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Meet Jennifer Evans of The Sugar Vine in Spring

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Evans.

Jennifer, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Wow, that’s a long story. I had a very roundabout path to starting The Sugar Vine, but I feel like every experience I’ve had has prepared me for where I am now. I studied political science and Russian in college, went to graduate school for Russian and public administration, and worked for ten years in finance for the federal government. I lived in Virginia for four years and during that time, I started exploring wine. At first, I couldn’t stand it, but I slowly started learning what I liked. I became fascinated by how wine is made, the way it tastes, and especially the community that forms around it.

Since then, I’ve learned as much as I can about wine- I’ve taken classes, joined wine clubs, visited wineries, read all the books and magazines I could find- you get the picture. I started a blog about my two favorite things, wine and dessert, a few years ago. In November 2018, I became a wine guide with Traveling Vineyard and started offering in-home wine tastings. In the year since, I have had the opportunity to learn more about wine, meet amazing people, and really deepen my love for the industry.

I lost my father in July 2019 to pancreatic cancer, which caused me to really sit back and consider my life path. While I had a great job that I enjoyed and was making an important contribution with, I knew I wanted to work in wine full time, helping others discover wines they love and find fun, unique wine accessories. My father’s last advice to me was to follow my heart and do what I love. That gave me the courage to go into business full-time last November.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest struggle I have is wanting to do everything at once. There are so many products and services I would like to offer and I wish I could do it all at once. I have to force myself to slow down because I want to always ensure that all of my clients always have high-quality products and services.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am 100% focused on wine. My favorite part about working in wine is the joy it can bring. There is nothing better than discovering just the right wine for someone’s special occasion or helping them find the perfect wine and food pairing. It’s also incredibly gratifying when someone who didn’t think they liked wine realizes that there is one that they enjoy.

As a wine guide with Traveling Vineyard, I get to do this every day. At the tastings we sample 5 bottles of wine with food pairings. I share information about wine in general as well as share information about the specific varietals we’re tasting. The tastings are great for anyone, whether you’re new to wine or have loved it for years. I really can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening.

On my website, I offer wine and food-related items for the home- bottle stoppers, cheese boards, serving dishes, fun coasters, wine bags, wine glasses, and more. Each piece is selected with care to enhance someone’s wine experience and make them smile whenever they see it. I love when people find the perfect gift from my shop or discover a piece that they haven’t seen before. It’s so incredibly fulfilling and I consider it an honor to help people in this way.

I also write a blog, which is an exploration into all topics in wine. Some posts are educational with information about tasting, choosing wine, different wine terms, and different wine regions or varietals. Other posts are recipes, featured wines, gift ideas, and more. One of my favorite things to do with the blog is come up with unique wine and dessert pairings. A lot of people try to avoid pairing wine and dessert because it’s challenging, but that’s what makes it fun. While I’ve had some really awful pairings, the ones that work truly make your taste buds sing. One of my favorites is chardonnay with cookie butter!

Finally, this summer I plan to start offering online wine classes where we’ll go deeper into the ins and outs of wine. These will be a fun, relaxed way to learn about many topics in wine from the basics to more advanced and specialized areas.

What were you like growing up?
I was always a little on the stubborn side and very independent. When I was a kid, my favorite thing to say was, “I’ll do it because I want to, not because you tell me to” from one of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books. I like to think that stubbornness has translated into tenacity as an adult. I’ve also always loved to learn and still do. I credit my parents for that- they always encouraged my siblings and I to read and learn as much as possible.

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