About Rebecca Chapa

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REBECCA CHAPA

Wine and Spirits Educator, Writer
Diploma Wine and Spirits
Certified Sommelier
Certified Wine Educator
California Wine Appellation Specialist
 

Rebecca Chapa, is a Certified Wine Educator, Certified Sommelier and holds the Diploma Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in London.  Chapa was Beverage Manager for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s Eat Drink SF event(formerly SF Chefs) for six years managing wine and spirit sponsorships, educational programming and tent activations for the multi-day festival.  She has taught wine classes for consumers with her own company, Wine by the Class since 2001 and is also an adjunct instructor at the San Francisco Wine School.  She sells wine for Atlantic Importing Company, works part time as an interpreter at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum and for the summer was a part time sommelier at the Boarding House and server at Station 21 on Nantucket.  Her experience includes spirits and she was the San Francisco Armagnac Ambassador for the Bureau National Interprofessionel de l’Armagnac for two years.  Chapa’s blog www.rebeccachapa.com explores wine, spirits, travel and culture.  Chapa also writes about the Nantucket wine and restaurant scene for Mahon About Town.

Chapa launched Tannin ManagementSM in 1999 in San Francisco.  Now in its 18th year of business Tannin Management spans both coasts with headquarters in San Francisco and Nantucket Island.  Chapa excels in event management, particularly with beverage. Chapa was Beverage Manager of the 2015 Nantucket Wine Festival, and Program Coordinator for the 2014 and 2015 Nantucket Book Festival.  Current 2016 clients include Wines of New Zealand, Washington State Wine, Colangelo & Partners and Table No. 1 Wine + Cheese.  

Previous clients include Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Nantucket Vineyard, National Pork Board, Wines of Chile, Napa Valley Vintners, W.I.S.E., Slow Food San Francisco, Pacific Catch, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, Loire Valley Wines, Wines of Alsace, Constellation, Outpatient Surgery Magazine, Canyon Road Winery, Geyser Peak Winery, Heck Estates, Credit Suisse, Wines from Spain, Iluna Basque, Twenty-Four Restaurant, Cetrella, XYZ Restaurant at the W Hotel, Belon, Westin St. Francis Hotel, and Auberge Del Mar.  Chapa was Chairman of the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition from 2007 to 2012 growing the competition to more than 200 entries. Rebecca has written freelance for Santé and wrote chapters on California wine regions for The Global Encyclopedia of Wine and on the California Wine Business for Greenwood Publishing’s The Business of Wine.  She hones her palate tasting as an international judge for competitions such as the Concurso Internacional de Vinhos Cidade de Porto (Portugal), the Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition (formerly called the Los Angeles County Fair), San Francisco International Wine Competition, Dallas Morning News, Sunset Wine Competition, National Women’s Wine Competition and San Diego International Wine Competition.  She served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Wine Educators and was Co-Program Chair of their 2000 conference in San Jose.  Chapa judged Santé Magazine’s Restaurant Wine and Spirits Hospitality Awards in 2000 and 2009, and has been a judge for Sunset’s Wine Awards.  She has been a featured speaker for National Pork Board, Wagner College, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, Restaurant Business’ Menus 2001 Conference, Motto Kryla & Fisher’s Wine Trends 2001 Luxury Seminar, World Wine Market, the Pacific Rim Wine Education Center, Crystal Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and the Wine Institute of California’s Wine by the Glass Program in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan. Chapa has been featured on television on View from the Bay, in a satellite media tour for Canyon Road Winery, a pilot for Wine Country Living, as a guest reporter for Latin Eyes and Epicurious.com.  (see media clips at here) As former ambassador for Rubicon Estate she travelled the United States fostering relationships with the top sommeliers in the country and gaining sales experience.  Chapa was an adjunct instructor at the Culinary Institute of America teaching Tasting Terroir and Oregon and Washington Intensive and has taught WSET classes.  

Originally from New York, Rebecca Chapa began her career in the restaurant industry at age fifteen while working at her family’s Mexican restaurant, Pancho Villa’s.  The restaurant background steered her in the direction of Cornell University where Rebecca discovered her passion.  The study of wines and spirits earned Chapa a spot on Cornell’s victorious Wine Challenge™ team, winners of a wine competition started by Kevin Zraly of Windows on the World.  She graduated in 1993 eager to pursue a career in wine.

During the fall of 1993, Rebecca was selected to participate in the Arcigola Slow Food Vini Piemontesi education program, an intensive study of the wines of Piedmont, Italy.  Upon her return, Rebecca took her first wine-related role as coordinator of Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Wine School.  She also helped Kevin Zraly organize Wine Challenge events at The Boston Wine Expo and in New York.

In the fall of 1994 Rebecca wrote her first wine list as Cellar Master of the New York Vista Hotel in the World Trade Center.  There she controlled an inventory of over 1,200 selections and more than 16,000 bottles of wine from the original cellar of Windows on the World.  While in Manhattan, Rebecca also helped organize the Fifth Annual Bon Appetit Wine and Spirits Focus in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

In April of 1995, Rebecca joined the Myriad restaurant group to work with Wine Director Daniel Johnnes at Montrachet, Nobu, Tribeca Grill and the Reebok Sports Club, all in New York City.  In the fall of 1996, her desire to move closer to wine country resulted in a transfer to Rubicon in San Francisco.  As assistant to Master Sommelier Larry Stone, Rebecca tuned her service skills and gained management experience.  Prior to leaving New York, she tied for second place in the Eastern division of the Sommelier Society’s Regional Finals Competition to determine the candidate to be sent to the Concours Mondial des Sommeliers competition in Austria in May of 1998.

In July of 1997, Rebecca followed former Rubicon Chef Traci Des Jardins to open Jardinière.  As Wine Director, Rebecca constructed a list of over three hundred selections earning accolades from Santé Magazine and the Best of Award of Excellence from the Wine Spectator.

Rebecca believes that wine should be fun and wine service should not be intimidating.  She strives to make information accessible to those who want to educate themselves about wine, yet also understands that wine can be enjoyed without fanfare.  She is also a singer songwriter and recently won an honorable mention for her lyrics in American Songwriter Magazine.  She can be found performing her music on both coasts and in between.  She also has an art business called Ambergris specializing in folk art crafts.  

Tannin Management
…taking the bitterness out of wine

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14 responses

29 11 2008
bestbyfarr

Great blog, thanks, ryan

http://bestbyfarr.wordpress.com/

30 11 2008
steve michener

rebecca–i took your Wines of the World class at Solano Cellars in 2004 and it was one of the things that inspired me to go to winemaking school and start a small winery here in Walla Walla with my wife.
I’m writing to find a class for my nephew who lives in SF. We want to gift him a beginners class in wine appreciation like the one you formerly taught. do you have any suggestions? The Bruce Cass series is a little too expensive. Are the classes at City College well regarded? Any help would be appreciated.
Cheers
Steve Michener

4 02 2009
Teresa

You rock, girlfriend! Thanks for sharing a little of you with us all :)…. T

5 05 2009
Carrie

Hi Rebecca,
I’m curious about your professional background. How did you move from working in restaurants to owning your own business? I’ve been in the restaurant business in NYC for 6 years and in the wine business for 2….and I get that it takes more than 15 minutes to make things happen! 🙂

Cheers!
Carrie

6 05 2009
rebeccachapa

Carrie,

Thanks for your note. I think that one thing that had a lot to do with my shift into my own business was my avid study for the Master of Wine. That lit a fire under me sot hat all my waking hours were concentrated on learning as much as I possibly could about wine. That included reading extensively, taking courses, going to conferences, bugging people (winemakers, vineyard managers, sales people, etc.). Really I worked to learn about all sides of the business so that when I was ready to leave the restaurant side I knew people in all sides of the business and had a great number of contacts. It was really the preparation for that huge exam (that I took four times and never passed) that was the most helpful. I found the path was more important than getting that title. Add in some lucky breaks from connections I had and I was on my way. I think that the volunteer work I did was also very important, I volunteered for many years for the Society of Wine Educators helping with their annual conference and eventually was elected to their Board of Directors. Ultimately the support of my husband was integral as well. It’s a risky proposition to be in business for yourself, you have to take every opportunity that passes if you can because you have no job security. It isn’t easy, but I do what I love every day!

9 05 2009
Bryan

Hi Rebecca. My name is Bryan Chapel, from South Beloit Il. My father and I took Tasting Terroir with you at the Culinary Institute in Napa. Stumbled on to your site by accident, but it looks great! Listen to her folks, she’s a good teacher. Keep it up!

11 05 2009
rebeccachapa

Thanks Bryan!

20 06 2009
Susannah

Hi, Rebecca…

Thanks to your approach to tasting wines, I had a big ‘ah ha’ on getting structure before tasting descriptors and working from there. I passed the certified exam yesterday getting excellent marks for structure, varietal and old/ new world.. I was told to focus on my fruit descriptors but until I get more seasoned I think my approach got me to the right wines.

Take care,
Susannah

23 06 2009
rebeccachapa

Thanks Susannah!
I found that listening to as many professionals as possible and understanding their own tasting methodology can be a great jumpstart to tuning your palate. In the end I took pieces of what all those people taught me and used those to create my own method. Some find it doesn’t quite suite the typical formats that some professional societies use, but I find that ultimately it makes me a better taster. With all aspects of wine I’d say take the information that resonates with you from as many people as possible and create your own “doctrine”, it promotes not just knowledge but understanding. That will ultimately make you a better wine professional! Then use that to “fill in the grid” and play the game they want you to and you’ll be golden. So glad you passed! Congratulations!

6 05 2010
Blaine Hulse

Rebecca,
I hope you remember me from the Tri-Cities Wine Festival. I am now co-chair (being the only chair just got too much for me) and am recruiting judges for this year’s event.
I would like to mail you an invitation to judge at this year’s Tri-Cities Wine Festival which will be the first week of November. Are you available, and are you interested? E-mail me a mailing address if you would like to see the invitation.
Thank you,
Blaine

4 01 2012
Examiner: Sommeliers Face Off over Two Buck Chuck « Girl Meets Grape

[…] some of California’s brightest, most cutting edge sommeliers.  On the feminine side were Rebecca Chapa (Culinary Institute of America), Diane De Luca (Providence), Dana Farner (CUT–wearing the […]

19 07 2012
Josh Solomon

Dear Rebecca, I am Josh from Singapore. Recently got my CWP qualification from CIA. I am preparing for my CWE soon and at the last stage of my WSET Diploma, only Unit 3 both practical and theory. Any advice of how to tackle the CWE and the Unit 3 WSET. I believe for the CWE, the fault section could be the most challenging. Thank you in anticipation.

19 07 2012
rebeccachapa

Hi Josh!
Thanks for reaching out! It’s been awhile since I sat that exam, and I have to say it was harder than I had expected. I found the fault part was relatively straightforward, the faults are clear so if you know them basically and can smell TCA you should be good! The multiple choice can be tricky but my suggestion is to just answer the question with the best possible answer, although with some food and wine pairing questions at times multiple answers seem to apply. For the tasting I actually missed it the first time! I was surprised but what happened is this, they gave us a list of 8 or so wines and asked us to match those with the six glasses poured in front of us. I kept waffling back and forth between Tempranillo and Chianti and all of a sudden lost my confidence. Now I recommend turning the paper over and not looking at any of the list of wines, taste through and figure out if you think you know any of them straight away, THEN turn the paper over and see if what you picked matches anything on their list. Go with your own tasting ability and don’t let the exam conditions psych you out! Good luck!! Also do a bit of studying, I didn’t pass that even though I was a Diploma grad! WSET just read read read and study those lesser known maps! Good luck with all your studies and thanks for reaching out!

Rebecca

19 07 2012
Josh Solomon

Dear Rebecca, thanks for your tips . Will keep you posted after my wxam

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