Amy Christine started her wine journey as a server in Detroit. She was encouraged to take the Certified Somm exam which satisfied her attraction to arcane information and laid the groundwork for further extreme studies.
After a move to Los Angeles and a fruitful stint in service at the evergreen A.O.C., she migrated to wine distribution and its more regular hours so as to more easily see her soon-to-be husband, Peter Hunken- and make wine with him. They now have several labels, Holus Bolus being the foremost.
Amy continued her academic fascination with wine and now is one of a handful of women in the U.S. who have achieved the Master of Wine. She is also active in wine education, mentoring MOW students, teaching WSET diploma level classes and writing articles for the Guild Somm Journal.
So, on a given day, Amy might be participating in teaching, writing, selling, growing vines and making wine.
When she comes to talk with me, there is a lot to discuss. We cover her career but mainly we talk about specific issues that a women in her position can run up against any day such as the disadvantage of the Central Coast wine producer versus a producer from Europe due to land and labor costs. Or, sustainable farming and the hall of mirrors that the farmer faces when making a growing decision and the winemaker, a vinification call. We talk about the joy of the ‘Joy Fantastic’, the recent estate vineyard that she and Peter have leased and which is now a stable source of premium grapes. We touch on the present generation as a market, how wine styles are changing for the better and what is currently selling in L. A.
When I ask a question that is part of my boilerplate repertoire, ‘what can be done to advance wine drinking in L. A.?’, I get a surprising answer. Amy is truly conflicted about the morality (yes, morality) of promoting drinking. She has taken to heart recent reports on the linkage of drinking (anything alcoholic) to cancer. We are post ‘French paradox’. Recent health studies indicate that there is no sweet spot where a of couple drinks are said to be good for us physically.
So, that’s a weird thing to learn about a woman who is up to her eyeballs in wine. On the other hand, this is a stance that is processessing in a clear-eyed way recent information that not only will not go away, but is also common to the current generation’s understanding in their attitudes towards alcohol consumption. More moderation is clearly being practiced and national wine consumption is declining. Instead of going for quantity, there is a trend toward premiumization in wine buying where a young consumer is often more informed about a wine and is willing to spend a little more for it while buying less. For the better, these are the wines Amy sells - and makes.