Along with my colleagues at Wine Review Online,
I’m delighted to welcome Andrew Holod to our ranks. He’s starting up
this week with a set of reviews, and you’ll find his recommendations
virtually every Wednesday going forward on the WRO “Reviews” page. Andrew will also begin contributing columns toward the end of next month.
Andrew is an American-born child of immigrants from Ukraine. He was
raised in the exceptionally diverse suburbs of Washington, DC, where he
was exposed to a broad range of cultures and many different foods, many
of which were grown in his family’s garden.
While living in Munich, Germany for more than two years while in primary
school, Andrew did a lot of foraging for pine and beech nuts and
developed a prodigious appetite for local specialties based on roasted
pork. Upon returning to the USA, his pediatrician found his resulting
blood cholesterol levels somewhat disturbing, but no lasting damage was
done and his culinary career was off to a flying start.
University studies at Virginia Tech resulted in a BS degree in
Industrial Design after extensive work with wood and plastics while also
machining metal, photographing, welding, printing, and engaging in
computer-aided design. Studies also included literature, the philosophy
of art and “most importantly”—as Andrew told me—wine.
The wine course was conducted by Bruce Zoecklein, Ph.D., who I’ve known
for many years and who is very highly respected all over the world of
wine (his formal position prior to shifting into Emeritus status was,
“Professor and Head, Enology-Grape Chemistry Group” at Virginia Tech).
The course was based on the famous U.C. Davis University Wine Course,
and for Andrew, as he explained to me, it “ignited a desire to
understand why a wine tastes as it does…because of vine training,
terroir, winemaking techniques, or some combination of these factors?”
After graduation, Andrew pursued these interests while working for eight
years in wine retailing in McLean, Virginia and Gaithersburg, Maryland,
sometimes tasting as many as 100 wines per week in his role as
Assistant Manager. He also ran tasting classes at the Gaithersburg
location, during which time he was accepted into the WSET program (at
age 24) with a view to sitting for the Master of Wine exam as WSET was
just taking root in the USA.
After three years of study, Andrew stepped away from that course of
study but not from striving to understand wine, and incorporating a more
hands-on dimension to his striving. He worked a harvest for two weeks
with Sashi Moorman at Stolpman Vineyards in Santa Barbara and then
another week at Chehalem Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and was
also invited to participate in Oregon Pinot Camp and Master Napa Valley.
Andrew also worked a harvest for 10 days in Valencia, Spain, but his
engagement with Spanish wines ran much deeper than that. He worked for
nearly 15 years with Aurelio Cabestrero and his company, Grapes of
Spain, in multiple capacities including Marketing Manager and then Sales
Manager. As regular readers of Wine Review Online are already aware
from years of reviews I’ve published on this site, I respect Cabestrero
at the highest level of USA-based importers, and Grapes of Spain is
among the most carefully curated portfolios of wines imported to our
shores from any country in the world. It was when Andrew was working in
this capacity that he and I first met, and also when he immersed
himself directly in Spanish regions including Ourense, Rías Baixas,
Bierzo, Toro, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, they Pays Basque, Valencia,
Alicante, Valdepeñas, La Mancha, Navarra and Jerez.
His travels and work experience are remarkably extensive. On the travel
front, and citing France just for example, he’s conducted site visits
in Alsace, Burgundy, Minervois, Corbieres, Saumur and Vouvray.
Currently he works as Assistant Wine Manager in Schneider’s of Capitol
Hill in D.C. and at cellar.com, its online portal. Schneider’s was
established in 1949 and is an institution in D.C.—which is saying
something in a city famed for its institutions.
Please take a few minutes to look over this week’s WRO's
“Reviews” page to get a sense of Andrew’s wine aesthetic and means of
conveying his critical appreciation to readers. We are confident that
you’ll like what you see and enjoy what you taste on his
recommendations. Stay tuned during the weeks ahead as his reviews and
columns roll out—we are delighted to welcome him aboard, and you’ll be
thankful for his guidance along your own voyage in wine.