Meet the Expert - Catherine Fallis
Master Sommelier. Author. Speaker. Master Sabreuse. aka grape goddess @planetgrape.
She is the fifth woman to have earned the title “Master Sommelier” — and she’s the only person ever to hold that title AND that of Advanced Certified Wine Professional. As a Master Sabreuse, Catherine opens Champagne with a sword in a dazzling display.
Favorite wine region? Lodi, California.
Favorite wine story? Sipping Château Simone with my then boyfriend, a sexy French Sommelier, on a hilltop terrace in Provence. My senses were intoxicated with a gentle yet forceful and lingering array of delights. I can still hear the cicadas and smell the garrigue.
Light-bulb moment? Backpacking in Europe, I discovered wines, cheeses, and breads unique to their region… I began to understand the history, culture and personality of each area.
Last meal? My friend Maria’s meatballs and a nice Chianti Classico or maybe a Tignanello.
Desert island wine? Barrua from Agricola Punica in Sardinia, because it is a spicy, sultry Mediterranean red that never gets boring. Can I have a white too?
If you could live anywhere in the world… Where I live right now: San Francisco.
Bucket list? Sample each of Burgundy’s Grand Cru wines in their respective vineyards and document the whole experience.
If you ruled the world, what would you do on Day 1? No Wine Snobs Allowed.
Greatest achievement? Raising my son. Managing and improving our “Stop Drop Go Safe to School” program, including the installment of permanent signage.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Guitar player. Singer.
THEN Long before she became the fabulous grape goddess® she is today, Catherine thought wine was something from an aristocratic world far beyond her horizons.
Her grandma did keep some very unaristocratic Boone’s Farm in the fridge, but only poured it for the most special of occasions. Catherine swears that same bottle sat there for years. Sitting next to the old fridge, watching her grandma cook, bake, and pickle, she learned to love the tastes, aromas and familial comforts of good food.
Catherine also had an appetite for travel, and at barely twenty — while studying Hotel Administration at Cornell — she backpacked round Europe, living on $5 a day and exploring a new world of great things: fashion, chocolate, cuisine and, of course, wine.
Having worked as a chef’s apprentice at New York’s famed Le Cirque and then as the restaurant manager at the Helmsley Palace Hotel, Catherine reached out to Kevin Zraly, Wine Director of the iconic Windows on the World. He mentored her as she took various wine courses and eventually hired her as his Wine School Coordinator; she also worked the cellar and restaurant floor.
NOW Catherine is the author of the grape goddess® Guides to Good Living series and her highly sought-after consulting firm, Planet Grape®, provides such services as event speaking and hosting, corporate and private tastings, restaurant wine program development, and wine writing. In 2016 she launched the Planet Grape Wine Review, America’s first female-led wine review platform.
Only four other women in the world had earned the title Master Sommelier before Catherine achieved it in 1997. In 2009 she became the only person ever to be both a Master Sommelier and a Culinary Institute of America certified Advanced Certified Wine Professional. In other words, she knows her stuff and has the letters to prove it.
NEXT Catherine intends to continue making wine fun and friendly so that all can enjoy it — or, as planet grape’s® tagline has it — “bringing wine down to earth.”