Creative Women: Rebecca Lawrence, wine expert.
Rebecca Lawrence, wine expert, writer & blogger.
Kicking off our ‘Creative Women’ series of blog posts, meet local wine expert, knitter, writer and cook Rebecca Lawrence. If you are local to Reigate you will probably be familiar with Rebecca from one of our favourite local independent retailers The Vine King, where she can be found dispensing her wisdom on all things wine-related, or creating her signature tipple, the ‘Roaring Rebecca’!
When we started making plans for our ‘Stardust & Alchemy’ event, I was desperate to get Rebecca on board, as I knew she would be the perfect person to inject a party atmosphere with her creations. Having had a sneak peek at her recipe development so far, I can promise you are in for a treat. Think Prosecco sparkles, spicy rum, unexpected ingredients and drinks and nibbles that will be deceptively easy to recreate at home to impress your Christmas party guests. All recipes will be available to take home on the night, and also printable from Rebecca’s forthcoming guest blogs.
Right, that’s enough from me; over to Rebecca….
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi guys! I’m Rebecca and I work in the wine industry for a local independent merchant (www.thevineking.com) advising people on wines, running tastings and events and extolling the virtues of all things Italian.
When I’m not doing that I can be found in my kitchen working as a freelance recipe developer. Most of my work appears in PomPom Quarterly (www.pompommag.com) a knitting/design magazine, but I also develop recipes for events such as the Stardust and Alchemy party at Gerrards! When not working I can be found pottering in the garden or knitting or sewing. I love learning new things and flit between all sorts of crafty things as much as I can – not always with success!
Cocktails and knitting; the perfect pair!
What did you dream of doing as a child and has your career panned out the way you expected?
I’m pretty sure that my childhood dream was to be an archaeologist! Then I discovered books and desperately wanted to become an academic. From around the age of 14 I knew I wanted to do a PhD. I managed it, and tried all sorts of routes to continue in academia, but it wasn’t meant to be and so I spent ten years trying out all sorts of jobs – including trying out starting my own jam company! – until around three years ago I suddenly realised what I wanted to do.
Academia was Rebecca's first calling, and her talent for writing continues to serve her well.
Describe the moment you decided on the path you are following now.
I can remember the moment so clearly! I was sitting outside, at a wine bar in Montepulciano in Italy, tasting through different glasses of wine in the sunshine and watching the staff helping customers and laughing together and I thought, “that’s what I want to do, I want to make my love of wine my life.” So I came home, signed up to do my professional wine qualifications and after being made redundant for the second time in two years took the plunge and started emailing my CV to all the interesting independent wine merchants within travelling distance!
Have you stuck to a set plan, had an epiphany that has made you suddenly change course, or do you just ‘go with the flow’?
This is very much tied to my career change epiphany! My husband and I have always planned to move to Italy together and we know that to do it properly we’ll have to work whilst there. When I had the idea to pursue a career in wine it all fell into place as it’s the ideal industry to be qualified in for a move to a country that has more than 1500 indigenous wine grapes! Since then I’ve been very targeted, I visit wineries and keep in touch with people in the industry out there, try and take Italian language classes and am continuing to take my professional wine qualifications. Plus I drink as much Italian wine as I can – it’s research!
Just a couple of Rebecca's tattoos, significant, meaningful and designed to reflect her passions in life.
How is fashion important to you? Would you say the way you dress has any impact upon your work, or vice versa?
I always had the idea that I would get to be glamorous in my new wine life. Wearing smart and quirky dresses and nice heels whilst serving wine. The reality of my day-to-day life is very different as there is a lot of box shifting and I’m a klutz so pouring wine in nice clothes can be a liability! As a result I have to wear practical clothes most days. But, I do love a chance to properly dress up for an event!
What is your first fashion memory?
Gosh, that’s tough. I think it might be visiting my grandparents in London for a family event (my Nannie’s birthday?) and wanting to dress like my Mum, I must have been around seven or eight? It was the late eighties and so I was in leggings and a loose silk shirt. I felt so grown up!
Which item in your wardrobe would you never get rid of?
My wedding dress! It was made for me by an amazing tailor in Old Street, (http://orhanlondontailoring.com/) because I couldn’t find anything that felt “me” enough for our wedding. It’s emerald silk with the most amazing rucheing. I felt like a mermaid (with my red hair!) I adore it and am desperate to find an occasion to wear it again, please can someone invite me to a ball?!
Rebecca looking stunning in bespoke emerald green on her wedding day.
Where do you get your style inspiration? Do you have any favourite Instagram/Pinterest accounts or bloggers you follow?
For someone who says she isn’t really into fashion I do follow quite a few “style” bloggers. I’m obsessed with redheads (my grandmother was a fiery red head and I was always gutted that I didn’t get the genes), so http://www.skunkboyblog.com/ and http://www.aclotheshorse.co.uk/ are two of my favourites. In the wine industry I am obsessed with Whitney Adams (@heywhitneya) she wears simple but classic outfits that I aspire to.
Describe your style in three words.
Handmade, eclectic, wine-stained!
Who is your style icon?
My friend Meghan (@meghanaf) is probably one of my biggest inspirations. She’s always seemingly effortlessly beautiful and unique in her style. She now lives in Texas, but when we worked together in London I coveted all her outfits! She’s a knitwear designer (amongst other things) and I always immediately cast on her designs as they’re beautiful, feminine and yet comfortable.
Words to live by: Rebecca's motto.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the future?
I’m so torn about my future because I’ve never loved a job like I do this one, but my heart is in Italy and so I see myself with a small house in the Umbrian countryside, working for a local winery or shop and then hosting wine retreats and cooking up a storm for everyone in our big old farmhouse kitchen with veg from our plot, surrounded by lots of cats and dogs whilst my husband drinks local red wine and rolls his eyes at my furry menagerie!
Find out more about Rebecca and what she does over on her website https://rosmarinoevino.com