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Spencer Chaffey

Old town, new town
I was there on a lazy August 2006 morning, running the bar of my best friends 80+ wines-by-the-glass bistro & wine bar in Old Town Pasadena, staring out at the tiny cobblestone side-street, tasting one of only a few Napa Valley Cabs that we carried while chatting with the vintners son. He tells me right in front of my good friend (the owner), the general manager (another good friend of mine) and the wine rep. that brought him along, "Hey man, you seem REALLY into wine. You should come work harvest at my family's winery up north". Now you have to understand I've been a Los Angeles city kid my entire life so you could imagine what raced through my head. Visions of farmland, bacchanalia, and a sea of orange & black jerseys swirled through my head. What I didn't see was myself being a part of one of the most dynamic, interesting, and beautiful places I've ever been to. Days later I would find myself in an interview hundreds of miles north that would steer me on a course I never imagined weeks before.

Rewind a bit more
I'm a little younger working as a tech guy in L.A. getting into the industry working a few jobs. One running multiple internet cafes in the San Gabriel Valley and one being a design and multimedia engineering company in Glendale that put on dynamic lighting and sound for clients like Trent Reznor, Princess Cruises, Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, the Hollywood Museum and even some fashion shows. It's only natural with these kind of jobs that I go eating all over the city, and if there is one thing I love as much as wine it's food. Yet at this point I didn't know food all that well and I didn't know wine but something happened where I abandoned my aspirations for working in the entertainment industry switching some major gears and started working in restaurants!

Food led to...
I worked for some fun and tasty restaurants as food runner, expo, waitstaff, bartender, bar manager, manager, I did it all except wine... until one fateful day my buddy asked me to help be a novice pallet for his new bistro & wine bar scheduled to be open in a year. We tasted with wine reps, at tasting events, I took day trips to Santa Barbara, a weekend trip to Paso or San Luis, I couldn't get enough. A year later and thousands of wines later I didn't exactly have a novice palate but one craving for more. I had the bug but still didn't quite "get it" until I shared bottle with a friend of '95 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru. It was then that I had my "wine epiphany."

Napa
Since living here I have worked at a few restaurants, a few harvests at some fun wineries, and at Dean & Deluca's wine department for almost 6 years, one of those years as Wine Manager. Now thanks to Dan, at Back Room Wines I am at a place that I can fully appreciate doing something I love to do. Selling great wine while sharing my knowledge, thoughts of everything wine, and receiving the same in turn.

These days
I spend most of my time reading, painting, watching movies, listening to almost any type of music, hanging with good friends and occasionally enjoying their company at great eateries or bars. There is a particular beach, one that my family has been going to every year since before I was born, Jalama. Conveniently located several miles from Santa Barbara's wine country this gem is the one place I call home. It's perfect really, I'll go to Santa Rita Hills, taste a little, come back to the beach campsite, chill with a good bottle of Pinot and one of the best burgers I've ever had while the sun sets. Did I make that sound good? Maybe one day I'll see you there!


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