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What is your definition of home? Is it where you were born and raised? Is it where you fit in? Or is it a little of both?
When Maria Stuart from Oregon’s R. Stuart Winery & Co. stopped in the other day, with her warm smile and glowing personality, I could tell she felt at home in her birthplace of Michigan. But when she starts to talk about the winery she and her husband Rob built, or about the people of Oregon wine country, it’s obvious she belongs there too. Maria and Rob have had a long love affair with wine, and between the two of them, have worked in every facet of the process.
Maria started out selling wine to Chicago restaurants, captivated by the passion of food and wine pairings at these Windy City eateries. As a distributor, she made memorable and long-lived contacts with Oregon winemakers. In 1990, she won a trip to the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon.
It was on this fateful trip that she was introduced to winemaker Rob Stuart.
After a whirlwind romance, they were married in 1992, and by 1994, they were making a home for themselves back in the region where they first met. As Rob worked for Oregon’s renowned Erath winery, Maria grew her connections, working mostly in PR and giving back to the event that changed her life by becoming the Executive Director of the IPNC for four years.
One of the connections that became steadfast involved the National Sales Director at Erath, Patricia Rogers. Patricia has a passion for selling Oregon wines that Rob and Maria could not ignore, and when it became evident that Dick Erath would be selling his prized winery, the three knew it was the perfect time to venture out on their own.
Over 10 years later, Maria, Rob, Patricia and their bubbly fanatic partner Frank Blair have built a business known for producing top-quality wines for reasonable prices.
It was my honor to attend the Zing! Seminar at their winery in McMinnville during Oregon Pinot Camp this past June, so it makes sense for me to invite her to my home at Nino’s! On Saturday October 20th , Maria will offer a free sampling and bottle signing of her wines at our Troy location. She will pour the Big Fire Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from 1 to 4 PM. Being an avid cook, she’s brought with her some seasonal recipes that are sure to wow. Come and congratulate this Michigander on over 10 years of success with R. Stuart Winery & Co.
- Jennifer Laurie