We first met Marisa McCann as an Wine Marketing MBA student at ProWein, Germany this past spring. The connection was immediate; fast forward one month and Luna was lucky enough to bring her on as our full-time Marketing Specialist. Marisa sat down with us as we dove deep into the ingenuity that drives her creativity, inspiration, and discipline, as a wine marketer in Napa Valley. We are by no means alone – Forbes Magazine featured Marisa and Luna Vineyards in a Women in Wine article during VinExpo Bordeaux in June. We’ve included a link to the Forbes article here: “Women in Wine Embracing the Offbeat.”
Tell me what drew you to the wine industry?
After studying abroad in Italy and Spain my Junior year of college, I caught the travel bug hard. I found myself living in the epicenter of some of the finest wine regions of the world and had opportunities to explore my palate with Riesling in Germany, Brunello in Tuscany, and Sherry in Jerez (just to name a few).
Experiencing wine from their distinctive regions inevitably brought me closer to the people, traditions, and cultures of a certain place. It was then I discovered how connected wine, food, and travel were and found myself at the beginning of a lifelong love story.
Specifically, to Napa Valley?
As a girl from a small town in Connecticut, you can imagine the confused faces and questions I received when I announced that I wanted to break into the wine industry. I was immediately drawn to Napa Valley, not only for its prestige and beauty but also for its myriad like-minded wine enthusiasts and professionals. Wanting to give wine prominence in my life and career, I ultimately moved to Napa Valley to live near the vines – to experience firsthand the lifecycle of the grape and to become immersed in all things wine. I’ve been out here for almost five months now and I’d say I made the right choice.
And further, why wine marketing?
While I found my calling in wine, my first love was in marketing. It instantly clicked during my first semester of college. Marketing has the creative freedom that many other business fields don’t have. As a marketer, you wear many different hats – social media specialist, graphic artist, content creator, event coordinator, and the list goes on. Fusing my love for wine and marketing together has been the most satisfying aspect in my role as Marketing Specialist at Luna Vineyards.
What is your favorite varietal?
That’s difficult to say – I love so many wines for so many different reasons. I always gravitate towards wines loaded with memories or a good story – like a special bottle of Cabernet I’ve been saving from my first trip to Napa Valley or a bottle of Inniskillin Cabernet Franc ice wine my boyfriend and I picked up during an anniversary trip to Ontario last summer. But, if I had to choose my favorite varietal, I would say Chardonnay. It’s such a diverse and appealing wine, found virtually anywhere that grows grapes. I love steely Chablis, creamy California styles, and my personal favorite, Blanc de blancs from Champagne, France. What girl doesn’t love a little bit of bubbles?
Aside from Napa (duh!), what other visited wine regions are most memorable for you?
I am very lucky to have traveled to so many amazing wine regions around the world (and I’ve just begun to scratch the surface). My most memorable wine region is Porto, Portugal. My best friends and I took an extended weekend trip to Porto and the Duoro Valley in early January. We had an unforgettable time riding rabelo boats down the river, tasting different styles of port wine paired with yummy egg based pastries called, pastel de nata, and exploring the colorful riverfront city of Porto. Wine travel takes you to the most amazing places!
What would be your dream role ten years from now?
I can imagine myself in a couple different roles in the future. I’m open to taking on new places and curious where the expansive wine world will take me. I love photography and writing. It would be interesting to pursue a career in wine journalism – writing a book, working for a major publisher, etc. But, what I would love most of all is to own and manage a winery someday. I want to create it from the ground up and market it. It’s simply a dream at this point, but keep your eyes out in the next decade or so!
Tell me about an individual/(s) who have been highly influential to your growing passion for wine.
There have been many influential people in my development as a wine marketer. While studying at the Bordeaux International Wine Institute this past year, I found a wholesome group of girls with the same passion for wine. We call ourselves the ‘wine tribe’ and we’re made up of four different nationalities – United States, France, Italy, and Spain. The three girls, Alice, Chiara, and Elena who make up the group with me have been there through the ups and downs of studying in a foreign place and always made sure I had a glass of wine in hand. Although we are all spread out, London to Verona to Napa Valley, these girls still provide my daily dose of inspiration and this journey is all the more special with them by my side.
You’ve lived in Bordeaux, what makes Bordeaux and their traditions so unique?
Bordeaux is arguably the worldwide capital of wine. Their winemaking traditions date back centuries and a piece of this history can still be seen throughout the untouched region to this day. The city of Bordeaux itself reminds me of a little Paris – equally chic but less crowded. A major draw to this city is its proximity to surrounding vineyards.
The Chateaux of the Bordelaise countryside are more often than not, family owned and secluded from the public. Although this is starting to change. Bordeaux Chateaux are offering more access to their estates, some providing tours and tastings. The wine tasting scene is very different in Bordeaux compared to Napa or Sonoma Valley, where wine tourism is first and foremost. It’s nice to experience the difference. Some of my favorite wine tasting experiences have been in Bordeaux where the atmosphere is more relaxed and intimate, spending one-on-one time with winemakers and your visit is not squeezed into a time slot.
Thanks for taking the time, Marisa!