A Vinicultural Memoir by Mari Kane

Overview of Mouthfeel: Confessions of a Wine Slut

Working in a winery tasting room is not always the beautiful experience the bucolic setting would suggest. A glance behind the “Employees Only” door often reveals an intimidating landscape of high drama and low morals, where good taste meets bad manners. This is where I got my start in the wine business.

Mouthfeel: Confessions of a Wine Slut is the story of one woman’s search for love and livelihood in wine country. It is the first memoir to present an authentic and opinionated view of the Sonoma County wine scene.

The story opens in the town of Forestville, California in 1993, where I have re-located with my twelve-year old daughter and two cats, hoping to break into the wine business. I find work in a small family winery, enroll in a wine marketing class, and soon find myself immersed in the local wine culture.

I look for love but it turns out that wineries are all the wrong places. At a Jewish singles party I meet my future husband and soon after, find the house of my dreams.

I start my writing career publishing an industrial hemp magazine and become the wine lady of hemp until my business fails in 1999.

Before and after my editorial career, I take a series of tasting room jobs where I encounter winemaker egos, owner disaffection, manager duplicity, customer boorishness, and a certain ‘Animal House’ mentality among cellar workers. I suffer them all just to be closer to the wine. I am, by then, a total wine slut.

I move from grape to grape – petite sirah, pinot noir, pinot gris, cabernet sauvignon and champagne – and I practically obsess about California’s native wine, zinfandel. I’m determine to expand my vinicultural knowledge so I can talk wine with the big palates, and also to write about it. I long for acceptance yet always feel like an outsider.

After a series of harrowing brushes with a local gay cabal and the Reno mob, I begin to ask myself, is pouring wine worth the paranoia? Who do I have to sleep with to hold onto a job in the wine industry? And, is anyone having fun behind the bar anymore?

Eventually, I attain wine job nirvana when I become the marketing manager of my favorite wine store. I enjoy working with the stock boys who treat me like a MILF (Mother I’d Like to F***), but the wine buyer who refuses to share samples reminds me how different this business can be for women.

Through it all, I achieve a level of confidence and wine mastery that sets me up for life as a wine slut.

Mouthfeel is a journey of discovery about wine and a timeless story for women who dare to enter professions historically dominated by men.