During grad school Erica Archer set a goal for herself. No matter where life took her she would at some point open her own business.
Archer, of Portland, spent 13 years in marketing with Idexx, the idea of starting her own business ever present.
After a “self-fulfilling vacation to Napa Valley,” Archer, who holds a self-designed degree in international studies from the University of Southern Maine and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School, took a series of classes about wine through the Culinary Institute of America. She had no preconceived notions about the outcome but the thought of what was possible was beginning to form in the back of her mind.
“I loved the classes and was encouraged by my instructors to pursue it,” said Archer.
Archer went on to become a sommelier in the American Court of Master Sommeliers, a certified wine professional through the Culinary Institute of America, and in 2010 was awarded a level 3 advanced certification in wines and spirits.
She came up with the idea for her business “after a good bottle of wine,” said Archer, who sat down and made a list of the pros and cons and decided to go for it. In June 2010, Wine Wise was born.
Wine Wise, based in Archer’s hometown of Portland, offers wine education through custom events, food and wine talks, and a wine class aboard on a 74-foot gaff-rigged topsail sloop in Casco Bay.
Archer said the term “sommelier” is synonymous with wine expert, but she considers herself a wine educator first.
“Wine is a huge part of many people’s social life at all levels. I teach wine appreciation and how to choose wine, pair it with food, and objectively evaluate it,” said Archer. “What is this wine telling us? Is it balanced? Is it typical of its variety? I want it to be a conversation about wine. Wine is a foreign language with its own terms and meanings. I teach the language and help people to understand. But I don’t teach anyone how to be a wine snob. I want it to be an accessible, fun, unpretentious wine education experience.”
Archer said the growing farm-to-table local food scene is helping to bring new life to the world of wine, as well as reviving indigenous varieties.
“There are re-emerging wine regions all over the world helping to drive the propensity for wine appreciation,” said Archer. “To have different and new experiences all the time and to have wines that don’t taste dramatically manufactured is what I’m looking for – something unique and individual.”
Archer said Wine Wise has been growing and she plans to expand into other areas in Maine, including Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, Camden and Rockland.
“I am extremely lucky to have found my passion and be able to do what I love,” said Archer. “I’m out there all the time trying wine and pairing food and wine. I love meeting people. One of the big benefits of the job is the relationships I form while bringing people together. I don’t really have time off, but that’s OK.”
A CLOSER LOOK
For more information, see www.winewiseevents.com.
Erica Archer is the owner of Wine Wise, which offers wine education in a variety of settings, from restaurants to cruises onboard a 74-foot gaff-rigged topsail sloop. Photo by A Family Affair of Maine