Growing up with parents who owned a restaurant inspired Rebecca Chapa to attend the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University at age 18. Like most college kids would, Chapa jumped at the chance to take a wine class in her junior year, but by the time she got to the advanced course, it wasn’t just a license to party in the classroom, it was an obsession. “I finally got it,” she explains. “I understood what about wine was exciting and I realized that this would be the most incredible career I could dream of.” A job at New York City’s Windows on the World restaurant after graduation got her wine career off the ground; she soon became cellar master, controlling a wine inventory of over 1,200 selections and more than 16,000 bottles. She has since honed her wine expertise at restaurants like Montrachet, Nobu, Rubicon, and Jardinière. She has been an independent consultant and teacher, and now works as estate ambassador for the Niebaum-Coppola winery in the Napa Valley. “Being in this industry allows you to meet people who all share the same passion,” says Chapa. “The language of wine is universal—it’s all about enjoyment and relaxation—nothing could be more fun.
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