Sunday, November 17, 2013

Secondary Education: San Francisco Wine School

For the past 10 weeks, I've been attending weekly classes at The San Francisco Wine School. The courses ranged from topics such as Chemistry, Flaws and Tasting to a deep dive into Northern France.

In each class, I had the opportunity to try about 8 wines, listen to guest lecturers from SF's best restaurants and network with industry professionals.

Some of the wines were old friends like Radikon's Tokai which I had the pleasure of tasting during my internship at Vino Roma.

Other wines were new to me and from highly exclusive producers in very small villages in Bordeaux. 

So, why did I take this class?

I like drinking. Specifically, I like drinking wine.

Beyond that - after interning for the premier tasting studio in Rome, my internship in the wine industry only skyrocketed. With support from my mentor, she encouraged me to continue pursuing my wine education even though I've started my professional career in technology.

Through this class, I received in-depth education on nearly every major wine making territory in the world. I learned the difference between viniculture and viticulture and had amazing exposure to some of the leading wine experts in Northern California.

The culmination of this class ends with a rigourous test called The CSW aka The Certified Specialist of Wine test.

I entered the class thinking that this test would be a breeze and I could collect this certification in no time. WRONG.

The test is on Monday and I think I've studied more for this test than I did for the SAT/ACTs.

Here is a sampling of the types of questions they could ask:

1. Which of the following terms means "late harvest" in German?
A. Auslese
B. Spatlese
C. Berrenauslese
D. Kabinett

2. Which of the following wines is produced in Sicily?
A. Taurasi
B. Frascati
C. Conero
D. Marsala

3. Which of the following AVA's is located in Oregon?
A. Rogue Valley
B. Green Valley
C. Horse Heaven Hills
D. McDowell Valley

4. What is "Les Clos"?
A. A Premier Cru vineyard in Alsace
B. A Grand Cru vineyard in Chablis
C. A Grand Cru vineyard in Champagne.
D. A Premier Cru vineyard in Burgundy

Did you get any correct? (Check the answers below)

I need a 75% to pass -- wish me luck!

Answers (1. B 2. D 3. A 4. B)

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Next Adventure...

BIG NEWS: In exactly one week, I'll be on a plane headed to Dublin, Ireland.

Exploring the Wicklow Mountains

The reason for my trip is twofold:

1. My best friend has been working her buns off this past semester at Trinity College and gallivanting around Europe on the weekends. I am her official Thanksgiving buddy.
2. My fantastic amazing company, bases their European HQ in the charming city of Dublin and is allowing me to work remotely for a few days during my trip. I'll be spending the days shadowing different teams, having 1:1's with senior leaders and learning all about the European market.

Frolicking around Trinity College

For those who followed my adventures whilst abroad, you know that I am already a big fan of Dublin (and Trinity College above). I had the great fortune of spending a few days in Ireland last fall with my pals from Rome.

Dublin has an especially warm place in my heart, despite the freezing weather because it is a place of reunion. During our trip, I reunited with another best friend (same group of friends as Rachel) who was based in Spain for the year! It was a teery and warm reunion.

The week will be filled with adventures in the Irish countryside, lots of Guinness, freezing our pants off (see below from last year) and laughter gallore.

But that's not all folks...

Rachel and I are being graced by the beautiful presence of our friend, the amazing and talented - Katie Turley. You may have seen her a few years ago, competing on NBC's "The Sing Off." Beyond having the voice of an angel, she is a total hoot! Katie's been abroad in London this fall and is spending the weekend with us. Katie and I are dying to see The Cliffs of Moher.

That's not all either...

For our Thanksgiving meal, Rachel and I will be munching down on haggis and black pudding (maybe)... because we will be in EDINBURGH.

We are risking our lives and taking a RyanAir flight to Scotland.

Cheers to a week and a half of adventures with my pals, international work experience and freezing cold weather.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Love Advice from Amy Poehler

I stumbled upon this quote from Amy Poehler and it really hit home...

"Being in love is the worst. It’s also the best, but it’s so hard and scary to open your heart to someone … when you tell somebody you love them or you realize you’re in love, what it means is you’re giving yourself over a little bit, you’re being vulnerable. But the point is vulnerability is the key to happiness. Vulnerable people are powerful people … celebrate the idea that you’re in love and that you love the idea of being in love."

Here's to learning to embrace vulnerability.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Mentors New College Grads Need

I had the sincere fortune of being featured on The LinkedIn Blog a few days ago. I am a contributing writer to a new series called, "Welcome to the Workforce" featuring several new graduates. My topic was on mentorship. Enjoy!


As you get older, it’s funny to look back on grade school and think about the life lessons that were casually ingrained into the curriculum. One experience that sticks out for me is the “reading buddy.” The reading buddy was typically an older student who was assigned to a younger student to help develop reading skills and confidence. This buddy served as a role model to the younger student.

I now realize that this dynamic was the precursor to what has become a key success factor in our professional lives. The reading buddies of the professional world have a different name but serve a similar purpose: to provide guidance and support while developing you to become a stronger professional. They are now called mentors.

In my first few months as a utility-paying, dinner-making “adult” professional, I have identified three key qualities that help to shape the types of mentors that are essential to a new college graduate entering the workforce.

The supportive mentor is someone you respect and look up to, but is also someone you can be vulnerable around if you need to be. As one can imagine, the “real world” can be a bit shocking to new graduates and this mentor is your go-to in times of need. This mentor may be a peer, or close to it, who has gone through a similar transition recently.

The support provided by this mentor reaffirms that you are not alone this new stage of your life and who reassures you that your company and colleagues truly care.

The inspirational mentor is easy to spot, but looks different for every individual. This mentor is someone who is in a place where you wish to be one day. This mentor may currently work in your dream job or they are crushing it in your current role. This mentor has successfully routed his or her career path and can provide inspiration and guidance for yours.

The inspiration provided by this mentor can come in forms of a job shadow experience, a lecture or informational interviews, ideally with the goal of strategic career planning.

Professional Growth
The mentor who enables your professional growth is likely someone you directly report to who has witnessed your early wins and can champion you within the company. This mentor plays a crucial role in the development and adoption of your professional brand. This mentor is likely a respected leader within the company whose opinions are taken seriously.

The professional growth this mentor helps you achieve will move the needle for you in significant ways.

Simply put, different mentors serve different purposes and throughout different stages in one’s career – different mentors will surface. However as a new graduate, these three qualities in mentors have been immensely important to success in my first quarter as a professional.

What types of qualities do you see in your mentors? If you are a mentor, do you fall into one of the three buckets more heavily or do you embody all three qualities for your mentees?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jackson Square - The Timeless Classic

For those that don't know - I've moved. I said goodbye to my charming bachelorette studio, which was simply a summer sublet and joined forces with a friend from high school to find a new apartment.

House hunting in San Francisco is no easy game - it is a hunt to say the least. Well, the real estate Gods were smiling upon us when we landed our new apartment.

The apartment is brand new with hardwoods, exposed brick and granite. Yes it's a dream. Don't worry - a tour is coming once we finish decorating.

For now, we are enjoying exploring our new neighborhood - Jackson Square.

Jackson Square feels stuck in time. It feels like the old San Francisco when men wore full suits and women wore hats and gloves to their meetings. Boutique law firms and antique shops are sprinkled amongst the tree-lined streets. Brick is everywhere and it always smells like a campfire.

Gourmet restaurants like Quince, Coi and Cotogna bring a bustling, glamours energy to the otherwise quite evenings on the square.

And the Transamerica Pyramid watches over during the day and twinkles at night just as the Eiffel Tower does in Paris.

Needless to say, we are in love with our new 'hood.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

End of Summer in Napa Valley

A few weeks ago, I had the fortune of attending PlumbJack's newest winery, Odette's end of summer soiree. The afternoon featured rabbit paella, fabulous wine and good times with family.

I wasn't blown away by the tasting room - it was subtle and small which is strange for Napa. I was however, quite impressed with their Chardonnay.

This is saying a lot because I typically strongly dislike Napa Chards which are over-oaked, too buttery and flat. The 2011 Adaptation Chardonnay we drank was phenomenal. It was slightly acidic, tropical and refreshing. Reminded me more of a Sauvignon Blanc from NZ (my favorite).  Kudos to Odette for breaking the norm for Napa.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Making Friends as an Adult

One of the strangest aspects of the post-graduate life is one's ability to make new friends.

Seriously. Making friends as an adult is very strange. My entire life, I've had organized activities that formed friendships for me. If you look at my very close group of friends from high school, we met during Volleyball Camp. If you look at my very close group of friends from college, we met in the Freshman Dorms.

This is the first phase in life where the world isn't providing me with an instant, built-in group of friends. Though, I've gotta hand it to my company. I've already formed fantastic relationships with many of my colleagues. However, I've struggled to form friendships beyond the office walls.

How hard is it to make new friends in a city that is only 7 by 7 miles?


Despite this, something incredible happened today. Before I tell you, you'll need context.


A few weeks ago, I found myself struggling in my new local Safeway to find polenta. I was cooking dinner for someone special for the first time and naturally wanted to cook my go-to meal: polenta.

After aimlessly wandering around the aisles - I saw a nice looking gal my age who looked like she'd cooked polenta in her life (what that looks like, I couldn't tell you). I casually asked her if she knew where the polenta was and unfortunately she did not. We then spent the next five minutes laughing about how hard Safeway was to navigate and why I was cooking polenta and who I was cooking it for.

In five short minutes, I already felt an incredibly strong connection to this gal in Safeway. For fear of coming off as though I was hitting on her, I didn't give her my number - though I would have loved to grab dinner/drinks/mani or pedis with her... we simply bid eachother goodbye. I even said to her, "Well, maybe I'll see you again!"

Fast forward to this afternoon... I ran out to grab coffee with a friend at this brand new amazing shop called Workshop Cafe. It's part cafe, part startup workspace. When we made it to the counter, I realized that the girl behind the counter was Safeway Girl!

She grinned at me and said, "Did we meet a few weeks ago at Safeway!?" I was floored. We both were speechless. I told her that destiny wants us to be friends and gave her my number. She agreed and we are having a friend date next week.


As strange as it sounds - making new friends in a city feels a lot like dating. Safeway Gal popped out of nowhere and then surfaced a few weeks later. I am taking this as a serious sign that this chick needs to be in my life.

Now that... is a friendship story. Cheers to a good friend-date.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Journey Like No Other

When I was 13 years old, I took my first trip to Italy. On our last night in Venice, my mother and I stumbled onto a vaporetto and got off at the first dock that looked promising. That twinkling dock turned out to be Hotel Cipriani - one of the most famous hotels in Venice... in the world. We proceeded to have the most memorable six course meal of my life. We sat upon the water, sipping Prosecco, watching the sunset. At the table next to us sat three women in Chanel suits and Sidney Poitier.

It was a night to remember and a journey like no other.

When I first saw this campaign by Orient Express, I was immediately brought back to that night. This marketing campaign evokes wanderlust like no travel campaign ever has before.

Follow the journey as one family travels around the world to some of the most luxurious properties of the Orient Express.

Enjoy watching the story unfold in the legendary train through Europe...

into the mysterious mountains of Peru...

across the shimmering lagoon of Venice...

to the breathtaking beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

Enjoy this journey around the world.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Barbie of Silicon Valley

via Vogue

At first glance, this glamour shot seems to be an advertisement for Lancome's newest matte lipstick in a deep red.

At second glance, that beauty lounging in a pose reminiscent of Cabanel's Birth of Venus, is recognized as the Chief Executive Officer of one of Silicon Valley's giants -- Yahoo!'s Marissa Mayer.

Printed in Vogue's infamous September issue, "Hail to the Chief" is an expose on Mayer's business and fashion decisions - both of which are worthy of commemoration. The article beautifully describes Mayer's art collection in her Palo Alto home, a wardrobe filled to the brim with her favorite designer and her handsome (Ken Doll-like) partner, Zachary Bogue. It also nods at the Renaissance she has spearheaded for Yahoo! with the recent acquisition of Tumblr and her restructuring of internal policies regarding working from home, sexy benefits and mobile development.

Despite the depth of the article, initial reaction has been largely negative. The criticism is nothing new for Mayer. Her departure from Google and arrival at Yahoo! raised many eyebrows. Mayer was inconveniently and recently pregnant and she was one of the only female, let alone youngest, leaders in Silicon Valley.

Additionally, one of her immediate changes to Yahoo! sparked a national controversy. Upon mandating that Yahoo! employees were no longer allowed to work from home regularly, mothers across the country snarked that Mayer was being insensitive to the challenges of working parents who don't have the same resources as top executives. Mayer herself only took two weeks of pregnancy leave and built a private nursery for her son next to her office at headquarters.

Moreover, many have scoffed at Mayer's interest in high society and fashion. They have ridiculed her for being superficial. Mayer is known for attending and hosting large parties, sporting colorful Oscar de la Renta gowns.

Criticism aside, this woman is incredible. While I do find the the glamour shot of the Vogue piece objectifying and a bit Stepford Wife-esq, the article wasn't published in Maxim or Sports Illustrated. This was a shot for the most esteemed fashion magazine on the planet, seeking to catch the eye of readers interested in beauty and fashion.

Mayer has been teased as the "Barbie of Silicon Valley" and this article surely supports that image. This nickname, though intended as an insult, is in my opinion - awesome. Kudos to a kickass woman who somehow manages to be incredibly chic and feminine, while running an internet empire.

Now that is the type of Barbie I think girls should look up to.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Dear Blog,

If you were my boyfriend, it would be very easy to understand why you may want to break up. I haven't been returning your calls, I haven't been paying much attention to you and I've just been too busy to be in this relationship.

I've made some week attempts over the past month to blog - usually on a calm Sunday afternoon when I've had time. However, that is simply unacceptable.

From here on out, I promise to devote more time to you. You are something I love and am passionate about. I won't let you down.


Dear Readers,

Many of you have been wondering where I've been and why I've stopped blogging as much. While I hate to give excuses, the truth is that I've been incredibly busy up here in San Francisco getting settled in my new life and job. This has meant long hours at the office, long weekends exploring new neighborhoods and little to no time for blogging.

That being said, I think I am finally settled and ready to get back into the swing of things around here.

I promise you'll be seeing posts more regularly on mackenziecharlotte. Thanks for your continued support.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Foodie Adventures: The Front Porch

My favorite thing about my neighborhood is its close proximity to the fabulous restaurants of The Mission. This morning, I had the pleasure of taking two out of town friends to my new favorite brunch spot - The Front Porch.

My two galpals were in town for Outside Lands (an annual musical festival that San Francisco is very proud of) and even though I wasn't attending OSL (music festivals aren't really my thing), I was elated to see my two very stylish friends.

Look how adorable Em & A are in their festival attire:

One of the gals was even stopped by Free People and photographed for The Free People blog. I was dying over Em's hat. See evidence below (oh ya, I chopped off my hair).

Okay, enough fashion. On to the real star of this post - the southern comfort food of The Front Porch. FP boasts a very eclectic ambiance - not necessarily my style. Mismatched rocking chairs and a stuffed zebra on rockers welcome guests.

We opted to sit outside as the inside is incredibly dark. It's known as the best place to go when you are hungover because it has fabulous, greasy food in a cave like setting.

We started with the house made chicory coffee and beignets.

Then we moved on to fresh peach waffles and something called, "The Stoner Stack" complete with cheesy grits.

No kidding, this is some of the tastiest food in San Francisco. I pride myself in being a brunch connoisseur and The Front Porch, despite its humorously odd ambiance, is my go-to spot now. It simply doesn't disappoint and the eclectic environment is sure to inspire creative conversation amongst the table.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Top Three TED Talks

TED Talks are my not-so-guilty pleasure. It's amazing how much you can learn from an intelligent person sharing their passion and ideas within a short 8 to 25 minute time frame.

"We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other." - TED's Mission

I've had the great pleasure of viewing several different kinds of TED talks both in my jobs, my classes and on my own time. 

I've picked my top three to share. 

1) Meg Jay: "Why 30 is Not the New 20"

This talk argues that 80% of life's most important moments happen before you are 35 and we know that personality changes more in your twenties than during any other time in life. Jay encourages twenty somethings to optimize the time in their twenties to make formative decisions about their career, love life and more. 

2) Simon Sinek: "How Great Leaders Inspire Others"

This talk reminds you that great leaders inspire others not by what they do, but why they do it.

3) Sheryl Sandberg: "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders"

Anyone who has been following my blog knows that I love Sandberg. This was the talk that started it all for her. It was after she gave this talk that she found the inspiration to write Lean In.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quiet Afternoons in Museums

There is nothing more beautiful than combining two of your favorite things. This weekend, I had the opportunity to share my love of Impressionism with one of my dearest friends.

Naturally, we took the scenic route that allowed us to wind along the grey sea on our way to The Legion of Honor's newest exhibition, "Impressionists on the Water."

In celebration of The America's Cup 2013, the Legion showcased a charming collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works featuring waterscapes. From raging waves crashing against cliffs to calm and quiet canals, the Impressionists loved water and all things nautical.

It was a lovely afternoon of quiet discussion on brush strokes, illusion and the Impressionist's hypnotizing manipulation of color.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Afternoon in the Park

Today I had a true moment of blissful joy. I was sitting on the edge of Dolores Park at a charming outdoor cafe with a dear friend listening to the sounds of The San Francisco Symphony and their annual summer outdoor concert series.

As the sun glistened upon us and Tchaikovsky played in the distance, we sipped on Sightglass artisan coffee. Halfway through the afternoon, my friend looked up with a smile and he said: "Can we just freeze this moment in time? What could be more perfect?"

Here's to more blessed moments of life in this beautiful city.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Artist Watch: Parima

As I stare at the blank walls in my new studio (not that there are that many), I think of the gorgeous abstract works done by a growing artist named Patricia Vargas or better known as: Parima.

Now that is what I call a shock of color. Love.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Foodie Adventures: Russian River Brewing Company

Okay so this isn't really a "foodie adventure" more of a "drinking adventure," but until I have a category for that, it will have to fall under foodie. When my roommate and bestie in San Diego drove me up to San Francisco, she had one condition that we make it to Russian River to visit her favorite brewery - home to Pliny The Elder (a double IPA that rocks her world).

We called up another close gal pal and made the trip up from San Francisco. The brewery was less exciting than we had anticipated, in my mind it would be this big brewing factory on a river. Wrong. It's right in downtown Santa Rosa.

Russian River Brewing Company appears to be just like any other bar. It is for those who know what to look for that are rewarded. Though we came to try the infamous Pliny The Younger (a triple IPA) we were informed that this brew lasts only two weeks in February. Shame. You minx.

Per my friends request, we opted to do a tasting flight of every brew created.

I was pleasantly surprised by the brews that aged in wine barrels. I especially liked Consecration which aged in Cabernet oak. My gals didn't dig the sourness of those babies and stuck with their favorite: Pliny.

'Twas a lovely little getaway from the city. Russian River brews were hard to find in San Diego, so I'm hoping they will be easier to come by in San Francisco.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Bachelorette Pad

Finally! Done at last. For the past week, I've been running around the city like a mad woman in order to get set up in my studio. A huge thank you to Anjali for road tripping up from San Diego and exploring my new neighborhood with me. Miss you already! Another thank you to Mama Deb for helping me get settled into my new home. You are the best mother and friend a gal could ask for. Thank you for having exquisite taste and a designer's eye.

In this time, I've learned that 500 square feet goes a long way, there is a nook and cranny for every object I own, lining shelves is the most laborious activity of all and Costco has great furniture.

Welcome to my new home in San Francisco.

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