Despite graduating the University of Rochester with two majors and one minor in his hip pocket, like many liberal arts students, Seth Hoffman found himself jobless. As luck would have it, the path to his true calling began with a “post graduate” six-week bartending course. 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 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 ably sprinkles “y’all” into casual conversation and is able to fluently discuss the pros and cons of Eastern vs. Western North Carolina BBQ.
Georgia born and educated, James moved to the Triangle in 1998 to pursue a graduate degree from one of the fine local universities. A few days in California wine country before a friend’s wedding in 2005 was enough to plant the seeds for James’ eventual career change.
In 2008, upon the completion of a post-doctoral fellowship, James decided that Burgundy and wine pairings were markedly more satisfying than grant writing and manuscript editing. To James, wine represents the perfect union of science and art. Modern winemaking requires a scientific approach and knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology, and agriculture. However, making great wine also requires an artist’s intuition and touch.
In 2014, Liz packed up and headed south from her native Long Island, New York, and found her new home in Raleigh and at The Raleigh Wine Shop. As a Cornell University alum, it’s where her interest in wine started when, during her senior year, she took an Introduction to Wine course from the School of Hotel Administration – an unwritten requirement before graduating. Back home, she got her hands dirty planting, pruning, and harvesting grapes as an assistant vineyard manager on the North Fork of Long Island, and in the cellar, helping with everything from crushing the fruit to stirring barrels. In addition to her hands-on work, Liz studied with the Sommelier Society of America in Manhattan before embarking on her journey south. This invaluable ‘from winery to the classroom’ experience has given her a unique perspective on wine that she brings to the shop every day. When not rooting for her NY sports teams, or golfing, she is cooking up an Italian meal at home, often with a bottle to pair, and her husband, Mike, and their cat, Nacho, close by.
Tristan Pennell’s journey into wine began on the farm. During his last year at UNC Chapel Hill he began working at a local North Carolina winery, eventually working his way up to tasting room manager for the privilege of being in the air conditioning. After learning about the whole world of wines being made outside of our fair state, he dove headfirst into fine dining, working his way up from a bus boy to management, earning his sommelier certification along the way. After stints in wine bars, wine education, and restaurant consulting, the hours of restaurant life took their toll – after leaving the fine dining scene and returning from some R&R in France, he couldn’t resist the siren song of the wine world, calling him to The Raleigh Wine Shop.
At the shop, he has the opportunity, one on one and in the shop’s educational classes, to pass along his infectious passion for wine. Him and his wife, Erin, love spending time with their cat Mabel, cooking meals at home with the perfect bottle for pairing, and hosting epic game nights with friends.
Rachel moved from Kinston, NC to Raleigh in 2010 to study at NC State. While there, she got a job with the NCSU catering company and fell in love with the free food and multitude of different venues and experiences. Her beginnings as a server lead to a love for bartending and hospitality with an immediate affinity for Spanish and Italian wines thanks to her first job at Tazza Kitchen. With the help of Patrick Emerson, advanced sommelier and organizer of Charleston Wine & Food, she learned the basics of wine and service, and how to light up guests’ lives by encouraging them to branch out of their tastebud ruts and try something new! She’d been working in catering and restaurants for seven years when she found The Raleigh Wine Shop and has since grown into a serious wine lover with a strong appreciation of the beautiful, knowledgeable, approachable people that work in the industry. When not at the shop you can find Rachel spending time with her family out at the coast, with her cat Yoda, who is a spicy little nugget, or with a bottle of something fun and funky from Chile!
Born and raised in Raleigh, Mallory started working in the restaurant industry her senior year of high school. After several years and gaining loads of experience and industry know-how waiting tables in Downtown Raleigh, she moved to Brooklyn, NY with the hopes of landing a serving job at any reputable restaurant that would hire her. She was lucky enough to work at a one Michelin star restaurant in Bushwick where she developed a passion and understanding for natural wine. After a year of working (and drinking wine of course) in NYC, she decided to head home to Raleigh and focus on a career in the wine industry. Upon returning to her hometown, Mallory started working here at The Raleigh Wine Shop and has since become an important part of the team with her spirit and passion for natural wine. She’s constantly on the hunt for what’s new and exciting from natural producers around the world, and when she’s not creating and teaching classes at the shop or sharing a glass with friends, she’s probably at home hanging with her cat Queso and enjoying a bottle of amber wine.
Rest of the Team
We have a great crew of part-timers, role-players, and ‘friends of the shop’ who you’ll find in the shop as well as hosting events around the Triangle. Just like everyone who works with us, they are passionate about wine but don’t just hang out around here for the employee discount. They are equally excited to help you find just the right bottle as they are to try the latest release from their favorite Cru in Beaujolais.