep an eye out for Grant and say ‘hello’ on your next visit to Jessup Cellars