About Me

Claire L. Torbeck

Certfied Sommelier and WSET Diploma Candidate

I grew up in the Midwest (Ohio) and, because there are not a lot of opportunities to taste wine, I found myself a master consumer of White Zinfandel. Friends thought me a snob because it had to be either Sutter Home or Beringer in order to pass my lips.

Fast forward to the day in 1996 my hubby was transferred to the Bay Area with Hewlett Packard, landing us in the then sleepy little town of Pleasanton. With Napa a short car ride away, and hundreds of wineries to visit, the fire was ignited and my wine journey began in earnest!

First an invite to join a wine group with a bunch of nerd food scientists that had been exploring the World of Wine for many years together, then the Enology program at the local college, various winemaking and wine chemistry seminars at UC Davis, launching my own label, ‘Milestone Cellars,’ for experimentation, doing an internship in the lab at Wente, working harvest at Thomas Coyne Winery and Ruby Hill with Chris Graves at the helm, and the grape was smashed! I was definitely hooked

I enrolled in the Certified Specialist of Wine Program with the Society of Wine Educators and began studying in earnest. Having a couple of sons working at Gallo, I received an invitation to join their CSW training class so I did not have to go it alone! What an experience!

Inspiring me further, my now friend, Jake, the master of all things Bordeaux, was so generous in always opening up wines to nudge me along in my learning. I lovingly say ‘he created the monster!’

Since then, I have acquired many other certifications and the story is never ending because the knowledge and enjoyment is never ending! The more I learn, the more humble I have become and the more I love helping others along on their wine journey.

The Support Team

Dan Torbeck is the ‘Cellar Rat’ for all my winemaking projects and a second set of capable hands when we are delivering an educational seminar or an organized tasting.

George Caughman is a retired business owner with a strong IT background. He keeps this website up and running efficiently. When he is in Tahoe, he is also our ski buddy and my hiking pal.