Join us in learning about our craft beverage leaders in our series featuring some pretty incredible women entrepreneurs.
Paula de Pano, Fearrington’s Beverage & Service Director
Summarize your background, your path to what you’re doing now, and/or whether you’re transitioning from full-time day job to this or if you’re managing it all.
I caught the wine bug when I was still in the Philippines when I was working in a wine shop. I didn’t really think much of it until I went back to school at The Culinary Institute of America to get an culinary degree when one of the requisite courses was an introduction to wine. My professor encouraged me to go and get certified through The Court of Master Sommeliers and transfer from working in the kitchen to the dining room.
I am currently the Beverage and Service Director at The Fearrington House Restaurant, moving back after a couple of years working in New York City. I’ve never considered any other job aside from hospitality after catching the wine bug back in 2008.
Your mentor, who you aspire to be, who is a leader in your industry and why. Trends for your industry, product/service?There are a few women in this industry that are very inspiring. Madeline Triffon, who became the first female Master Sommelier is a total bada** for someone in my profession. There’s also Laura Maniec, another Master Sommelier who owns Corkbuzz in Charlotte. I look up to these ladies as inspiration – to know what they’ve contributed to the industry and what they continue doing for it is really amazing…
What was your biggest fail and the silver lining? Biggest/latest success that confirmed you’re in the right business?What I used to think of as a failure is actually now transforming into the best silver lining so far. When I came back to Fearrington, I really wanted to make our wine classes be the gateway of teaching for budding wine enthusiasts. We weren’t getting many seats filled because wine still had the stigma of being snobbish. I mean, compared to beer, which many perceive as more accessible. But lately, we’ve been selling out wine classes to the point that I get email inquiries of attendees trying to squeeze in to the reservations! It’s so much fun being able to communicate what wine is all about – I love how one guest told me that my wine classes were an inexpensive way of traveling around the world.
What brought you, and keeps you, in Chatham County?
So far, FHR is a great opportunity. It values hospitality the way that I do and it really is a benchmark of fine-dining in North Carolina. The development that is happening around Chatham County is also very exciting to witness.
The accolades continue. We just learned that Ms. de Pano was selected to serve on the the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival advisory council, adding to her many accomplishments.