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Conversations with the Inspiring Katrina René

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katrina René.

Katrina, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started out in the wine world by simply wanting to write about wine and share my experiences. Particularly, I wanted to break down the barriers in understanding, and remove some of the pretense associated with wine. I figured if folks saw someone that looked like me experiencing wine, that it would seem more accessible to them. I’d always loved to travel and visiting wineries was a part of that. It wasn’t until an old college roommate suggested I write a blog that I even realized that this was a “thing.” Heck, I didn’t even know what a blog was! But lo and behold, I am the author of the blog called The Corkscrew Concierge.

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t been a difficult road per se, but I’ve certainly had my share of challenges. I am quite anti-technology (I still miss my flip phone) so the idea of building a website scared the heck out of me. But miraculously, I was able to figure it out and ended up designing a great website for myself and even re-designed the entire thing at one point. Who knew?!

Additionally, a part of writing entails promoting yourself and your brand which is something I’ve never been good at. I’m a pretty introverted person, so it is never comfortable for me to be in front of a camera. It’s even harder for me to promote myself and tell people how great I am. I can take pictures all day long and have gotten pretty good at it, but I never wanted to be on the other side of the camera. I’m slowly learning to open up and share more of myself with others. And I’m learning how to communicate better on social media. But I’m certainly a work in progress.

However, I think the biggest challenge has been time management and pacing myself. I’m a tax lawyer by day and a mom of two, so obviously that takes a great deal of my time. Because of this, I’ve had to spend many late nights or early mornings writing my articles or working on the details of an event. Not to mention taking lots of vacation days. Luckily, I have a supportive husband who believes in me and has actually been a wealth of information.

When I talk to other young women wanting to enter the wine industry, my first advice is to always bring your authentic self. You’ll never be good at something if it’s not on your own terms. The great thing about wine is that there are so many perspectives from which to approach it. I used to fear sounding and looking too “corporate” and not being “hip enough” but I’ve learned to embrace who I am. I promise that I’m still approachable. LOL! But when you have to Google an acronym or slang term, then it’s probably not a good idea to try to use it. Seriously.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Corkscrew Concierge story. Tell us more about it.
What started out as writing about wine has morphed into an entire lifestyle centered around wine. I still write about all aspects of wine – tasting, food pairings, travel, etc. whether on my own site or as a contributor to other sites. But I also now do a number of other things related to wine and travel. I teach wine classes/host wine tasting events for groups ranging from small, intimate gatherings, larger corporate events, and even for charitable purposes. As much as I hate public speaking, I find that I can talk about wine all day. I also do media trips to promote various wine regions, restaurants, events, wineries, etc. Additionally, I consult with people who want to build or manage their wine collection. I have a thought brewing on a book so stay tuned! And these are probably more post-lawyer goals, but I’d like to lead wine travel groups to various regions around the world as well as run a wine import business. There are just so many exciting things to do in the wine industry!

I’m always happiest when someone seeks advice on a wine and then comes back and tells me how much they enjoyed it. Sometimes, it’s to drink themselves while other times it’s for an event (I get the wedding question a lot!) or a gift. I’m proud that my website has been nominated for awards and is ranked as a top 100 global wine wine blog.

I think there are a couple of things that set me apart from others. First, while I listen to people tell me what they like or don’t like, I don’t always let them stay in their comfort zone. I like to challenge people to expand their horizons. If it doesn’t work, fair enough, but so many times people walk away with an appreciation for something new and different. Second, I will pair a wine with anything. Anything. Cracklins? Yep. Barbacoa? Yep, I have a wine for that too. Mustard greens? Rice and gravy? Bring it! Wine isn’t just for so-called high-end food experiences. It’s for the everyday, humble foods that I put on my table to serve my family too.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
I always joke to people that I haven’t really read for fun since law school. I spend most of my day reading tax law so the idea of coming home and reading more was never appealing. That all changed when wine entered my life. I guess its the lawyer in me, but I am quite the student of wine. I’ve earned several wine certifications that have entailed hundreds of hours of reading and studying, thousands of flashcards, and even a few all-nighters thrown in for good measure. I still read my study guides even though the tests have come and gone. I also read several blogs/websites, mostly to keep up with trends, including Wine Spectator, VinePair, Wine Folly, Wine Wit & Wisdom, and Wine Enthusiast, to name a few. I only use a couple of apps (its technology y’all!) – Cellar Tracker to keep up with the inventory in my wine cellar and the Vivino App to look up info on wines. I’m also the person that will snap pictures of info cards in wine stores so I can read more about the product later.

Outside of wine, I’ve recently discovered the work of research professor and author Brené Brown. She was introduced to me by my department head at work and in a short time, she’s really helped me look deep within to understand more about myself, my spouse and children, and others. It’s such profound stuff that can be uncomfortable and hard to face but ultimately is good for the soul.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Point and Click Photography, Katrina René

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