I was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My brother and I grew up with frequent weekend shrimp and crawfish boils, gigging for softshell crab with my parents under the full moon, and boat trips to Ship Island. Visiting my family in the Paso Robles area of California sparked an interest in wine that I would only come to tap into later in life. My aim is always to work with growers from around the globe who are stewards of the land and take great care and pride in cultivating their vineyards and producing wines that remain true to their place.
I’ve been married to the novelist and journalist Jonathan ‘Jonny’ Miles since 1999. Together we have three kids and live in the Delaware River Valley in New Jersey on a sprawling piece of land with a collection of animals and never-ending projects to tend to.
Where have you lived?
Long Beach, Mississippi
Congers, New York
Warwick, New York
Milford, New Jersey
Black Convertible Ford Mustang with red pleather interior
How did you start in the wine business?
While attending the University of Mississippi I worked as a hostess and a waitress, eventually landing a position as the General Manager at City Grocery Restaurant. The wine list was part of my responsibility and I loved every minute of it. I would drive all over the Southeast to meet winemakers, taste wine, and learn. After a particularly bad day at the restaurant I called an importer I’d gotten to know for some advice. He ended up offering me a job. My husband and I headed to New York figuring we’d spend a few years in the northeast. That was in 2000. A few years turned into a couple decades.
Best concerts of your life
Growing up, my family and our next-door neighbors took me to see all the great country acts: Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Tanya Tucker, Ronnie Milsap and more. I’ve also seen Jimmy Buffett more times that I care to admit growing up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast!
Oxford, Mississippi was music heaven during my years there. Blue Mountain played my wedding party. Wilco, Drivin’ n’ and Cryin’, Cowboy Mouth, Uncle Tupelo, The North Mississippi All-stars, Tyler Childers and The Drive-by Truckers are amongst my favorite live music acts. Just before Jason Isbell became a household name, I sat on the edge of an outdoor stage by myself and watched him play with the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires. The Avett Brothers outside at the Stone Pony on the Jersey Shore with my family was amazing. I recently took my daughter to see Brandi Carlile with Mavis Staples, Amanda Shires and Tanya Tucker in Philadelphia. And the last amazing musician I saw perform live was Jon Batiste at the Carlyle in New York City in February of 2020
After tasting wine all day I want to drink a…
Caperitif and Soda or a glass of Blanc de Blanc Champagne.
After staring at a computer all day I want to drink a…
Gin & Tonic or a Negroni, depends on the time of year!
What puts the biggest smiles on your face?
My family – especially my kids, a backyard full of my people, delicious food and wine, the end of a long run, sunsets, the beach, a perfectly balanced cocktail, a great bottle of wine, my animals.
Fantastic wine experience
The actor Morgan Freeman introducing my husband and I to Sauternes at a 1999 dinner in the Mississippi Delta.
A glass of 1959 Chateau Musar blanc paired with Manousheh for breakfast while visiting with Serge Hochar in Lebanon.
La Paulee in Johannesburg with winemakers Eben Sadie & Duncan Savage
Dinner at one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Gastwirtschaft Floh, just outside of Vienna. It’s become an annual event with some of my favorite friends. The wine list is amazing.
Last bottle of wine of wine you ever want to drink
Impossible to answer.
While on the wine route I love to…
Listen. Observe. Run the vines. Taste and learn as much as I can. Experience the food and culture of a destination. I always try to fit in a visit to the markets and grocery stores.
Favorite vacation spot
Epoisses. Burrata with loads of olive oil, salt & pepper.
Great food & wine pairing
Champagne & Oysters
South African Chenin Blanc with stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
Burgundy with Epoisses Cheese and freshly-baked bread
Off-dry German Riesling with Sushi
If you won the lottery
Buy a beach house. Put in a pool. Build myself an office. Stock some funds away for my kids’ future. Be 100% debt free. Donate to charities that are working to change the social structure of our country.