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Unreserved Wine Talk

237 EpisodesProduced by Natalie MacLeanWebsite

The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more


119: Which Hot New Wine Regions & Styles Should You Try? Amanda McCrossin & Vanessa Conlin MW Part 1

Have you ever dreamed of ditching your day job and starting a career in wine? What do wine and music have in common? What's it like to share a bottle of wine with the famous wine critic Robert Parker?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with Amanda McCrossin & Vanessa Conlin of the Wine Access Unfiltered Podcast for part 1 of our two-part conversation.

You can find the wines we discussed at


  • When did Vanessa recognize she had found her place in the world of wine?
  • Why was moving to Napa Valley the best moment in Amanda’s wine career so far?
  • How was Amanda impacted by the California wildfires in 2017 and 2020?
  • Are Napa Valley wineries open for visitors?
  • How did a class shift Vanessa’s career path from opera to wine?
  • Why was wine an infrequent part of Vanessa’s life during her career as an opera singer?
  • How did Amanda make the transition from the stage into her wine career?
  • How are wine and music more similar than you might think?
  • What’s behind the perceived barrier to entry for both wine and opera?
  • How are Amanda and Vanessa making wine more accessible?
  • Why did Amanda make the move to Napa Valley from New York?
  • How did Vanessa end up moving to California on a leap of faith?
  • How does Vanessa combine her passion for wine with her love of animals?
  • What was the moment that Amanda knew it was time for her to go all-in on her wine career?
  • What aspects of Vanessa’s transition to her wine career were the hardest?
  • Why was working at Press Restaurant such an interesting experience for Amanda?
  • Which first wine experience did Amanda share with Robert Parker?
  • What close call did Vanessa have with sparkling wine?


Key Takeaways
  • I love the parallels that they draw between wine and music: both enjoyed individually and evoke all the senses. You can share the same bottle of wine with others but have a very different experience of it from them. What you bring to that wine influences what you take away from it.
  • I love the point about wine, like music, being the sum of art and science. You start with technical foundations, but it’s the artistic flourish on top that makes the experience magical.
  • It was great to get an update on Napa Valley and I’m looking forward to visiting the region again.
  • I believe that you can enjoy wine without being an expert, but also believe that you can have a richer, more layered experience with knowledge. That’s always optional of course.
  • I agree that a great way to learn about wine is to surround yourself with people who know more about it than you do, whether that’s through friends or online courses.


Watch Party

Join me for the debut Watch Party of the video of this conversation that I’ll be live-streaming for the very first time on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video on Wednesday, March 17th at 7 pm eastern.

Click on the "Interested" or "Going" buttons below so that you'll be notified when we go live:

I’ll be jumping into the comments on all three platforms as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.

I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?



You can win one of two signed copies of my books, "Red, White, and Drunk All Over" and "Unquenchable"


How to Win

All you have to do is just pick your favourite social media channel -- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn -- tag us and post a wine you love before March 24th. Make sure to use these handles and hashtags:

  • Instagram - @vanessaconlin @sommvivant @nataliemacleanwine @wineaccess @wineaccessunfiltered
  • Twitter - @wineaccess @nataliemaclean
  • Facebook - @natdecants


#wineaccess #natdecants


I’ll select the winner from those of you who participate before March 24th. I’ll also reshare your stories and posts with my followers whether you win or not so that you connect with more wine lovers.

Good luck, and I can't wait to see (and share) what you post!


About Amanda McCrossin & Vanessa Conlin MW

Amanda McCrossin is a sommelier, media personality, wine educator, host of the Wine Access Unfiltered Podcast, & creator/host of the Instagram and YouTube channel “SOMMVIVANT.” As the former Wine Director at PRESS Restaurant in Napa Valley, Amanda worked with the world’s largest, deepest restaurant collection of all Napa Valley wines in the world. Prior to being named Wine Director in 2018, Amanda worked as a sommelier with her mentors and predecessors Kelli White (author, Napa Valley Then & Now) and Scott Brenner to become one of the world’s leading experts in California wine. Today, Amanda focuses her efforts on producing wine “edutainment” and digital media content for her social media platforms geared toward both consumers and professionals alike. A frequent speaker, personality, and contributing writer, in 2018 she was named a Wine Enthusiast ‘Wine Star’ Nominee for Sommelier of the Year and has been featured by numerous publications and media outlets including SOMM TV, Food Network, Wine Enthusiast, Somm Journal, Food & Wine, World of Fine Wine, & Wine Spectator.

Vanessa Conlin MW is the Head of Wine for Wine Access, a national direct-to-consumer e-com wine retailer where she oversees all wine curation and wine content. Vanessa has served as the Director of Sales and Marketing for several of Napa’s most prestigious luxury estates including Arietta Wines and Dana Estates. Previously she was the wine buyer for two prominent Manhattan wine retailers and the Wine Director for a Manhattan-based wine bar. As an avid supporter of charitable causes, Vanessa is the President of the Board for Jameson Humane, a Napa Valley-based animal rescue and sanctuary, and has chaired the organization’s annual charity wine auction four times, raising over 7 million dollars. Prior to falling in love with wine, Vanessa worked as a professional musician, performing internationally and on Broadway, and holds a Master’s Degree in Music. She is an instructor for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and was the recipient of the Niki Singer Memorial Scholarship from the International Wine Center. Vanessa became a Master of Wine in 2020.


To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit

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