Note: This is something new I am going to try here on Undertaking Wine; bringing you the people behind the wine. We all know what is in the wine and we all know what the wine is like, but how many of you know the people behind the wine. Well with this new feature, I hope to bring you closer to the people behind the bottle of wine you and I enjoy.
I first met Robin Epperson, about a year ago. She was working at Shinn Estate Vineyards. I was getting some wine for Melissa’s birthday party and I wanted to have a full lineup from the place we got married. I remember walking in and there was no customers in Shinn’s tasting room. I told Robin what I was doing and we decided to taste some wine together. Mind you, this was before I had any indication that I was going to be writing a blog or talking about my wine hobby to more than just my family.
Robin’s palate was impeccable. Robin explained bottle shocked to me and what it does to a wine. We talked about bottle shock because just 3-4 month before, I tasted the same wine from the tank and it now tasted different. Robin’s description of Shinn Estate Vineyards Rose, that was released at the time, was spot on; White Peach and blueberry with strawberry. She made me buy a half case with that description. We chatted for a while about my wedding and she said, in so many words, ‘oh, you are the hurricane couple’. Off I went with a case of wine and a little note from Barbara and David (that she wrote), wishing Melissa a happy birthday. We became “friends” on FaceBook but I never saw her again.
Fast forward 9 months and I happen to read on the New York Cork Report.
Local Robin Epperson Hired as New Assistant Winemaker at Martha Clara
Martha Clara Vineyards has a new assistant winemaker — Robin Epperson.
So that’s where she is…but where did she go and where has she been. Here is the Robin Epperson everyone doesent’ know; She is a wine geek and drives a forklift and she is proud of it.
Robin was born in Florida, but would venture up here for summers. One summer, while still a baby, her family stayed. She graduated from Mattituck High School in 1999 and went to college at the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, VA. She graduated from there with a bachelors of science in biology with a minor in chemistry.
When Robin graduated, she returned to Long Island and got right into the wine scene. She was walked into Ppremium Wine Group and was hired by Premium Wine Group in Mattituck as their Lab Director. Premium Wine Group is a custom crush facility. They help out the vineyards that don’t have the ability or space to house wine pressing and tank storage. While at Premium, she had the opportunity to meet alot of the Long Island wine insiders and also had the opportunity to travel the world and explore wine around the globe. Russ Hearn, one of the partners in Premium Wine Group, encouraged Robin to travel during the off season at Premium, which she did. She has made vintages around the world.
Robin traveled the world to make wine and to taste wine. Robin has been to Australia as a cellar hand and lab technician at Curly Flat Winery and Bay of Fires Winery/Hardy Wine Company and most recently at Kilchurn Wines in Victoria, Australia. Her travels also brought her to Framingham Winery in New Zealand where she was a lab assistant. She also spent time in Paso Robles as much as a few months ago, learing the trade and the process of bio-dynamic farming and wine making.
She loves Tetris, but not the classic arcade Tetris, it’s something she calls Forklift Tetris. While at Bay of Fires Winery, she secured a Fork Truck Operators License. So when you see a forklift driving around Martha Clara, it’s Robin.
And now she is back home on Long Island working with Juan, who she met 7 years ago when she was at Premium Wine Group and Juan was at Pellegrini Vineyards. Juan would bring over samples and Robin would process them. Flash forward 7 years and Juan is her boss. As Robin says, “Between Juan’s experience here on Long Island and my experience everywhere else we make a solid team and have lots of wine geek conversations.” I was apart of such wine geek conversations over the weekend and enjoyed them. They may have gone over my head a little, but the more I hangout with geeks like Juan and Robin, I am bound to learn a thing or two.
I asked Robin for a little background and I really like this item she sent me via e-mail:
“I spent the last 7 years traveling, mostly to make and taste wine. I don’t plan on writing any books on how I found love or the meaning of life while in the great big wine world. I actually had to leave love behind to explore the wine world. Thankfully, I found a guy who could tolerate (or perhaps enjoyed) my long absences, long being 2-4 months a clip. Most of the time it was lonely, I made a lot of random friends at tasting rooms, random bars, on top of volcanoes.”
Well, there are no volcanoes here and the man who waited for her is a lucky guy, they are getting married this summer. Long Island is also lucky to have one of their own back. Robin is someone to watch and I cannot wait to taste some of her wines she makes under Juan’s guidance at Martha Clara. Long Island Wine Country just got a bit better, in my opinion. Say hello to Robin the next time you are at Martha Clara.
If you want to get to know Robin better and find out her latest escapades in the cellar, or the next time she is playing Forklift Tetris, she is on twitter. You can follow her, and I strongly urge you do, at http://twitter.com/robinepp . There will be a few more items from Robin, including a little Q & A with her in the next few days.