Amanda McCrossin is a sommelier and YouTube vlogger in Napa Valley, Calif.
By Zubia Abbasi
Amanda McCrossin is a sommelier integrating the wine industry into the technologically savvy twenty-first century with a budding presence on social media including Instagram, YouTube, and her very own website “Sommvivant.me.”
This has broadened the once traditional idea of wine as a luxury for the older generations into one that now increasingly encompasses the younger generation.
Before coming to the Napa Valley, McCrossin worked as a sommelier at Rotisserie Georgette in the Upper East Side of New York City. Initially, she began her journey in the performing arts where she was working as a professional actress and founded a school for musical theater.
The transition from acting and diving into the world of fine wine was both difficult and easy. She revealed being an actress was “such a huge part of my life,but “It felt like I was being pulled in the direction of wine.” She advised that if one recognizes a passion, it is never a bad decision to pursue it. However, she warns that this doesn’t mean that one should “throw caution to wind” either and that for her it was “just another road I was taking at the moment.”
McCrossin had discovered that her interests had begun to shift, and often she caught herself breezing through a newspaper in search of the wine section instead of engaging more actively in the arts. This realization led to the decision that it was time to embark on a new journey. She then studied under a head Sommelier who taught her everything he knew, and she found herself running her very own wine program which eventually lead her to become certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Once in Napa Valley, McCrossin began working at PRESS Restaurant in St. Helena, a one-of-a-kind restaurant known for its vast and all-inclusive Napa Valley wine collection. Although she is an active presence on social media, she still considered PRESS to be her vital day job that continues to enrich her understanding of wine.
Her experience from New York at Rotisserie Georgette, and now working at PRESS has manifested itself through her social media in which she takes her viewer on an experience through of some of the best wineries, foods, and travel destinations in the Valley.
McCrossin described that the “wine industry is slow to embrace social media as digital marketing,” making it an ideal capitalizing opportunity. Because of this, she has been successful in gaining an advantageous position from which she can create a new sommelier experience.
The idea of taking her knowledge and showcasing it on a platform came to her two years ago as she realized that people came to the Valley for an assortment of reasons.
As a sommelier, McCrossin felt that she should have the knowledge to fulfill those requirements, and when she came to a point where she knew all about the wineries, and the best types of wines for specific budgets and tastes were at the tip of her tongue, she felt confident enough to share that with the world.
With her background in film and acting, she is able to take her skill sets behind and in front of the camera and apply them to her new experience. This opened a whole new door of opportunity for McCrossin because she realized that people were more interested than she had thought. She says that she “started becoming a trustee to the people” and there was a place for what she was embarking on in the industry.
While McCrossin said the wine industry has been driven traditionally by an older demographic. Through social media, however, she has experienced a break from that tradition.
Her YouTube channel has become a space where people can freely learn about wine, “in a way that isn’t pretentious, in a way that is easy to understand.” On the other platform, Sommvivant.com is a carefully curated collection of all things wine and Napa Valley related. It makes searching for wineries enjoyable and easy.
McCrossin is in the process of expanding the site and will introduce all the global locations for the perfect fine wine and art culture, in hopes to broaden her reach.
She claims that the digital business is an advantage since it exposes her brand to a broader range of individuals, and although the demographics of her customers are obscured though the digital platform, she has been able to detect a pattern in the characteristics of the people who visit her website and YouTube channel, and the individuals who come to PRESS.
My demographic is the curious, the people that are willing to take a risk, they’re the people that typically love the arts, typically love travel. They don’t look like anybody, but they definitely behave and act in a way that is open minded,” she said.
McCrossin believes that before it can become profitable, she has to build her brand’s image. She admits that although some people are surprised to see a young, female sommelier, it has never made her feel out of the loop. She always been “one of the boys” and has never seen her gender as a barrier. For now, she is working on her ability to blend tradition with the social media driven world of today.
Zubia Abbasi is a senior Creative Writing major, at Western New England University. She loves to tell stories and believes in the importance of representing the unheard. She hopes that one day she can inspire someone to take the leap and draw creative inspiration from whatever kind of life they have been dealt.