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Connor Swanson
A few years back, and a lifetime ago, I was chipping away at a degree in
Literature Writing with a minor in Philosophy from UC San Diego.

I had a wine rack that held 6 bottles, mostly “Two Buck Chuck.” I preferred beer or scotch, and wine was something that I considered only as an accompaniment to a special dinner at a snooty restaurant. But then I graduated. Being broke was no longer explained with a shrug of the shoulders and the offering up of “college student” as my explanation. But creative writing doesn’t pay, and certainly not right away. I started a catering company, and utilized my skills as a cook in a way that I had never even considered… as a career. After a year of private chef work throughout Southern California, I decided to make my career change official. I enrolled in culinary school.
The Culinary Institute of America had two campuses at the time.
The “Mothership” in Upstate New York and a far smaller satellite in St. Helena. I chose the latter because of wine. It took less than a year as a private chef to realize the importance of food to wine, and vice versa. What better place to learn food than America’s greatest wine region? I dove in head first… school in the mornings, working the line at Terra in the evenings and visiting wineries on my day off (if/when I could get them). I met people who worked in both food and wine, and soon realized that everyone of my friends were affiliated with one or the other. Soon after, I fell into a harvest internship at Keever Vineyards. I loved it, and, I was good at it. Long days, heavy lifting and a complete immersion in all things wine. It brought together my skills in the kitchen with my passion for wine. I was completely hooked. For the first time, a career in wine seemed like a worthy pursuit.
Today, I’ve realized that I’ll never give up my knives, but similarly, I’ll never surrender my wines.
My new goal is building a career that includes both. To do that, I felt I needed the knowledge and experience of a qualified wine merchant. I was a customer at Back Room for years before I became an employee. I jumped at the opportunity because of the quality of the wines, the knowledge of our staff and the variety that we offer. And I look forward to bringing that to you, our customers.

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