We got the chance to catch up with one of our judges, Casleah Herwaldt, who helped award several wines during our 2019 and 2020 Wine Competitions. Cas shared a little about herself and her wine preferences as a millennial working in the wine industry. Here’s what she said…
Tell us about yourself!
Hi! My name is Casleah and I am a Somm and forever wine student! I have lots of random experiences in the wine world including retail, floor somm for a Michelin star chef, brand ambassador, wine judging, blogging, media and event planning. Currently, I am hosting virtual wine tastings, have my own wine label called Casleah Wine which is a Pinot Noir and rose of Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, and just recently launched my own wine club!
I grew up in Michigan and fun fact: my dad grew up on a vineyard. Wine has always been a part of my life. I didn’t decide to really follow the passion of wine until 2015. It’s been a short time, but such an incredible adventure and I’m beyond grateful for every opportunity that my passion has led me to.
What inspired you to become a Certified Sommelier?
Mostly for the clout, but I truly am inspired by skilled sommeliers floating around the table and flawlessly serving wine as if it is an art. I absolutely love studying wine. I love the history, the geography, the culture and the people that make it so fascinating. Studying wine has become a part of who I am. I’m currently enrolled in the WSET Diploma program, because I just can’t imagine not studying wine!!
What’s your favorite wine varietal?
Gosh, this changes all the time, but my go-tos are usually Champagne, Pinot Noir and cool climate Chardonnay. But I love trying new varieties as well. I’m a big fan of Friulano, Muscadet, Riesling, Blaufrankisch, Gamay, Merlot…. Should I go on?
Why did you start Casleah Wine?
For so many reasons. Mostly to inspire others. I want people watching me achieving my dreams to realize that they can achieve their dreams as well. I put on the back of the label this: “I created this wine label to spread the message of love, joy and hope. If you are holding this bottle, I want you to know that you are capable and enough. Be a light and share the love.” And that’s the true purpose of this wine. I want it to evoke a spark in people to be light and spread positivity. But it starts within, when you believe in yourself first, then you are capable of accomplishing anything you want.
What’s your biggest advice to consumers trying to pick the perfect wine?
It’s a big scary world of wine out there for consumers and it’s hard to know how to spend your money and guarantee quality. I always say, shop small. Instead of going to the big super markets to buy your wine, go to the small neighborhood wine shop. Stores like these are run by people with a passion for wine, and I promise you they would be more than thrilled to help you pick out a wine. When I worked at the wine store, it was my absolute joy to pick out a bottle for a customer!! My other advice is to keep an open mind. Just because you’ve had a wine you don’t like, don’t totally rule out that grape or that region or that producer. Keep trying, your palate might surprise you!!
Thanks for chatting with us Cas! We can’t wait to see your picks for next year’s competition.