We had the good fortune of connecting with Allison Levine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allison, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
There is not one single value or principle that matters most to me. I believe as a small business owner, as well as as an individual, values like integrity, honesty, accountability, responsibility, respectfulness, openness, and kindness are all important. When I think about the values and principles most important to me, I see how they are inter-connected. Ultimately, you cannot have one of these values without the others.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
For the past decade, I have owned my own business. Please The Palate is a boutique agency specializing in marketing communications and events planning for the wine industry. I work with wine regions around the world to organize events (from wine seminars to food and wine pairing events to large walk around tastings) for the wine trade (importers, distributors, wine retailers, wine buyers, sommeliers, wine educators, and wine journalists). I am also a wine educator and wine tastings for private groups. In addition, I am a freelance writer, a podcast host, and a video host.
Prior to starting my own business, I began working in the wine industry after being laid off from the dot.com industry when the first bubble burst in 2001. I had been attending wine classes and tastings for fun and, with a marketing communications and event planning background, started helping a friend with his classes while I looked for a new job. But, I was “bit by the wine bug” and never left. After running a wine education business for 5 years, I worked for an importer selling wine for one year, learning another side of the business. I then when to work for a wine critic where I spent 5 years organizing trade events, as well as writing for a trade publication.
When I started my own business, my goal was to focus on the marketing and events aspect but I started a blog to share what I was drinking and where I was eating with friends. Blogging led to writing stories for the Napa Valley Register and other online and print publications. Today I am a freelance writer and contribute to various outlets including the Napa Valley Register, Alcohol Professor, Monarch Wine, California Winery Advisor, ATOD Magazine, BIN Magazine, and more.
As the owner of my own business, I have the freedom to take on new projects and try new things. I am the U.S. Host of the podcast Wine Soundtrack, an international podcast in which we interview winemakers and winery owners and get to know them in 30 questions.
I also review wines in one minute wine videos with the Wine Weirdos and co-host a weekly YouTube video series called Crush On this in which I am joined by two friends and we talk about wine, wine regions, and wine grapes.
Lastly, I host virtual wine tastings, and in-person tastings. Each month I co-host a virtual tasting with a winemaker and we feature four of their wines. I also co-host virtual tastings in partnership with a wine club and we travel around the world, exploring different regions and wine grapes.
I enjoy the diversity of my work as it mixes logical detail-work with creative outlets. I appreciate all of the wonderful and interesting people I get to work with and interview. It takes a lot of organization and attention to detail to juggle so many different projects but that is where the event planner / organizational side of me comes in very handy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In fact, I am a third-generation Los Angelino on both sides! I love when friends from out of town come and visit and I can show them the real LA, not the Hollywood version. Los Angeles is a big city and there is so much to explore and discover but one also has to be strategic in order to not spend all their time sitting in traffic.
Over a week, we would go somewhere different each day. And, my friends know that I love eating my way around a city. So, we would hit different areas of LA each day. One day would be in downtown LA, which would definitely include Grand Central Market. The next day would be driving around Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Another day would be at the beach, walking or bike riding from Santa Monica to Venice to do some people watching. We would then head up the coast to Santa Ynez for a few days of wine tasting. There are so many excellent wine producers to chose from in Santa Barbara Wine Country. Our first stop would be Folded Hills Winery just off the 101 as you approach Lompoc. Then, if we are in the mood for Pinot Noir, we would go to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto to visit Fiddlehead Cellars, Flying Goat, and Sweetzer Cellars, or to Palmina for some Italian varieties. We would visit Alma Rosa or Peake Ranch for a winery experience. If we were in the mood for Rhone varieties, like Grenache and Syrah, we would visit Larner Wines, Tercero, and Solminer in the town of Los Olivos. The list can go on and on as there are so many great wines to try!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents deserve a lot of credit for who I am today. Their love and ongoing support are a fundamental part of my foundation. Their work ethic, integrity, and passion for what they do has been the model for how I approach my work. My parents have always encouraged me to try anything and even when they did not always understand the direction I was headed, I always knew they believed in me and were there for me if I failed. Unconditional love and support are invaluable tools to have.