Was there a specific wine, moment or place that unlocked your passion?
Chad Stock: I discovered at a young age that I was overly sensitive to, and very aware of, my sense of smell and taste. Many week nights and weekends were spent cooking in the kitchen with my mother. When I turned fifteen, I started my first job at a local sandwich shop where I spent most of my earned money eating and playing with the ingredients in the shop pantry, creating “off-menu” sandwiches. When I entered college, I contemplated culinary school, food science, and eventually learned that fermentation science was an option. In my late teens, I chose to study Enology and Viticulture and just never looked back. It’s been a hell of a ride! I love what I do.
There was a small wine shop in Eugene, Oregon where I purchased most of my wine. The shop hosted local winemakers during their semi-regular tasting events who shared wine stories and wines. The store owner knew I was very inquisitive about wine and encouraged me to attend a tasting featuring a prominent local winemaker.
Prior to that event, I had never met anyone in my life who had such passion and dedication for their career, or in this particular case, a man who had identified an interest in something that he could turn into a career. This has been a recurring theme with other individuals I’ve encountered in this industry over the years.
You can’t replace the quality of the experience a small wine merchant can provide. Unless your grocery store has an educated wine steward, one who can help you learn the difference between a mediocre, industrial alcoholic beverage and a soulfully made agricultural product, don’t buy your wine there.
What did you study in school and what were you doing before you started in the wine industry?
CS: I initially studied Business Administration because it was a practical major for wanderers. When I discovered the path of fermentation and enology as an option, I changed majors and transferred universities. During college, I had a number of miscellaneous odd jobs, construction, restaurant service, athletic trainer, special event coordination, various sales gigs.
How has being in the wine industry changed you?
CS: The wine industry hasn’t changed me as far as I can tell. It has just provided an outlet that allows me to do what I am the most interested in. It is tough to discern the difference between recognizing self-discovery and actual forced change to oneself from an outside influence.
What’s your favorite part of being in the wine industry?
CS: Global connection has been my favorite part. Wine, like food, transcends cultures and brings people together over a common interest that is quite primal and intellectual at the same time. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world and form close relationships that have broadened who I am as a person and enrichened my life in unimaginable ways.
Looking back, was there something in your past that led you to wine?
CS: Wine is DELICIOUS!