Despite graduating the University of Rochester with two majors and one minor in his hip pocket, like many liberal arts students, Seth found himself jobless. As luck would have it, the path to his true calling began with a “post graduate” six-week bartending course. His exposure to and understanding of quality wine and foods revved up when he took his mixology skills to the world of fine dining. Seth’s nine-year restaurant career culminated with his role as sommelier and wine buyer for the historic Richardson’s Canal House in Rochester New York.
Having grown weary of restaurant hours and snow in June, Seth migrated south where his passion for wine led him to the retail world. Seth’s seven years of experience selling wine in downtown Raleigh make him a familiar face to many wine enthusiasts around town. He has put his wine and food background to good use by helping more than a few people find the right bottle of wine to enhance a special meal or complement pizza-and-a-movie night.
Although Seth was born and raised in New York City, Raleigh has become his adopted home. He even finds himself sprinkling “y’all” into casual conversation and is able to fluently discuss the pros and cons of eastern vs. western North Carolina BBQ.
When he’s not hanging around The Raleigh Wine Shop, you’ll likely see Seth riding his vintage Triumph (when it’s running) or out with his canine sidekick and former Oakwood Dog of the Month; Avery. Although she has a taste for wine and beer, her palate are a bit less refined.
James arrived in the Triangle in 1998, moving north from his home state of Georgia to pursue a graduate degree from one of the fine local universities. Raleigh became home in 2001 when he married Raleigh native Beth Weddington Voltz, and it was a trip that James and Beth took in 2005 that eventually led James to a career in wine, and subsequently, to The Raleigh Wine Shop. A few days in Napa before a friend’s wedding in San Francisco was enough to plant the seed for James’ eventual career change.
In 2008, upon the completion of a post-doctoral fellowship in RTP, James decided that Burgundy and wine pairings were markedly more satisfying than grant writing and manuscript editing. Working with a boutique retailer in Charlotte who specialized in offering access to small wineries and limited production wines, James began learning the retail wine business first hand, traveling through wine regions in France, meeting winemakers, and spending time in their vineyards and cellars. Always an advocate of formal training and education, James also studied with the Court of Master Sommeliers, earning his Certified Sommelier certificate in 2011.
To James, wine represents the perfect union of science and art. Modern wine making requires a scientific approach and knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology, and agriculture. However, making great wine also requires an artist’s intuition and touch.
Like most wine professionals, James also has a deep appreciation for food, ranging from fine international cuisine to the more humble, but equally delicious, southern delicacies he watched his sister prepare and serve in her South Georgia restaurants.
The newest member of the RWS team is recently transplanted Long Island, New York native Liz Olivieri. Liz is a graduate of Cornell University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. It’s also where her interest in wine started when, during her senior year, she took an Introduction to Wine course. She parlayed this interest in wine into a job with Martha Clara Vineyards on Long Island. At the vineyard, Liz worked in the tasting room pouring wine for visitors, and she also worked alongside the Vineyard Manager and Winemaker in the field and in the cellar.
In the vineyards, she got her hands dirty planting, pruning, thinning, and training vines, scouting the 102 acre vineyard for signs of disease and insects, sampling berries prior to harvest, and picking grapes. In the cellar, she assisted with crushing the fruit, inoculating fermentations, and stirring barrels. In addition to her hands on work, Liz studied with the Sommelier Society of America in Manhattan. This invaluable hands-on experience combined with formal study has given her the unique perspective of being involved in every aspect of the wine business.
Liz decided she was ready for warmer weather and a more affordable cost of living, so she packed up and headed south to Raleigh, where she’s found a home in The Raleigh Wine Shop. She has tasted and helped select wine with us since she arrived, and she’s looking forward to helping you pick out exactly the right wine for you.
Outside of the shop, you can find Liz cheering on her New York teams, hiking around Lake Johnson, cooking meals for friends (her Italian side), and exploring Raleigh’s downtown scene. She is also currently on the quest to find the perfect bagel in the Triangle.