Rick & Gary started this wine, food, and travel blog in 2017. From the beginning, it has been a team effort with Rick at the helm. But it was Gary at the tail end of a three-year stint working retail at one of the top wine shops in Charleston that was the impetus.
Gary was sampling 20-40 new wines every week and coming home and could not stop talking about what he tasted. Gary’s employee discount made purchasing otherwise unaffordable wines, affordable. As a result, they bought a lot of great wine, and their eyes were blown wide open by the diversity of varietals, styles, and uniqueness of wine made around the world and it needed to be recorded.
Quickly, as their palates and wine knowledge expanded, they began sharing these new favorites with friends and family. The more wine they shared, the more folks wanted to know about it. The more they learned, the more they wanted to know. Ultimately helping many rethink what they thought they liked and didn’t like, including themselves.
One hundred and eighteen different grape varieties and counting, they have sampled thousands of bottles from every corner of the world. Gary and Rick’s palates are very different so we make a great team. So they share both perspectives when they differ significantly.
They start each day with coffee. Dark roasted, black as night and a little bitter. They do not write about coffee that much. They like to say, “It is our gateway drug until it is time for wine.”
We drink wine often, not a lot but certainly often. Writing about wine so far from any significant wine region means that we can not be in the vineyards and tasting rooms each week, but we work with what we have. We have great partnerships with a few local wine retail stores that keep us informed of wines that will “ring our bells.” Attending wine tastings at these stores as often as we are available. Relationships with reps at distribution companies also play an essential role. And when a distributor-friend partners with a restaurant for a wine dinner, we are there.
We have relationships with PR firms that represent wineries throughout California and Oregon. We have visited many wineries over the years, and we support as many of those as we can. All direct to consumer wineries have wine clubs, and we are usually members of a few of the small-batch, family-run wineries clubs on a rotating basis.
Rick cooks. Gary eats. So any blog post that includes a recipe is all Rick’s doing. The recipes they post are usually adaptations of other recipes or self-created. Rick has been cooking and creating recipes since he was seven years old.
If a post is from a restaurant, you can bet that is a team effort and we share our combined experience.
They also enjoy traveling and try to go on vacation at least once or twice a year. Rick got the bug after a year as an AFS exchange student. Experiencing other cultures, the people, the food, the history gave him an “open arms” worldview. His favorite city in the world is Paris, France, and his biggest thrill was sharing Paris with Gary while on vacation in 2016. They try to go exotic at least once every five years and have together been to Myanmar, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Australia, Spain, France, and Mexico. Additionally, Rick has also traveled to El Salvador, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium, Italy, and Canada.
They are dog uncles or as Rick’s sisters call them, “The Pup-Daddies.” The sisters also live locally but travel for work and keep very long hours. So Rick and Gary take care of Breezy and Aspen, their English Yellow Labrador retrievers each weekday and whenever the ladies are on work trips. These dogs are family pets, as they all share in their care.
Their own “pets” reside in a 75-gallon saltwater reef tank. Yes, they name their fish. Bailey, their clownfish, has been with them for 7+ years. This reef tank is filled with other fish and a variety of soft corals and invertebrates that create a calming oasis. Decompression happens in from of the tank with a glass of wine each night.
How We Met
Gary and Rick will celebrate their 32nd year together this year. They met in Chicago at the Horizon’s Community Center while volunteering for the LGBTQ suicide hotline. Once they went on that first date, they have never been apart. They had a great life in Chicago with many dear friends, but after 20+ years of frigid winters and crazy commutes sitting in traffic for hours, they decided it was time for a change. In 2004, they moved to Charleston, SC, to be with family, remain close to the water, and far, far away from winter.
Team Fun facts
Fun fact about Gary: He is a lover of music but especially the 70’s Disco. He has over 100,000 songs in his iTunes, 1,300 vinyl records, and 13,000 CDs. As a former sales rep for both Sony and EMI, he has met hundreds of recording artists, including Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Liza Minelli, and Celine Dion.
Fun Fact about Rick: While in Sweden as an exchange student, he met the King and Queen of Sweden. After six months of living in Sweden, Rick was able to carry on a conversation in Swedish and began having dreams in that language. Today, five decades later, he can still speak a smidgen of elementary Swedish when needed.