About Maria & Neil

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IMG_2391 smallerMaria’s Favorite Wines: anything she has never tried or a wine that sounds out of the ordinary

With almost five years in the wine industry, Maria’s love of wine has grown. She has held many jobs, considering herself a jack of all trades, but recently realized her passion is education, learning and teaching. She began in the wine industry when she determined that her previous jobs were preparing her for a job at a winery.

Due to her Italian heritage she had been exposed to some homemade wine but really had not tried many wines. She began her career in Florida at a vineyard.  Yes, hard to believe, but it was a small family operation and the perfect place to learn the ins and outs.

A little over a year later she and her husband moved to San Francisco to try their luck at the West Coast. There were so many opportunities here for wine that she just had to choose how she wanted to be involved. Winery SF seemed like a great match because she could use her winemaking skills, as well as stay in the urban setting. During her time there she was involved with the “crush” as well as mobile bottling.

She even took on a tasting associate role at their store to learn all about California wines. There she represented over 15 brands and held a management role. In this role she was in charge of inventory of wines and related supplies, developing a sales manual, and weekly updates to menus and tasting notes. She loved the interaction with all the customers and the chance to share her knowledge of wine.

Being the overachiever that she is, Maria also developed a wine and cheese pairing website, WineAndCheeseFriday, during the same timeframe. She thought this would be a great way to become more familiar with California wines, as well as taste some of the local cheeses. This provided a great base for her sales at the store.

As her experience with wine and cheese pairings improved, she started pairing other things with wine, as well as creating wine-themed months and celebrating wine holidays on the website.



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Neil’s Favorite Wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah and Mourvèdre 

Neil started his wine tasting experience definitely by influence of his wife Maria. Every now and then they would have wine at home but really didn’t know much more than the well-distributed popular varietals.

About once a month he would visit her at the Florida winery and took any chance he could to spend time in the vineyard. One day he even helped prune the vines. He loved how peaceful it was there!

When they started the website it was a great chance for them to spend time together but Neil would just describe the wines as tasty, or boring, etc, not really picking up specific flavors. His tasting notes definitely improved as time went on. They loved the chance to slow down the pace and really get a chance to fully experience the wines together.

Shortly after starting the website, Neil and Maria, met some fellow entrepreneurs for a glass of wine. By the end of the night, Neil was part of a new endeavor, Sommly, a wine and food pairing app for iOS. It just so happened that they were looking for a programmer to join their team and here was Neil with his budding love for wine.

Now Neil’s palate is so developed that he and Maria have an even more interactive wine tasting. He’s even finding new wines to try through the Sommly app.



Maria and Neil look forward to trying even more obscure wines and cheeses with the hope of finding some exciting new pairings. They even share their love of wine tastings with family and friends by planning group tastings and educating them about how to taste wine and how enjoyable it can be.

In order to help expand your wine and cheese experiences, we’ve started making products available to you through our affiliate links to Amazon.* It’s a great way to find those hard to find wines and cheeses!

Feel free to contact us about future WineAndCheese pairing suggestions, or any Wine and/or Cheese experience you think we might enjoy. We are constantly traveling all around the world so we might be in your town any day now!

Maria & Neil

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