Originally from the American Midwest, Preston grew up drinking milk, not wine. Paris has been his homebase now for 17 years, and he has explored over 20 world wine regions. As a natural teacher, Preston loves demystifying wines for novices and experts alike. For him, it’s all about giving you the tools to determine the simplest of questions: do I like this wine? Why or why not?
At VIVANT, Preston leads a diverse team of 18 wine advisors located around the world. Our wine advisors are the face of VIVANT and help spread our mission to accelerate the wine world’s transition to a sustainable future. He works with our wine advisors on business development and to polish their Live Experience hosting skills. He also gets to liaise with every department in the company, including editorial, production and logistics, ensuring we’re at the top of our game for VIVANTs.
How did you get into wine?
I became interested in wine when I was in college. I had little or no contact with wine during my childhood. While in college, my friend and roommate who was in culinary school introduced me to wine and the concept of properly pairing wine with food. It was a revelation.
At a time when most of my peers were interested in binge drinking beer or hard alcohol, I started to sip and sample some of the great wines of the world. For me, wine sat at the intersection of history, culture, travel and pure enjoyment, and that intrigued me. It wasn’t until my late 20s, when I was already living in Paris, that I thought of wine as a career path. Working in tourism and hospitality, I was in daily contact with the many foreign visitors to Paris wanting to dig below the surface of French food and wine.
How would you describe VIVANT?
VIVANT is a place of fun and inclusivity for wine novices and experts alike. The world of wine can be quite challenging to understand. Wine is often marketed as an exclusive product or place of luxury. VIVANT is the exact opposite: we allow beginners and more experienced wine lovers alike to join in the fun of learning.
You lead a diverse team of wine advisors. Who are they?
My team has extremely varied backgrounds and experiences, so they all bring something unique to VIVANT and our community. Some of the wine advisors grew up around wine, but most of them caught the wine bug later in life and transitioned from another industry to wine. Wine is a unique world in that regard and it makes for an extremely passionate group of people who bring their diverse professional and life experiences to the table.
What are you looking for in a wine advisor for your team?
VIVANT is looking for people with an innate talent for sharing and storytelling. Natural teachers do well in this role, as well as those who are simply passionate about wine, specifically great-tasting, “healthy” wines!
Why is it important to have the VIVANT platform today?
As the world evolves and our travel habits change, it’s of the utmost importance to have a way for wine lovers to connect digitally to share a common experience. We have yet to grasp the social impact the closing of restaurants, bars and limitations on social activities have had on us during this tumultuous year of 2020. It’s paramount for our modern society to be able to connect on that same level without leaving the comfort and security of their home.
What are the benefits of a wine lover learning about their wine and really understanding it?
The art of wine enjoyment turns a simple agricultural product into an intellectual product by unfurling the geography and stories behind that wine. It also allows the person savoring the wine to travel and “meet” the people who made that wine, without ever leaving the dinner table.
What’s special about coming face to face with wine producers and hearing their stories in VIVANT Live Experiences? How does it change the experience of tasting a wine?
Any artisanal product is best consumed or enjoyed after learning about the men and women that made it. I’d love for more winemakers to become household names, rather than big brands that produce bland and uninteresting wines.
What’s the key takeaway you want people to get from a Live Experience on VIVANT?
It’s never too late to start learning about wine. I’d like VIVANTs to understand that wine is a democratic beverage and for everyone! There is truly a wine style for everyone and for every occasion.
If you could change one thing in the wine world today, what would it be?
The wine industry still lacks diversity. This is slowly changing for the better, but I’d love for everyone, regardless of their background or origin to be part of the international wine community. I’d also like more conventional wine producers to start asking themselves questions about the products they apply to their vines, the conditions in which they work, and how they treat the environment.
What was the turning point where you realized the importance of choosing a sustainably-made wine over a conventional wine?
There wasn’t just one single moment. For me, it’s an ongoing process. The flavor of sustainably produced wines is generally superior in my opinion. The moment I realized the best wines are still very much alive, constantly evolving, was a turning point. I find that winemakers who care for the earth and their own bodies tend to make more delicious wine.
If you could share a glass of wine with one person dead or alive, who would that be, and what would you drink?
Probably my late father, who died too young. He was not really a wine guy, but I remember serving him a blanc de blancs champagne that he really loved, so probably that.
You’ve visited more than 20 wine regions around the world. Where next?
I’ve been dreaming of going to South Africa for many years. I hope this is my next big trip. I’d also like to go back to Jerez in Spain and to Alto Adige in Italy.
What’s your advice to someone just starting to learn about wine?
Start learning about the wines you already know and love and go from there!
Follow Preston on his profile page and get your spot in an upcoming Live Experience with him.