This is part of a series introducing you to interesting people in the wine industry. For many, the journey into wine is not only intriguing but often quite an adventure. These talented individuals are what make the wine industry what it is today so follow this series to meet this group of passionate people who have dedicated their lives to wine.
Why Wine? An Interview with Rebecca Pittock Shouldis of Ghost Hill Cellars
Michele Francisco: Was there a specific wine, moment or place that unlocked your passion?
Rebecca Pittock Shouldis: My discovery moment was my first dinner with my new host family while spending my junior year of High School in France as a foreign exchange student. My host father, Gilbert, was a retired General of the French Air Force and a great lover of wines, particularly the great wines of Bordeaux. He was adamant that my purpose in France was to learn about the people and the culture and I could never begin to understand anything if I did not first understand the role that wine played in their culture and their lives. It was never about the “alcohol” but more about the interaction and the way that wine behaves as a catalyst to bring people together and to help create the moments that become the memories that are the foundation of our lives.
MF: What did you study in school and what were you doing before you started in the wine industry?
RPS: My background has nothing to do with wine actually. I worked for a cargo airline from February of 1999 to January of 2000 when I enlisted into the Oregon Air National Guard as an aviation maintenance technician on the F-15 Fighter jets that fly out of PDX. I didn’t enter the wine industry until June of 2005 when, on a complete whim, I decided to open a wine shop in downtown McMinnville.
MF: How has being in the wine industry changed you?
RPS: In more ways than I can count! I went from diving head first into a new industry to making wine for an incredible family and wonderful brand in less than three years. I never in a million years thought that this is what I would be doing someday. I LOVE it… but sometimes I still feel like it is all part of an incredibly elaborate dream. Today I produce wines for Ghost Hill Cellars, Gypsy Dancer Estates, two small custom bottling projects; one for an importer in Canada and another for a local non-profit –Grow International called ‘Grow Africa’ and soon I will be releasing my own label called ‘A La Main’ which means ‘To Be Done by Hand’ in French. I’m truly living the dream!
MF: What’s your favorite part of being in the wine industry?
RPS: The incredible community. No matter where I go within this industry I meet such incredibly warm and friendly people. I have been supported by an incredible network of friends constantly encouraging me. The other thing I really enjoy is the way that we never ever stop learning. As a winemaker every vintage is different with its own set of wonderful and unique challenges. Life is never boring in the wine industry!
MF: Looking back, was there something in your past that led you to wine?
RPS: No Doubt!! See my answer to the first question. In addition I would certainly never have gotten into the production side of things without the very determined encouragement of my sweetheart, Thibaud Mandet, Winemaker for Willakenzie Estate. After working for Willakenzie during the 2007 harvest, he said to me, “You should be making wine – not selling it.” Well, less than one year later, that is exactly what I was doing!