Recommended Reading

In an effort to prepare for the Introductory Sommelier Course through The Court of Master Sommeliers, I have many books on my coffee table that I am working my way through.


Last year, I read Complete Wine Course by Kevin Zraly so I am taking some time to review the chapters.  I read this book with a group and we did tastings from each course along the way.  It was some of the most fun I have had with wine and it was fabulous to get multiple perspectives while tasting.

Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein is providing some interesting background knowledge to use when pairing wines with food.  Truth be told, I think I am more excited about diving into his book Daring Pairings, but I feel as if I have to wait to dig into it until after I have built a solid foundation of basic pairing principles and understand the concepts well enough to expand on classical pairing philosophies.

I am using Pairing Food & Wine for Dummies to help build this foundation as well.  I have never purchased a ‘for Dummies’ book, but I guess it was about time.  The slogan at the top of the cover states that they are “Making Everything Easier!”  Here’s hoping.

The Sothby’s Wine Encyclopedia by Tom Stevenson and Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits by Harold Grossman are both daunting reference books.  I don’t foresee myself reading through more than just the introduction and for the purpose of looking up specific wines, beers or spirits.  They are both a good upper body workout when I pick them up, though.

I also have a stack of old copies of Food & Wine Magazine to peruse for some insight.

Are there any other books you have read that you would recommend to help me prepare for the Introductory Course?

Park Farm Winery, Bankston, Iowa


My fond memories of Park Farm Winery include the very first time I visited the year they opened, in 2005.  My cousin had recently turned twenty-one and we were excited to test out the new local establishment.  They were certainly generous with the pour and we sampled multiple wines, making a lovely afternoon.  If memory serves me correctly, I believe we both exited the premises with a case of wine to stock up.  She continues to be a Case Club Member.


Located in the rolling hills of northeast Iowa, Park Farm Winery can be described as off the beaten path, but in my opinion that is part of its charm. It is located about 20 miles from Dubuque, Iowa.  The chateau-style building and vast vineyards, pastures and timber lend to the old-world ambiance.  It truly feels as if you have stepped outside of Iowa (often times the country).

The winery grows three white grape varietals: LaCrosse, LaCresent and St. Pepin.  They also grow three red grape varietals: Marechal Foch, St. Croix and Marquette.  There is a small number of other varietals that are also maintained in the vineyard, including Frontenac and Leon Millot.

Featuring a lovely tasting room and event room with a cozy fireplace, hand-crafted artisan wines, fresh homemade woodfire pizza, if you can’t find something to love, you may want to check your pulse!  For $3 you are able to taste five wines, choosing to follow the sweet flight, dry flight or mixing and matching your favorites.

My personal favorite wines are the Marechal Foch, which is a medium-bodied dry red produced from estate grown Marechal Foch grapes and pairs well with a medium rare grilled steak.  I also love the Frontenac, which is a port-style wine that rivals any other port I have ever tried. Every time I take a sip of this wine, I pick up different notes (but it always makes me want to sit by a fireplace at the end of the day). I love enjoying a glass of this after dinner with a square of dark chocolate.  I tried it once with dark chocolate and blueberries and it was a simple, yet phenomenal, end to our meal.

I highly recommend visiting this quaint, charming winery if you are ever in the area.  Or make a trip to northeast Iowa with Park Farm Winery as your destination!

To find more information about the winery, visit their website at: